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4 Day Trip to Banff during Winter

Fields, Yoho National Park

We decided to visit Banff for Jesse’s 28th birthday.  We were looking for a destination that was not too far to travel to and doable over a 4 day weekend. The original plan was to spend 3 full days here but after me missing my flight and then the later flight being so much more expensive on our last day, we ended up only having two full days in Banff instead of four.

Cost Break Down

Jeep Wrangler (3 Day Rental):  $33 per person

Airbnb: $166 per person

Flights: $300 per person

Food and Misc: $200

Total: Approximately $600 per person. Note that food costs will vary per person and could be considerably less than what is shown above.


Your options for where you can stay are

  • Inside the National Park at Chateau Fairmont, Website: here
  • Outside the park at a nearby city in an Airbnb.
  • Calgary (1.5 hour drive from Banff National Park).
  • Camping in the National Park.

Lake Louise

We arrived late Thursday evening and checked into the Airbnb in Canmore which is approximately an hour drive away from Lake Louise and about 15 minutes away from the entrance of Banff National Park. We rested so that we could get up in the morning and visit Lake Louise.  Luckily, we called before to make a reservation at the Fairview Restaurant at Chateau Fairmont where we enjoyed Jesse’s birthday lunch overlooking the frozen Lake Louise.  I would highly recommend that you make a reservation prior to your trip because if the restaurant gets busy they will stop seating walk-ins and only seat hotel guests. One of the waitresses had informed us that during the busy season (June-August) they do not allow non-hotel guests to sit in the patio area overlooking the lake because it gets so packed.

Time of Year

My recommendation is to visit a little later in the year than we did (early May). The ice just started melting which puts most hiking areas at risk of avalanches. Also, the ice over Lake Louise is not hard enough to walk on.  If we have visited 3 weeks later, we might have seen the blue water that Banff is famous for.  Nonetheless, we still made the best of our warm winter wonderland adventure.  Even in the transition of winter to spring, Banff national park has beautiful scenery and tons of activities.  The benefit of traveling around this time is that there were fewer tourists which allowed for me to get better photos with no one in the backdrop.

After walking around the lake we headed to Fields, Yoho National Park where the famous natural made stone bridge is, this is a quick stop for us on the way to Johnston Canyon for a quick 1.5-mile hike to see a very beautiful waterfall.

Driving in Banff

Of all the beautiful scenery we came across in Banff, my favorite was still just driving down the open road being surrounded by the mountains and greenery of the national park.  The national park is a mecca for road trips.  If we had more time, I would have taken 4 hour trip to Jasper. Since we only had 2 days, we will have to wait until next time.

We rented a Jeep Wrangler which is such a great off-roading car.  We were able to take it up a mountain path that was unpaved. The Wrangler handled the terrain easily.  We spent some time sitting by the lake before we headed back to the condo to prepare a birthday dinner for Jesse.  

This trip was so memorable, and I can’t wait to visit again during the summer when the ice has melted.  

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