–By Rachael Scott
Set within a picturesque valley surrounded by the towering peaks of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, the small resort town of Banff, Alberta is popular with skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. However, it is not just a winter destination.
When the summer months come around, and the sunshine melts the snow off the mountain lakes, there are plenty of other warm-weather activities to enjoy. Banff is the ultimate outdoor lover’s paradise where you only need to head out of town in any direction to find yourself completely immersed in the rugged Canadian wilderness. You can get lost among mountain meadows filled with wildflowers, sparkling blue lakes, and alpine forests, all under the bright blue sky. Best of all, it is only a 1.5-hour drive from the Calgary International Airport, right within the heart of Banff National Park, which is the oldest national park in Canada.
Summer in the Rocky Mountains can get quite warm, with long sunny afternoons bringing temperatures in the high 20s and even the 30s. As the sun sets behind the mountain, evenings can be mild but still pleasant — perfect for relaxing around a campfire.
Here are a few of the great adventures that you can enjoy in Banff this summer:
Riding on Horseback
What could be a better way to explore the Rocky Mountains than the original way the pioneers explored it — on horseback? There are several tour companies in Banff that offer horseback riding tours through the forests and mountain trails.
You can even go on an evening cookout horseback tour that will take you along the Bow River to a rustic backcountry cabin. There, the cowboys will cook a BBQ steak dinner with all the fixins’: beans, salad, and baked potatoes. You will also learn roping and horseshoe techniques.
Only three minutes away from the town centre of Banff you will find the docks of the Blue Canoe Company, where you can rent a canoe by the hour or by the day. This allows you the freedom to take your time and explore this beautiful river. If you rent the canoe for the day, you can follow the waterways down 40 Mile Creek and into the Vermillion Lakes.
The advantage of exploring the wilderness in a canoe is the peaceful perspective you will gain as you glide along the water and through the forest. In the quiet of your canoe you will have a have a better chance of spotting wildlife. If you keep your eyes peeled you just might spot elk, deer, moose or even the occasional black bear.
There are so many great trails within a short distance of Banff that you could go hiking on a different one every day of your visit and still not even scratch the surface. Some trails offer a quiet and family-friendly stroll and others offer a challenging scramble up a steep mountainside.
One of the most rewarding hikes begins when you get on a bus on Banff’s main street. The bus will drop you off at the base of the mountain where a tram takes tourists up and down. You can pay to go up the easy way, but if you want to hike up to the summit instead it takes around 2-3 hours and follows switchbacks most of the way up. The jaw-dropping view of the mountains and the valley at the top is totally worth the effort.
The glaciers within the mountains melt in the summer, making perfect conditions for great white-water rafting in the rivers of Banff. There are several tour guide companies that will take you on an exciting trip down these exhilarating cold rushing rivers. If it is your first time, you are better off trying the Kananaskis River, which has a more mellow current and is suitable for children or white-water rafting rookies. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, Horseshoe Canyon is a more exciting and challenging place to go rafting and most tours will take you cliff jumping as well.
These are just a few of the great adventures that you can have when exploring Banff, Alberta in the summertime, so get out there and enjoy every one of those warm summer days to the fullest!
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Rachael Scott is a tour guide who has worked in Banff for the past 6 months, helping visitors to enjoy their vacation here. Her favourite Banff memory is the morning that she was canoeing around a bend in the river and found herself within a few metres of a female moose and baby, grazing along the banks
–In collaboration with Expedia.