Unveiling Summertime Adventures in in the Canadian Rockies
by Stefanie Michaels
If stretching your legs a bit and breathing in clean mountain air this summer is top of mind, then Banff in the Canadian Rockies should top the list for destinations.
At 4,537 feet elevation, it’s the highest town in Canada and within Canada’s first National Park – actually third in the world. From hiking the backcountry to a day at Lake Minnewanka or Lake Louise, the great outdoors awaits. But, if the apres ski culture is more your jam, there’s plenty of that too – snow or no snow.
Just a two-hour drive from Calgary, the best way to get there is to hop aboard the Brewster Express from Calgary International Airport. Just make sure to book your tickets in advance. This airport shuttle service will drop you off at your accommodations.
But, for the best of luxury, the Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection offers two favorites along the main corridor of downtown Banff – Elk + Avenue Hotel for a more modern approach and Mount Royal Hotel as an OG of Banff dating back to 1908.
The downtown area is less than 3 square miles and is very walkable, with plenty of dining, shopping, and nightlife options. Make sure to slip into Park Distillery for a high ball of Maple Rye. Or, book a private karaoke room for you and your pals at Hello Sunshine Sushi.
Within Elk + Avenue, Chef Scott Hergott pays homage to wood-fired and slow-roasted staples while featuring many local and regional farms and artisans. The Vegetable Wellington will surely delight even the carnivores of your party, while Rotisserie Chicken is a menu mainstay.
Over at Mount Royal Hotel, Brazen is not only where cocktail hour is a must, but Chef Dan Jiricka packs a powerful punch with dishes ranging from Broccolini Blueberry Salad to Green Tea Mussels, and his desserts are absolute show stoppers. Both of these restaurants offer stellar brunch menus as well.
Still, the piece de resistance is soaking in the 360° views atop Sulphur Mountain while savoring Sky Bistro’s award-winning menu. They call this place a dining sanctuary in the sky for a good reason.
But, arriving there is all part of the experience, with an 8-minute gondola ride up the mountain boasting gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies.
Lunch is always a great idea. But the sunset is stunning at Sky Bistro, with floor-to-ceiling views of the surrounding mountains. Whatever time of day you plan to check out Sky Bistro, arrive early so you can explore Sulphur Mountain’s panoramic views along a full kilometer of the boardwalk, which sits 7,500 feet in the sky.
Truly, this magical place is an authentic Canadian experience.
Did you know?
The Canadian Rockies has the presence of the Burgess Shale, a significant fossil site located in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.
The Burgess Shale is renowned for its exceptional preservation of fossils from the Middle Cambrian period, which took place approximately 508 million years ago. It is considered one of the most important fossil discoveries in the world.
The Burgess Shale fossils provide scientists with a remarkable glimpse into the early evolution of life on Earth. The site has yielded diverse, exceptionally preserved soft-bodied organisms, including ancient arthropods, sponges, worms, and early chordates.
A little history:
These fossils have contributed significantly to our understanding of the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid diversification and evolution of complex life forms.
The Burgess Shale is not easily accessible due to its scientific significance and delicate nature. However, Parks Canada offers guided hikes to the fossil sites, allowing visitors to learn about the incredible ancient life forms that once inhabited the Canadian Rockies.