Banff National Park, located in Alberta, Canada, is arguably one of the most stunning places in the world. With snow-capped mountain ranges, picturesque waterfalls streaming alongside them, and the bluest lakes imaginable, it's no wonder this is a top destination for so many visiting Canada. The park is the ideal playground for anyone who craves adventure and loves the great outdoors. There are a ton of activities to keep you busy; you truly cannot get bored. From hiking, to canoeing, to kayaking, to the thrill seeking white water rafters. The locals will claim that there's not much in life that beats the beautiful Canadian Rockies, and I think they are onto something.
Taking a trip to Banff National Park will definitely result in your camera roll overflowing with some seriously stunning photos, and you'll find yourself snapping pictures with every corner you turn. I guarantee you'll be excessively posting on Instagram and updating your Snapchat story, and you'll be posting TBT's for months afterwards.
If you can believe it, the scenery is ten times more stunning than any picture can capture. Saying that, make sure you put your phone down once and a while and take a moment to enjoy the beauty that mother nature has to offer. 'Live in the moment', as they say. For those who haven't caught a glimpse of this extraordinary national treasure, I can promise you that these photos will be all the convincing you need to hop online and book a one way ticket to the Canadian Rockies.
20 Road trips for DAYS
Driving from one place to another is no longer a massive pain. As soon as you enter Banff National Park, you will be welcomed with roads surrounded by mountain ranges and tall pine trees that go on for miles. Taking a drive through this stunning national park will no doubt leave you with absolutely insane views that will make you want to snap a million pics (but if you're driving, put the phone down). The good news is, the amount of road-trips in the park are endless and you won't want the drive to ever end. The Trans-Canada highway, which travels through all ten provinces in Canada, is a road-trip that should be on everyone's bucket list.
19 The stunning mountain town of Banff
Shortly after you arrive in the national park, you will come across the quaint, picturesque town of Banff. The main strip of the town is filled with tons of restaurants, hotels, shops, and not to mention Cascade Mountain smack down in the middle of Banff Ave. The iconic shot of the snow-capped mountain perfectly aligned with the dreamy town is what makes Banff so special.
Every year, thousands of tourists travel to Banff to experience the magical vibes that it brings, both in the summer and winter months. In the summertime, enjoy a stroll through town with a Cows ice-cream cone in hand or on a rooftop patio with a refreshing beverage. Meanwhile, in the wintertime you can grab a hot chocolate and head to the outdoor ice rink that is located right in the town centre.
18 Exploring the castle nestled in the rockies
A trip to Banff National Park is definitely not complete without a visit to The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Nestled in between the mountain ranges and surrounded by greenery, the location speaks for itself.
Built in 1888, this hotel is more than just a place to stay on your vacation-- it provides a ton of rich history and architecture that makes you feel as though you have stepped into a castle. However, you don't have to be a guest to take a trip to this hotel, with a ton of restaurants, ballrooms for private functions, art and history showcases, a spa and pool open to the public, and overall a ton of nooks and crannies to get lost in. Careful though, legend has it that this hotel has some supernatural stuff going on... spooky.
17 Getting some R&R at the Willow Creek Spa
The Willow Creek Spa, located in The Banff Springs Hotel, is the perfect spot to get some much needed rest and relaxation with some seriously stunning views. Treat yourself to a mani and pedi followed by a plunge into the waterfall treatment mineral pools (there are pools of different temperatures that are meant to do wonders for your body).
The pools outside are heated during the winter months so that you can enjoy the snowy surroundings without getting too chilly. There is truly no better way to pamper yourself than in the middle of the idyllic Canadian rockies. Sit back, relax, and stay a while.
16 The turquoise waters of Moraine Lake
Located a couple of hours outside the town of Banff, Moraine Lake is a world-renowned spot that has definitely made it onto your Windows desktop background at some point. It's a must-see if you are visiting the park, as thousands of visitors visit every year to catch a glimpse of its untouched beauty. It is most popular during the summer months, as it is inaccessible during the winter due to the winding roads it takes to get there that are covered by a thick layer of snow and ice.
However, the trek to this lake is definitely worth it. It's best to go before peak summer months to avoid the flocks of tourists that visit in July and August.
15 Lake Louise. A favourite by many.
Ah, Lake Louise. The epitome of probably 90% of the photos you have seen of good ol' Canada. This spot seems to be on everyone's bucket list that visits the national park, and its easy to see why. Nestled in between mountain ranges, the lake is one of the most famous spots to visit.
There are endless amounts of hikes in the area, where you can see the lake from every different angles. In the winter, the lake turns into a winter wonderland, with skating and ice sculptures carved to perfection. If you're lucky enough to snag a room in the 5-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, you could be waking up to views overlooking the pristine beauty and calmness of the lake.
14 When the seasons change...
You don't have to visit Banff in peak season to have the best experience. In fact, it is almost more desirable to visit on the shoulder seasons, when not only is the park less crowded, but you will also be able to witness the magic of the seasons changing.
With autumn turning into spring, the snow begins to fall as the orange and red leaves have yet to fall from the trees. From winter to spring, you will have warm, sunny days with the mountain ranges still capped with snowy tops. There is something special about the seasons changing, and it is especially extraordinary in Banff.
13 The magic of wintertime in the rockies
Did I mention winter time in the rockies is comparable to stepping inside of a snow globe? It may be chilly, with temps reaching well below what should ever be allowed in the history of the universe, but the beauty of fresh powdered snow peacefully resting on the tips of the trees is absolutely breathtaking (seriously, you can see your breath when you talk).
Under a blanket of snow and ice, the park creates the perfect landscape for ice skating, dogsledding, snowshoeing, and ice walks. There is truly nothing more magical than the sparkle that Banff brings in the winter months.
12 Just your average horse-drawn carriage ride through the mountains
If you are lucky enough to visit during the winter months, the holiday vibes will be in full swing, with ten foot Christmas trees around every corner and horse-drawn carriage rides through the snowy forests. It truly turns into the most extraordinary place on earth, as a fresh blanket of snow sparkles across the untouched landscape, making it the ideal setting for those seeking a winter getaway.
Grab a hot chocolate and a big fluffy blanket, and take a sleigh ride through this winter wonderland. It will be an experience you will never forget, as the bells on the horses jingle giving you the feeling you are riding on Santa's sleigh.
11 Cave exploration at Johnston Canyon
Cave exploring anyone? Johnston Canyon, located right outside the town of Banff, is one of the most popular spots to visit in the area. You have access to wander both the upper and lower falls, both leading to beautifully unique views from every angle.
You will feel as though you are exploring the insides of a cave, without compromising the greenery of the great outdoors and bustling rivers. You can't go wrong with a trip to this spot-- it's easy to get lost in all of the spaces to explore. This is just one of the many spots right outside town... so what are you waiting for?
10 The remarkable wolf-shaped Peyto Lake
Pretty confident that the water in this lake is pure Koolaid, but don't take my word for it. Much like Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake is a favourite by many tourists, and the locals will vouch for it as well. The amazing thing about this lake is that depending on the time of day and weather, the lake will most likely always look a different colour. Every time I visit this lake, I discover a new way of seeing it.
But of course, any way in which you see this spot is no doubt breathtaking. The wolf-shaped body of water, surrounded by pines and mountain peaks, is one that will have you staying a while to truly take in its beauty.
9 The sun rising over the mountain tops. Pure Magic.
I promise that waking up in the wee hours of the morning will be worth every second. As a new day begins, you will witness the sun lighting up the peaks, as its golden touch is a way of waving hello to the mountains. On a calm morning, the lakes will be as clear as glass and the reflection in the water will reflect the golden sunrise.
If there is anywhere in the world that is worth getting up at 5am for, this is definitely one of them. There is no setting more peaceful than watching the world wake itself up in the Rockies.
8 ...And the sunset.
We all know that sunsets are pretty remarkable. Well, throw some mountains in there. Game changer.
There is nothing quite like the sun setting over the mountain ranges, turning the rock formations a golden, fiery colour as it disappears behind them. Not to mention the colours perfectly mirrored in the lake beneath it, giving you a double wammy of amazingness. Every other sunset following a trip to Banff will simply seem sub-par, and will probably ruin them for you for the rest of your life. We apologise in advance. I guess you have no choice but to never go home.
7 Canoeing in the the most serene setting
As you can imagine, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to do in Banff. From canoeing, to kayaking, to biking, and everything in between-- you will never get bored here if you appreciate getting back to nature.
As most of the lakes are glacier fed, they will likely be a bit too chilly for an afternoon swim, which is why canoeing along these waters is your best bet to take in all of its beauty. This form of transportation will truly give you all the Canada feels. I can't think of any better way to spend an afternoon in the Rockies.
6 dock views that are worth the trip alone
Have you ever seen a cottage dock picture look like THIS? Didn't think so. For visitors in Banff, soaking up some rays on the docks at Vermillion Lake is the perfect way to spend a sunny, summer afternoon. For locals, this is just the norm. Must be nice, eh?
If you are feeling like your usual sun-bathing spot is looking a little sad right now, we're with you on that. Booking a flight to Banff in the summer is a must in order to catch the warmer weather, so that you can live every day in this park to the fullest. Imagine lying on this dock with in the summer days and soaking in the rays.
5 A picnic spot that will blow your mind
I mean, come on, LOOK at this place. Have you ever seen a photo more naturally vibrant (#NOFILTER)? Wave hello to an afternoon of lounging by the water on a picnic blanket with your favourite book. Two Jack Lake is desirable by many individuals seeking a peaceful spot to bring a kayak or paddle board, and is an amazing place to watch the sunset.
You really can't get a bad shot of this lake, located just a few minutes drive outside the town of Banff. The water is quite chilly, but if you are brave enough to take a dip, we salute you.
4 Not your average animal sighting
It's not uncommon to see creatures of all sorts strolling down the streets on a drive through the mountains. With bighorn sheep being the most common sighting, these feline friends aren't exactly easily scared by pedestrians and cars that pass by, as they seem to be minding their own business while enjoying the view. They also make for some seriously good looking models.
Along with these sheep, don't be surprised if you sight any bears, wolves, elks, and coyotes roaming around the park. While it's important to keep your respectful distance, its truly remarkable to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
3 Head in the clouds. Literally.
There aren't many places where you can have your head in the clouds without being on an airplane. Luckily, on the top of Cascade Mountain, you definitely can. Being the highest peak in the park, this isn't a hike for beginners-- you best be getting your hiking shoes a little dirty before you attempt this one.
However, once you make it to the top, you are welcomed with panoramic views of the park from absolutely every angle. The town of Banff looks like a small spec and the rivers flowing through the trees look like thin lines. There is truly no view more breathtaking (and rewarding) as this one.
2 Pictures that are comparable to a painting
How come every backdrop seems as though Picasso created it with a paintbrush and easel? Every spec of this national park has an untouched beauty to it that makes you feel as though you are the first one to discover it. Since Canada's parks are very protected and highly respected, this is bound to be the case everywhere you go. Little trace of civilisation is left behind when you take a stroll through the forest on one of the many trails in the park, and the mountains have a way of making you feel like you're the only one around.
1 So, when are you booking your flight?
If you've made it this far in the article without switching tabs to book a flight to this astonishing place, then kudos to you. However, we are convinced that you will probably do so anyways after seeing all of the photos that somehow don't even do this place justice.
If you talk to any of the locals, it's not uncommon to hear the tale of how they visited the park on vacation ten years ago and never left. It's doesn't come as a shock that pretty much everyone who visits never wants to leave.
So, what are you waiting for?