Banff is a small town in Alberta, Canada located within Banff National Park. Given its location, the town is an ideal base camp for exploring the national park and for sports like climbing, hiking and skiing. With a thriving downtown, the park lets you combine incredible scenery, outdoor adventure and shopping, nightlife and culture into one vacation not easily forgotten. Lodging in Banff ranges from large, luxurious properties to rustic, backcountry shelters with no electricity and running water.
Banff Fairmont Springs
Arguably Banff's most famous hotel is the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs. The hotel is nearly as old as the park itself and was one of the first properties built in the Canadian Rockies to draw tourists to the scenic region via railroad. The hotel combines the unmatched scenery of Banff with world-class amenities like the Willow Stream Spa, a golf course, a heated outdoor pool under the mountains and a free ski shuttle to the area's three major ski resorts.
Downtown Banff Lodges
Since many of Banff's adventures require travel no matter where you stay, one way to get the most out of your vacation is to stay in downtown, so that you venture out by day and then explore shops, restaurants and nightlife by foot in the evening. Banff International Hotel is located in the middle of town within walking distance of businesses and attractions. The hotel has a lounge and The Mountain Grill Restaurant and offers amenities like Jacuzzi, steam room and dry sauna. Banff Inn is located on Banff Avenue, within a few minutes walk of shopping, dining and attractions. The inn offers a variety of accommodations, including rooms, lofts, Jacuzzi rooms and suites.
Banff is home to several hostels, where you'll save money over hotel prices while enjoying the company of like-minded, adventurous souls. The Hosteling International Banff Alpine Center offers an intriguing mix of amenities and budget-friendly lodging. You'll find both dorm-style lodging and private rooms and will enjoy an on-site restaurant, pub with free games and ice climbing wall in the winter months. Another hostel, the Y Mountain Lodge is located on the Bow River within walking distance to Banff's downtown.
Whether you want to enjoy high-alpine activities like mountain climbing and backcountry skiing or just get a little closer to Banff's best scenery, backcountry lodges around Banff, Lake Louise and the greater park offer the best ticket. Lodges are not accessible by vehicle and require significant hiking, climbing, skiing and/or snowshoeing to get to. Some backcountry shelters require technical climbing to access and may be dangerous or inaccessible in the winter. Lodges range from minimalist shelters where you have to cook your own meals to more lavish retreats with hosts and prepared meals each day. Sundance Lodge is about a 10-mile hike from the town of Banff. It can be reached via foot, horseback, ski or snowshoes, depending on the season. It has such luxuries as hot showers, home-cooked meals and a common area. The Alpine Club of Canada runs a series of backcountry huts and lodges throughout Banff National Park designed for mountaineers and ski tourers. These lodges are not hosted and may require technical approaches. Some are among the highest permanent structures in Canada and you can count on stunning scenery and access to mountain terrain.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images