Winter Activities in Banff & Lake Louise
Wintertime offers an exciting array of mountain adventures and experiences: skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, telemarking, skating, curling, toboganning, ice fishing, dog sledding and much more.
Whether you’ve never touched skis or a snowboard, or just want to try something different, snow tubing is a unique way to enjoy the slopes. Mt. Norquay Snow Tube Park also has a small sliding area, and a kids play area. So there’s even more to do on the tubing hill for your little ones. Children must be 42” tall and 4+ years to use the tube park.
What better way to see Banff and Lake Louise than by helicopter? Air Tours will fly you into the mountains, weave in and out of snow-capped peaks, skim the tops of glaciers and land you safely back on the launch pad in trips lasting from 20-60 minutes.
For those who like the ground beneath their feet, several companies offer Dogsled Tours with classic northern dogs, such as Malamutes and Siberian and Alaskan Huskies, pulling you through a magical winter landscape.
A Sleigh Ride is a traditional and romantic mode of transportation through the snowy woods of Banff and Lake Louise, all while experiencing spectacular views. An abundance of snow and outstanding ski facilities make a day on the slopes a must for downhill Skiers and Snowboarders.
If its Ice Fishing you’re after, lake and rainbow trout will nibble the line through the ice, and fishermen cast for brown trout in the Bow River year-round. As in the summer, a fishing license is required, but easily obtained from the Park Information Centre and the Banff National Park Warden’s office. The views from mountain roads and passes, whether from the top of Tunnel Mountain overlooking the town of Banff, or the edge of the glacial mass of the Columbia Icefield, will inspire you to preserve the mystical feeling of that moment, experienced only in the awesome presence of nature—that’s winter in the Canadian Rockies!
Cross Country Skiing
There are many enjoyable easy-to-moderate cross-country trails in or near the Banff townsite, including the Cascade Fire Road, from the Lake Minnewanka parking lot, the Spray River Loop, from the Banff Springs Hotel trailhead, Sundance Canyon, starting from the Cave & Basin Historic Site, the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, from the Bow Falls parking lot, as well as the Bow River, from the Canoe Docks. Intermediate nordic skiers should try the Lake Minnewanka trails, or go for longer and steeper, like the strenuous Upper Telemark Loop.
The Lake Louise shoreline is a popular route—follow it out to find a frozen waterfall. Some other popular routes in Lake Louise include Moraine Lake Road, the Great Divide (Hwy 1A) and the Bow River Loop, starting near the Station Restaurant.
For a romantic escape, a weekend at remote Skoki Lodge is a perfect treat for a tough, but beautiful 11-km trek from Lake Louise. From the lodge you can explore more backcountry, or stay in and enjoy the comforts of this historic retreat. Pack light since most of what you need is there—not phones, televisions or modern-world distractions, but candlelight meals, some wine by the fire and the serenity of the mountains in winter.
Take a quick jaunt to Kananaskis Country for an extensive network of track-set trails near Nakiska, and for the Canmore Nordic Centre—a world-class cross-country ski facility built for the 1988 Winter Olympics. The Canmore Nordic Centre is a great year-round facility with excellent nordic skiing in the winter, offering numerous trails for all ability levels. Some trails have snowmaking so conditions are usually reliable, and grooming/tracksetting is done regularly for both classic and skate skiing. Parks Canada produces a low-cost guidebook offering detailed information about cross-country skiing in Banff, along with trail descriptions and maps, which can be found at most Visitor Centres.
Visit our Top Ten Winter Activities for more adventures in the snow!