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Aussies - Visiting Jan2 - 7

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Aussies - Visiting Jan2 - 7

Hi All

2 old backpacker friends - Mums ( 1 Aussie , 1 American)- travelling with their 2 daughters 11 and 12 yrs from Davenport WA first week in Jan. Could u lovely forum people advise on the following:

Dog-sledding - hav seen 2 websites snowyowl and howling dog ... has anyone used these companies and what were they like. Looking at the 2 hr or half day.

Skiing - Both girls advanced beginners - washed out with skiing here in Washington state. Looking for some nice snow...classes for the girls...does anyone know prices. I have seen Sunshine valley mentioned ..is this far from Douglas Fir ???

Brunch - Afternoon Tea- I have heard that there are a couple of hotels at Banff - Lake Louise that are nice for brunch afternoon tea. Can anyone advise on prices and or which is better eg superb setting/views.

I have heard that there are some beautiful lakes, sites in Banff. what do people recommend as a nice day drive around the area.

Di and I would love to spend more time to explore but 5 days and 2

kids ( nice ones )direct our stay. I guess at their age they like more action than us.

thank you for any assistance.

Calgary, Alberta...
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1. Re: Aussies - Visiting Jan2 - 7

Hello jess2mont,

I don't know the answers to most of your questions, but I'll tell you what I can.

Douglas Fir Resort is on the outskirts of Banff townsite, and Sunshine is 16 km (10 miles) from Banff townsite. I don't ski, but my son loves to snowboard at Sunshine. He says it has good facilities for beginners.

Another place that has good ski facilities for beginners is Lake Louise. It's 60 km (38 miles) from Banff townsite.

Although at 6 km (4 miles) from Banff townsite, Mount Norquay is the closest ski hill, I've heard it has short, steep runs, and is not the greatest place for beginners.

If you want to try more than one ski hill, you can buy a Tri-Area Lift Ticket, which gives you access to Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise:


I've seen on the travel discussion boards that it's cheaper to rent your skis from rental shops in Banff townsite than to rent them at the slopes.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is famous for its Sunday brunches. The view from there certainly is magnificent. The Rimrock Resort Hotel also has fabulous views. As it happens, they are the two most expensive hotels in Banff.

Close Douglas Fir Resort is Buffalo Mountain Lodge, which is a charming property with an excellent (but expensive) restaurant. In the town of Banff, Coyote's Grill is very popular. It's decorated in Santa Fe style, and its cuisine is influenced by the American Southwest and the West Coast. Grizzly House, a fondu place that includes exotic meats like rattlesnake, is popular too. I personally like Melissa's, a moderately priced restaurant that concentrates on local ingredients in a restaurant whose interior looks a bit like a log cabin.

>>>>>>I have heard that there are some beautiful lakes, sites in Banff. what do people recommend as a nice day drive around the area.<<<<<<

It would be nice to drive to Lake Louise and, if the spirit takes you, even a bit further west to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park (near the hamlet of Field, British Columbia). While the frozen lakes have a certain kind of charm in winter, you won't get to see the turquoise colour that they display in the summer.

Hope that helps.

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Banff National Park
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2. Re: Aussies - Visiting Jan2 - 7

Hi Jess2mont:

Just a couple of things to add to Judy in Calgary's excellent reply.

First, re restaurants near the Douglas Fir: It's true that the Buffalo Mountain Lodge has a gorgeous "fine dining" room that is fairly pricey. But they also have a wonderful, informal cabin-style restaurant onsite called the Cilantro. It's very reasonable, very cozy, and your kids will love it.

Also, I think you should consider a pass for all three areas as Judy mentioned. Norquay is definitely smaller and has some challenging terrain, but both our kids learned there, and so do most kids from Banff. It is a very family-friendly hill. Sunshine is close to Banff on the map, but much of the drive is on a small secondary road, and then there's a lengthy gondola ride, so in terms of time from your hotel room to your first run, it's actually not all that different from Lake Louise. Both Sunshine and Louise have masses of terrain of all kinds, and they both have great snow.

Depending on how comfortable you are with winter driving, you may want to consider taking a ski shuttle from downtown Banff to the hills - it's fast and frequent, and very relaxing.

Nice short drives near the townsite: Out to Lake Minnewanka (you'll probably see some bighorn sheep) or along Vermilion Lakes. A longer drive - visit the Lake at Lake Louise, high above the townsite, which is in the valley floor. If you're going to Lake Louise on Sunday, check out the brunch at the Post Hotel, quite possibly the best restaurant in the entire area.

Have fun!

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3. Re: Aussies - Visiting Jan2 - 7

Hi All,

Thank you both for replying to my post. We have been away in Leavenworth WA for 2 days...lovely little bavarian village....very little snow...We will certainly consider what you said about Sunshine and Norquay for skiing and will visit Fairmont at Banff and Banff Lodge even if only to look.

Does anyone know about the dog sledding??? being from Sydney the chances of us doing dog-sledding in the land of the summer is not great.

Once again thank you both very much.. as old backpackers who now need more than $5.00 a day to live on..Lol...we look forward to the pleasure of exploring another new place together.