If you have been following my Instagram stories, it’s no secret that I’ve been embracing all that “life in the mountains” has to offer, exploring everything that the Jasper and Banff areas have to offer. I’m excited to share with you my recommendations on the best places to check out and things to do when you’re in these areas.
ON THE WAY
Golden Skybridge (Golden, BC)
Nestled in the town of Golden, the most breathtaking new attraction just opened that is a must-do for road trippers and adventure-seekers. The Golden Skybridge is a pair of suspension bridges—the tallest ones in Canada standing 426 feet above an expansive canyon—that create a nature walking loop through 3 kilometres of forested trails. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges while a crashing river and 200- foot waterfall flow below. As if the sheer magnitude of the bridges and trails weren’t thrilling enough, adrenaline junkies will soon have the opportunity to experience a free-falling swing for two and a 1,500-foot zipline offering a bird’s eye view of the waterfall.
WHAT TO DO
Banff Gondola (Banff National Park)
This one is not for the faint of heart (or for those afraid of heights), but is an absolute must-do if you can handle the views from up top. This is without a doubt the most popular attraction in Banff, and it’s no mystery why. Enjoy a peaceful ride up the mountain, where during the day you can enjoy stunning once-in-a-lifetime views and a bite to eat. In the evening, you can even enjoy nightly live music, rooftop cocktails, and the most magnificent sunsets.
Open Top Touring (Banff National Park)
Unlike any city bus tour I’ve seen before, Open Top Touring allows visitors to see Banff in style! This unique vintage bus is modeled after the same 1930s open-top vehicles that people used to tour the city with back in the day. I loved how it pays homage to the town’s history both through the sites you see and the means for getting there! Tours operate year-round, and the roof will always be open unless there is inclement weather—they use a full glass panel roof when necessary so that you don’t have to miss any views!
WHERE TO EXPLORE
Lake Minnewanka (Banff National Park)
No matter what time of year you’re visiting Banff, spending a day at Lake Minnewanka must be at the top of your to-do list. It is a magnificent glacial lake tucked between the mountains, offering visitors an array of opportunities from canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking in the warmer months, to skating and cross country skiing in the winter. I took the Lake Minnewanka Cruise while I was there, which made for a relaxing afternoon touring and is a great way to see the entire lake.
Columbia Icefield & Skywalk (Jasper National Park)
An experience that’s both educational and aesthetically exciting, tours of the ancient Athabasca Glacier offer astounding scenery and a deep sense of wonder. Visitors can travel across the glacier via a mighty Ice Explorer vehicle before stepping out onto the glass-floored Skywalk, a cliff-edge walkway offering spectacular views of the Sunwapta Valley, just 918 feet below! The walk is presented in an interpretive storytelling format that connects visitors to the natural world in a deep and meaningful way.
WHERE TO EAT
Farm & Fire (Banff National Park)
A relatively new addition to the scene in Banff, Farm & Fire was hands-down my favorite dining experience of the trip. The restaurant itself offers a warm and modern atmosphere, while the brunch and dinner menus offer some delicious selections such as steak and eggs, unique breakfast bowl combinations, woodfired flatbread pizzas, and refreshing cocktails. They also have a takeout menu available for anyone who prefers not to eat indoors during the ongoing pandemic—I personally think this would be a great option to grab some food to-go and enjoy a picnic by the lake!
Sky Bistro (Banff National Park)
Touted as a “dining sanctuary in the sky,” those who take the Banff Gondola can enjoy the finest dining atop the mountain with decadent lunch, dinner, and dessert options. The housemade ricotta gnocchi and delicious s’more dessert are just a few of the favorites on the menu. Guests can order á la carte, or purchase a gondola admission & dining package that includes a ride ticket, appetizer, and entree for $111 per guest.
WHERE TO STAY
Mount Royal Hotel (Banff National Park)
Located in the heart of Banff, this modern hotel provides the perfect place to stay if you want to be close to everything the city has to offer. This upscale hotel offers guests a variety of suite styles and city views, and I felt completely comfortable during my stay due to the great measures they’re taking as the pandemic continues.
Glacier View Lodge (Jasper National Park)
Visitors of the Columbia Icefield can continue to “chill out” at this beautiful lodge offering breathtaking mountain and glacier views. All guests of the hotel can enjoy the VIP Adventure Experience, which includes access to the Icefield and Skywalk, guided tours, late 12-pm checkout, and a welcome reception in the Guest Lounge with complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres upon check-in.
I loved seeing all that the Canadian Rockies had to offer and made some truly unforgettable memories on this trip. Though I tend to prefer visiting warmer climates, I have a feeling the mountains will be calling me back soon!