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Banff - extracurricular activities?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Going to Banff for Easter again Smile Second time for my children, age 9 and 11, fourth time for my wife.

We'll take the Easter weekend off from the slopes to give legs a rest. Last time we did hot springs and dog sledding. Any suggestions this time? Ideally not too pricey please, I booked this late and paid nasally for it!

Suggestions may also include evening activities as now the youngest doesn't have to go to bed so early we start to have early evenings available to us.

What do you do when you're out there?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Ice walk..along frozen river to frozen waterfall
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Will you have a car?

Hockey game (if the Flames are at home, but not cheap), Banff Hot Springs, wildlife watching trips, shopping trip to Calgary - some local bus companies might offer trips (eg SunDog). Is the Icefields trip on then, or does that wait for the summer?. I quite liked Canmore (stayed there last time) and there is a sledding company's kennels you can visit just S of there. Is Norquay open for evening skiing at any point?
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Johnston Canyon is a nice half-day, snowshoeing at the Paint Pots or Marble Canyon. Done the dog sledding - watch out for flying poo. If you're into your animals there's a wolf sanctuary nearby too.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
We had a half day at Lake Louise (if you aren't driving, you can take the usual mountain shuttle to the ski hill, then get the Fairmont bus - free of charge - to the lake). Its a beautiful walk around / on the lake, you'll see Ice Climbers if you're lucky, lots of animal tracks for the kids to ponder over, you can ice skate on the lake for a nominal fee and there is a (not too expensive) little sandwich shop in the Fairmont. Our morning around Lake Louise was one of our favourite parts of our Banff holiday!
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I’d personally want to see if I can go and find these

https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2015/feb/02/frozen-bubbles-in-canadian-lakes-in-pictures

Probably not much fun for the kids though!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
We did Johnston canyon at night last year, a fun trip out and didn't miss any skiing Madeye-Smiley
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I endorse the Johnston Canyon trip. We did it a few years ago and it was fantastic. We went early, however (before 9am) and had the place to ourselves. It was a magical experience - just the 2 of us, the snow, stunning scenery and some wild animal tracks. Very Happy
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That Johnston Canyon sounds great, I've not been there yet ... Always in to much of a hurry.
Can you find any ice fishing near Banff?

And of course another for the Hot Springs at Banff.
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My better half suggests checking out Discover Banff, organised pick ups from hotel, transport, guides the whole day and weren't too expensive. They have (had?) a little shop/booking office in one of the malls in town which was open in the evenings and can organise most things you might want to do.

https://www.banfftours.com

She also went horse riding with Rafter6, which was a little way out of Banff, about an hour and involved a bit of faffing but well worth it.

http://raftersix.com
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@DrLawn, Not sure - they do fishing down at Lake Minnewanka but not sure if it's an 'activity' per se. Probably at other local lakes too, but you may need a license as you're in the National Park.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Here's a few suggestions of things we've enjoyed when not skiing at Banff. My son is a little younger than your children (7) so might not be so useful

Johnston Canyon is superb. If you have a car you don't need a guide/excursion. Its on the Bow Valley Parkway (1a) parallel to the Trans Canada. That road is well worth a drive/stop/mooch between Banff and Lake Louise anyhow. The walk can get very slippery, you can hire cleats (basically simple crampons that strap to shoes).

The icefields parkway is a spectacular drive but nothing at all is open in winter and its an out an back trip to halfway.

In Banff itself the walk to the Bow Falls is short and worthwhile, but is sometimes still shut at Easter if too icy.

The Cave and Basin (the original hot spring) museum is very interesting and well worth a half day. You can't bath there but you can certainly smell the sulphur! Its basically the birthplace of the national park movement, as when the hot springs were discovered it was realised they were of great tourist benefit but unclear who they belonged to as not minerals!! So they became crown land.

If you're going to the Upper Hot Springs the gondola there provides great viewing - although you will have already seen lots of mountains at Sunshine and Lake Louise! If you or your partner like a spa experience then there's a great spa (according to MrsJ) at the Banff Spings

My son loved the water flumes at the Douglas Fir hotel up on Tunnel Mountain. They also have a outdoor hot tub for the grown ups with good views.

There's a climbing wall in Banff and a bowling alley at the Banff Springs.

If you want ice skating then outdoor is available at the Banff Springs and Lake Louise if conditions permit, or an indoor rink at the Banff Center.

Snow tubing at Norquay is great fun. Its included in your skibig3 ticket, but it does count as one days use. But you can combine it with skiing at Norquay the same day and it counts as only 1 day. The night skiing/tubing has now stopped - its too light in the evenings!

We wanted to go an see a Flames game but it was simply too late in the evening. There are companies running bus trips there but the puck drop isn't till 8 so return to Banff would be very very late. So we'll go and watch it in a bar instead, which is almost as exciting for my son!

Hope this gives you a few ideas! One things for sure, you won't be bored looking for non-skiing ideas in the area. Maybe see you out there, we're going on the 31st March.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Ps if driving on either the trans Canada (1) or the Parkway 1a and any time, but especially weekends, watch out for speed traps and the RCMP. Last year we counted 17 between Lake Louise and Banff, all with a queue of naughty drivers waiting to be processed. Through the park the speed on Highway 1 is only 90km and on the parkway its 50kph or less because of the wildlife.

I know from bitter experience......

Mind you even the Mounties are very polite in Canada!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Thanks all!

Johnston Canyon seems to be unanimous... we'll see whether it's on an off day or even just in an evening. Banff upper hot springs is obligatory, the first time we went there in the evening there was heavy snow on the trees around and then it actually started snowing, that was just heaven and a memory we won't forget.

We won't have a car.

We did a bit of tubing last time at Lake Louise, ten bucks for an hour at the end of a day of skiing, it was a laugh. Wouldn't go to Norquay and burn a day of lift ticket for it.

Lake Louise sounds interesting, we've never actually been there, sounds like a nice relaxing day.

Flumes - yeah! That will go down well with my two! They are already excited to hear there is an indoor pool in the hotel!

@TommyJ, we will arrive a week before you but leave on 6 April. I think our paths have crossed before so very happy to meet up at some point! We're staying in High Country on Banff Ave and are usually found staking out the Beaver Tails café in the evening Very Happy Wonder if any other snowheads are around at the time? IIRC gryphea lives in Calgary and lynnecha visits a lot...
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
There are organised tours to Johnston Canyon - but they can be pricey and, of course, you could end up as part of a big group, snaking its way up the canyon.

If you can somehow get there early under your own steam, do it. It's a fair way from Banff though - maybe 20 or 30 minutes' drive? We had a hire car so got there very early and it was practically deserted.

And it's definitely worth getting some pound shop studded rubber grippers to go on your sturdy footwear - we found them invaluable as the path (which is steep up and down in places) was very packed/polished in places.

Another trip we did about 15 years ago in Banff was a heli trip over the mountains and glaciers. It wasn't prohibitively expensive at that time but was fantastic.

And the dog sledding trip we did was great too.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Oh! And if going to Lake Louise, take some time to go in Chateau Lake Louise (hotel). It's amazing - on the frozen lake, with ice skating, ice sculptures & hot chocolate. There are shops and restaurants that are worth a look too.

We loved it so much we booked a night there as a treat on a subsequent visit to Banff area.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@mountainaddict, where did you get the shoe grips from? I can imagine theyd be included as part of a tour, but if we want to go by ourselves, then what? Do they hire them out at the "entry"? I do appreciate the tip about not being part of a large group. I'd have to weigh up the cost of the group against hiring a taxi...

Heli trip sounds a bit hedonistic for my Presbytarian pocket Very Happy but I'd consider it if value for money.

One night at the Chateau for family is coming in at 350 quid... it's Easter weekend Sad
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
You definitely can’t hire the cleats at the entrance. There’s nothing there at all except the parking lot! I guess you can hire them in town but I think they’re pretty cheap and disposable to buy.

Also worth knowing that there are car hire places in town. If you want to have a day exploring then it might be worth looking into 1-2 day hire.

We’ve always hired a car but I’ve decided the buses are so good and I don’t fancy the drive from the airport so we’re not bothering. Going to bring my license just in case I change my mind for a day or so.
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My last few pairs of ice grippers were 50p a pop (end of old granny hip-breaking season I guess) in Poundworld. Guess Lisbon might not have the same array in Euroworld.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Lisbon doesn’t know what ice is Very Happy
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