You will see some people placidly paddling a canoe down the very tame Bow River or Vermillion Lakes. Certainly a nice peaceful place to do it. A bit expensive though ($35 for the first hour, 20 for additional hours
A friend and I had a few hours in Banff before she had to catch her bus, so we decided to go on a little hike. This is just outside the Townsite. Take the Fenland Trail, which is flat but is supposed to be a great place to catch sight of wildlife (we didn't see any that day) Turn left of Vermillion Lakes drive, which parallels the Trans Canada Highway.
These are wetlands, so you might get to see some birds or other wildlife here. There is no real elevation gain, an easy trail. The background is glorious, with Mount Rundle! Make your way back the same way you came, just take Fenland Trail to Bow River Trail and you are back in Banff. Can be done easily in a couple of hours if you want to take time and stop and take pictures and look for wildlife.
As this is wetland you will want to make sure to wear appropriate shoes. Decent hiking boots or something waterproof it you are going to slosh through.
Canada Day is the national holiday of Canada and takes place every year on July 1. The holiday was originally called Dominion Day in 1982 but received its present name.
During Canada Day parades are regularly held and other festivities. Often the evening a fireworks show.
History of Canada Day
On June 21, 1868, a notice signed by Governor General, Lord Monck, stating that Her Majesty everyone in Canada called for the Confederation of Canada to celebrate on July 1, 1868. The rest day on July 1, was established in 1879 under the English name Dominion Day.
At the 50th anniversary in 1917, the new Centre Block of Parliament Buildings, which was still under construction, dedicated as a memorial to the Fathers of Confederation and the exploits of the Canadians who fought in the First World War. During the Diamond Jubilee was the cornerstone of the Confederation Building on Wellington Street submitted by the Governor General and the carillon in the Peace Tower was dedicated.
In 1958 the government decided that every year a celebration to be held on Canada's national day. On this day there is an afternoon Trooping the Colours ceremony and a ceremony at sunset, followed by a concert with many bands, and finally a grand fireworks display.
During the 100 th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II visited Canada in the festivities. This was one reason for a large-scale ceremony.
The idea of the ceremonies changed in 1968 with the addition of multicultural and professional concerts were held on Parliament Hill. These were including a national television show. Until 1975, the festivities were under the name Festival Canada held in the National Capital Region during the month of July and included numerous cultural, artistic and sporting events.
Since 1985 in every province and district of Canada set up a committee to plan, organize and coordinate local Canada Day ceremonies. Money for this is provided by the government for such committees.
The Banff Springs Hotel is a luxury hotel near Banff townsite. Following the tourism vision of Willian Cornelius Van Horne, the hotel first opened in 1888 and designed by Bruce Price, an American architect. The hotel expanded in size over a period of time until 1926 when the original hotel burnt down but it was rebuilt in 1928 and has since attracted famous people, heads of state and members of high society including the British Royal Family. Stanley Thompson designed the well known hotel's golf course.
The hotel closed briefly during World War II but reopened in 1945 and since then attracted a wide range of visitors especially those doing train journeys across The Rockies and to business clientale with which the Banff Springs Conference Center was built.
Banff Springs Hotel is part of the Fairmount Luxury Hotels & Resorts Group.
I had an afternoon of luxury at the Banff Upper Hot Springs where I "took the waters" and indulged to a massage and some pampering at the Pleides Massage & Spa Centre (Went in July 2005).
Banff Upper Hot Springs have attracted travellers for more than a century to this historic spa. The waters are view sacred to the natives as well as treasured to the settlers and the hot springs began the development of modern day Banff. The water is wonderful and bathing is such beautiful surroundings is highly recommendable to visit!
It costs 7.30 CAD (April 2011) to visit the Hot Springs and you can hire swimsuits, towels and a locker at extra costs.
Pleides Massage & Spa Centre (for reservations and recommmendable to book in 1-5 days in advance):
Toll-free (in Canada and the US only): 1 (866) 760-2502
Toll-free (in UK only): (0800) 051-7050
Local Calls: (403) 760-2500
The gondola takes you up the summit of Sulphur Mountain. At th 2281 m (7486 ft.), you're awarded with stunning views of the mountains and valley along with Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls, Lake Minnewanka. Also look out and walk to the 1903 Stone Observatory where Norman Sanson ascended to weekly to make weather observations and this is now Canada's designated National Historic Site. On the summit there are also a restaurant, shops, service facilities and scenic hiking trails.
I've been up Sulphur Mountain twice in October 2000 and July 2006.
The cost to go up is 29.95 CAD for an adult and 14.95 CAD for a child (April 2011).
The Gondola is not at the Lake, but nearby at the Lake Louise Lodge & Interpretation centre. You will finds signposts to it.
The ride takes fourteen minutes, either in an open chair or a fully enclosed gondola. This came in quite handy, as on the way up it was fine, so we used the open chair, and the way back it was starting to rain, so we used the enclosed Gondola.
The sights are beautiful coming back down, you see across to Lake Louise, and if lucky, Grizzly Bears feeding underneath the Gondola.
At the top, at 2088m, you can explore the spectacular scenery by doing small to large treks, we did small, and we did see some wildlife. The views are fantastic, would be much better on a sunny, clear day!
At the top of the lift and gondola, Interpretive Programs are available daily, including indoor presentations and themed guided walks.
We booked the Ride & eat ticket, which included the Gondola ride and our buffet lunch, all was good, and very good value!
May 15th - June 12th: 9:00am to 4:30pm
June 13th - Sept 7th: 9:00am to 5:00pm
Sept 8th - 30th: 9:00am to 4:30pm
ADMISSION IN 2009.....Adult $25.95
Child (6-15) $12.95 ........5 and under FREE
Ride 'n Dine
Breakfast Lunch ....Adult $28.60 $32.25
Child(6-15) $15.95 $18.50 ........5 and under $3.95 $3.95
The Bow Falls are one of my favourite spots in Banff. The falls are not the most spectacular sight to see in Banff, and it is usually very busy with tourists, but I still find it beautiful and always visit when I'm in Banff. The further you move away from the parking lot, the less people there are. There is a little rocky beach you can sit on and just look out over the river. There is almost always at least one artist here painting or sketching the falls, river and tree covered mountainside. I just feel like there is something special about it.
The falls were featured in the Marilyn Monroe movie The River of No Return. The falls are on the way to the famous Banff Springs Hotel
(which is where Marilyn stayed during the filming of the movie).
UPDATE: I just went to the Bow Falls in the winter for the first time. It had a totally different feel to it. There were only a few people there. It was strange to see the parking lot so empty. It is still one of my favorite places, and it had a bit of a surreal feel for me in the winter.
Lake Minnewanka is a gorgeous lake surrounded by majestic mountains just 5 kilometers from the Banff townsite. It is the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies at 24 km long and 142 m deep. Aboriginals lived in the area as early as 10,000 years ago, as evidenced by tools found in the area. There are plenty of activities available, including a boat tour (which I didn't take as it seemed a bit expensive), boating on your own, hiking trails, scuba diving and leisure areas. It is a glacier fed lake, so the water is quite cold! The scenery is stunning and I was content to sit on a rock and take it all in.
There is a big parking lot and a concession stand.
We wanted to do something on our 44th Wedding Anniversary so I called Oh Canada, Eh? for reservations on the day of our anniversary. They were closed that day! Just before we got to Banff I called and asked them if we just showed up would we be able to get seats, and we were assured we could come.
We drove into Banff, found the Rundlestone Lodge, unpacked and ventured over to Canmore to see the show.
We were seated immediately and offered our drink, followed by Canadian Split Pea Soup with Ham and warm bread. By this time a couple of other families were seated at the table for the family style dinner. About the time our salads were served, the show started. The entree was broasted chicken, roast beef and fried white fish with red skin potatoes (which I love) and green bean and carrot vegetable medley. Dessert was a chocolate carmel concoction.
The meal included coffee. We paid $62 each which was a Senior price. Of course, when this came on our credit card, the cost was about $12 less due to the good currency exchange right now.
It was nice to have other folks to meet and chat with during the dinner and parts of the show.
The show was a comedy spoof about Canadian history and customs. It was a nice evening event and I would recommend it.
At 7486 feet the summit of Sulphur Mountain is a special place at the top of the world.
The viewdecks at the upper terminal provide unobstructed 360 degree views and informative interpretive panels detailing Canada's National Parks system.
Roundtrip 2008 Rate:
$13.00 child ( 6-15)
The Columbia Icefield is technically in Jasper National Park, but it is almost halfway between the towns of Banff and Jasper (180km from Banff, 108km from Jasper). Take a thrilling 2-hour drive, most of it along the breathtaking Icefield parkway, to get there. This is one of the most gorgeous drives I have ever been on. The scenery is just stunning, and we saw 2 bears on the way back.
Once you get to the Icefields, there is an information centre with displays about the glaciers, a gift shop and a café. This is, of course, where you buy your tickets. Tours of the Athabasca glacier depart every 15-30 minutes. You board a coach which drives you about 8 minutes over to the Ice Explorers, funny looking buses that drive you onto the glacier, at one point down a 38 degree incline. The driver gives some very interesting info about the glaciers and other things. When you arrive on the Athabasca Glacier, you're able to get out of the bus and explore the glacier on your own for about 20 minutes. This was extra interesting when we went, in the middle of August when it was 30 C, as it was only about 5 C on the glacier and extremely windy!
One thing I found very interesting is that these glaciers are on a continental divide, meaning that the water from these glaciers goes to either the Pacific or Arctic and Atlantic.
You really can't go wrong with a trip to the Icefields. There is a beautiful, leisurely drive to get there (the Parkway has less traffic than the Trans Canada and has a lower speed limit) and a fun, informative tour when you get there! I would suggest going earlier in the day, as it gets very busy in the afternoon. The tour itself takes about 1.5 hours. Don't miss it!
Adults - $38
Children - $19
The Banff Hot Springs are one of the most popular attractions in Banff. These natural hot springs were discovered on Sulphur Mountain in 1884 and people have been taking advantage of their warmth and, some think, healing powers ever since. Their discovery lead to the establishment of Banff as a National Park, so not only are these hot pools very relaxing, they're a very important part of Canada's history. There is a great view of the mountains and the Banff Springs Hotel from the pools. The temperature ranges from 37 to 40 degrees Celcius, so they recommend only staying in for 20 minutes. I like to spend more time there, so if I get too hot, I'll just get out a sit on one of the chairs for a while and then hop back in. They also have cold showers outside if you need to cool down.
Admission is $7.30 for adults, $6.30 for children .
Open all year round. I have not been in the winter, but I think it would
Towels and bathing suits available for rental. Gift shop.
The ruins of the old Bankhead coal mine are located along the Minnewanka Loop just before you reach Lake Minnewanka. The coal was used to fuel the engines of the Canadian Pacific railway.
There is Upper Bankhead and Lower Bankhead which was a thriving coal mine during the period 1904 to 1922. Many of the buildings remain in ruin and we walked some of the trails to gain a better view. It is only 15 minutes drive from Banff and ideal country for hiking, there is also the chance of seeing some animals in the wild.
The hot pool is well worth visiting and is very popular with tourists. The pool is built like a normal swimming pool , located on the side of the mountain it offers spectacular views of the mountains and valley.
We did not enter the pool but had a coffee and enjoyed the view. There is a fee to enter the pool , but no fee just to view.
Summer Hours (May19 to Sept 30) 9am to 11pm
Winter Hours 10am to 10 pm
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