Banff snowshoe: 10 Surprising things about snowshoeing at Sunshine Village

Here's what you need to know to snowshoe in Banff at Sunshine Village

This is more difficult than it appears. Trust. (Photo credit: HikeBikeTravel.com)

Banff activities

I always thought snowshoeing was kind of lame. I mean, the ethos of the sport is approachability, after all. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Yawn. But then I went on a totally rad trail in Banff National Park, and had to back down from my hard-ass opinion (something I loathe to do). But a gal’s gotta give credit where credit is due, and snowshoeing with White Mountain Adventures at Sunshine Village is an alfresco adventure like no other. There’s a lot of winter and spring activities you can do in Banff, but this is one of my faves. Here’s all you need to know about the snowshoe scene in Banff.

Banff snowshoe: 10 Surprising things about snowshoeing at Sunshine Village

At least our guide was easy to spot.

Snowshoe Banff

  1. It doesn’t suck. You’ll be walking through a true winter wonderland during the two hour excursion. Whereas with skiing there’s a barrier to entry (skill and cash), anyone can snowshoe and the views are out of this world.
  2. You get to play in a lot (and I mean A LOT) of powder. This is a deal because most snowshoe trails are packed down. Any skier or boarder can tell you powder = FUN and so it is for snowshoeing as well.
  3. Snow slides are way more fun than playground slides. The trail is mostly downhill and some parts are fairly steep, meaning: way better to slide than stomp. Rushing down natural slides totally gets the adrenaline going, as these babies have an incline waaay steeper than what you’ll find at the park.
  4. You follow the same trail summer hikers do. This snowshoe adventure begins in Banff National Park, crosses the Continental Divide into B.C., spends a bit of time in Assiniboine Provincial Park, before heading back to Alberta. How cool is that? It’s also pretty rad walking over benches buried deep in the snow and tromping across frozen lakes, their bridges barely visible.
  5. Head here for larches. We passed by one area known as Larch Valley. Why hike shoulder to shoulder with the masses in Lake Louise, when you can come to this tranquil spot? Hike here in autumn and you’ll be privy to hundreds of larch needles turning golden in the peace and quiet.
  6. You’ll fall in love with winter all over again. Tromping through the crisp, clean, whiter than white snow, you may wonder, as I did, why you don’t get outside more often. Though it remained a solid -12 Celsius during our hike, it didn’t feel it. Maybe it was because we were exercising, but the invigorating air also stimulates the senses, making you feel very much alive.
  7. Canonballing off a cliff is like jumping into marshmallow fluff. Probably the best part about snowshoeing behind Sunshine is they have all these great little cliffs you can barrel off of. Our guide, Adrienne knew just the right spots and so we went for it. Took a running leap and hurled ourselves into the air landing in clouds of fluffy snow.
  8. Walking meditation is great for chatty minds. Quiet beauty makes mindfulness less of a chore. All is still in the snowcapped woods. It’s just you and nature and the occasional pine marten. Thoughts came fast and furious as I started the trek, but then a curious thing happened. I just let them go. One by one they flittered off into the frosty air, as I took in my surroundings and concentrated on just enjoying the moment.
  9. Having a guide is a good thing. This isn’t the type of hike you’d want to do on your own. Why? Well, you’re in avalanche country for starters. And it snows so much here, you’d be hard pressed to find your way if they got a recent dump of snow (which they get frequently). Our guide, Adrienne was totally laid back and knowledgable.  I almost forgot she was working and we weren’t BFFs.
  10. Fondue is the perfect ending to any winter adventure. After our robust two hour hike, we shed our gear and cozied up fireside at Creekside Restaurant in the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. As the flames warmed our rosy cheeks, we speared cubes of bread (yes they have gluten-free!) and plunged them deep inside pots bubbling with melted cheese. Add a brew or gluhwein, and your day could only be made better if they let you have a nap then and there.
banff snowshoe tours

Snowshoe tours at Sunshine Village in Banff finish off with fondue!

Have you ever gone snowshoeing? Where are your favourite spots?

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snowshoeing banff national park

You may also be interested in:

25 Awesome Spring activities in Banff, Canmore and Jasper

Secrets of Fairmont Banff Springs

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I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

19 Comments

  1. maria 14.01.2015 at 09:30 - Reply

    AWESOME! Can kids tag along?

    • Jody 14.01.2015 at 09:42 - Reply

      Some kids can. The minimum age is 12, but if they happen to be robust 10-years, you might be able to bring them along. Check with the provider as they make offer other tours for young families.

  2. Ayngelina 14.01.2015 at 09:59 - Reply

    I’m a bit of a pansy in the winter but this looks like a great time.

    • Jody 14.01.2015 at 12:37 - Reply

      It was so much fun! But better if we had bacon:)

  3. Vanessa 14.01.2015 at 11:10 - Reply

    I tried snowshoeing last year for the first time and I loved it. I’m a total wimp but I found it came to me really naturally and it was a great workout as well.

    • Jody 14.01.2015 at 12:40 - Reply

      I feel the same as you. It was very natural and I was surprised to feel it in my legs afterwards.

  4. Lisa Goodmurphy 14.01.2015 at 11:43 - Reply

    You had me until you said it was avalanche country, Jody! It does look like a lot of fun though!

    • Jody 14.01.2015 at 12:37 - Reply

      It’s all avalanche country in the Rockies!

  5. mommyisweird 14.01.2015 at 18:48 - Reply

    Would it be too difficult for my 4 year old?

  6. That was such a fun way to spend a half day. John also mentioned many of your points saying he’d rather snowshoe off piste any day.

  7. I totally want to do this. We tried on New Year’s Eve in Banff but it was a fiasco for reasons other than the activity or the location or the weather (ahem, children). This looks amazing!

    • Jody 18.01.2015 at 13:02 - Reply

      You can rent snowshoes from a bunch of different places in Banff, Canmore or U of C. I bet your family would love this outing!

  8. Wandering Educators 18.01.2015 at 08:06 - Reply

    ANY day that ends with fondue is good in my book! What a fun time!

    • Jody 18.01.2015 at 13:01 - Reply

      I agree. Nothing beats fondue at the end of the day.

  9. Allison 19.01.2015 at 21:16 - Reply

    I tried snowshoeing in Bryce Canyon last year for the first time and it IS fun! Not nearly as much powder, though.

    • Jody 20.01.2015 at 07:45 - Reply

      Bryce Canyon would be a great place, too. I’d like to ski there one year.

  10. Katie 22.01.2015 at 21:03 - Reply

    I can honestly say I’ve never been snowshoeing. And, I probably need to fix that!

  11. Jody 23.01.2015 at 09:50 - Reply

    If you’re ever visiting a place with lots of snow, you’d probably love it Katie.

  12. Colleen Lanin 28.01.2015 at 11:07 - Reply

    Love this post! I’m an outdoorsy, soft-adventure type of a girl so this sounds perfect for me!

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