Banff Vacation Info with Marc Pinel

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010

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Banff National Park, Alberta – Marc Pinel has worked for Parks Canada at the Banff Information Center since 2008, spent the last 7 years living in Banff, is the founder of the Grand Nature Club, a Banff-based hiking club, and is an avid local hiker.

“I have a lot of experience on day hikes,” Marc says. “I’ve done pretty much all the day hikes around Banff, Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay National Park.”

Lake Minnewanka is one of Marc Pinel's Banff recommendations.

We’re willing to bet that you won’t have the time (or inclination) to check out all of the day hikes available to you in the Banff National Park and Lake Louise area on your next vacation. In fact, we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t want to. Ideally, on a vacation, you try to distill the place you’re visiting down to the “best of” and hit those in the time you have.

So it’s good to talk to someone who’s not only done the hikes, but has spent his time in your chosen vacation spot, and knows where to go after the hiking day is done to unwind. Of course, normally you don’t meet these folks until you’ve already arrived to your vacation spot, and by then the best you can do is file away the info for your next vacation. That’s why we’ve been interviewing Rockies vacation experts like Marc.

Marc recommends that anyone visiting the Banff area check out the Banff Gondola.

“Definitely do the Banff Gondola,” he says “you get nice views from there.”

It’s a bit of an understatement. The Banff Gondola offers complete 360 degree views of the the amazing mountains surrounding Banff. It’s a great way to get some of the best vacation photos possilbe, and to really get a view of all the sites this area has to offer.

It’s also just 5 minutes from the Town of Banff, on the side of Sulphur Mountain, so reaching it is no problem. A ride in the 4-person cabin-style gondola takes just 8 minutes to reach an elevation of 2,281m (7,486 ft).

Besides the amazing views, there is also the Summit Ridge interpretive boardwalk, where you can learn more about the area.

Marc also suggests a trip around Lake Minnewanka.

“It’s the largest lake in Banff National Park,” he says, and one of the most beautiful.

Getting to Lake Minnewanka is easy, just head north out of downtown Banff. The road will eventually become Lake Minnewanka Road, which gets you to the lake in about 15 minutes. Besides being great for hiking, scenic beauty and wildlife viewing, this lake is known as one of Canada’s best for fishing.

After a long day out, Marc recommends a couple local pubs to visit, including the Elk and Oarsman, “It’s a nice pub to have food and beer,” he says, Wild Bill’s, known not only for food and beer but also local entertainment, and The St. James Gate Olde Irish Pub as a great place to sample great beer.

  • Good recs! Now we just need some sunshine!

  • Good summary. I live in Banff too and this is pretty much what we recommend visitors who only have a couple of day do.

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