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Air Tours

Tours and Outfitters

Alpine Helicopters. Helicopter sightseeing and heli-hiking in the Canadian Rockies are this company's specialty. 91 Bow Valley Tr., Canmore, Alberta, T1W 1N8. 403/678–4802; www.alpinehelicopter.com. From C$124.

CMH. This company offers multiday heli-skiing, heli-hiking, glacier-climbing, and other adventures with accommodations in remote mountain lodges. 217 Bear St., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1J6. 403/762–7100; 800/661–0252; www.canadianmountainholidays.com. From C$2,900.

Rockies Heli Canada. Helicopter tours in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper, including the Columbia Icefield, are conducted by this company that also arranges heli-camping, hiking, yoga, and horseback-riding trips. Next to Stoney Nakoda Resort, Nakoda Way, off Trans-Canada Hwy. 1 Exit 118 (Hwy. 40) , Kananaskis Village, Alberta. 877/591–0222; 403/881–2500; 403/881–2110; www.rockiesheli.com. From C$195.

Boating

Lake Minnewanka, near town, is the only place in Banff National Park that allows private motorboats. Aluminum fishing boats with 8-horsepower motors can be rented at the dock (call Lake Minnewanka Boat Tours 403/762–3473).

Canoe rentals are available at Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and in Banff, where you launch along the Bow River and explore the waterways of the Bow Valley.

Rafting options range from scenic float trips to family-friendly white-water excursions on the Kananaskis River to the intense white water of the Kicking Horse River, with its Class IV rapids.

Tours

Canadian Rockies Rafting. Scenic floats and thrilling white-water rafting tours on the Bow, Kananaskis, and Kicking Horse rivers are conducted by these local experts. The rates include pickup in Banff or Canmore. 701 Bow Valley Tr., Canmore, Alberta, T1W 2T8. 403/678–6535; 877/226–7625; www.rafting.ca. From C$55. Closed Oct.–Apr..

Chinook Rafting. At Chinook you can book half-day or full-day rafting adventures suitable for families, as well as some for truly adventurous adults. You can choose from three different rivers. Packages combining rafting with other activities represent a discount. 215 Banff Ave., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1E3. 403/763–2007; 866/330–7238; www.chinookrafting.com. From $86. Closed Oct.–Apr..

Fairmont Château Lake Louise Voyageur Canoe Experience. Paddle the tranquil waters of Lake Louise in a 26-foot cedar-strip and canvas canoe as part of this 90-minute experience. The accompanying guide shares stories about canoes in Canada from the perspectives of First Nations people, voyagers, explorers, and fur traders. Trips depart from the Fairmont's boathouse, which also rents regular canoes. Lake Louise, Alberta. 403/522–3511; 800/441–1414; www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/promotions/canoeing. C$55.

Hydra River Guides. The guides here lead rides through thrilling Class IV rapids on the Kicking Horse River. 211 Bear St., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1A8. 403/762–4554; 800/644–8888; www.raftbanff.com. From C$125.

Kootenay River Runners. Trips ranging from scenic raft floats on the Toby or Kootenay to Class IV white-water rafting on the Kicking Horse, are available through this company. For Kicking Horse rafting, guests meet at the boat launch about 90 minutes from Banff Townsite. 4983 Hwy. 93, British Columbia, V0A 1E0. 250/347–9210; 800/599–4399; www.raftingtherockies.com. From C$55.

Minnewanka Lake Cruise. From mid-May to mid-October, Minnewanka conducts 1½-hour lake tours. Minnewanka Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, T1L 1J3. 403/762–3473; 800/760–6934; www.explorerockies.com/minnewanka. From C$54.

Moraine Lake Lodge. Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed spots in the Canadian Rockies. From June through September, you can paddle on the beautiful lake in a canoe rented at the lodge's dock. If you want to combine canoeing and walking, trails for several scenic lake hikes begin near the lodge. End of Moraine Lake Rd., Lake Louise, Alberta. 403/522–3733; 877/522–2777; www.morainelake.com. From C$55.

Rocky Mountain Raft Tours. This Banff-based outfit specializes in one- and two-hour float trips on the Bow River. Golf Course Loop Rd., Banff, Alberta, T1L1B6. 403/762–3632; www.banffrafttours.com. From C$50.

Wet 'N' Wild Adventures. This outfitter specializes in rafting on the mighty Kicking Horse River near Golden, BC. One- and two-day adventures are available. Snowmobile tours offered in winter. 1509 Lafontaine Rd., Golden, Alberta, V0A 1H0. 250/344–6546; www.wetnwild.bc.ca. From C$64.

Wild Water Adventures. Based 40 km (25 miles) north of Lake Louise, this outfitter has trips ranging from gentle floats to intense white-water experiences. Single-day and multiday trips are available. Alberta. 403/522–2211; 888/647–6444; www.wildwater.com. From C$79.

Fishing

You can experience world-class trout fishing on the Bow River in Banff and enjoy fishing for trophy lake trout on Lake Minnewanka and several other mountain lakes. You will need a national park fishing permit to fish within the park and must follow strict fishing regulations, including no use of live bait. Some waterways are permanently closed to anglers, while others are open only at certain times of the year. Before heading out on your own, read the regulations or speak to the park staff.

Tours and Outfitters

Alpine Anglers. This company gives fly-fishing lessons and conducts fly-fishing excursions of a full day or longer. Banff, Alberta, T1L 1C2. 403/760–1133; www.alpineanglers.com. Call for pricing.

Banff Fishing Unlimited. The experiences this company arranges include fishing for trophy lake trout on Lake Minnewanka and fly-fishing for brown trout on the Bow River. In winter the guides here conduct ice-fishing excursions. Banff, Alberta. 403/762–4936; 866/678–2486; www.banff-fishing.com. From C$450 (price per person varies depending on group size).

Hawgwild Fly Fishing Guides. Learn how to fly-fish from local guide Big Jim Dykstra by signing up with this outfit. Banff, Alberta. 403/760–2446; www.banffflyfishingguides.com. From C$395.

Tightline Adventures. Daylong and multiday fly-fishing trips can be arranged through Tightline. 129 Banff Ave., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1E2. 403/763–9669; www.tightlineadventures.com. From C$175.

Golf

Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. Breathtaking views are the norm at this championship course whose challenging 27 holes wind along the Bow River beneath snowcapped mountain peaks. Stanley Thompson, a major Canadian course architect of his day, designed the original 18-hole course, which opened in 1928. The 9-hole Tunnel Course, designed by Cornish and Robinson (the former a Thompson protégé), opened in the late 1980s. Fairmont Banff Springs, 405 Spray Ave., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1J4. 403/762–6801; 877/591–2525; www.fairmont.com/banff-springs/golf. Stanley Thompson Course, $239; Tunnel Course, $100. Closed Nov.–Apr..

Hiking

The trail system in Banff National Park allows you to access the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The scenery is spectacular and you can see wildlife such as birds, squirrels, deer, and sheep along many of the trails. Make noise as you travel the trails so you don't surprise a bear or other large animal. Also, prepare for any and all weather conditions by dressing in layers and bringing at least a half gallon of drinking water along per person on all full-day hikes. Get a trail map at the information center. Some of the more popular trails have bathrooms or outhouses at the trailhead. Dogs should be leashed at all times, and hikers should carry bear spray.

Easy

Discovery Trail and Marsh Trail. On a hillside above the Cave and Basin Centennial Centre, this 0.8-km (½-mile) boardwalk takes you past the vent of the cave to a spring flowing out of the hillside. Interpretive signage explains the geology and history of the Cave and Basin. Follow the Marsh Trail to observe the birdlife and the lush vegetation fed by the mineral water. Along the boardwalk are telescopes, benches, and interpretive signage as well as a bird blind on the marsh itself. Wheelchairs have limited access to the boardwalk. Easy. Banff, Alberta.

Fenland Trail. It will take about an hour round-trip to walk the 2-km (1-mile) trail that slowly changes from marsh to dense forest. Watch for beavers, muskrat, and waterfowl. The trail is popular with joggers and cyclists. Easy. Banff, Alberta.

Surprise Corner to Hoodoos. This 4.8-km (3-mile) trail begins with a view of a waterfall on Bow River, leads through meadows and forests and past sheer cliffs, and ends at the hoodoos in the eastern part of Banff Townsite. Easy. Banff, Alberta.

Moderate

Boom Lake Trail. This 5-km (3.2-mile) hike climbs through a forest of pine, fir, and spruce. Surrounded by mountains and glaciers, the waters of the lake are crystal clear. Allow half a day for this hike round-trip. Moderate. Banff National Park, Alberta.

Castle Lookout Trail. Outstanding views of the mountains above the Bow River Valley are the highlight of this 3.7-km (2.3-mile) one-way trail that is somewhat steep. Moderate. Banff National Park, Alberta.

Johnston Canyon Trail. Rushing water has carved a path through this limestone canyon that is a must-see stop. The first 1.1 km (0.7 mile) is a paved walkway that leads to the 10-meter (33-foot) Lower Falls. From here a slightly more rugged 2.7-km (1¾-mile) trail leads to the nearly 30-meter (100-foot) Upper Falls and a 5-km (3-mile) trail to the Ink Pots. The Ink Pots are six green pools filled with springwater. It will take four to five hours to complete the return trip. Moderate. Banff National Park, Alberta.

Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail. Winding north of Lake Louise, this 7-km (4½-mile) trail has stunning views of Lake Agnes and Mirror Lake. The trail passes through an old-growth forest and comes up the right side of a waterfall before ending at a teahouse where you can stop for dessert. It will take four hours or more to make the return trip along this trail. Moderate. Lake Louise, Alberta.

Difficult

Cory Pass Loop Trail. This 13-km (8-mile) hike is one of the park's most difficult and takes about six hours to do; it is recommended only for experienced hikers who are able to trace a difficult route. Hikers are rewarded with awesome views. The return route loops around Mount Edith and descends the Edith Pass Trail. Difficult. Banff National Park, Alberta.

Sulphur Mountain Summit Trail. This well-maintained trail crisscrosses underneath the gondola on Sulphur Mountain and climbs from the parking lot to the summit. You can hike up and take the gondola down, but you should check schedules first. A restaurant and cafeteria are located at the summit along with a viewing platform and interpretive signage. Allow four hours to hike the trail round-trip. Difficult. Banff National Park, Alberta.

Horseback Riding

Experiencing the Canadian Rockies on horseback takes you back to the era of Banff's early explorers. Several outfitters conduct guided trips lasting from an hour to a few days. Make your reservations well ahead, though, especially in summer and for multiday journeys. Hourly rides start at $45 per person. Short-term boarding is available in Canmore and a few other communities outside Banff.

Tours and Outfitters

Brewster Adventures. This Banff-based outfit conducts daily summer trail rides to the Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Agnes Tea House, and Paradise Valley. You can also experience the "cowboy way of life" by moving cattle and doing chores on overnight mountain pack tours. In the winter, sleigh rides depart from the lakefront at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. Lake Louise, Alberta. 403/762–5454; 800/691–5085; www.brewsteradventures.com. From C$89.

Great Divide Nature Interpretation. Fun guided interpretive full-day summer hikes and half-day winter snowshoeing trips are this group's specialty. Banff, Alberta. 403/522–2735; www.greatdivide.ca. From $74 (snowshoeing trips) and $94 (hikes).

Holiday on Horseback. Hourly and daily horseback rides are arranged by Holiday on Horseback, which also offers riding lessons and conducts multiday backcountry trips. The company operates carriage rides in summer and sleigh rides in winter. 132 Banff Ave., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1C1. 403/762–4551; 800/661–8352; www.horseback.com. From C$46.

Outpost at Warden Rock. Multiday all-inclusive horseback, stagecoach, and bring-your-own horse holidays can be arranged through this operation in the wilderness 80 km (50 miles) north of Banff. Alberta. 403/762–2767; 877/762–2767; www.outpostatwardenrock.com. From $485. Closed mid-Oct.–mid-May.

Timberline Tours. Trail rides ranging from 10 minutes to 10 days can be arranged with Timberline Tours. St Piran Dr., Lake Louise, Alberta, T0L 1E0. 403/522–3743; 888/858–3388; www.timberlinetours.ca. From C$15.

Mountaineering

Via Ferrata. Even a novice can climb a mountain safely using Norquay's awesome Via Ferrata. The term "Via Ferrata" is Italian for "iron road," and this protected climbing route uses metal cable fixed to the rock along with iron rungs, pegs, carved footholds, ladders, and bridges. After gearing up, you take a chairlift up the mountain and then follow a certified guide along a route that takes two, four, or six hours to complete. This activity requires good hiking shoes, but shoes are available for loan if you don't have your own. 2 Mt. Norquay Rd., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1B4. 844/007–7829 ; summer.banffnorquay.com/plan-your-visit. From $139.

Multisport Tours and Outfitters

Outfitters

Bactrax Bike Rentals. This outfitter has Banff's largest selection of rental skis and snowboards. It rents bikes and camping equipment in the summer. 225 Bear St., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1B5. 403/762–8177; www.snowtips-bactrax.com.

Banff Adventures Unlimited. Rent bikes here, or come by to sign up for almost any area activity. 211 Bear St., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1A8. 403/762–4554; 800/644–8888; www.banffadventures.com.

Soul Ski & Bike. This great spot sells, rents, and services bicycles, skis, and snowboards. Soul Ski is well known for its custom ski boot–fitting service, and the company rents and sells standard, deluxe, and premium equipment. 203A Bear St., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1A8. 403/760–1650; www.soulskiandbike.com.

Tours

Discover Banff Tours. Sign up here for guided sightseeing, wildlife safaris, nature walks, ice walks, and snowshoeing adventures. Sundance Mall, 215 Banff Ave., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1B5. 403/760–5007; 877/565–9372; www.banfftours.com. From C$56.

White Mountain Adventures. Daily guided hikes, backpacking, and heli-hiking can be arranged through this outfitter. In winter, you can try snowshoeing or a guided ice walk. 120A Eagle Crescent, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1E6. 403/760–4403; 800/408–0005; www.whitemountainadventures.com. From C$60.

Yamnuska. Canada's largest mountain-guide company conducts guided mountaineering, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and ice-climbing trips and lessons. 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore, Alberta, T1W 3E9. 403/678–4164; 866/678–4164; www.yamnuska.com. From C$140.

Swimming

Banff Centre Sally Borden Fitness Centre. Amenities here include a 25-meter (82-foot) swimming pool, a wading pool, an outdoor sundeck, a climbing wall, a fitness center, a gymnasium, and a squash center. You can also attend a fitness class. 107 Tunnel Mountain Rd., Banff, Alberta, T1L 1H5. 403/762–6100; www.banffcentre.ca. C$5.50 public swim (free last Sun. of month). Weekdays 6 am–10 pm, weekends 7 am–10 pm.

Douglas Fir Resort. The resort's indoor water park, open to nonguests, includes two large waterslides, a wading pool, a large Jacuzzi, a steam room, and a sauna. 525 Tunnel Mountain Rd., Banff, Alberta. 403/762–5591; 800/661–9267; www.douglasfir.com. C$12 per adult, C$30 per family (under 5 free with an adult). Weekdays 4–10, weekends 9 am–10 pm.

Winter Sports

Whether you're driving a dogsled across a frozen lake, ice climbing, snowshoeing, skiing at one of the world's top mountain ski resorts—or simply taking in the northern lights—there's no shortage of winter activities to choose from in Banff.

Skis and snowboards can be rented on the slopes or at many shops in town, concentrated along Bear Street and Banff Avenue.

For ski or boarding instruction, consider booking the program called Club Ski (www.skibig3.com). For C$299, participants receive one day of instruction at each of the three resorts with the same instructor, guided tours of each resort, lift-line priority, and a souvenir photo. Lift tickets are not included.

A good bargain is a three-day pass (C$248) that allows you to ski at the Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, and Lake Louise ski areas. The pass, available at the ski areas and the Banff Ski Hub store or online at www.skibig3.com, includes free shuttle service to the slopes.

Cross-Country Skiing

Canmore Nordic Centre. This cross-country ski center, built for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, has rental equipment, a day lodge, and miles of trails to enjoy. You can also take a cross-country lesson, go snowshoeing and fat biking, and play winter disc golf. 1988 Olympic Way, Canmore, Alberta, T1W 2T6. 403/678–2400; www.albertaparks.ca/canmore-nordic-centre.aspx . From $15.

Downhill Skiing

Lake Louise Ski Resort. Lake Louise is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. With beginner, intermediate, and expert runs from every chair, this is a great hill for families—the downhill terrain on four mountain faces and north-facing back bowls is expansive and varied. Also here are a terrain park, a tube park, a beginner's fun zone, and a snowcross course. The ski school is excellent. Facilities: 145 trails; 4,200 acres; 3,250-foot vertical drop; 10 lifts. 1 Whitehorn Rd., off Lake Louise Dr., Lake Louise, Alberta, T0L 1E0. 403/522–3555; 877/956–8473; www.skilouise.com. Lift ticket: C$92.

Ski Banff at Norquay. The oldest ski resort in the Canadian Rockies is only a five-minute drive from Banff. Locals like this five-lift, 28-run mountain, and so do Olympic and World Cup trainees. Night skiing and tubing take place here, too. Facilities: 38 trails; 190 acres; 1,650-foot vertical drop; 5 lifts. Alberta. 403/762–4421; www.banffnorquay.com. Lift ticket: C$75.

Sunshine Village. About a 15-minute drive from Banff Townsite, this high-altitude resort with skiable terrain on three mountains has the longest nonglacial ski season in Canada and some of the prettiest views. Sunshine gets as many as 9 meters (30 feet) of dry, powdery snow in a season. Canada's first heated chairlift was installed here for the 2015–2016 season. Facilities: 107 trails; 3,358 acres; 3,514-foot vertical drop; 12 lifts. 1 Sunshine Access Rd., off Hwy. 1, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1J5. 403/762–6500; 877/542–2633; www.skibanff.com. Lift ticket: $92. Closed mid-May–mid-Nov..

Outfitter

Ultimate Ski and Ride. You can rent ski and snowboard equipment and bikes here and take advantage of the shop's free hotel delivery. 206 Banff Ave., Banff, Alberta, T1L1C3. 403/762–0547; 866/754–7433; www.ultimatebanff.com. From C$29.50.

Golf

Silvertip Golf Course. Dramatic elevation changes and views from most holes of the valley and mountains make an outing at this course a memorable event. Designed by Canmore-based Les Furber, responsible for dozens of Canadian courses and many worldwide, Silvertip is the area's only south-oriented one—the resulting extra sun can be a boon when temperatures dip. 2000 Silvertip Tr., Canmore, Alberta, T1W 3J4. 403/678–1600; 877/877–5444; www.silvertipresort.com. $175.

Spelunking

Canmore Caverns. If you have ever wanted to don a headlamp and explore an undeveloped cave, you can have Canmore Caverns arrange a suitable caving experience. The outfitter supplies the equipment, and you bring the enthusiasm. Children must be at least nine years of age to participate. 112 Kananaskis Way, Suite 107, Canmore, Alberta, T1W 1N7. 403/678–8819; 877/317–1178; www.canmorecavetours.com. From C$125.

Summer–Winter Sports

Canmore Nordic Centre. Built for the 1988 Olympic Nordic skiing events, the center has 70 km (43 miles) of groomed cross-country trails in winter that become hiking and mountain-biking trails in summer. Some trails are lighted for night skiing, and a 1½-km (1-mile) paved trail is open in summer for roller skiing and rollerblading. Other winter sports include ice-skating, winter disc golf, and fat biking; in summer you can also play disc golf and participate in a roller biathlon. The state-of-the-art facility is south of Canmore in the northwestern corner of Kananaskis Country. In late January, an international biathlon and dogsled races take place here as part of the Canmore Winter Carnival. 1988 Olympic Way, Canmore, Alberta, T1W 2T6. 403/678–2400. Trails free Apr.–Oct., C$15 per day Nov.–Mar.. Lodge daily 9–5:30; trails open 7 am–11 pm, some trails illuminated until 9 pm.

Water Sports

Blast Adventures. Unique guided kayak adventures using inflatable vessels on white water are available through Blast Adventures. Transportation from Banff or Canmore is included. 120B Rundle Dr., Canmore, Alberta, T1W 2L9. 403/609–2009; 888/802–5278; www.blastadventures.com. From $94.

Winter Sports

Nakiska. The site of the 1988 Olympic alpine events, Nakiska is a 45-minute drive southeast of Banff in Kananaskis Country and has wide-trail intermediate skiing and a sophisticated snow-making and grooming system. There's also a tube park. Facilities: 71 trails; 1,021 acres; 2,412-foot vertical drop; 6 lifts. 3 Mount Allen Dr., off Hwy. 40, Kananaskis Village, Alberta, T0L 2H0. 403/591–7777; www.skinakiska.com. Lift ticket: C$75. Closed mid-Mar.–mid-Nov..