Favorite thing If you visit the Banff area, I would suggest checking out the following with your camera and a sense of awe.
I) Obtain a local tourist map and walk the town of Banff on foot and enjoy the little shops, cafes and points of historical interest.
2) Even if you can't afford to stay there, the Banff Springs Hotel is worth a look. Its architecture and ambiance harkens back to the days when the well heeled could take the train across the country, spending time in each of these famous hotels along the way.
3) If one goes to Banff and doesn't stop at Lake Louise and its Chateau, it would be akin to visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower! This is probably the number 1 visited spot in the whole Park. The glacial silt in the water turns the lake a turquoise blue which is unforgettable. The Chateau Lake Louise, while out of my price range, used to offer a High Tea in it's spacious main room, (I do not know if it still does.) but sipping Earl Grey and munching on butter cookies as a harp sets the mood, is a fine way to enjoy the comforts of the hotel and view of the lake in a memorable manner.
4) There is a generous sprinkling of beautiful lakes in the area, all of which deserve a stop, but for me, the crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies is Moraine Lake and the Valley of the 10 Peaks. It must have grabbed the attention of other more influential people as an image of it appeared on the back of former $20.00 bills. The term "Breath Taking" was minted on Moraines shore also.
5) Time and money factored in on my continuing North, but I did make it up to Jasper, another quaint tourist town, and hiked about Columbia Ice Fields on the way. The entire spine of the Rocky Mountains from Banff to Jasper are worthy of a "not to be forgotten" vacation in my humble opinion.
Fondest memory I don't think "fondest" is the word that works here in my short story. "Gnarliest" probably is closer.
In 1971, 3 friends and I hitch hiked from home in San Francisco California to Banff National Park to "bag some peaks" and enjoy the beautiful scenery, young ladies at the hostels and the fine beers.
One memory (that decorum will allow me to talk about), was standing at Moraine Lake, taking in the splendor of the Valley of the 10 Peaks, when we heard a series of bombs exploding maybe a mile from where we were standing! The 4 of us were stunned from the sound. As we looked down the valley where the rumbling seemed to be coming from, we saw a huge shelf of ice and snow billowing in slow motion down one of the peaks! The noise and spectacle of witnessing an avalanche in all it's natural power and glory is still etched in my memory over 40 years later.
Favorite thing VERMILLION LAKE.
Fondest memory I love this lake, it has its own character... untouched by mankind. Standing proud & very much on its own... no tourist, no civilization... just being...
Favorite thing Banff is vast, it's hard to know where to begin. In and around the town of Banff there are many scenic drives and trails that will afford spectacular views. So lace up those boots and hike.