An Essentialist Guide to Banff National Park

We are #blessed to have Banff National Park as our backyard here in Calgary. I’ve probably spent almost a quarter of my time living here in Calgary driving back and forth to there, wandering around the lakes and soaking in that healing mountain air. For those of you that are visiting and don’t have continuous access to this wonderland, here are the essentials you should see, where you should stay and the best places to eat!

See

The view from the Sulphur Mountain Gondola is absolutely breathtaking. You can hike the 2-3 hours or take the quick 8 minute ride in the gondola to the top, where you can walk between two mountain peaks to take int he spectacular views overlooking the town of Banff or the valley on the other side of the range. 

Banff Mountains Sulphur Mountain Gondola

Banff Mountains Sulphur Mountain Gondola

Head out of Banff on the main street, cross the highway and continue on for some scenic trails, camping and lakes. Be sure to check out Lake Minnewanka with its beautiful mountain views, giant red chairs and Instagram famous tree. 

Lake Minnewanka Red Chairs

Lake Minnewanka Instagram Famous Tree

Head west on the TransCanada Highway and you will reach the little hamlet of Lake Louise. Skip the tourist shops and drive straight through the town on the way up to the actual Lake Louise. On the way up, take a slight detour to Morraine lake. Climb the giant rock hill at the opening of the lake for some iconic views and photos (you can either do some rock climbing up the face of hill or take the stairs and trail behind it). The rates for renting a canoe are less expensive here than in Banff, so if canoeing is what you are into, consider doing it here. 

Morraine Lake Alberta Canada Mountains

Morraine Lake Alberta Canada Mountains

Finally, Lake Louise is the last of our recommendations for the essentials to see in Banff National Park. Take an afternoon to hike around the lake, or do any of the other activities provided by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (if you are here in the winter, you simply must go ice skating). 
Lake Louise Fairmont Alberta
Eat

For lunch or dinner, head to Nourish Cafe for the most delicious food you can dream up. It is a vegetarian restaurant that can also adjust for other dietary restrictions such as gluten or lactose intolerance. They utilize the use of flavours and textures so well that even non-vegetarians won’t miss having meat in their dish. Definitely try their nachos, but just split a half order so you can try other things as well!
Nourish Bistro Banff Alberta Canada
Park is a spot we haven’t had the chance to try yet, but they combine a distillery and restaurant into one gorgeous looking space. Just looking at their brunch menu makes my mouth water – it sounds so delicious. For snacks, picnics and any other artisan treat you can dream of, check out Wild Flour. Definitely try one of their sandwiches made on bread baked in house. 
Nourish Bistro Banff Alberta Canada
Stay

Most of the hotels in Banff are pretty spectacular, but if you’re here visiting you might as well go all out and enjoy the opulent classics – The Fairmont Banff Hotel, Rimrock Resort or Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. There’s also always camping, but it does book up pretty quickly – reserve in advance! 
Lake Louise Fairmont Alberta

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