Feb. 24, 2016
By Afton Aikens, Ashley Materi & Ally McConnell
Nighttime Light Show
On clear nights, dark skies provide pristine conditions for stargazing and viewing the northern lights. Local photographer Paul Zizka recommends Lake Minnewanka near Banff and Bow Lake north of Lake Louise as prime roadside spots. Download the Star Tracker Mobile Sky Map app to help identify constellations; track northern light forecasts on aurorawatch.com.
Sleigh Ride Trivia
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride (see tour listings) through the Bow River valley near Banff town (with barn visit and campfire) or around Lake Louise where Victoria Glacier looms large. Impress your guide with local knowledge: elk (commonly seen in Banff) are also called ‘wapiti’, a Native term for ‘white rump’. In Lake Louise, the grand Fairmont Chateau began in 1890 as a 50-guest log cabin built by Canadian Pacific Railway manager Cornelius Van Horne. Back then, sleighs were used for daily transportation.
Access these lookouts without a hike (see our Banff map):
- Surprise Corner: Right in the Banff townsite, gaze at Bow Falls and the historic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel backdropped by Sulphur Mountain. Try to spot the cosmic ray station perched on the peak.
- Mount Norquay Rd.: Ten minutes north of downtown Banff, a pullout near the top offers views of town, the Bow River and mountains galore. In the evening, twinkling townsite lights create a magical scene.
- Morant’s Curve: This Bow Valley Parkway lookout is named for Canadian Pacific Railway photographer Nicholas Morant. The mountain-framed Bow River makes it a spectacular spot to photograph trains.
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