Banff Guide: Winter Wonderland

Banff National Park: My Winter Vacation Dream Come True

Hello Fellow Wanderers! I am so excited to share with you my Winter Dream Trip come true. Ever since I was bitten by the travel bug I have been wanting to go to a place where I could really feel the winter vibes. And thanks to KHwa I was finally able visit Banff National Park this year while everything was covered in snow. It was truly a winter wonderland. If you love nature and photography, I highly recommend you put a trip to Banff at the top of your list. I honestly don’t know what else I can say to convince you so I’ll let my photos do the convincing even though they don’t do the beauty justice.

Suggested itinerary:

Friday: Fly into Calgary

  • Fly into Calgary – Vancouver is super far and if you’re short on time like we were, Calgary is your best bet.
  • Rent a car – We were hesitant at first about renting a car and driving on snowy icy roads, but I did some research and the roads are pretty well maintained even in the National Parks. Call ahead to request snow tires on an SUV and you’ll be set. Driving down Icefields Parkway is something you’ll definitely want to do.
  • If you fly in early then this won’t be a problem to go straight to Banff, however if you will arrive at midnight like us then stay in Calgary for the night. It’s darker longer in the winter so skies don’t get bright until around 8:30/ 9:00AM.

Saturday: Drive to Banff/ Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon

  • Stay around Lake Louise – Why? Well because if you want to go to places such as Bow Lake/ Peyto Lake and anything North of there – staying at Lake Louise will save you ~40mins. Also there are lots of night activities to do around Lake Louise.
  • Stop by Johnston Canyon on the way to Lake Louise. We left Calgary early in the morning around 8AM and drove straight to Johnston Canyon and there was already a decent amount of people here. I definitely recommend getting here earlier in the day as it is well trafficked. Boot attachments not needed but I wish I had them!
Johnston Canyon Secret Cave:

Getting to this cave was a stab in the almost dark since all the articles I read on how to find this place had pictures of the path in the summer time. Everything looks completely different covered in snow so let me tell you what I wish someone had just written out for me. Keep walking towards Upper Canyon Falls, and before you hit the Upper Falls you will see the top of this rock. (pics below) There is a lookout area just to see the top of this rock just in case you’re not sure if its THE ONE. If you are at the lookout, backtrack to where the railings end and go down that trail there. BE CAREFUL!! Go into the forest a bit before heading down. If you try to go down near the main trail it is super steep.

  • Tea at Fairmont Lake Louise – Once you’re done freezing your toes off hiking, head to the Fairmont Lake Louise and warm up with some tea! The Fairmont is definitely the most optimal place to stay as it is right on Lake Louise. Night lake skating until 11PM everyday! (They also have this at the Banff Fairmont)
  • Dinner at Post Hotel – Kevin found this restaurant in the Post Hotel and it was DELICIOUS! They have a sommelier in house, we ordered a bunch of appetizers and killed everything. Highly recommend this place for a romantic winter dinner date.

Sunday: Dog sledding, Bow Summit, and Emerald Lake

  • Kingmik Dog Sledding – This was perhaps my most anticipated activity in Banff. Kingmik is the only dog sledding company with permits to operate in Banff National Park. The Great Divide Tour covers 10 miles through Banff and it is an experience I will never forget. Just do it.
    • Fun Facts: 
      • Once they retire the older dogs, you can check on their website here to see if you adopting one is something you would like to do.
      • Sled dogs can run up to 100 miles without stopping. They can also poop without stopping.
  • Bow Summit, Peyto Lake – I’m sure you have all seen the turquoise blue beauty that is Peyto Lake in the summer/ spring. But it is still beautiful covered in all white. This also turned into a great workout for us because we got lost – yes again. I swear I am usually very directionally aware. Like I said, everything looks completely different in snow lol. Anyways, we got a great workout snowshoeing a trail we thought was going towards the summit. It’s a 10-15 min walk to the summit but we found ourselves on a super high peak an hour later wondering where it went wrong.

snow shoe

  • Emerald Lake – After Bow Summit make the drive to Emerald Lake. The drive getting there is beautiful and relaxing. It’s a bit far and out of the way so relatively crowd free.

Monday: Ice Skate Lake Louise/ Banff or Canmore Gondola

  • Lake Louise Ice Skating – Our last day in Canada we decided to do a morning skate/ workout on Lake Louise. You can rent ice skates at the shop in the Fairmont for ~$12CAD / 2 hours. They have a super cool ice castle that they build on the ice, perfect for them IG photos hehe.
  • Banff or Canmore Gondola – On your way back to Calgary to catch your flight, you may consider stopping by Banff or Canmore to grab a bite or ride the gondolas. We decided to forego this part since we felt like we had already seen so many gorgeous views we didn’t want to pay more. Check out a blog post here on if the gondolas are worth the price.
as you can see I’m the next Michelle Kwon lol

H&M puffer jacket (now on sale!)
Women’s trapper hat
UO fur mittens also on sale!

There you have it! As with all my Travel Guides, please comment if you’d like access to view my Google Spreadsheet itinerary.

Safe Travels!


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