Check out these 10 under-the-radar experiences you can have in Banff

Banff is one of the most popular destinations in Canada, attracting millions of visitors every year with its stunning scenery, wildlife and outdoor activities. But there is more to Banff than the usual attractions like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and the Banff Gondola. If you are looking for some unique and offbeat experiences that will make your trip to Banff unforgettable, here are 10 suggestions that you won’t find in every guidebook.

Visit Bankhead ghost town

Once a bustling coal mining town, Bankhead is now a ghost town that lies within Banff National Park. You can explore the ruins of the old buildings, such as the lamp house, the power plant and the mine entrance, and learn about the history of the town and its residents through interpretive signs. Bankhead was abandoned in 1922 after the mine closed due to low profits and environmental concerns. The trail to the town is closed from November to April each year due to unpredictable trail conditions brought on by the winter weather.

Enjoy a one-of-a-kind dinner at The Grizzly House

The Grizzly House is a Banff institution that has been serving fondue and exotic meats since 1967. You can choose from a variety of cheese, oil and chocolate fondues, and try some unusual meats like rattlesnake, alligator, ostrich and buffalo. The restaurant also has a quirky decor, featuring bear rugs, antler chandeliers and vintage phones at each table. The Grizzly House is a fun and unique place to enjoy a memorable meal in Banff.

Go dogsledding in the Rockies

If you love dogs and adventure, you will love dogsledding in the Rockies. You can experience the thrill of mushing your own team of huskies through the snow-covered trails of Banff National Park, or sit back and relax as a guide drives the sled for you. You will also get to meet and cuddle with the friendly dogs, and learn about their history and culture. Dogsledding is a great way to enjoy the winter wonderland of Banff and connect with nature.

Try ice climbing on a frozen waterfall

For a more challenging and exhilarating activity, you can try ice climbing on a frozen waterfall in Banff. With the help of a professional guide and some specialized equipment, you can scale the ice formations that form on the cliffs and canyons of Banff National Park. You will need some physical fitness and courage, but no previous experience is required. Ice climbing is a unique way to test your limits and enjoy the beauty of Banff’s winter landscape.

Camp under the stars in winter

If you are looking for a truly offbeat experience in Banff, you can camp under the stars in winter. Banff National Park has several campgrounds that are open year-round, where you can pitch your tent or park your RV and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. You will need to be prepared for cold temperatures and snow, but you will also get to see the park in a different light, with fewer crowds and more wildlife. Camping in winter is a great way to immerse yourself in Banff’s natural beauty.

Take a helicopter tour over the mountains

For a bird’s eye view of Banff’s stunning scenery, you can take a helicopter tour over the mountains. You will fly over glaciers, lakes, valleys and peaks, and marvel at the majesty of the Rockies. You can also combine your helicopter tour with other activities, such as hiking, snowshoeing, dogsledding or skiing. A helicopter tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will give you a new perspective on Banff’s beauty.

Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs

One of the most relaxing and soothing experiences in Banff is to soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. These natural hot springs are located on Sulphur Mountain, and offer a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. The water is rich in minerals and has a temperature of about 40°C, which is perfect for easing your muscles and mind after a day of exploring Banff. The Banff Upper Hot Springs are open year-round, and are especially enjoyable in winter when the contrast between the hot water and the cold air is refreshing.

Explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is where Banff National Park began. It is the site of the first hot springs discovered by European explorers in 1883, which led to the creation of Canada’s first national park. You can explore the cave where the springs are located, and learn about the history and culture of Banff through interactive exhibits and guided tours. You can also walk along the boardwalks and trails that surround the site, and see the endangered Banff Springs snail, a tiny creature that lives only in these waters.

Visit the Banff Park Museum

The Banff Park Museum is Canada’s oldest natural history museum, dating back to 1895. It houses a collection of over 5,000 specimens of animals, plants and minerals from Banff National Park and the surrounding area. You can see displays of bears, wolves, bison, elk and more, and learn about their ecology and conservation. The museum is also a national historic site, as it showcases the original architecture and design of the early park buildings.

See the Bow Falls in winter

The Bow Falls are one of the most iconic landmarks in Banff, located just a short walk from downtown. They are a cascading waterfall that drops about 9 metres over a rocky ledge, creating a powerful and scenic spectacle. The Bow Falls are especially beautiful in winter, when they partially freeze and form ice sculptures and formations. You can see the falls from various viewpoints along the river, or cross the bridge to get closer to them.

ENS Editors

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