Banff In The Canadian Rockies: Some Early Conclusions

“Are you waiting for the snow?” is a common question to be asked in Banff – a tiny town nestled amid the breathtaking Canadian Rockies.

It is perfect summer weather, yet most people appear to be counting down the days until they can get out their snowboards and skis and hit the slopes for the much-anticipated winter season.

I have been in Banff for a few weeks now and have consequently come to certain conclusions on this idyllic place…

Nobody in Banff is actually from Banff

The majority of people in Banff appear to be either on holiday or working here temporarily. This town is a major tourist spot that attracts hoards of holidaymakers year round. There especially seems to be a lot of Australians here.

Banff is a great spot to find seasonal work

Lots of tourists means there is always a huge demand for seasonal workers.  I have seen ‘hiring’ signs everywhere; in cafes, gift shops and restaurants.

Renting a car in Banff is a good idea

I was very lucky to have met a group of girls that had a car on my arrival in Banff.

This meant that my first week was spent exploring all of the lakes in Banff National Park, along with some in the neighbouring Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

Having a car meant we got to enjoy hikes that were not on the public transport routes – such as the amazing Sunshine Meadows and Paradise Valley, which I will write about in future posts.

I would not have reached the stunning Peyto Lake without a car.

I do not drive myself and probably would have ended up on an overly expensive and limiting tour if I had not met some new friends at the hostel.

My advice to anybody visiting the Rockies is: HIRE A CAR!

It is most definitely worth it and you will see so much more and have numerous options.

Snowboarders and skiers flock here

This is an obvious one really. Being located in the mountains, the high season here is the time when snow hits the ground and the ski-lifts begin to turn.

But many snowboarders and skiers arrive in the summer to pick up some work, eagerly awaiting the arrival of winter wonderland.

It is worth hiking up Sulphur Mountain

After my travel friends left Banff, I was limited on what hikes I could do without having access to a car. One hike that was accessible by public transport was the Sulphur Mountain trail, so I decided to do this.

As a solo hiker on this occasion, I felt comforted by the fact that there were loads of people around all of the time, unlike some of the bigger hikes I did as part of a group, where we saw maybe one or two people the whole day.

Sulphur Mountain is where Banff Gondola is located. You can take the gondola up to the top and back down again, or you can do what I did and hike for around two and a half hours to reach the peak and then get the gondola back down again.

Or some people opt to hike down and skip the gondola altogether.

It costs around $15 for a one-way gondola ticket, which you can purchase at the top if you decide you are too tired to hike back down.

There are great panoramic views and I even spotted this deer on the way up…

Gophers and chipmunks are everywhere

On every hike I have been on, there have been loads of gophers and chipmunks.

Annoyingly, people do not seem to be aware of (or care about) the fact you are not supposed to feed wildlife. Consequently, they definitely seem to associate humans with food and come up really close to you.

I get confused between the gophers (ground squirrels) and chipmunks, but I think this cutie that I spotted up Sulphur Mountain is a chipmunk…

Another great thing about Banff: I spotted my first black bear at the side of the road on the way to Moraine Lake. No picture unfortunately, but I watched it for a few moments happily munching away on some berries.

Have you ever visited Banff or would you like to?

3 Comments

  1. August 24, 2012 / 06:19

    Happy to hear you are enjoying Banff and surrounding area. It is very beautiful and your pictures brought back some wonderful memories.