By Jack Newton
Banff, Jasper and other Canadian Rockies locales are a winter enthusiast’s paradise. Below are some of our favourite ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
1. Canyon Ice Walks: Guided tours of Johnston, Grotto and Maligne canyons pass through towering walls of limestone to stunning frozen waterfalls. Ice cleats are provided; headlamp-lit night tours are an option.
2. Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing: Rentals and guided tours are available, or go on your own. Parks Canada offers trail information and conditions reports.
3. Dog Sled Tours: Thrilling scenic tours are offered near Canmore (Banff area) and Valemount (Jasper area). Mush your own sled, cuddle the huskies and sip hot chocolate.
4. Fat Biking: Rentals are available at local shops; ask the staff for ‘hard packed’ trail suggestions. The Canmore Nordic Centre has designated fat bike trails, and Parks Canada has designated trails in Banff and Jasper for bikes with fat tires and snowshoes.
5. Helicopter Tours & Skiing: Sightseeing tours depart Kananaskis (near Canmore); heli-operators offer shuttles from Banff. Book heli-skiing with transport from Banff to Panorama Mountain Resort.
6. Ice Skating/Curling: The Canadian Rockies boast some of the most scenic outdoor skating rinks in the world. Rinks at The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge are especially stunning. Banff, Canmore and Jasper all offer indoor rinks too; skate rentals are available at local shops.
7. Indoor & Ice Climbing: There are indoor climbing walls at The Banff Centre, Elevation Place in Canmore and the Jasper Fitness Centre. Outdoor ice climbing lessons can be arranged.
8. Sightseeing: It’s no secret, the Canadian Rockies are simply gorgeous. Scenic viewpoints and picnic sites (some with fire pits) abound. Drive on your own, or learn more during a guided sightseeing tours.
9. Ski Areas: Canada’s Mountain Parks (Banff and Jasper national parks, plus Kananaskis Country) are home to five Alberta ski areas that boast an enviable combination of deep dry snow, tree-lined and open bowl terrain, high-speed lifts and on-hill amenities.
10. Sleigh Rides: Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through woodland and mountain meadows just beyond downtown Banff, a trip along Lake Louise beneath the Victoria Glacier or a ride along Pyramid Lake’s sunny shore in Jasper.
11. Snowmobile Tours: Guided backcountry tours operate in BC; transport from Banff and area is available.
12. Tobogganing: Favourite family-friendly spots include hills near the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel’s Waldhaus Restaurant, the dedicated toboggan run at Kananaskis Village (rentals are available in town). In Jasper, rent and slide at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
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