Banff has been on my bucket list for SO long and it was even more magical than I imagined.
We spent 5 days (Thursday night-Tuesday) in the area but I feel like I need to go back to see everything! We were on the trip with one of our best couple friends who made the trip that much more fun. You can see a lot in 5 days but there is just SO much to see. Over the 5 days, we stayed in Banff our first night, reserved a camp site for 2 nights (at Allenby Junction – a must if you want to make it all the way to Mt. Assiniboine as it’s too long of a hike to do in one day) and stayed in Canmore our final night. It was fun to stay in both Banff and Canmore but even if you stay in the same area, it is fun to visit and check-out both towns! Banff is a little busier than Canmore. To get out to Banff National Park, you fly into Calgary, Alberta (we flew Air Canada out and United back) and the drive to Banff is about an hour.
We stayed at Moose Lodge in Banff and BaseCamp Resorts (airBnB) in Canmore. Both I would HIGHLY recommend!!
Airbnb and hot tub view:
The top highlights of the trip were encountering a humungous grizzly bear 25 yards from us along the trail to Mt. Assiniboine (one of the scariest experiences) and renting, plus using snow shoes to make it along the snow-covered trail to Mt. Assiniboine. I had never snow shoed before (or seen a bear in the wild)! Make sure you bring bear spray and know what to do if you encounter a bear (be LOUD, stay in a crowd of 4+ people, don’t run, etc). I wouldn’t say these are typical occurrences when in Banff (May is early in their season) but can still happen!
We spent 3 out of the 5 days in Banff hiking to Mt. Assiniboine in the back-country woods and BOY was it an experience. I have ‘camped’ before but have never done anything THIS rugged. We carried sleeping bags, our tents, all our food, water filtration, clothing, toiletries, etc. You also have to be prepared to hang your food in trees (there were ropes at our campground but you must bring bags for your food) so that you don’t attract bears to your camp site. We went at the end of May so temperature wise, it would get up into the 70’s during the day but would get below freezing at night! We had to pack tons of layers and TONS of food! We use a JetBoil to boil water and carry Good To Go dehydrated meals for dinner. This may not be what everyone desires to do (as it requires camping and not just day-hiking) but was the experience of a life time and something I will never EVER forget and makes me SO grateful for the planet we live on and everything I take for granted each day (running water, pillows, heat, being able to call people, etc).
Below is an overall list of my favorites during our trip (that happened outside of the 2 nights of camping):
Hikes: Alymer Lookout (14 miles round-trip but 120% WORTH IT!), Grassi Lakes (shorter 2 mile round-trip hike but you get to enjoy the most beautiful lake at the top and waterfalls along the way), anything around Lake Louise (prettiest view I’ve ever seen). We didn’t make it to Morraine Lake but that’s my next stop when we go back!
Healthy Food: Communitea Cafe in Canmore. We went here for breakfast and we literally ordered everything!! Highly recommend.
Restaurants: Bear Creek Tavern in Banff (great pizza with honey-chili oil for dipping the crust) and Grizzly Paw Brewery in Canmore (best sweet potato fries ever)
Dessert: Smiling Moose ice cream in Canmore
Extras: Rocky Mountain Soap to bring back amazing, local soap for friends/family!
I hope you guys enjoy Banff as much as we did! Comment below or reach out to me if you have any further questions!