Snowshoeing in Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies:
Hiking in the Winter Wonderland of Western Canada
Before there were horses in North America, there was only one way to get around during winter in Western Canada, and that was to walk. Even after European explorers brought horses, often the only way to get around during the months of heavy snow when drifts were too high for horses was to strap on snowshoes and hoof it yourself.
Today, of course, you don’t need to strap on snowshoes and hit the trail to enjoy the alpine wonderland that Banff, Alberta, becomes in winter. But it is an excellent way to enjoy the winter scenery up close. If you want to see the beauty of the Canadian Rockies wilderness in an authentic, traditional way, you can’t get much better than snowshoeing. It’s also an excellent opportunity for viewing wildlife of the area.
And remember, you don’t need instructions or experience – if you can walk, you can snowshoe – and you don’t even need any special gear (other than the snowshoes, of course). Like hiking, you can pick a trail that’s as easy and relaxing or as challenging and strenuous as you like. And there’s something spiritual about the mountain wilderness in wintertime, between quiet, the solitude, and the clean, fresh air. …
Snow-shoe season generally starts in December and lasts through late March. With the multitude of trails in and around Banff town, Lake Louise and elsewhere in Banff National Park, there’s no end of possibilities for snowshoeing once the snow falls. Please see the hiking sections for detailed suggestions.
But please be advised: a number of trails in the park are groomed specifically for cross-country skiing. If trails are marked or groomed for cross country skiing, please observe expected courtesy and avoid walking or snowshoeing on those trails.
If you don’t want to go it alone, however, there are a number of tour operators who offer guided snowshoe trips (they also provide snowshoe rental). As with all mountain activities, it is important to be prepared before you set out to snowshoe. If you have questions about gear, trail etiquette, wildlife, and avalanche safety, please consult Parks Canada.
If you are looking for a guide or equipment rental for your snowshoeing adventure in the Canadian Rockies, consult the specialists at Banff Travel.
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