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Banff National Park Biking

by K Gordon Schultz

Biking in Banff – the ideal sightseeing experience

BANFF, Alberta – If you are planning to take your travel vacation in Banff, take my advice and plan on gong with a guided bike tour. What better way to investigate the beautiful town and all the wonderfuvl areas that surround it. With distances too far for walking and too close for a vehicle, biking around Banff is the perfect way to explore – in ways that would be almost impossible by foot or car. With the fresh mountain air in your lungs, the freedom to stop any where you like, as well as the incomparable exercise you will get, biking is the way to go!

There is hardly a better way to enjoy Banff sightseeing than to take a trip on a mountain bike.

I went to Banff in the spring, having planned my trip for over a year. I knew I had to take a bicycling excursion and so I booked a guided bike tour and I must say, it was the travel vacation of a lifetime. I started out with a short tour in and around Banff itself, taking in the magnificent scenery and feeling like my lungs had never filled up with air before!

This city girl was in ‘breathing heaven’! Besides the exhilaration of being fully oxygenated, I was all a-glow from this initial introduction to what must be one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. We rode along the Vermillion Lakes to see the amazing bird life – I even spotted an eagle – and then on to Bow Falls, which was the only hill we encountered that day.

The view from Bow Falls provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding natural beauty, and I remembered reading that this point was made famous in the movie “River of No Return” with Marilyn Monroe. Very glamorous! We then spun around the other side of the Bow River to “Surprise Corner” where there was a wonderful view of the Banff Springs Hotel.

The next day I took the Sundance Canyon Bike and Hike excursion. This took us past the Cave & Basin National Historic Site and along the Bow River to Sundance Canyon. We put the bikes aside for a while to hike for about 1 km through the canyon, past the beaver ponds, and through the beautiful, thick forest that makes this place so utterly precious. We stopped on the way back for a picnic along the river, basking in the mountain sun.

The last excursion I signed up for was the Lake Minnewanka Loop, a 16 km ride that begins along a serene back road and leads to the largest lake in the Rockies. We went past Bankhead, a ghost town that provided a stunning contrast against the sensation of such living nature, and on to Two Jack Lake.

Our guide suggested that we push on to Johnson Lake, making the moderate ride a bit more challenging. Our group was up for it, and so on we went, and it was truly worth the trek. I was using all the gears on my bike, hoping my body wouldn’t pay for it too hard the next day, and found myself in utter ecstasy at each turn that brought yet another spectacular view.

Needless to say, we stopped often to explore and take pictures! Not to bring a camera is a crime – you will want to have a reminder of this biking trip once you are back home. After a lovely picnic lakeside, we turned back, leisurely biking our way back to home base, realizing that we still had the rest of the day to enjoy!

On my last day in the area my friend and I decided to take our own mountain bike excursion. We boarded the bus at 8:30 am at the Ski Hub in downtown Banff, our bicycles in tow, and arrived at the base of the Sunshine Ski Area. From here we took our time riding back to Banff, first along the paved road, which is an easy downhill ride of 7 kms.

At the bottom is the valley and we continued along Healy Creek Road, an amazing mountain bike trail that took us to the Cave & Basin National Historic Site. We went back to the Sundance Canyon, where we had been the other day, to stretch our legs by hiking a bit.

Feeling the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair, we felt like we ruled the world! Back to our bikes, we explored, hopping on and off for the rest of the day until we arrived back at home base. Truly a trip to remember and remember and remember.

Guided Bike Tour:
1 to 4 hours:
Bikes can be kept for the entire day.
Minimum Charge is $330.00 for up to 6 people plus $30.00/bike. (Additional tour members are $55.00/person and $30.00/bike.)

Self-Guided Tour:
Includes mountain bike and the shuttle from Banff to the Sunshine Village Parking lot.
The shuttle bus pickup is in front of “The Ski Hub” on Banff Avenue at 8:30am.
Reservations can be made at the Ski Hub or with The Ski Stop.

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