One of our favorite stops in Canada is Banff National Park, offering crystal blue waters, dramatic mountains, and a romantic resort town. Beautiful year-round, this destination mixes luxury with rugged nature for a honeymoon or romantic getaway that is both relaxing yet adventurous. Our guest blogger - Rachel - and her boyfriend enjoyed an unforgettable escape to this wonderland. Read on to see why you should consider this northern paradise your next adventure.
I can remember seeing snapshots of Banff in calendars and on computer screensavers but, admittedly, I have never included this national park on my bucket list. However, when my boyfriend and I decided that our Alaskan dream vacation may be too time-consuming and too expensive, Banff National Park in Alberta became a natural alternative for our northern getaway.
In hindsight, the only word I could use to describe our Banff getaway would be “perfect.” The trip was affordable, blended just the right amount of adventure and relaxation, and engulfed the two of us in awe-inspiring beauty. This honeymoon destination may not be as flashy as other options, but its lack of pretention and crowds will make your vacation all the more wonderful.
I previously traveled to the rain forests of Costa Rica, the barrier reefs of Belize, the glacial lakes of Iceland, and Versailles in France, and yet the wilderness of Banff National Park was the most beautiful sight I ever witnessed. Upon first arriving, I wanted to stop the car every few minutes in order to photograph the mountains. What’s more, the shocking blueness of Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, will take your breath away.
There are hiking trails that cater to all athletic abilities. However, remember to take into account the higher altitude when pacing yourself; the two of us hiked the Larch Valley trail near Moraine Lake and I found myself wheezing for breath much more than usual.
Hiking isn’t the only opportunity to explore the area. While there are opportunities to white water raft, bike, and rock climbing, we opted for horseback riding and canoeing.
One activity that simply can’t be missed is a ride on the Banff gondola to the top of Sulpher Mountain for spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies. While I originally questioned the 49.00 CAD price for a round-trip ticket, the views more than justified the price.
For an activity that was equally fun though slightly less visually attractive, check out the Columbia Icefields. Here, you can hike or take a guided vehicle onto a glacier; the two of us chose to go on a guided hike, which I firmly believe was the more strenuous and rewarding option of the two. The drive from Banff will exceed two hours, but the awe-inspiring natural scenery and many opportunities for stops will make the Icefields Parkway drive a true treat.
Romantic Solitude Among Nature
It’d be a lie to say that Banff wasn’t without it’s tourist hotspots in which light crowds should be expected. However, almost every inch of Banff is gorgeous, making it possible to find your own special niche away from others for a romantic, cozy moment with nature.
For example, the two of us hiked the Sundance Canyon trail. While walking the leisurely paved path towards the entrance, we encountered a thin trickle of fellow walkers. However, once we turned onto a woodsier trail towards the canyon, we found ourselves alone amongst vibrantly green trees. Happiness overwhelmed me in that moment, so I made the two of us jump up-and-down while holding hands, play hide-and-go-seek, and snap goofy photos of one another. Not once did another tourist stumble upon us, letting us enjoy each other’s undiluted and uninterrupted company. It will be easy to find your own slices of mountainous paradise for just the two of you to enjoy.
Unwind in Banff
Any honeymoon or romantic getaway should be relatively stress-free, and Banff provides plenty of pleasant activities to help you wind down from the day’s activities. First and foremost, Banff Upper Hot Springs allow you to dip into pleasurably hot waters that overlook the mountains. Open late and year-round, this outdoor pool offers a truly unique experience of comfortably swimming while snow drifts downwards. We encountered crowds during our visit to the hot springs, so don’t make the mistake of expecting an intimate atmosphere.
We also enjoyed delicious food in Banff National Park. Favorites included The Grizzly House in which we savored fondue; classically styled Simpson's Num-Ti-Jah Lodge right by Peyto Lake; and the Georgetown Inn Pub in Canmore with its lively atmosphere and British-inspired cuisine. The towns themselves are fun to walk around, and there are stores and nightlife options for people of all tastes.
Another component of Alberta that will add to your relaxation is the friendliness of the locals. My boyfriend and I ultimately stayed in the less-touristy town of Canmore in order to save some money, and even those we encountered in everyday settings were congenial, excited to provide recommendations, and helpful when we had questions.
For full disclosure, I have only been to Banff during the warmer months. What’s more, I neither ski nor snowboard, so such activities are never the focal point of my travels. However, as many locals confirmed during my trip, Banff is a world-class winter sports destination. Non-conventional activities honeymooners may enjoy include ice climbing, ice fishing, dogsled tours, sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, and even helicopter excursions.
A Romantic Getaway
Everyone has their own ideas about what qualifies as romance. For some, experiencing adrenaline-packed adventures gets their blood (and hearts) pumping. For others, peaceful strolls through nature or eating mouthwateringly good cuisine is what they consider amorous. Regardless of your personal preferences, Banff National Park makes the perfect backdrop for your next romantic getaway.
Rachel of Sneaker Travel Tips calls Philadelphia home, but is determined to see as much of the globe as possible. She keeps busy by trying new restaurants, flexing her creative muscles, and planning out her next travel adventure. Make sure to follow her adventures on Twitter.