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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

6 Reasons to visit Banff (in the Winter!)

When I planned my 30th birthday in Banff and started to tell my friends, about my upcoming travels, I kept getting the same response over and over.  It went something like "That is awesome, I have always wanted to go to Banff... but in the summer".  Sure, Banff is insanely alluring in the summer with its sunny skies, turquoise lakes, and comfortable temperatures.  But in the winter, Banff is an quiet winter wonderland that should jump to the top of your bucket list.  And maybe, right before "visit Banff in summer". 

There are so many reasons you should visit Banff in the winter, ranging from scenic snowy peaks to budget-friendly options but for the sake of time and typing, I am going to focus on the Big 5. 

1.  The Scenery 

Banff is famous for its turquoise lakes and wildflowers. But Banff needs to be see with its white peaks and snow covered roads.  When I visited in January, it felt like every day a light dusting of snow coated the landscape. You start to feel like you are living in a snow globe featuring the most picturesque mountain town.  There is something about a blue bird day and crisp white mountains and trails that makes a winter day so darn beautiful.   Winter in Banff reminds you just how beautiful those cold months between November and April can be. 

2.  Inexpensive Lodging 

Banff is a town within a National Park.  Because of that, growth is regulated and currently, the town isn't getting any bigger.  What that means is while this place gets more and more popular, the lodging gets more selective and more expensive.  But in the winter?  Not the case.  There are more options for lodging and they are much more affordable.  A room in this resort was $100 a night in the winter, and $255 a night in July.  Its also already mostly booked up for the summer.  If you are on a budget - Banff in the winter is your best option to see this National Park.  

3.  (almost) Empty Streets 

Want to photograph beautiful Banff without all the people?  Winter is your friend.  The streets are quiet and you can walk through downtown without the masses or 54 tourists in the background.  This also means you can easily find a parking space and wont have to worry about traffic backing up on this road through town. 

4.  Bear - free

Terrified of grizzlies... or maybe just hyper aware (as you should be)!  Want to hike without worrying about these types of interactions with mother nature?  Go while the bears are hibernating of course!  This may seem silly but it is peace of mind to be in the woods of Canada and know the wildlife threats are greatly reduced.  If you are lucky, you may see some tracks in the snow in the morning.  But you wont have to worry about crossing grizzlies on the trail. 

5.  Popular sites are much quieter

In the winter, you can see some of Banff's most popular sites without all the crowds.  You can hike some of the most popular trails without seeing a single person.  You can make a reservation at the best restaurant in town without calling two months in advance.   I know I keep hammering the "less is more" in terms of crowds but for me, less people always means a better experience. Experiencing some of the most popular sites in Banff without all the crowds is one of the biggest perks to visiting this town in the winter.  

6.  Sled and Ski! 

My last point is the most obvious but is so important.  Visiting Banff in the winter allows you to experience world class skiing at three different resorts.  You get to experience this beautiful National Park, and get some runs in -  does this really need any more explaining?  And then theres dogsledding.  You only have a short snowy window to experience just how magical it can be to spend a quiet morning behind a dog sled making your way through the National Park.  

If you are looking for a reason to visit Banff in the winter, there are many.  World class skiing, budget friendly options, solitude, and of course famous snow.  The skiing, affordable price and the solitude was the reason I visited Banff in January instead of in its more popular seasons.  As much as I would love to see Banff in the summer, I have this lovely idea of a quiet ski town in my brain that just may stay like that forever.  Lake Moraine, you can keep your gorgeous color, I just might keep visiting Banff in the winter, so I can have the park to myself. 

Happy Traveling,

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