person backcountry skiing

Our Favourite Winter Activities in the Canadian Rockies

Ever wonder what we do in the winter? For many of us, we love the mountains so much that we stay put all year long! There are countless winter activities in Banff to keep us occupied while we patiently wait for rafting season to start back up. Here’s a list of our favourite ways to play in the mountains in winter:



person backcountry skiing


One of the most popular options, but rightfully so! We are surrounded by three renowned ski resorts—the Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village, and Mount Norquay (also known as SkiBig3)—that offer a variety of beginner to advanced terrain, so there’s something for everyone. And when we’re missing the river a little extra, we travel further down the road to our summer home of Golden, BC, where we hit up Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

And, when we prefer to “earn our turns” (instead of taking a chairlift or gondola), we head out for some backcountry skiing. Here, the crowds thin and we can find some good powder! Safety tip: keep in mind that when recreating in the backcountry, avalanche danger poses a risk. It is important that all users take an Avalanche Skills Training program prior to heading into the backcountry for the first time.

For those days when downhill skiing won’t cut it, we head out for some cross-country skiing. There’s no shortage of places to go, from the groomed trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre to the multitude of trails in Lake Louise.


people ice skating on Two Jack Lake in BanffWild Ice Skating

There’s nothing like getting out of an arena and onto some wild ice. We love lacing up our skates, and gliding around the ice in the open, fresh air, surrounded by stunning mountain views. There are many lakes around Banff National Park that are good for skating in the winter, but some of our favourites are Lake Minnewanka, Johnson Lake, and Lake Louise.

Safety tip: Wild ice skating is at your own risk. The recommended ice thickness for skating is a minimum of 15 – 20cm. Please visit Parks Canada’s website for further details on wild ice skating safety.


person smiling while on an ice wall in the Canadian RockiesIce Climbing

When we’re looking to reach new heights, we strap on our crampons, harnesses, and helmets, pick up our ice tools and head out for some ice climbing. Some of our favourite climbs include the Junkyards and King Creek.  Safety tip: Like backcountry skiing, avalanche danger poses a risk for ice climbing. It is important for ice climbers to also take an Avalanche Skills Training program.

Never been ice climbing before? Check out the beginner-friendly ice climbing program offered by our friends at Yamnuska Mountain Adventures!


people enjoying the Radium Hot Springs

Relax in Hot Springs

After all that outdoor adventure, there’s nothing better than soaking in some hot springs. It’s the best way to relax our sore muscles (a hot tub can do the trick too, in the absence of hot springs)! We love visiting the Banff Upper Hot Springs following a day of fun outside in the cold. Or, if we’re near the Kootenays, we stop by the Radium Hot Springs.



raft dropping a waterfall on the kaituna river in New ZealandChase Summer

Finally, there are some of us who prefer to hide from the cold, snowy winters and chase the warm, sunny summers. Trading in the northern hemisphere for the southern hemisphere, we hop on a plane to keep the rafting season going and our skills sharp. There are many great rivers to raft over the winter months, with one of our favourites being the Kaituna River in New Zealand. Fun fact: this river features the highest commercially rafted waterfall – 7 metre Tutea Falls!






We’re already counting down the days until we’re back on the river this summer, but until then, enjoy the snow, winter activities in Banff and happy adventuring! If you want to get a jump start on your summer adventure planning, check out our whitewater rafting trips!

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