Chill and Chilly Trip to Banff

Long weekend trips with friends are some of my favorite! This past weekend my husband and I joined our friends in Banff for a little ski, snowshoe and relaxation.

Each day had a rhythm: get caffeinated, get active, aprés ski and end with a big group dinner. This format worked so well for a big group, where there were different interest areas and schedules. Our group loved skiing at Sunshine and Lake Louise (don’t miss Boomerang!), snowshoeing (my favorite!) and seeing all the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon. Below you’ll also find our favorite bites and sips of the trip.

Grab your mitts! // Banff, Canada, February 2017

All in all I was so thoroughly in love with the trip, and can’t wait to come back in the summer or fall! Check out my recommendations and insider tips below, and add your favorite spots in the comments section below.

ADVENTUREAPPEAL’S
BANFF WINTER GETWAY GUIDE:

♦ Know Before you go
♦ Savor
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Shopping
♦ Other Hot Spots
♦ Lodging
♦ How to Get There

 

 

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Explore 3 day ski packages to save money and time buying lift tickets.
  • Activities where there aren’t a lot of operators (like dog sledding) fill up quickly, so be sure to book in advance.
  • Temperatures in Banff are no joke. Bring lots of layers and glove liners so that you can operate your phone and camera without exposing your digits to negative digit temps.
  • If you have a big group, consider booking reservations 3-6 weeks in advance. The restaurants tend to be smaller and if you hate waiting in line this advice will be key.
  • Standing room in bars doesn’t really exist, as establishments are required to have a seat for every person.
  • Don’t forget your swim suit! Most hotels have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities and there are a few fancy spas you may want to check out too.
  • In the winter, renting a car isn’t necessary or smart if you aren’t used to icy conditions. Opt for using the Airporter, Banff bus routes, shuttles to the ski lifts and private taxis / cars. If your hotel is in town, there are plenty of walkable options for shopping, dinner and drinks.
  • Weekends (especially Saturdays) are busiest, so try to tack on a couple of weekdays to your stay if you can.

GET ACTIVE

There are tons of options to stay active while on your winter vacation to Banff, the most obvious choices being skiing and snowboarding. Other favorites from our group were snowshoeing, taking hikes and signing up for group workout classes at the Fairmont (drop in fees are available for classes if you’re staying elsewhere in town).

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk 

We loved strapping on spikes / crampons and traversing along the Johnston Canyon with Discovery Banff’s guided half-day adventure.

Ready for all of the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon // Banff National Park, Canada, February 2017

Through this Ice Walk Hike we got up close an personal with multiple frozen waterfalls, noshed on hot cocoa and cookies and watched the adventurous ice climbers (an activity for next time!).

Our group had the best tour guide, Saul, and we clocked in 3.6 miles along a railed pathway leading to the Upper and Lower Falls. These massive structures look like moments frozen in time. Pun intended!

Frozen Waterfalls at Johnston Canyon // Banff National Park, February 2017
Hot Cocoa Cheers! // Banff, Canada February 2017

Snowshoeing at the Continental Divide

About 45 minutes from Banff, we spent the morning snowshoeing through the trees at Kootenay Park.

Let’s do this! // Snowshoeing with the gals in Canada, February 2017

Snowshoeing is the BEST way to stay warm! It was -10 C, and we all shed layers as we shuffled through the powder along the Continental Divide. A couple of tips for new snowshoers: take small steps and try to stay on top of the snow; don’t worry if you fall, it’s fun making snow angels; and lastly stretch afterwards as you’ll be using stability muscles you might not normally workout.

All smiles amongst the snow covered trees // Snowshoeing in Canada, February 2017
Pacific vs Atlantic // The Continental Divide, Canada, February 2017

SAVOR

  • The Bison Restaurant and Terrace // Upscale feel without being pretentious. Our group rated this the best Bison burger in town and we paired it with Caymus’ sister wine the Conundrum Red. My husband loved the escargot bone marrow appetizer too.
  • Rundle Lounge at the Fairmont Banff Springs // Seats are first come first serve, so be sure to snag a spot by the windows. Luckily, there are a few rooms and you can either stay for drinks (coffee, tea, cocktails, etc) or a meal.
  • Park Distillery // This establishment is just 2 years old, and makes all of their spirits using glacier water. Try a custom cocktail (they also have mocktails), a spirit sampler tray or just go for the food and distillery tour.
  • Whitebark Cafe // My favorite spot for morning almond milk lattes, cheddar chive bacon scones and homemade granola bars.
  • Wild Flour Bakery // Indulge on super sized breakfast sandwiches with homemade focaccia bread and add peanut butter to the yogurt parfait for a little extra protein and the most PBJ-tastic experience.
Lattes and lovely starts to the day // Whitebark Cafe, Banff, February 2017

VIEW FROM ABOVE

Everywhere you turn in Banff is another gorgeous mountain view. Besides at the top of the slopes, some of the best places to take in the views are via the Banff Gondola and the view from the Fairmont Banff Springs, specifically outside the Rundle Lounge.

Perspective is a beautiful thing // Fairmont Banff Springs, February 2017

LOGDING

We loved taking over the suites at the new Moose Hotel! Everything at the hotel was new and clean, and the heated pools, hot tubs and fire pit all had great views of the mountains. Insider Tip: the pictures on the Moose Hotel’s website don’t do this property justice!

Waking up in winter wonderland //Moose Hotel, Banff, Canada February 2017

Looking for a family friendly hotel? Opt for the Fairmont Banff Springs, where there are lots of options for kids and adults alike, several restaurants on property, and a collegiate / historic feel. Plus, the views are pretty phenomenal!

Classy, classic and all about the viewpoints // Fairmont Banff Springs, February 2017

SHOPPING

  • Don’t live in Canada? Hit up Roots for soft sweats, sweaters, scarfs and  Canada branded merch. I loved their current collaboration with Pendelton.
  • Like any good ski town, Banff has endless options of ski stores if you forget anything.
  • Park Distillery has the best gift shop! Plus everything looks better after a spirit sampler.
Let’s get one of everything! // Park Distillery in Banff, Canada, February 2017

HOW TO GET THERE (& BACK!)

Banff is located in Alberta, Canada, and easily accessed via a 90 minute shuttle from the Calgary airport. Reserve your spot on the Airporter because of its new buses, friendly staff and complementary water.

Our group landed in shifts so we all met at the Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar (Marriott’s downstairs lounge restaurant) for bites and craft cocktails while we waited for the shuttle van.  It sounds odd, but this airport terminal gem is not to be missed.

OTHER HOT SPOTS

Banff really has endless activities: dog sledding, sleigh rides, hot springs, ice skating on Lake Louise, cross country skiing and more!

I hope you enjoy every second of your trip and be sure to comment below with your favorite not to miss wintertime adventures in Banff!

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Cedar Creek Falls to Devil’s Punchbowl

We all hike for something, be it for strength building, gorgeous viewpoints, to clear our minds or burn calories. But what about hiking for floaties? That’s right, FLOATIES!

Devils Punchbowl at Cedar Creek Falls in Ramona, California

One of my favorite hikes of the year has been Cedar Creek Falls Trail to Devil’s Punchbowl. Located in Ramona, California, this 5.2 mile out and back trail has a fantastic midpoint complete with 75 foot cliffs and an active waterfall.

My friend and I quickly made our way down to the waterfall and were so excited for shade and the cool water.  Be sure to go in the springtime when water is flowing and plentiful and bring (or wear) your bikini. Other hikers were so sad not to partake in the fun!

Ta-da! 5.2 mile reward

After our relaxation in the falls we headed back up to our cars. The return is straight up, so be sure to keep extra water on hand and take breaks as needed. Ramona is about 40 miles from San Diego and the temperature reflects this more dessert-like climate. That’s when we spotted the rattlesnake.  A good reminder to keep your wits about you and stay on the path — they’re there for a reason.

It was a such a fun adventure and a wonderful day exploring a new trail. Check out my quick and dirty review below:


CEDAR CREEK FALLS TO DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL

Best Time of Year To Go: Springtime when there’s plenty of water in the basin and it’s not too hot

Hiking Distance: 5.2 miles out and back

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Insider tips:

  • 75 Permits are allotted per a day and easily acquired online for $6 here.
  • Be sure to bring or wear your bikini and an extra quick dry towel.
  • If you bring your dog in the summer you will be turned away — it’s just too hot for the pooches.
  • Be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen as the hike down and back from the Falls is shade-free.
  • Watch out for rattlesnakes along the path. We spotted one!

Rating: Loved it! (4.5/5 stars)

Maps & additional reviews: All Trails, Modern Hiker, San Diego Magazine


Let’s connect…What was your experience like at Devil’s Punchbowl? Any waterfall hikes in your town I should add to my wish list?

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