A Guide to Visiting Banff National Park in Winter

Banff National Park | World of Wanderlust
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The Canadian Rockies have long been on my winter travel bucket list, so when began writing a check-list of winter activities I wanted to tick off on my time here, I knew I’d be embarking on a trip of a lifetime! From dog sledding to downhill tubing and everything in between, here is your complete guide to making the most of a visit to Banff National Park in winter.

Banff National Park | World of Wanderlust Banff National Park | World of Wanderlust

Check-In: The Fairmont Banff Springs “Castle in the Rockies”

If you’re planning to visit Banff at the beginning of your trip, the most suitable airport to fly in to is Calgary. However, if you intend to combine your visit to Banff with the rest of Alberta (Jasper and Edmonton), I would recommend flying in to Edmonton and travelling South – the best views are to be had when travelling in this direction!

Once you arrive in Banff, you’ll soon find that many of the lodges and cabins are closed over the winter, as this is the low season for tourism in Banff National Park. The best way to determine where is (and isn’t) open over the winter would be to use a search engine for bookings, such as Expedia or Agoda.

One hotel I can promise you is open in full swing is the iconicย Castle in the Rockies; the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This hotel is renowned across North America as one of the crowning jewels in luxe accommodation.

Whilst here be sure to make the most of the outdoor heated pools (pretty magical in the moonlight), Willowstream Spa hot pools and sauna/steam facilities, the outdoor ice rink and various short walks around the hotel.

Banff National Park | World of Wanderlust

Driving in Banff National Park

Wherever you choose as your base location, you’ll definitely need to hire a car to get around as the attractions and things to do in Banff will almost always require wheels to get to.

Once inside the National Park, I would suggest purchasing a map from a gas station and marking the activities you wish to embark upon during your trip, switching off from cell service, and kicking back to enjoy the scenery.

Banff National Park | World of Wanderlust Banff National Park | World of Wanderlust

Banff Sightseeing Lift

Whether you’re a pro skiier or just want to take in the views from the Clifftop Bistro up top, the Banff Sightseeing Lift will take you to some of the best winter views in the National Park.


Tubing at Norquay

At the base of the chairlift and inside Norquay ski resort is a winter activity I never knew I needed in my life: tubing! Once you’ve ridden the magic carpet to the top of the tube runs, you make your way down (spinning, forward or backward – the first of which I wouldn’t recommend after a hot chocolate) via inflatable tube. Don’t worry, there’s no age limit… and no one will judge you for taking 267 trips down to the bottom!

Driving Guide to the Icefields Parkway | WORLD OF WANDERLUST Driving Guide to the Icefields Parkway | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

Drive Bow Valley Parkway

Although the Icefields Parkway is commonly regarded as the most scenic route to drive in Alberta (to which I would agree), there’s another road you should take whilst in the Banff area for some incredible views of Castle Mountain (pictured above). Bow Valley Parkway runs along the old Trans Canada highway and is a great route to travel between Banff and Lake Louise.

Driving Guide to the Icefields Parkway | WORLD OF WANDERLUST Driving Guide to the Icefields Parkway | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

Check out Bow Lake

I couldn’t find Bow Lake on any of my “must see” Banff attractions, but as soon as I found a photo of it online covered in a layer of thick snow and with a surreal pedestrian bridge leading to the edge of the lake, I knew I had to make it a stop on my list!


Lake Louise | World of Wanderlust Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise Lake Louise | World of Wanderlust

Check-In: Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise

Inside Banff National Park is another iconic destination within Alberta to visit; the beautiful and serene Lake Louise. Although the lake is mostly renowned for its aqua blue colour in summer, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy in the winter time!

The only hotel that situates itself directly overlooking the lake is the Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise, so if you’re short on time or love a little luxe treatment when travelling, then this is the place for you!

The entire lake transforms into a winter wonderland in the colder months, complete with an ice skating rink, ice castle, ice bar, and outdoor log fires to keep you warm. Inside the hotel there are a number of restaurants and bars, but the two I would recommend most are the Lounge for hot chocolate by the window (pictured above) and Alpine Social Club for dinner.

Lake Louise | World of Wanderlust Lake Louise | World of Wanderlust

Dog Sledding at Lake Louise

If you really want to spice things up and try something you can’t at home, then I can highly recommend dog sledding with these beautiful pups from the Kingmik kennel. For the animal lovers out there, this is a great chance to take part in the day of a working dog, who are born and bred to run a sled. You’ll soon see how loved these dogs are and they truly do love their work in return.

Additional Activities:

Whilst in Banff I didn’t have the time to do absolutely everything, so here are a few additional considerations for your trip!

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk – A highly recommended walk to the frozen waterfall at Johnston Canyon.

Heli Snowshoe – If your budget allows, this is a great way to escape to the top of the mountains and enjoy the scenery all to yourself.

A Guide to Banff National Park in Winter | WORLD OF WANDERLUST


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    Rowan Sims Travel Photography
    February 19, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Looks incredible Brooke! I went to Banff last summer on my Rockies Roadie, but I would LOOOOVE to go back in winter. It’s looks magical ๐Ÿ™‚

    February 9, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Banff National Park is one of my favorite places to go in winter. Your pictures of the area are stunning. I can’t wait to try tubing at the Norquay ski resort. Thanks for sharing!

    January 31, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Amazing, quite well written and fairly presented with every point being covered with due respect to facts and personal opinion. I appreciate the way you did that. Thanks for posting.

    Nasi Kotak
    January 28, 2018 at 4:12 am

    this looks incredible. . It looks like an incredible part of the world.


    January 25, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Goodness this looks incredible. I have had Banff on my list for a while. I may have to move it up a little higher โค๏ธโค๏ธ

    • Brooke Saward
      January 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      You will looooove it! Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime winter wonderland type of trip ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 24, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Wow!! Thank you for posting this blog.Your blog is more interesting.

    same day taj mahal tour by car
    January 24, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Great, Awesome park to visit that winter season. Its really awesome place to enjoy winter holidays. Great experience you shared and stunning photos you capture of that beautiful place.

    Tosh Bene
    January 24, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Glad you had a great time visiting Canada again =) You’re always welcome here xo

    January 23, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Banff looks so magical in the wintertime!

    Shankar Banjara
    January 23, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Wow what a wonderful pictures of Banff in winter looks lie a part of haven thanks for sharing with

    January 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I always equated Banff with only skiing. It’s great to see it has so much more to offer. It looks like an incredible part of the world.

    ludo king
    January 23, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks to the author for the article! Very pleased!

    January 23, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Banff is a perfect winter wonderland!