Montana Adventure Spirit: Exploring Banff & Jasper National Parks

Kim Weaver

Posted on May 24 2018

How often are you asked the question "where are you from?" It is something that at The Montana Scene we ask a lot of our customers and we get answers from all over. One of the best parts of living near a national park is hearing all the stories of how did they decide to come here?

A wedding? Bucket list item? Always wanted to visit?

Recently I took a trip to Banff and Jasper National Park and the question "where are you from?" had me connecting with everyone I spoke to. "Oh I'm from Montana," sparked so many conversations with other tourists, locals, and people working in the area. Normally I have the inside scoop on "my" national park, Glacier National Park, but in Banff I got to be the tourist. 

Here is your first time go to guide for Banff and Jasper National Park! 

Tunnel Mountain Banff National ParkBanff National Park Tunnel Mountain

l Views from Tunnel Mountain in Banff l

1. Tunnel Mountain 

Looking for a fun, easy-moderate hike for you and the family? Look no further than Tunnel Mountain! Tunnel Mountain is located right in the town of Banff with a trailhead just .5 miles from downtown (there is an option to drive up part way and miss the steepest part of the hike). The 360 views are plentiful throughout the entire hike with a perfect view of the town below. 

2. Columbia Icefield Discovery

Confession, I am not a first time adventurer to Banff and Jasper, BUT it has been almost ten years from my first trip so it almost feels brand new. Last time I went to Banff we decided to go up to Jasper and do the Columbia Icefield Discovery and when planning this trip...we knew we needed to do it again! I would highly recommend giving yourself plenty of time to get there, and coming early. We were on the first tour of the day for the Athabasca Glacier. You start by boarding a bus, we had a great tour guide from Australia, and taking about a ten minute drive. Try and sit closer to the front to be able to ask questions. The guides are filled with knowledge about the glacier! Then you get to another station where you board the next "bus" or ice explorer to get onto the glacier. 

Columbia Icefield Jasper National Park

l The Ice Explorer is able to take you up and down the extremely steep road to get onto the Glacier l 

Shout out to our tour guide Kevin who has been giving Glacier Icefield Tours for years after he retired from 20 years of service. 

Once you are on the Glacier you can walk around and take photos. You can see how much the glacier has retreated over the years when you look back on the various moraines - which are the mass of rocks that make ridges as the glacier has retreated. 

After you've explored the Glacier you will hop on a bus to the newest attraction - the Glacier Skywalk. 

Glacier Skywalk Jasper National Park

l View from the edge of the Glacier Skywalk l 

Another confession, I did not walk all the way on the Skywalk - even though it is more safe than the second floor of a house! The glass floor beneath can be an interesting experience for those afraid of heights. My views from the edge were incredibly breath taking. The walking tour was a nice addition to the skywalk as well. It is a must if you are near Banff or Jasper. 

glacier sky walk  glacier sky walk

l My brave friend who went onto the glass part had views from under the glass floor (left) and out over the sky walk (right) l 

3. Eat all the food you can in Banff! 

We spent a huge part of our trip eating, because everything was so good! We started with Eddie's Burger Bar. We went at about 3pm and it was packed, so be ready to wait a bit - totally worth the wait! They have specialty burgers of all sorts, I had the peanut butter and jelly burger, or you can build a burger of your own. If you are a vegetarian you're in luck because so is the Poutine! You can't go to Canada and not have a huge plate of Poutine. We topped off our late lunch with milkshakes and so many great flavors for everyone.  

Another place we loved was Park Distillery. We ended up eating there twice! We were able to sit at their "VIP" table the first night, which was on the second floor in big comfy chairs looking out over Banff. All the food we had was exceptional, but a personal favorite was the fondue. 

Everywhere we went we couldn't get over how great the music was playing at the restaurants. We finally asked our waiter at Park if it was just a thing and everyone had great taste in music in Banff and he told us that the owner of Park Distillery (and many other restaurants in Banff) creates playlists on Spotify that are played in his restaurants. We loved that attention to detail and it definitely played into the atmosphere of the everywhere we went. 

4. Banff Indian Trading Post

The Trading Post is just across the bridge when you're walking downtown. There is the Merman of Lake Minnewanka inside and you don't want to miss that legend! (Don't be fooled by photos on the internet the merman is inside and they only took him outside to take a nicer photo.) 

banff mer man  banff trading post mer man

l Banff Merman at the Indian Trading Post l 

The only thing I wish I had done differently on my trip was stay longer. There is so much to explore. We went in late April and were unable to do things like go to Lake Louise and see more than just a mound of snow, so maybe our next trip will be in the summer! 

Where National Parks are you heading to this summer?!

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