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How to Make the Most of Banff This (Busy) Summer



by Tera Swanson

If there’s a buzzword around Banff these days it’s busy. But instead of bracing yourself, embrace everything Banff has to offer – from off-the-beaten-track hikes to the chance to be a real ambassador if you’re lucky to call Banff home. Here are six ways to make the most of it!

Image courtesy Park Distillery Restaurant + Bar.

Each summer, Banff is set to be a bustling place. But, a busy Banff doesn’t need to be miserable one – not when the park is 6,641 square kilometres and just begging for people to see a different side of it.

Here are some ideas and tips to help you make the most of the mountains this summer:

1/ Be a Morning Person

If you have Banff’s grand icons on your list (think Larch Valley or Plain of Six Glaciers trails), beat the crowds and get there early – before 8am. The extra morning hours provide a golden opportunity to experience the national park in a peaceful, pristine state, and make for way smoother travel. You’ll also find the streets pretty quiet in the Town of Banff – the perfect chance to grab a coffee and go for a stroll while the town comes to life.

2/ Get Off the Beaten Path

Johnston Canyon, Bow Falls, Lake Louise: these are the postcard settings and world famous for a reason. But, if you have the option, visit these hotspots in the off-season. Opt for less-visited attractions for a more immersive experience, such as the lakes and trailheads along the Icefields Parkway or Banff’s backcountry. You don’t have to wander far to find a crowd-free trail, and you’ll be surprised at how many parking-lot-to-peak options you can find throughout the parks that will get you in the alpine in no time.

→ Read more – Go Wild: 4 Reasons to Explore Banff’s Backcountry

Exploring Mistaya Canyon. Image courtesy Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson.

3/ Lead by Example

Maybe you’ve lent out some gear before, only to have your climbing kit given back one draw short, or your tent missing a pole. It stings to have our favourites trampled on, and the same goes for our national park. Pay it forward this summer and lead by example. Give wildlife plenty of space; pack in what you pack out, no matter where you are (backcountry campgrounds or busy street sidewalks); and try to leave day use areas in better shape than how you found them. Even the basic things – picking up trash along the trail and hiking in minimum group numbers – will go a long way in showing others how to keep the park experience a pleasant one for all.

4/ Lend a Hand

Many of us love to travel like a local or appreciate it when someone “in the know” gives us a few pointers. Is Banff your home? The next time you see a visitor standing on a street corner, map in hand, with a perplexed look on his or her face, take a moment to ask if there’s something you can help with. People spend their hard-earned money to come visit the place we are pretty lucky to call home. Let them know you’re stoked they’re here and help them make the most of their time in Banff National Park, too.

Rise a bit earlier to enjoy Banff when it’s most peaceful. Image courtesy Banff & Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka.

5/ Ditch the Car Keys

Sometimes the car is the best way to get from A to B. If it’s not essential, consider leaving yours at your house or hotel. Banff has great public transport systems in place begging to be used, as well as many sweet spots you can access on foot or bicycle. Carpooling is also a great way to make some new hiking or climbing buds!  Be kind to your sanity, your environment, and your fellow mountain enthusiasts by opting for these other modes of transpo whenever possible.

6/ Find Your Daily Dose of Calm

Mountain folk are notorious for kicking into high gear and staying there for four months straight to maximize their summer outdoor time, only to crash into inevitable burnout when September rolls around. Pairing this frenzy with some ‘zone out’ time will be all the more essential this summer. Be intentional in creating these opportunities for yourself – gliding across Two Jack Lake for a morning paddleboard session, kicking back with a book by Vermilion Lakes, or flipping a few downward dogs in Central Park, to name a few. Hone in on what calms your mind, and try to practice it every day.

Image courtesy Park Distillery Restaurant + Bar.

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