Imagine what you think it will be like and multiply by ten. The Rockies are awesome. Banff is a great place to stay. We stayed at Fox suites on the Avenue. Free transit bus to town - five minutes. Eat at Nourish or the Elk and Oarsman.
Do not expect speed at Nourish but the vegetarian food is nothing short of amazing. Fruit shepherds pie, you must eat it to believe it.
Trips: Drive highway 1A to Lake Louise for bears and wild elk and stunning scenery. Walk up to Lake Agnes and go to the tea shop. Visit Morraine Lake.
Walk up to Stewart canyon at Lake Miniwanka - it is amazing.
Do the Banff gondola, The Whyte museum and visit Bow falls. What a great place to stay.
Fox Hotel and Suites:
461 Banff Avenue, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1H8
+1 403 760 8500
Google map: bit.ly/q4nF87
215 Banff Avenue
+1403 760 3933
Google map: bit.ly/oE8YQL
Elk and Oarsman:
119 Banff Avenue AB T1L 1B6
+1403 762 4616
Google map: bit.ly/qKmbHq
The Whyte Museum:
111 Bear St, Banff, AB, T1L 1A3
+1 403 762 2291
Google map: bit.ly/rpZW0q
Kootenay follows the Great Divide, west of Banff, bought up for a railway scheme but eventually sold to the government. It's a long winding valley with fine mountains and lots of local as well as backcountry trails.
It's largely ignored compared to Banff and Louise probably because it doesn't have big hotels and tourist infrastructure. But what it does have is fantastic mountain scenery and some quirky sights like the old paint pots, iron laden clays used for dyes, and marble canyon where the river rushes through tight gorges.
The hike up to Stanley glacier is magical, and you'll have plenty of pikas (rock rabbits) whistling you on the way. Kootenay Park Lodge has 10 historic but simple log cabins and good home cooking at affordable rates. Waking up to the sun rising on the mountains here is worth any journey.
Kootenay national park, 2 hours west from Banff, follow the quieter scenic Highway 1a before turning west towards Radium Hot Springs and you're soon in the Park. Lodge details at www.kootenayparklodge.com/
Hard to describe this 107-year-old castle-like hotel. It rises majestically above the forest and has hosted kings and stars throughout its history.
815 rooms for a maximum of 2,000 guests when full, the hotel features 12 restaurants and a nightclub and everything is pretty much as it was back in the day.
The jewel in the crown of the Canadian railways hotel chain for a century, the Banff Springs Hotel is a rare experience where old-school luxury takes on new dimensions.
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