Banff National Park is 4126 miles of pure beauty. Located in Canada, an hour and a half from Calgary, Alberta, Banff National Park attracts millions of people each year. From hiking to hot springs, there is something for every family no matter when you visit. During winter, families hit the ski hills and enjoy apres ski activities in downtown Banff. In summer, the outdoor options are limitless. Read on for the top 10 things to do in Banff National Park.
Top 10 Things To Do In Banff National Park
Located an hour and a half from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Banff National Park is an outdoor oasis for families looking for adventure. Each season offers plenty of fun for families with kids of all ages. These are the top 10 things to do in Banff National Park.
1. Enjoy World Class Skiing
Banff National Park is home to 3 world-class ski resorts: Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Mountain Resort, and Banff Mount Norquay. With a ski season that extends from mid-November to mid-May, there is plenty of time to ski the Rocky Mountains.
Sunshine Village averages 30 feet of powder during the ski season with 107 runs across 3,300 acres. Recent renovations to the resort make Sunshine Village a great destination for families. If you are looking to try skiing, Mount Norquay offers the unique flexibility to pay for skiing by the hour. Mount Norquay is also the closest hill to downtown Banff. Lake Louise Mountain Resort is a great option for families with younger children as childcare is available at the resort. With 4200 acres of skiing, you may want to take advantage and spend extra time taking in the incredible scenery.
2. Check out Banff From Above At the Banff Gondola
This completely redesigned attraction is perfect for families looking to see Banff from the top of Sulphur Mountain. Ride the enclosed gondola to the boardwalk that sits 2900 feet above Banff. Then let your kids explore the hands-on interactive exhibits at the new state-of-the-art Above Banff interpretive center. Don’t worry about packing a lunch. Instead, treat your family to a Canadian meal of locally sourced meats, produce and ingredients at the Sky Bistro.
3. Ride the Trails
Alberta is known as Canada’s Cowboy Country. In Banff National Park, you can experience Alberta’s cowboy culture firsthand with Banff Trail Riders. The Cowboy Cookout Dinner offered by Banff Trail Riders is an incredible experience for families. Kids 6 and older can ride horseback to lunch while kids younger than 6 can ride in an old-fashioned covered wagon. During lunch, kids can play horseshoes and learn to lasso a wooden steer with the cowboy guides.
4. See the Wildlife in Banff National Park
Whether you are hiking the trails or driving, it is likely you will encounter some of Banff’s wildlife. Elk, coyotes, wolves, bighorn sheep and both grizzly bears and black bears call Banff National Park home. Explore the park on your own or join a guided tour and spot wildlife from a safe distance with experts. Never approach or feed the wildlife. This 3 hour Banff Wildlife Tour has a 95% success rate at spotting animals in their natural habitat.
5. Relax at the Banff Hot Springs
The top 10 things to do in Banff National Park would not be complete without the Banff Hot Springs. At an elevation of 5,200 feet, the 5 mineral springs are the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view. The entry ramp makes for easy entry into the springs which vary in temperature from 98 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Eat Local
While downtown Banff is full of dining options, make sure to skip the chains and enjoy some local Canadian fare. Restaurants like The Bison Restaurant & Terrace serve locally sourced foods while accommodating for allergies. The farm to table menu changes seasonally.
7. Teach Your Kids To Hike
While grizzly bears sound scary, there are plenty of safe hiking trails in Banff National Park. With incredible views and plenty water, Banff National Park is a great place to introduce your kids to hiking. Start with shorter trails like Johnston Canyon Lower Falls, a 20-minute hike with a waterfall reward. Families walk on catwalks that are attached to the limestone and travel into a canyon. Make sure to visit the viewing platform through the tunnel in the canyon to get close to the falls. Expect to get wet.
8. Go Rafting
From adventurous rapids to easy nature floats, there are plenty of rafting options in and around Banff National Park. Choose an age appropriate adventure and head down the Bow River for some good clean Canadian fun.
9. Experience a Voyageur Canoe Tour
When visiting Banff National Park, the Voyageur Canoe Tour is impossible to miss. The group tour is recognizable by the long canoe and large Canadian flag. Families love to take to the water in this guided tour which requires no previous canoeing experience. Tours fill up quickly. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
10. Visit the Birthplace of Canada’s National Parks
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks. With a long and interesting backstory, the cave and basin was first discovered in 1859. Many tried to claim the area as their own leading the Canadian government to reserve the area as the first National Park. Today, you can visit the site to learn about the history of the basin as well as Banff. Kids will love having the opportunity to touch the hot water as it seeps from the rock. There are plenty of trails to explore.
Exploring Banff National Park
No matter when you visit, there are so many things to do and see in Banff National Park. This list of the top 10 things to do in Banff National Park includes some of the best experiences for families. Visiting this unique destination is something you and your kids will remember for years to come.