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In the winter, the Canadian Rockies are covered in snow and Banff becomes a picture-perfect ski/snowboarding escape. When the warmer months roll around, green forests dot the scenery, accenting it against gorgeous skies and the electric-blue Lake Louise.

There are a million reasons to fall in love with Banff, but for the sake of brevity, we’ve collected seven of our favorites.

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Lake Louise

As one of the most famous lakes in the area, we’re blown away by how stunning Lake Louise is. The body of water seems to change color as the sky does. Trust us on this one, it’s a place you want to see in person. We recommend exploring the lake and then sharing a meal with friends at Chateau Lake Louise.

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Banff Town

A unique balance between ski-town resort and national park, Banff offers a wide range of activities for the outdoor enthusiast. But we recommend taking a moment to wander around the little downtown area as well. Banff Town developed as a service center for the national park surrounding it, and today, most of the architecture is very modern, but it is possible to find some historic buildings in the area. We recommend visiting Banff Avenue and going to Banff Park Museum.

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Photo by Norio Nakayama // Flickr Creative Commons

Banff Upper Hot Springs

What better way to relax than by a pool full of warm water with incredible mountain views? Bonus: You can rent vintage-inspired bathing suits, which we’re pretty sure would make for some awesome photo-ops.

The springs were originally found by three employees of the Canadian Pacific Railway who tried to claim the land (but never got to exploit it.) It was these springs that led to the creation of the first National Park in 1885. On this site a hotel was opened however it burned down. After being redeveloped it burned down again and the government took back the lease and opened a public facility here. There was another public pool in Banff at the Cave and Basin but a rare snail lives in the sulphurous water and they were closed to protect it.
Photo by Andrew Bowden // Flickr Creative Commons

Athabasca Glacier

You can reach the Athabasca Glacier via a “Snocoach,” a specially designed ice tour bus, but we think the best way to experience the glacier is to walk on it. For that, you’ll definitely need a guide — check out Athabasca Glacier Icewalks. You can take a three or six-hour tour, depending on the amount of time you have and the level of adventure you’re up for.

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Banff Gondola

Perfect for both the summer and winter months, the Banff Gondola takes visitors up to a mountain summit in four-person enclosed cars. The ride takes about 10 minutes and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding areas, as well as several choices for restaurants once you’re at the top. To get back down, you can either take the gondola for half price or opt to hike down 3.5 miles.

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Photo by Kurt Bauschardt // Flickr Creative Commons

Ski Banff at Norquay

There are three ski resorts in Banff, but we’re into the area’s oldest resort, Norquay. It has 77 hectares of skiable area and 28 trails, which are, of course, all surrounding by gorgeous scenery. One of the really great things about Banff is that all three ski resorts work together, so you can buy a pass that’s good at all of them.

a morning breeze blowing some snow off the top of mount norquay. this was the view from the hotel; not too shabby.
Photo by Jeff Nelson // Flickr Creative Commons

Cave and Basin National Historic Site

Just far enough away from the everyday hustle and bustle of Banff tourists is a little gem and historic landmark. The Cave and Basin site is the lowest component of nine sulfurous hot springs clustered in three groups. The cave itself commemorates the birthplace of Canada’s entire National Park system, which began in 1885. Admission is just $4 and makes for a great way to spend a couple of hours exploring.

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