Fall is the perfect time to spend a week discovering Canada’s playground – Banff National Park!
Fall in Banff National Park is a notoriously short season, but that doesn’t mean that Canada’s playground doesn’t come with its own plethora of activities during the autumn. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
With temperatures cooling, crowds thinning, and the forest going through its fall transformation (hello, Larch Season), Banff, Alberta, really knows how to drive home the point – fall is an amazingly gorgeous time for a visit.
On top of an already growing list of positives, Fairmont Banff Springs becomes a sanctuary for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life. It’s a place where people can rest and relax one day and squeeze in a few more adventures the next, sans snow.
Here’s how to spend six perfect days in Banff National Park this fall. Enjoy!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
An Introduction To Banff National Park
Located in the Canadian Rockies and the province of Alberta, Banff National Park covers around 6641km2 of land. Filled with snow-covered peaks in every direction you look in, diverse wildlife, rushing rivers, and much more, Banff National Park is a spectacular place to spend your fall vacation! Below we’ve listed some things you should know ahead of your itinerary:
Location: Alberta, Canada
Nearest City & Airport: Calgary
Available Transportation to the Park: Car Rentals, Shuttle Buses
Available Transportation in the Park: Shuttle Buses, Car Rentals, Bikes, Public Transportation etc
Park Pass Costs: Can be found here.
Buying a Parks Pass
Explore soaring peaks, paddle across turquoise alpine lakes or find a place to soak up the view – since Banff is a National Park, purchasing a Parks Pass is mandatory. Think of this as your passport to adventure and one that helps Banff stay protected!
You will find more information here.
What To Pack
Weather in the Canadian Rockies can be unpredictable so packing the right things is essential! The weather in Banff in fall is generally on the chillier side, particularly in the mornings and evenings. Packing layers is your best bet – so you can add or remove layers as the day switches temperatures. If you are planning alpine hikes – prepare for some light snow, so a waterproof jacket and hiking boots are great for those doing more challenging hikes.
Respecting The Wildlife
One of the most exciting things about visiting Banff National Park is its diverse wildlife, and it’s not uncommon for wildlife to be spotted in the town of Banff and around Banff National Park. To keep wildlife safe, all visitors are asked to keep a safe distance from nature and never to feed them. More information can be found here.
6 DAYS IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK, this FALL
Morning: Sunrise Hike
Afternoon: Cocktail Class at Rundle Bar
Evening: Waldhaus Pub & Biergarten
What better way to start off your trip to the mountains than with a hike on the first day! Grab your hiking boots and download the RunGo App, which provides you with trails around the property which are great to experience. We recommend starting with the Tunnel Mountain hike – it’s a well-maintained trail that provides enough elevation to get those muscles working. Plus, the views of the town of Banff are pretty special.
OUR TIP – Don’t forget to pack some snacks and water, which you can grab at STOCK Food & Drink to enjoy during or after your hike!
A relatively new offering to the hotel and to Rundle Bar is the addition of Cocktail Classes! Hosted in the Upper Rundle Bar and by one of the talented mixologists, this class will have you sipping and savouring all the wonderful ingredients that go into all of our regional cocktails (representing the 3 of 4 iconic Canadian Western Mountain properties).
Sip the Emerald Glow – representing Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge; this elegant cocktail pays homage to the pristine emerald glow coming off Lake Beauvert located directly in front of the property. Next, the Iconic Peak cocktail, which represents its surrounding around the iconic Lake Louise and nature’s transformation throughout the year and finally, The Wildflower, representing Fairmont Banff Springs. This cocktail is a colourful and modern twist on the martini and leaves a floral long-lasting impression, much like the property she represents.
After your cocktail class wraps up, head out to the Waldhaus Pub & Biergarten, located just a short walk outside the hotel. This “hidden” cottage in the woods offers delightful patio views, and a rustic cabin feel indoors. Serving refreshingly cold beers and all the Bavarian pub food you can handle, your evening at the Waldhaus Pub & Biergarten won’t be complete unless you get the “Boot.” 64 oz of golden beer later, you’ll be yodelling and having a great time, we promise!
OUR TIP – If your trip to Banff National Park lands between September 17 – October 3, 2022, you’ll get to enjoy The Waldhaus’ annual Oktoberfest celebration. Enjoy authentic German beer and food (did we mention that a footlong bratwurst is on the menu?!), music, prizes, and so much more!
Good morning, and welcome to your second day in Banff National Park! As you throw open the curtains and take in the views of the mountains – take a moment to reflect on the beautiful surroundings! Once you’re dressed and ready for a bite, head down to STOCK Food & Drink for a coffee and a delicious homemade breakfast. If you’re not in a rush, take a seat and watch the Castle come to life, but if you’d rather, you can take your breakfast to go and head off to your morning adventure.
Head to the Concierge desk and book your tickets for the Banff Gondola. After that, you can either wait for the Roam Bus (which is complimentary for guests of the hotel, just be sure to get your tickets from the Front Desk) or enjoy the 20-minute stroll into town to the Pursuit Hub to grab the shuttle up to the Banff Gondola. From there, enjoy your ride into the sky! At the top, you’ll be blown away by the incredible views of the six different mountain ranges in Banff National Park. The Banff Gondola also offers an interpretive exhibit, gift shops and places to grab a snack before heading down to enjoy your afternoon activity.
OUR TIP – Want to see the views that are in store for you? For a sneak peek into the views at the top of the Gondola, check out their 360 camera!
Take advantage of the complimentary bikes and e-bikes that the hotel has on the property! After you get back from your gondola adventure, head to the Gatehouse Foyer to speak to the knowledgeable Resort Activities crew. They’ll be able to help you rent out the bikes, let you know some tips and tricks about biking in Banff, and then you’ll be on your way!
Now that your full day of adventuring is coming to a close, you’ll be in for a treat come dinner time. Head down to the Castle’s flagship restaurant, 1888 Chop House (named after the year the hotel was built).
Serving the freshest local Alberta beef – a must-try when visiting the province – 1888 Chop House has become renowned for its gorgeous, intimate setting in the Castle and, even more so for the food & wine list. You’ll have a hard time picking the cut of beef you want and what sides go perfectly with it but do not fret; the outstanding service that 1888 has become known for will help guide you in choosing the best meal for you.
OUR TIP – Did you know that your service at 1888 Chop House starts with a champagne cart appearing at your table as if by magic?! Now go ahead and treat yourself; you deserve it!
Morning & Afternoon
Today’s adventure is going to be an epic one – you’re going to be exploring Sentinel Pass (or, for those looking to extend the hike, Eiffel Lake)! Larch season in Banff National Park has become a known phenomenon – because of its short season (seriously, it lasts for only a matter of weeks) but mostly for its stunning vibrant yellow Larch views. Luckily you don’t have to navigate the hike alone; the hotel offers a private guided experience of either hike that comes with transportation, picnic-style lunch and snacks, a non-alcoholic drink, use of a GoPro and a keepsake memory card, water, equipment and a guide! This guided hike will take everything for you, leaving you with more time to explore the sights and sounds of Banff National Park during Larch season.
OUR TIP: Here’s a sneak peek of the views!
Your evening will take you to our very own Rundle Bar for dinner and drinks to wrap up the day. Once freshened up, head down to the Rundle Bar and find the perfect place to perch and watch the evening set on the Canadian Rockies. Enjoy the sounds from the DJ playing lively tunes, or sneak into the Sidecar Room behind the secret bookcase doorway. Once seated, browse the cocktail menu for your first of many (please enjoy responsibly) delightfully crafted cocktails. Order from the food menu, too; the selection will blow you away and you’ll be sure to have a relaxed but great night.
It’s time for a mid-week spa break; after so much adventuring, it’s time to ease those muscles and relax a bit! Make your way to the spa, located in the heart of the Castle, for a morning of rest and rejuvenation. The spa is home to waterfalls, mineral pools, hot tubs, a quiet lounge, steam rooms, saunas, and so much more! On top of all that, the celebrated spa is home to an extensive treatment list – rejuvenating facials and relaxing body treatments are all just part of the Banff spa experience.
OUR TIP: There’s more to the spa than meets the eye – find a fully equipped salon which offers makeup applications, hair cutting and styling and the opportunity to get a manicure and pedicure.
Take the afternoon off to enjoy the town of Banff! With plenty of museums and shops to fill your day – you’ll enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of this charming little town. When it’s time to stop for a snack, plenty of restaurants and bars are happy to provide a spot to people-watch!
After your afternoon spent in town, head back to the hotel and prepare for dinner in the hotel’s stunning Vermillion Room. Offering a menu inspired by French-Canadian cuisine, the Vermillion Room has some beautiful spots to watch the evening turn to night.
OUR TIP: Staying on October 22 or October 29, 2022? You can get tickets to a murder mystery dinner and show! You can find more details here.
Morning & Afternoon: Lake Louise Day trip
Evening: Driving Range & dinner at Stanley’s Smokehouse
You can’t come to Banff National Park and not take a trip to see the stunning Lake Louise – especially before it freezes over for winter! Guests of the hotel are able to book a shuttle that takes them to Lake Louise and back.
Once there, take that iconic lake and mountain picture and then take a walk along the lakeshore path. If you are really feeling up for it and have the proper footwear and lots of water, start the hike to one of the two teahouses – Lake Agnes Tea House or The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.
Afternoon & Evening
Once back from your day trip to Lake Louise, catch the shuttle bus down to the golf course to enjoy a round at the driving range, complimentary to guests of the hotel. Whether you are an avid golfer or not, it’s a great way to see The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course – which closes in the winter to become an animal wildlife corridor.
Once your round at the driving range is up, head up to the Clubhouse to enjoy a lovely dinner surrounded by epic views.
Brunch at the Castle has become a famed event – this all-you-can-eat buffet has no shortage of wonderful offerings. From a mouth-watering seafood station to an “eggs-your-way” station, you won’t be disappointed in the variety and taste of this delectable feast! Might we suggest a mimosa to start the brunch off right?!
OUR TIP: If you are around on Sunday, October 9, 2022 – head to drag brunch! Featuring stars like Plastique Tiara, Kendall Gender, Stephanie Prince and Synthia Kiss, tickets are bound to sell out!
After an epic drag brunch, head down to the pool area for a dip!
Today’s dinner will have you dining under the stars at the 360 Dome, and what a culinary treat you are in for. Besides serving a sunrise breakfast, brunch, and a royal tea menu – a five-course chef’s special dinner is a dining experience you won’t soon forget. Starting with an amuse bouche and ending with a decadent dessert, it’s a truly breathtaking way to end your trip!
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