Visit Banff all year round
Banff National Park sees 3-4 million visitors annually and a great way of getting there is using your own four wheels.
The drive from the Calgary airport is very straightforward and leaves little room for error. First, you need to travel out of the city to the west end and get on the westbound Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). About 95 km later, you’ll be entering the Banff National Park. Your journey will take you just over an hour and along the way you’ll want to keep your eye out for magnificent wildlife and scenery.
Banff is an incredible place to visit during all four seasons of the year, but it can also greatly change what hazards you need to watch for on the drive. Meteorologist Gina Ressler shares some tips of what you need to look out for on the roads based on the season:
Summer – Early summer is usually the wettest. Hail-producing thunderstorms are a concern near Calgary. Dry days are great for driving (just bring sunglasses).
Winter – Winter storms and heavy snowfall are possible, creating poor road conditions. (Check road conditions and closures before you head out.) Strong winds are possible even on dry days (ie. Chinook winds). Sometimes winds are funneled through the valleys and can create locally strong gusts. If it’s snowing or there is snow on the ground, this can temporarily reduce visibility. Mild and dry days are the best for driving, but watch for icy patches and gusty winds. If winter weather is expected, it’s recommended to have winter tires on your vehicle. On certain highways, winter tires are required.* Pay attention to the signs along the highway, and don’t stop in avalanche zones. Vehicles should also be equipped with an emergency kit.
Fall/Spring – Both winter-like and summer-like weather is possible! Check the forecast on The Weather Network before you head out.
Ressler adds, “Another driving danger in Alberta is wildlife. Keep your eye out for deer, elk, moose, big horn sheep, and bears as you’re driving into the Rocky Mountains.”
Once you get to Banff National Park you will have to pay a nominal entrance fee based on age and group size. For the latest pricing information visit the Parks Canada website. Once you’re in that’s the tricky part, as there are numerous ways to spend your time, but here is a list of some classic activities you can enjoy.
In the winter there are so many things to do to complement the incredible scenery with:
- Skiing and snowboarding
- Sleigh rides
- Cross country skiing
The summer also has a vast variety of activities you can enjoy and feed your sense of adventure:
- White water rafting
- Horseback riding
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