[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Canada’s oldest and most famous national park is so much more than just skiing. Banff National Park sits in the incredible jaw-dropping the Rocky Mountains. Think snow-topped peaks, tall pines and brilliant blue lakes. The most well-known towns are Banff and Lake Louise.
Here’s our so list of where to go and what to do with your family in Banff National Park:
Where to go
1. Cave and Basin National Historic Site – few people can boast they have been to an underground cave with a thermal pool, so make a point of delving deep into this treasure and its interesting, interactive exhibits.
2. Lake Minnewanka – twenty minutes north of Banff on a loop trail lies what First Nations peoples call the Lake of Water Spirits. The picturesque spot is great for picnics, walking and biking in warmer months. When the weather turns cold, act like a local and try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
3. Johnson Lake – great for little legs that are still keen on walking, the walk around Johnson Lake is a perfect 3-kilometre circuit.
4. Peyto Lake – add Peyto Lake to your list of must-visit water sources in Banff; you won’t be disappointed.
5. Castleguard Cavern – this impressive cave network boasts the title of the largest in all of Canada.
6. Johnston Canyon – drive the Bow Valley highway to the start of this popular walk. Expect to contend with other hikers as you pick between the Lower Falls or the Upper.
7. Lake Agnes Trail – another fan favourite track in the region, the Lake Agnes trail is just short of 7 kilometres return. It sees you climb up to a teahouse by Mirror Lake, unless you visit in winter when you’ll need your snowshoes.
8. Bow Lake – one of the best and easily accessed fishing lakes in the park, at Bow Lake you are casting a line into the very source of the Bow River, in full view of the Bow Glacier.
9. Lake Louise – last but definitely not least, this star performer is a crowd favourite for good reason. The glacier-sculpted forms and emerald greens of the landscape appear straight out of a fantasy world. It is worth choosing Lake Louise as your home base and making the most of canoeing, horse-riding and plenty of other activities in the area.
What to do
1. Upper Hot Springs Pool – casting your mind back to those first railway workers, take a splash in the geothermal heated water of this natural pool. The water comes from three kilometres into the earth’s crust and can get as hot as 47’C in winter. When you venture to this popular site, 2 kilometres south of Banff town, keep in mind you are swimming in ancient waters, which fell to earth as rain and snow hundreds of years ago!
2. Iceskating – the best open air, natural rinks in the world are in Banff. Glide over Lake Louise and make the most of its heat shelter provided by Fairmont Chateau, or enjoy open fire and a hearty meal at the German pub near the Waldhaus Rink in Spray Meadow. There is also an indoor public rink at Fenlands Banff Recreational Centre.
3. Dogsledding – this unique form of transport dates back to the Inuit settlements of the Canadian Arctic. Now, on various tours you can get to know the beautiful dogs and the ‘mushers,’ who lead the canine team and guide you on your tour.
4. Ice Magic Winter Festival – the annual celebration of all things ice and snow will make you feel like a character in Frozen. Wannabe Elsas and Olafs will love the huge ice-carving competition and sculptures at Lake Louise in January.
5. Horse Riding – there are a number of providers who will take you on trail rides through Banff, to see the Rockies in the same way as the early pioneers. You can even be a cowboy for a day, or take an overnight horse trek in backcountry.
6. Indoor activities – although you could never tire of the spectacular vistas of the national park, for an indoor break try out the cinema, bowling alley, shopping mall, rock climbing and indoor water park in Banff township.
If you like the look of the skiing and winter sports, read about Tips for Skiing with Kids
If it is the National Park slant that interests you, read about parks closer to home with Australia’s Best National Parks