Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most iconic destinations, being the country’s oldest national park, and it’s filled with incredible sights for all types of travelers and budgets. Lakes, waterfalls, mountains, dining, wildlife, breathtaking sunsets, and tourist safety are among the reasons that make Banff National Park exceptional. But is it a good idea to take a tour to Banff?
The answer should be determined after understanding the advantages of taking a guided tour, and in this article, we’ll take a journey through a small part of Banff National Park in Alberta to see if it’s really worth spending a few dollars on this service.
I decided to take a small tour that turned out to be a full-blown experience, and I’ll share it step by step. The service I took with the company Banff Everyday offered an itinerary that might seem straightforward at first glance, but it’s not, and you’ll see why. Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the town of Banff.
Early in the morning, our journey began in downtown Calgary, heading west through the city. We took 16th Street, which later becomes the impressive Trans-Canada Highway. An immense road that crosses the country through a 7,821 km journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
As we left Calgary, Phill, our tour guide, provided an interesting overview of the city. He discussed the city’s major event, the Calgary Stampede, a ten-day celebration commencing on the first Friday of July annually. Demographic data, historical facts, curiosities, and a few friendly jokes warmed up the short journey.
The first stop was at the feet of the ‘Three Sisters,’ Hope, Faith, and Charity, originally called the ‘Three Nuns’ because of the way snow falls on their slopes in winter, making them look as if they were crowned by the habits of Catholic nuns. Over time, it evolved into the ‘Three Sisters,’ iconic hills near Canmore, the gateway to Banff National Park. Here, the tour stopped to pick up the second group of tourists joining our adventure.
Has this article piqued your curiosity? Your next adventure could be just a click away! Silver Falls State Park: Oregon’s Hidden Gem
We continued westward through Canada to Banff town without pause but without haste. With its alpine architecture and laid-back atmosphere, it offers a picturesque view. From the pedestrianized main street, ‘Mount Rundle’ derives its name from Robert Rundle, a missionary who interacted with Cree and Blackfoot indigenous communities. He was a controversial figure who, through what they mistakenly called “civilization,” led to the loss of cultural identity and the alienation of ancestral traditions.
In Banff, we picked up a couple more people who joined our guided tour of Banff National Park. Our attentive guide shared valuable information throughout the journey. With a keen sense of humor, he narrated each place with great precision, displaying a profound knowledge of our destinations.
If you don’t travel on a tour with an authorized company, like I did, you must leave your vehicle at Samson Mall and hire a shuttle service to take you to the lakes. This is a significant advantage that helps answer the question: Is it a good idea to take a tour to Banff? Forgetting the worry of where to leave your vehicle is a massive benefit.
Lake Louise emerges like a canvas where reality intertwines with the magical. Its immaculately blue water looks like a piece of the sky fallen to the earth, surrounded by mountains that rise like sleeping titans. It appears as a mirror of dreams, reflecting snow-capped peaks and lush forests. The beauty of this place, frozen in time, envelops you in an embrace of awe and reveals a mystery that only nature can weave with threads of reality and magic.
A Lake Louise Proposal: Love Amidst Nature’s Splendor
But the beauty of this spectacle suddenly paled when one of the travelers, Sam Williams, moved by the majesty of nature, reached into his trembling pocket, knelt down with the softness of velvet, raised his gaze patiently to the woman in front of him, gently took her hand, and exhaled the most important words ever spoken by his voice: “Eleanor, would you be my wife?”
Time stood still around them. In reality, the split second that this young and excited woman took to react felt like hours. We all held our breath, and suddenly, as if a blinding flash came from her beautiful clear eyes, we were deafened and blinded by a resounding “Yes.”
She offered her hand, Sam, still trembling, managed to place a delicate, elegant, and beautiful ring on her finger, and she smiled as she had never smiled before. She kissed him, the crowd applauded, and the world started to turn again.
The tour continued, but they were no longer the same. Eleanor and Sam were already engaged, and the tour was just beginning. For an hour, we marveled at Lake Louise, attempting to capture its beauty, but no media can do it justice.
From Fairmont Spring Banff, where Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip stayed in 1951, overlooks the lake with royal elegance. From there, known as “The Castle of the Rockies,” we headed to Moraine Lake.
Open only from late May to late October when the road closes each year due to the season, the 14 kilometers separating one lake from the other are a narrow but safe route adorned by fabulous landscapes.
Access limited to tour company vehicles or Samson Mall transport only. Private vehicles are not allowed. Another argument that will help me answer whether taking a tour to Banff is a good idea.
Moraine Lake is a mirror of dreams, where the reflection of snowy peaks becomes a vision from another world. It’s a heavenly corner hidden in the heart of Canada. Its deep, crystalline blue water feels like a doorway to another world, a palette of colors beyond even the boldest painter’s imagination.
Surrounded by mountains rising like ethereal guardians, what sets Moraine Lake apart is its aura of untouched perfection. Its shores, lush green, contrast with the blue lake, creating a magical balance between the earthly and the celestial. It’s the setting of a fairy tale.
We hiked ‘Rockpile Trail,’ a short, steep path to a viewpoint with breathtaking lake and mountain vistas. And, of course, the fantastic ‘Tower of Babel,’ a very steep mountain that few dare to reach through a hike lasting several hours and requiring not only a group entry but also the right equipment to avoid accidents.
After over an hour at Moraine Lake, some shopped at the picturesque souvenir store inside ‘Moraine Lake Lodge Dining Room.’
On the way back to the town of Banff, everyone went in the direction they wanted for lunch. The truth is that the offer is quite varied, not only in the type of cuisine but also in prices. You can find everything from pizzerias offering individual slices, typical fast-food restaurant chains, to places with the most exclusive dishes.
When we thought the tour was ending, two surprise destinations emerged, short but essential stops. “Bow Falls,” a picturesque, popular, and very photogenic spot with a viewpoint that you can easily access via comfortable stairs. Here, you can take some photos to capture the moment.
At the ‘corner of surprise,’ a scenic viewpoint, we spent just 15-20 minutes during the tour. From here, you can take magnificent photos of the valley surrounded by the gigantic Rocky Mountains. You enjoy a panoramic view of Banff Springs Hotel, where Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe, and Leonardo DiCaprio stayed.
The return to Calgary was serene, enriched by Phill’s historical, geographical, and cultural insights, plus his wonderful humor. After 5:00 PM, a magnificent tour that started at 8:00 AM concluded. I found immense satisfaction in the landscapes, personalized attention, guide’s expertise, and access to restricted areas via the tour.
In my view, taking a tour to Banff is undoubtedly a great idea. Few tourists depart Alberta aware of “Castle Mountain,” formerly named “Mount Eisenhower.” Diplomatic tensions left just the tallest summit named “Eisenhower Tower” in tribute to U.S. President Eisenhower in this iconic place. If I hadn’t taken a guided tour, I wouldn’t know this curious fact and many others that I enjoyed on the journey where I met Sam, Eleanor, Phill, and some other wonderful fellow travelers who, like me, were dazzled by the piece of heaven that fell onto Alberta, Canada.