Banff Travel Guide - Activities
When I tell you there is no shortage of activities to do in Banff, I am not lying. While I was researching what activities we wanted to do, beyond visiting the lakes, I stumbled upon a website for the Banff Jasper Collection. This website will show you some of the most iconic attractions in the area and I was excited when the offered a attraction combo packages for one price. They have one package, the ultimate explorer, which provides entrance into the Banff Gondola, a glacier adventure and a cruise on Lake Minnewanka. I proposed this idea to the group and the thought of walking on a glacier was enough for all of us to say yes! I will be sharing our experiences at these attractions, except for the Banff Gondola because we decided to do a different gondola on that day!
Lake Minnewanka Cruise:
We planned the cruise for Sunday evening, as we were planning on the weather being beautiful and really wanted some sunset photos. Well, if you remember from my day two preview post, we woke up Sunday morning to snow. We had low hanging clouds that day and it was really grey and gloomy. Our cruise was at 5 p.m., so we started our 6.5 mile trek over to the lake. We arrived just in time to board our boat and since it was in the evening it started to get colder. The boat is enclosed, so you don't have to worry about being frozen the whole time. The cruise is an hour long and you learn a lot about the forest in the area and the animals who inhabit the area. When you hit the halfway point in the cruise, the drive turns off the boat and lets you walk around, take pictures and just take in the scenery without the sounds of a motor running. On our way back to the dock it started to rain, which eventually turned into snow. When we reached the dock it was a snow/rain/ice pellet mix and we were not prepared to walk to the car. We were all damp when we reached the car, so we did everything we could to warm up and dry off. As we were leaving the lake we came across a family of elk, so we pulled the car over and got out to take some photos! It was really cool to watch the dad, mom and baby eat and wander around the grass! They were so calm with people around we were able to get some great photos! I would like to do this cruise again when I would have better weather to enjoy the area a little more!
View of the mountains from the boat
Random evergreen tree
You can kind of see the teal water
The four of us on the boat
Tami took this picture on the dock
Dad, Mom and Baby!
Even though this experience is 2.5 hours north of Downtown Banff, we knew this was an experience we needed to do. Walking on a glacier sounds like a once in a lifetime event, so we scheduled this activity for Monday. Our attraction time was 11:10 a.m., so we grabbed a quick breakfast and left the hotel at about 8:00 a.m. I am so glad we left earlier than we planned because we ran into construction traffic in two different locations. I am not a fan of car trips, but this was the most scenic 2.5 hours I've ever been in a car. You drive down the Icefields Parkway and get to see so many lakes, trees and mountains. When we hit our highest elevation, we were met with a winter wonderland and it looked like a snow filled postcard.
When we finally arrived at the Glacier Discovery Center we didn't have much time, as we arrived 10 minutes before our tour was scheduled to leave. We swiftly moved to the checkin area and boarded our tour bus. The bus takes you from the Discovery Center to the area where you will board the all-terrain vehicle and go to the glacier. When you board the all-terrain Ice Explorer it is like nothing you have ever ridden in before. It is a 15-20 minute ridge to the glacier and your driver will fascinate you with a bunch of information. When you reach the Athabasca Glacier you get out of the vehicle and you get about 30 minutes to explore the glacier. There are boundaries that you need to be careful of, but walking on a glacier is a moment you will never forget. After you are done wandering the glacier, you board the Ice Explorer and head back to the tour bus!
Views on the drive!
The Ice Explorers!
We made friends with a snowman!
Us on the glacier!
One of the boundaries
With our Ice Explorer (Each tire is 5 ft. tall!)
We crossed the boundary!
After you leave the glacier, your tour bus takes you over to the Glacier Skywalk. The skywalk is a glass, cliff-edged walkway that is 918 ft. above the mountain valley. Literally, the glass is the only thing between you and a 918 ft. drop...think about that! The walkway up to the skywalk is lined with small waterfalls and there have even been some wildlife sightings. As we were walking up two of us were excited, one was pumping herself up and the fourth wasn't too sure she wanted to do it. I quickly took her hand and got her out to the halfway point! We all had a great time on the skywalk and I even made a video, looking down, while I walked around the whole thing! Check out the photos and video below!
One set of the waterfalls
Walking up to the skywalk
The views are amazing!
Me on the skywalk
Three of us
The whole group on the skywalk!
Three sets of feet
Just my feet
My video of the skywalk
Lake Louise Gondola:
I mentioned we decided to do a different gondola, we did the Lake Louise Gondola. Most people think I am crazy when I tell them why, but we decided to do this gondola because it is the best place in Banff to see bears! I know, crazy! The Lake Louise Gondola is actually the ski lift for when the winter slopes open and you have the choice of going up in the chairlift or a closed gondola. Mom and I went up in the chairlift and boy was it cold when we reached the top. They have a restaurant at the top of the lift, Whitehorn Bistro, so when we got to the top we headed there to get a quick drink. The views from the patio are insane and I can't imagine what it would look like in the summer when it is sunny. As we were heading back towards the gondola it started to snow, the closer we got, the harder is snowed. We took the open aired gondola back down and took some amazing photos of the mountains and Lake Louise. Unfortunately we did not see a bear, but there is always next time!
Us with the only bear we saw
The lodge at the bottom of the mountain
Heading up on the gondola
The views coming down the mountain
You can see a little of Lake Louise
These activities were so much fun and it definitely made our trip so much fun! I know the whole point of coming to Banff is to check out all of the amazing lakes, which will be the next travel guide, but these are memories I will always have! I would definitely suggest you check out some of these places if you go to Banff. Also check out the Banff Jasper Collection website for all of their activities!
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