9 reasons why you don’t need skis to enjoy Banff

From forest bathing to historic hotels, Canada’s iconic winter wonderland has more to offer than fresh powder

  • Published Oct 03, 2022
  • Updated Dec 05
  • 817 words
  • 4 minutes
As one of the world's most awe-inspiring mountain destinations, Banff is full of things to do and places to see that don't always involve a pair of skis. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Banff in the winter is synonymous with carving the hills. But for those of us who’d rather not shred snow-covered peaks on skis or snowboards, this iconic Canadian destination has so much more to offer no matter your age or activity level. From exploring the peaks on foot to guided nature tours to soaking in a hot tub to cap off a perfect day in Canada’s first national park. And just because you didn’t hit the slopes, doesn’t mean you can’t aprés at one of Banff’s top restaurants. Here’s a peek at some of the experiences you can have in Banff this winter.

Enjoy a scenic gondola ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain with picturesque views of mountain peaks and lush forests. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Banff Gondola

Get the lay of the land by taking the Banff Gondola up to the Sulphur Mountain summit and be treated to views of six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley and the Banff townsite. Walk along the Sulfur Mountain Boardwalk to the Cosmic Ray Station, a mountain laboratory turned national historic site constructed in the late 1950s to study cosmic rays. Then warm your toes in the mountaintop discovery centre as you learn more about Canada’s first national park. After absorbing the views, don’t forget to grab a bite at the Sky Bistro (see EAT below).

Take a walk through mountain meadows and enjoy the natural beauty that Alberta has to offer (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Mahikan Trails

Just a few minutes drive from Banff, Mahikan Trails is a Métis-organized tour company offering guided nature walks of Cascade Ponds, a series of picturesque natural pools connected by boardwalks at the base of Cascade Mountain. Learn about the area and its traditional plant medicines as you stroll through snow-dusted mountain meadows and thick boreal forests.


Take in the atmosphere of the forest as you embark on a forest bathing therapy experience. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Forest Fix

Soak in the sights, sounds and smells of the forest with a forest bathing therapy experience from Canmore-based outdoor wellness provider, Forest Fix. Forest bathing comes from the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, translating to ‘taking in the atmosphere of the forest,’ but you won’t get the same experience on any old hike. Through a guided tour, Ronna from Forest Fix shows guests how to really slow down and completely immerse themselves in their senses – think walking meditation. Health benefits abound, and you’ll be centred and ready to take on the next challenge.

Strap on some snowshoes and set out on a magical winter hike with Great Divide Nature Interpretation. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Guided snowshoe

Immerse yourself in the jaw-dropping landscapes of Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks with Great Divide Nature Interpretation. Offering guided hiking and snowshoeing trips, Great Divide takes visitors through the Canadian Rockies while telling stories of the region’s wildlife, wildflowers, glaciers and history. You will see and understand more than you would be exploring solo while also getting the big-picture processes that reveal the “why” of it all. Guide Joel Haden crafts authentic experiences in nature that are memorable, fun and rich with knowledge. With Great Divide, you will become enriched and familiar with the stories behind the scenery.


Moose Hotel & Suites

Get cozy in the modern lodge vibe of this 4-star hotel that’s walking distance from most of Banff’s restaurants and shops. Each room has outdoor access, and the hotel’s rooftop hot pools and sauna offer epic views of the Rockies as muscle tension from the day just melts away.

Mount Royal Hotel

For a more intimate, boutique experience, stay at the historic Mount Royal Hotel situated right in the heart of the Banff townsite, just a few steps from shopping and great restaurants. Explore the onsite museum and library to learn more about this legendary 100-year hotel, and check out its new rooftop lounge and hot tub – it’s the perfect spot to start, or end, your aprés experience.


With amenities like an outdoor pool and a full-service spa, Moose Hotel and Suites is the perfect place to enjoy the best of winter in comfort and style. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Located in the heart of Banff, Moose Hotel and Suites has the benefit of being set amidst some of the most spectacular views of the area. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Shoku Izakaya is a Japanese pub that serves traditional and modern fare including steamed buns, sushi and grilled meats. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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Sky Bistro

Dine nearly 900 metres above the Banff townsite while you take in some of the best views of the Rockies. Sky Bistro at the Banff Gondola offers modern cuisine made with ingredients from western producers complemented by local wine, beer and crafted spirits. It’s a must-do restaurant experience in Banff.

Shoku Izakaya

A Japanese tavern in Banff? Shoku Izakaya brings this concept to the Canadian Rockies, serving mostly Japanese bar fare like fresh lotus root chips, grilled ahi tuna, fries dusted with nori and bonito shavings, sushi and more. Go authentic and wash it all down with a warm sake or two from their extensive menu, or a classic Sapporo.

Chuck's Steakhouse features locally sourced, refined steaks and wine amidst stunning mountain views. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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The Uprising Bake Shop + Espresso Bar

For a quick and delicious bite before your next adventure, this bake shop serves up fresh-baked artisan loaves and European-style pastries, thick deli sandwiches and strong shots of espresso.

Chuck’s Steakhouse

For a classic steakhouse experience, with top notch Alberta beef and sumptuous small bites, Chuck’s Steakhouse in Banff is a classic Banff eatery. The highlight of their menu are steaks dry-aged onsite and sourced from ethically and locally raised Angus and Wagyu cattle, served with fresh vegetable-forward sides.


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