We were very fortunate to be hosted for the experiences listed below, but all opinions are our own. Thanks to Banff Lodging Co. for an amazing stay.
If anyone is a fan of finding free adventures in the Rockies, it’s us. We’re obsessed with hiking, biking, floating, paddling and basically finding all of the free/cheaper alternatives to many of Banff’s overpriced tourism attractions.
But, that’s not to say that we won’t pay for an awesome experience either! Particularly in Banff, there are some experiences that absolutely are worth paying for.
Experiences worth paying for in Banff
We’re always banging on about our favourite hikes and free adventures in Banff (and railing against the overpriced tourist traps), so for a change, here are a few experiences that we do actually think are worth your hard earned dollars.
The Norquay Via Ferrata
We’ve said this before, but the Norquay Via Ferrata is easily our favourite paid experience in Banff. The views are out of this world, and it’s truly the only way to experience mountaineering without any prior experience. It’s safe, exhilarating, terrifying at times and 100% epic.
There are a number of different length packages ranging from a couple of hours to most of the day, and some even come with charcuterie plates at the end. Waterproof and safety equipment is all included, so just show up ready for adventure.
The Norquay Via Ferrata takes place on Mount Norquay, and because it’s where the ski hill normally operates, you can skip most of the lower elevation by taking the chairlift halfway!
If that all sounds a little bit scary, you can also simply take a sight seeing chairlift up Mount Norquay instead. The views from the top of the chair are absolutely spectacular and well worth the price of the lift ticket!
Horse Trekking with Banff Trail Riders
I grew up around horses back in the UK, so there’s nothing I like more than going for a plod on a pony.
Horses, cowboys, country music and trekking is also a huge part of Albertan culture, so it’s hard to find something more quintessentially Canadian than a horse ride in the mountains.
There are a number of amazing trails around the town of Banff, and Banff Trail Riders offer trips as short as an hour, or if you’re looking for something longer, they even offer multi day trips into the backcountry that stop in various cabins.
They have over 300 horses and mules, so there are horses to suit all abilities and temperaments, and with that many horses, they’re able to ensure that no horse is overworked and gets plenty of downtime. It’s also interesting to note that many of the horses are rescues from the meat industry!
If you visit Banff and you haven’t experienced some kind of water based adventure during your trip, you’ve honestly missed out.
We love to paddleboard on lakes or go canoeing, but sometimes we’re looking for something a bit more high octane. And when that itch needs to be scratched, we go white water rafting.
The best option for white water rafting in Banff is undoubtedly Chinook Rafting. They offer rafting at 3 locations; the Kananaskis River (Class 2/3), Horseshoe Canyon (Class 4) and on the Kicking Horse River (Class 1-4), and with all those options, there’s something for all abilities.
If that’s still not exciting enough for you, some locations also include cliff jumping up to 30ft (10m)!
Again, it’s another thing you just can’t find for free/cheap, unless you want to take a dollar store dinghy down the river (which we’ve done and absolutely do not recommend).
Mountain Adventurers Wanted Package
There are a few more paid adventures worth investing in in Banff, but we wanted to mention those three in particular because they’re all included in a brand new deal this year; the “Mountain Adventurers Wanted” deal.
For the time being, all of those paid activities are being offered with up to 30% discounts! It’s a ridiculous discount that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and it’s a great opportunity to check a few things off your Banff summer bucketlist before winter rolls in.
Cheap hotel deals from the Banff Lodging Co.
As if that isn’t incentive enough, the Banff Lodging Co. has also thrown in up to 20% discounts on their hotels for the rest of the season as part of the Mountain Adventurers Wanted package.
During our Mountain Adventurers Wanted experience Hidden Ridge Resort was kind enough to host us, and we just fell in love with the place.
I think we can honestly say that they have the best hot tub/pool in Banff, and the views of the town and mountains are impossible to beat.
Hidden Ridge Resort is also pet friendly (they left a dog bowl, dog bed and dog chew in the room for us), and they’re currently offering an amazing in-room breakfast deal (the fridge comes stocked with eggs, sausages, pancake mix, juice and milk!). We can’t recommend this hotel more, and with this new 20% discount, even locals and close-by residents should probably be taking advantage!
And if that isn’t enough, their hot tub easily has the best views in Banff.
If Hidden Ridge isn’t your cup of tea, Banff Lodging Co also has a number of other great hotel options to suit all budgets. There’s seriously never been a better time to take advantage of some last minute, end of season deals and have a quick getaway to the mountains.