Thank you to Travel Alberta and Banff and Lake Louise Tourism for hosting me. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Two years ago this month, my husband suggested we go to Banff for our anniversary. I remember thinking Banff? Where’s that? He told me to google it and see what I thought. So I did. The photos looked amazing and I agreed we should go. Since that trip in April 2015, I’ve been back 3 more times and all were in a period of 15 months! I will admit that wasn’t actually planned, but I’m so happy that’s how it worked out! This is Why You Should Visit Banff, Canada!
Surprise Corner is the corner on Tunnel Mountain Road that reveals the iconic view where most photos are taken of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. If you are looking for the perfect place to stay, this is it!
Although not an official name, Surprise Corner also overlooks the Bow River and Sulphur Mountain. There is a small parking lot and you can cross the street and go up the steps to a platform providing an even better view!
If you’re lucky, you might see an elk in the middle of the river getting a drink 🙂
The Hoodoos is the name of these sedimentary rocks with the pillar-shaped points.
They can also be accessed from Tunnel Mountain Road and there is a parking lot (albeit with limited parking). Just make sure to not park in the bus spaces!
You can see the Bow River (and the Fairmont) from here as well!
After Surprise Corner and the Hoodoos, head on over to Lake Minnewanka which means “Water of the Spirits”.
It’s the longest lake in the parks of the Canadian Rockies at 13 miles (21 km) long…
and 466 ft (142 m) deep. Its vibrant colors were astonishing. Reminds me of the Caribbean!
We were greeted by a family of sheep in the middle of the road!
Two Jack Lake
A great place to see the sunrise is Two Jack Lake. It’s close to Lake Minnewanka and only 15 minutes from Banff.
The good thing about sunrises in the Banff area is they are much later than what most of us are used to. The earliest photo I took was around 8:15am and the latest photo I took was around 8:25am.
The ever-changing colors are just amazing!
Another great place to see the sunrise is also one of my most favorite places in Banff. There are three Vermillion Lakes and they sit right off the TransCanada Highway making them very easy to locate.
The reflections of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain are really beautiful not only at sunrise…
but also in the late afternoon/early evening.
These photos were taken around 5:45-6:00pm and Mount Rundle couldn’t look more majestic in the background! Read below to see the wildlife that can be found here on these lakes!
Wildlife in Banff
Wildlife can be spotted all over Banff. This guy (elk) was spotted right outside of town just casually munching away, completely oblivious to all his admirers. Caution: Stay at LEAST 30 yards away from wildlife and further for bears!
These guys (also elk) were having an early morning power struggle!
I’ve seen both grizzly bears and black bears in the park. This is an older but “healthy” grizzly! This was taken with a zoom lens. Please DO NOT approach bears. I know this seems to go without saying, but I have actually seen people do it!
Another great place to see bighorn sheep is at the top of Mount Norquay in the big open field! ALWAYS keep your eyes open for wildlife in Banff. They can be anywhere and everywhere!
I saw my first moose at Vermillion Lakes on my very first visit trip to Banff. She was just standing right there in the marsh! Unfortunately, my photos didn’t turn out like I wanted. Keep your eyes open, because it can happen!
Your trip to Banff isn’t complete until you take a ride to the top of the Banff Gondola.
It’s a short ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain…
and the views of Banff National Park are truly breathtaking. There are shops and a place to eat at the summit as well!
You can see the whole Fairmont Banff Springs property from here!
Mount Norquay Chairlift
Conversely, you can ride the Mount Norquay Chairlift and get views of Banff from the opposite direction. Although the open chairlift doesn’t go all the way to the top of Mount Norquay, it does go to 7,000 feet above sea-level…
and there is an avalanche-proof restaurant and a platform you can walk around. Don’t forget to look down while you are on the 8-minute chairlift! You might see some wildlife on your way up or down!
You also might see some on the drive to or from the chairlift!
Drive Bow Valley Parkway
Drive Bow Valley Parkway or Highway 1A between Lake Louise and Banff. It is a gorgeous, scenic drive!
Be sure to see Morant’s Curve, a very popular spot for train photography. There is no sign marking it, but it’s close to the Lake Louise end of the drive, in view of the Trans Canada Railway and there is a place to pull off and park. If you are coming from Lake Louise, go over the Trans Canada Hwy 1 and take a right onto Bow Valley Parkway. It will be a few minutes down on the right.
Additionally, you can see Castle Mountain also called Castle Cliffs about halfway between Banff and Lake Louise.
Take in all the beautiful views of rivers and mountains. Drive slowly and watch for wildlife!
The Three Sisters-Canmore
Although not located in Banff, the pretty 30-45 minute drive to Canmore on Hwy 1 towards Calgary is so worth it to see the Three Sisters. And if you have more time to spend, this quick guide to Canmore is very useful!
There is the Big Sister (Faith), Middle Sister (Charity) and Little Sister (Hope). I love a good reflection photo!
We were treated to a beautiful double rainbow on our way back to Banff! Excuse the raindrops on the photo. I might have taken it…okay I did take it from the backseat of the car! I didn’t want to miss it!
Walk Around Town
Take time to just walk around Banff. It’s a great little ski resort town with plenty of shops and unique food to try…
as well as beautiful landmarks and architecture.
The atmosphere is fabulous!
Banff has something for everyone in all 4 seasons. If you don’t ski, there is still plenty for you. I hope you put it on your bucket list! Everyone I know who has been has just absolutely loved it, including myself! Have you been? Let me know what season you went and what your favorite thing about Banff is!
‘Til next time…