Weekend Wanderlust: Banff

No matter how many plane tickets I buy or places I go, the list of new countries, cities and experiences I want to escape to continues to grow. In the Weekend Wanderlust series, I will be featuring a place I’ve never been to & armchair-travel there via photos and videos (I’ll take what I can get!). If you’ve been to the place I’m lusting over, please feel free to leave tips or recommendations — encouragement to take the plunge & book the flight is always welcome!

This week on Weekend Wanderlust: BANFF, ALBERTA, CANADA

When I visited Colorado last weekend, I was warned of Rocky Mountain Fever (altitude sickness). Visitors who aren’t used to the high altitude can get nauseous, headaches, dizzy, etc. and drinking a lot of alcohol can worsen the chance of getting ill.

Over the past few weeks, I seem to have been infected with a different kind of Rocky Mountain Fever – with symptoms that include an obsession over the mountains, the potential hiking, the laid back lifestyle, and the utter beauty that can be found out west. Why haven’t I gotten out there before last weekend?

Long before my newly contracted Rocky Mountain Fever, however, I was introduced to one of the best known places in Canada: Banff National Park in Alberta. I bought the book 501 Must Visit Destinations years ago when Borders was going out of business in our local mall. While flipping through the photograph-filled pages, my middle school-aged self discovered Banff and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Banff is about 120 km west of Calgary, and, from what I’ve seen in photos, looks like one of those places that is absolutely breathtaking in every season.

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Have you been to Banff? When would you recommend is the best time of year to visit?

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  • Reply papict

    I have not been but my husband has. Given that it’s one of the few childhood vacations he remembers in any vivid detail, Banff is clearly a place that made an impression.

    I’ve been to Banff, Scotland many times but I don’t think that will appear on your travel bucket list,

    November 22, 2014 at 10:51 am
    • Reply Kristen

      It sounds like a magical place! haha I’ve never heard of Banff, Scotland – but like I told you, I definitely need to explore Scotland more extensively someday!

      November 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm
  • Reply travelingmind2anywhere

    That’s a dream place to visit, among all kinds of tourists spots, anything historical and natural i love it..

    Thanks for sharing!

    November 25, 2014 at 9:45 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      I love getting out into nature too!

      December 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply robrockies

    September is a good time to visit, it’s a little quieter than peak summer and the weather is still usually good 🙂

    November 28, 2014 at 10:32 am
    • Reply Kristen

      September does sound like a great time to visit. Thanks!

      December 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply Kevin Rainey

    Hi Kristen, great blog and thanks for the like on my Zurich post.

    Banff is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in North America. The season is unimportant because both summer and winter offer completely different experiences. I have only been during the summer, but Lake Louise offers great skiing in the winter (it’s on the World Cup circuit).

    I didn’t stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, but high tea there overlooking the lake is unforgettable. Also, you must hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House and to the summit of the Bee Hive for heavenly views of the lake. Then take the Icefields Parkway, one of the world’s greatest drives, north in Alberta to Jasper National Park.

    It sounds almost un-American to say, but the Canadian Rockies are prettier than Colorado and Wyoming!

    December 16, 2014 at 12:57 am
  • Reply Kristen

    Hi Kevin, Thank you SO much for all of your advice! My travel agenda for 2015 is sure to be very mountain-focused, and while I plan to spend most of my time exploring the Colorado Rockies, I’m trying to see if a Banff trip can be scheduled in somewhere in the summer. It’s at the top of my list! I’ll be sure to check out some of the things you recommended — the drive to Jasper National Park especially intrigues me. Thanks again!

    December 16, 2014 at 9:21 am
    • Reply Kevin Rainey

      You’re welcome, Kristen.

      From Pennsylvania, it will probably be cheaper to fly into an American city such as Helena or Boise. My brother and I flew into Helena and visited Glacier/Waterton first. Flying into Canada is very expensive from the United States. I live in a border state (Michigan), so if I am traveling across Canada, it’s usually cheaper to drive across the border and then fly from Windsor or Toronto. Safe travels!

      December 17, 2014 at 12:52 am
      • Reply Kristen

        Great! I’m moving to Colorado in a few weeks so I’ll have to check out the options from there. Thanks for the tip!

        December 17, 2014 at 9:40 am
  • Reply Kevin Rainey

    Good luck, Kristen. I have some friends who live in Denver. You’ll love it there, and it’s great that you are moving right in time for ski season. Now the big decision is where to buy that season ski pass!

    December 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm
  • Reply Eagle-Eyed Editor

    I’ve been to Banff and highly recommend it. There’s a lot to do both indoors and outdoors — a museum or two, hiking, walking around town and the funicular cars that take you up to the top of one mountain. Spectacular views all around.

    February 9, 2015 at 10:44 am
    • Reply Kristen

      Thanks! I can’t wait to visit myself!

      February 9, 2015 at 11:11 am
      • Reply Eagle-Eyed Editor

        I went in November and it had already snowed. The travel agent warned me to bring my snow boots and coat, and I was SO glad I did!

        It was an interesting journey through 3 different seasons in one week. Our plane stopped briefly in LA (summer), we went to Vancouver for a few days (autumn) and we ended up with winter in Calgary/Banff!

        February 9, 2015 at 2:31 pm
        • Reply Kristen

          What a fun journey!

          February 9, 2015 at 11:01 pm
  • Reply Sue Kaltenbach

    I’ve never been to Banff but it is on my list. Gotta tell you though, the Colorado Rockies are a wonderful place to live. I Came from Ohio/Michigan and I love it here.

    February 16, 2015 at 12:15 am
  • Reply Shane Francescut

    Kristen, these images are totally amazing! I love Banff and think it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

    April 22, 2015 at 11:12 am
    • Reply Kristen

      Hi Shane! I didn’t take any of these photos, I’ve never been to Banff! I’ve got a trip planned for September though, very excited 🙂

      April 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm
      • Reply Shane Francescut

        Oh cool! Well, I hope you enjoy the trip. That’s a beautiful time of year to go.

        April 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm
  • Reply claudiag1224

    This trip looks amazing! Your photos are great as well!

    May 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      Hi, I agree that the photos are amazing but they aren’t mine (the sources of each can be found if you hover over the image)! I’ll be heading to Banff in September though, so I hope I can produce some nice photos of my own!

      May 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm
  • Reply suemtravels

    Beautiful Photos!!!

    May 5, 2015 at 5:28 pm
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  • Reply Vonnie

    Cool. Now on my list

    May 20, 2015 at 5:26 pm
  • Reply Mariane Delaterra

    October is a good time to visit Banff too? I will arrive there in October 3 and I expected to see this amazing blue lakes.

    May 27, 2015 at 8:57 am
  • Reply cynryan

    These photos are gorgeous! Like you, I live in a state of wanderlust, always seeking the next place to explore! Thanks for following me!

    June 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm
  • Reply Don MacIver, RPA, Writer, Editor, Poet, Author

    Kristen, Banff, which is situated just inside Banff National Park, is truly a traveller’s destination of choice, as is the park itself, meandering through majestic mountain ranges and icefields on the way to Jasper, another pretty city nestled on the Athabasca River surrounded by the serenity of rugged, mountainous wilderness and thriving wildlife. Again, a short drive from Banff is the village of Lake Louise where the mountain ranges shoulder the stunning lake which has a brilliant green/emerald hue to it…really a spectacle quite surreal.

    Banff is a hotel and shopping mecca. The extraordinary and historic Banff Springs Hotel, now renamed The Fairmont Banff Springs stands in near-monolith proportion to its surroundings, the golf course at its doorstep and the village itself across the bridge where old heritage charm meets striking modern day nuance that has the aromatic essence of prosperity.

    When mountain top views strike your fancy visitors and locals alike ride the gondolas up several thousand feet where they can walk the trails, take in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain panorama, the eagles soaring overhead and my favourite…the sound of…nothing, nothing at all…pure Heaven. There are nice dining facilities at the summit, gift shops and more.

    Wildlife is abundant including huge elk and grizzly bears that venture in or about the city limits seeking out tasty morsels roadside, bello at the golfers now and then, and sniff around the hotels for something to nibble on.

    This all may sound rather commercial and, no, I am not engaged by any of the foregoing locations. I moved to Vancouver nearly thirty years ago, then on to Victoria, Nanaimo and Parksville on the big island (aka The Rock) before recently relocating to gorgeous Kelowna and now Penticton in the Okanagan Valley of BC’s south-central Interior region. BC is extraordinary. The mountains, lakes, rivers, wildlife, the Pacific, the rail travel, the highways and the byways…truly a remarkable destination for tourists and permanent residents alike. The terrain morphs every half hour on the highways, the wildlife spectacular…and one’s deeply personal connection to the land is beyond words.

    I would be horribly remiss if I didn’t mention the endless sprawling acreage of vineyards in the Okanagan Valley where wineries are producing exceptional, world class wines. I must say, for any wine lover the superb ambiance and bouquet of the wines here is in of itself enough to draw people in droves (and does) and be oh so tempted never to leave.

    Yes, Banff is truly a destination for the bucket list…take it all in and then drive through the Rockies westward to the Coastal Mountain ranges where Vancouver sprawls gateway to the Pacific. And time must permit for a ferry run through the islands to Vancouver Island, take a whale-watching excursion and allow yourself the luxury and allure that oceanic splendour truly affords.

    I’m a little biased of course Kristen. Photos tell a tremendous story and the arrival to explore and experience steals heart, mind and soul. And if you are a romantic at heart…well…I will say no more!

    June 20, 2015 at 1:48 am
  • Reply themofman

    I’ve never been to Banff but I did live in Prince George for 9 years. Your beautiful shots make me miss BC’s wilderness.

    December 30, 2015 at 8:30 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      These photos are definitely beautiful – but I can’t take credit for them! 🙂 Hoping to get to Banff sooner rather than later.

      December 31, 2015 at 12:40 pm
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