Banff in February

Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 09:33 PM
  #1  
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Banff in February

Hi! I have an opportunity for a work conference in a few weeks and I’m unsure if it’s an adventure I shouldn’t miss or if I should wait to visit in a warmer season.

I’m not a skier or snow-boarder but would probably enjoy tubing and other winter wonderland activities.

I would prefer not to rent a car if possible (I assume roads are icy and snowy). There’s a shuttle from the Calgary airport to the conference accommodations and I’ve been told about Airporter for outside of that time. I’ve also been told that the Fairmont Banff Springs and Rimrock are a 30+ minute walk to the town of Banff but only a few minutes drive but that Lyft and Uber aren’t available there? I’d appreciate any information on the best way to travel around the area.

I could also use advice on a few pieces of clothing appropriate for the temperatures there.

Finally, I’d be grateful for any recommendations on activities. Which springs, glaciers? We’d be hopeful to catch the northern lights. Suggestions on where to stay if I come a few days early for a Valentine’s Day weekend with my husband?

Do people get in the hot springs in the winter?

I’ll continue to research but thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 05:15 AM
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Here's some info on transportation around Banff: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/ban.../parkbus/banff

I see a note on Tripadvisor that the Rimrock is also on the Roam line, so it looks like you would be ok on transportation in both locations. https://www.tripadvisor.com/FAQ_Answ...ort_Is_it.html

Banff is beautiful, even if you never leave the townsite.
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 11:41 AM
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Thank you for sharing about the Roam line! Very helpful. Do you know how the roads are for non-local drivers this time of year? If my husband comes, we may rent a car for a few days of the trip.
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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 03:52 PM
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If anyone else has any advice for me, I’d appreciate it. I have approval to get bookin’.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 06:06 AM
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The Canada forum is often very quiet, and you may not get any further input. I personally have not visited Banff in the Winter (I am a fall season traveler), but you should have a marvelous time. There are plenty of shops in Banff townsite itself, if you find you are lacking some winter wear, but of course you should pack as you would for any snowy location in winter.

Here are a couple more links for you:

https://practicalwanderlust.com/thin...-banff-winter/

https://www.skibig3.com/blog/discove...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://banffnationalpark.com/
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 07:05 AM
  #6  
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Thank you Sludick. I've trusted these forums for my trip planning for over 10 years and this has been a slower thread than I've been used to. Now debating Fairmont Banff Springs vs Rimrock resort and reviewing the links you shared. I registered so I'm definitely going. About to bolster my wardrobe.
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 02:38 PM
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I was there about 5 years ago in early February, and only skied one day. We did get a rental car, so I think that opened up a lot of other options for us. This is from my trip report:

Rented the car from Hertz – a Camry with snow tires. It was $10/day extra for snow tires, which we requested when we called for the reservation.


The drive to Banff took a little less than. The Trans-Canada highway was well maintained and not scary at all to drive. I ordered the national park pass online ahead of time so I could breeze through the entrance to the park (but there were hardly any cars in line to purchase tickets, so I don’t think it made much of a difference).

Hotel: Stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, about 1 mile across the river from the main Banff town area. I didn’t use the spa, so can’t say what it was like, although my sisters spoke highly of it. The outdoor heated pool was a lot of fun. We had originally planned to go to the Upper Hot Springs, but after reading that the springs dry up in the winter and the water in the pool is from the tap, we figured the hotel’s outdoor heated pool was basically the same thing, and free. I found out later (from Fodorites) that I was misinformed about the hot springs being low on water that year, so I missed out on that.

At the time (don't know if this is still true today), the hotel did not have free wi-fi. My sister had free internet because she signed up for the Fairmont President's Club (which is free) ahead of time, which I failed to do.

Food: We ate breakfast either at the buffet (about $23/person), or in the “castle pantry” which had lighter fare such as cereal, yogurt, cookies, coffee, pastries, and soup. For dinner, we mostly ate in the main town because everyone wanted to go to Cow’s for ice cream afterwards. The group’s favorite restaurant was the Maple Leaf, where everyone tried something different and we all loved what we had (mine was the Brome river duck), and Elk and Oarsman Bar.

Activities: Drove to Lake Louise to ice skate on the frozen lake. Only a small part of the lake was cleared for skating, although I saw people walking waaaay out beyond the warning markers. I would never dare to do that, I’m way too chicken. The Chateau Lake Louise is a nice hotel, but seemed more crowded than the Banff Springs (because the lake is so popular?) or maybe it just seemed that way because the halls are smaller.

On the way back from Lake Louise, we stopped at Johnston’s canyon to view the frozen falls. The road to get there (Bow Valley Parkway) was much less maintained than the main highway. There was a lot of snow/ice on the road, and we even passed a car that had skidded out and was stuck down a slope. I knew the $10 extra we spent for snow tires was worth it. The canyon itself was a little dark in the afternoon, and the lighting may have been better if we stopped in the morning on the way to Lake Louise.

The next day we went dog-sledding in Canmore, with Snowy Owl tours. On the drive over, we passed a herd of elk on the side of the Trans-Canada Hwy, and also some big horn sheep that wandered onto one of the roads in Canmore. The sledding itself was a lot of fun, with the break at the half-way point on a frozen lake.

The next day I took my nephew to Mt. Norquay (which is really close, just outside of the Banff main town area) for the day of skiing he promised me. By lunchtime, he had complained so much that I bought 2 hours of tubing instead, and we spent the rest of the day doing that.

On another day we headed up to the Sulphur Mountain gondola because the weather was nice and clear, and we got some really nice pictures. We walked up to the cosmic ray station lookout point, where we saw the only wildlife of the day, some small green and orange birds that I didn’t recognize (some type of sparrow)? Then we spent the afternoon at the hotel pools, for some relaxation.

The next day, I took the nephew tobogganing on a slope behind the hotel (along the Spray River, next to the Waldhaus restaurant). A shop at the hotel rents plastic sleds ($10 for 2 hours, IIRC). We spent the day walking around Banff, checking out scenery (Spray and Bow rivers), trying our hand at Canadian bowling (smaller balls w/o finger holes, only 5 pins), and of course, curling! I must be very weak because I couldn’t push my rock very far. The hotel also offered curling lessons on Friday evenings.

On the last day, I drove all the way out to Golden to try snowmobiling. It’s not allowed in the Banff park itself, so it was quite a drive to the tour companies. We went with White and Wild, mostly because they seemed relatively (!) close and we wouldn’t know the difference in quality between the companies anyway. The drive took me about 2 hours (although it should only be about 1-1/2 hours) because I’m a slow driver with a kid in the car; also, some parts of the road were narrow or hilly, with snow/ice. The minimum age to snowmobile is 16, but my nephew could ride as my passenger. It was more tiring than I expected, but it was fun. The only animals we saw were grey jays, probably because the noise scares other animals away.

Things I didn’t do: I didn’t get to relax in the spa, and I also didn’t spend the afternoon having tea in the hotel either. My sisters enjoyed doing both, although they both thought the view at tea was better than the food offerings. I also didn’t get around to snow-shoeing, which we probably should have done in lieu of snowmobiling, but you live and learn.
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 02:39 PM
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Sorry, the drive to Banff took "a little less than 2 hours" for me.
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Old Feb 5th, 2020, 08:39 PM
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Thank you so much for this report! It really helped me figure out our own tentative itinerary. I looked into one company for dog sled rides that was quite pricy. That may be the norm. I’ll look into this Snowy owl tours now. I went down hard with the flu this past Friday and now focused on getting 100% by the time we fly to Calgary. I’m sure I’ll post back in. Thanks again for taking the time!
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 11:12 AM
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We just did this trip in the fall and stayed at the Rimrock and loved it; they gave us a shuttle pass that gave us free usage of the Roam shuttle, just a few minutes to get to town.
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