As locals, we love to visit Banff National Park and try out the best of Banff for tweens and teens. Recently we visited and found plenty of adventure and a perfect place to stay. Check out our 2 day Banff itinerary for families with tweens and teens.
Where to Stay – Banff Lodging Co.
Some of my favorite hotels in Banff are part of the Banff Lodging Co. With 11 hotels, Banff Lodging Co. is both employee owned and operated. Staying in any of these properties, you can definitely tell that the employees want you to enjoy the best stay possible.
Banff Lodging Co. Hotels for Every Budget
Tunnel Mountain Resort
Located on Tunnel Mountain Road with a view of Banff Avenue, Tunnel Mountain Resort is an ideal staycation hotel. Room options include rooms big enough for families of five with lots of rooms to spread out. Add in the option of a full kitchen and a real fireplace and you’ll be feeling cozy in no time. Onsite amenities include an indoor pool, complimentary parking and wi-fi, and a complimentary ROAM bus pass for easy access to downtown Banff.
Hidden Ridge Resort
Another great property located on Tunnel Mountain Road is Hidden Ridge Resort. This resort offers condos with full kitchens and woodburning fireplaces. The property also offers two large outdoor hot pools. Keep an eye out for elk and deer that roam the property and call Tunnel Mountain home.
Moose Hotel and Suites
One of Banff’s newest additions to the hotel scene, Moose Hotel and Suites is perfectly located for families who love to explore. Only a 1-minute walk from the Banff pedestrian zone, the hotel features an amazing in-house restaurant and 2 gorgeous rooftop hot pools. Teens will love having the freedom to explore Banff by foot and check out the many shops and restaurants easily accessible from the hotel.
Best Banff Activities for Tweens and Teens
Via Ferrata – Mt. Norquay
Since Mt. Norquay opened the Via Ferrata, I have waited patiently for one of my kids to be old enough to join me at the top of Mt. Norquay. This summer my son Will turned 12 meaning we could finally attempt this adventure.
To summarize the Via Ferrata in a few short sentences seems unfair. There is truly no other adventure like it in all of Banff National Park. To begin the adventure, you meet your ACMG-certified guide and gear up before taking the chairlift to the beginning of the routes. Once at the top, there is a small section of rock where you learn how to safely clip-in and unclip from the safety gear embedded in the mountain.
There are 4 incredible routes to choose from. Kids 12 and up can participate in the Explorer (2.5 hours) and Ridgewalker (4 hours) routes. Teens 14 and up can also participate in the Skyline (5 hours) and Summiteer (6 hours) tours.
We embarked on the Ridgewalker tour and it did not disappoint.
Via Ferrata- Ridgewalker Route
Since we had waited years to experience the Via Ferrata, Will and I decided to embark on the 4-hour tour. I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous but as soon as our tour started, I could tell we would both really enjoy it.
Our guide Clare provided great instruction and Will quickly mastered the safety equipment. As we proceeded along the route, I was absolutely stunned by the detail of the route and the views of the Banff below us.
The Ridgewalker route takes you 1.4 kilometers with an elevation gain of 260 meters. The top of the route reaches heights of over 7500 feet. The route features a suspension bridge, various plank walks and plenty of amazing climbs up and over cliff edges and rock slabs. The view from the top is truly one of the best views I have seen of Banff National Park. Along the way, you may even encounter marmots and Rocky Mountain sheep.
It’s hard to say what impressed me most about this experience but I found it to be a great exercise in relationship building. In a world where it can be hard to connect with teens and tweens, the Via Ferrata provides a mental challenge that will entice and excite even the most reluctant participants. I loved cheering Will on and having him support me as I crossed over thin planks of wood looking at the valley below.
The experience itself paired with how wonderful our guide was truly made this one of the best days we have shared in Banff. I can easily see the Via Ferrata becoming an annual outing for our family.
Banff Trail Riders
Another great activity for families with tweens and teens is to see Banff on horseback with Banff Trail Riders. We have made Banff Trail Riders a part of our summer for the past 5 years and this year was no different. With enhanced social distancing and sanitation protocols, Banff Trail Riders are offering various day rides and backcountry overnight trips.
This summer, we embarked on numerous tours with Banff Trail Riders including the 1- hour Bow River Ride, the 1-hour Spray River Ride, and the 2-hour Sundance Loop Ride. It’s hard to say which was our favorite.
What makes this experience so incredible for families is the ease of which you can see parts of Banff you wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise. The trails are often limited to horses and along the way, the guides share a plethora of knowledge about the area. I have to admit that I often find myself sharing facts and interesting stories about the park that I have learned from our Banff Trail Riders guides.
Whether your tweens and teens love horses or have never experienced a horseback ride, Banff Trail Riders is a perfect fit. While there is no experience necessary to ride, each ride offers unique things to experience and fun challenges along the way. On the Spray River Ride, you lead your horse across the river itself at two different points of entry. The Sundance Loop ride provides the opportunity to navigate rocky terrain both up and downhill. On each ride, there are stunning views and ample opportunity for some great photography and wildlife viewing.
Mountain Adventurers Wanted!
There is still plenty of time to experience the best of Banff with the deals available from Banff Lodging Co., Mt. Norquay and Banff Trail Riders. To find out more, visit bestofbanff.com.
I was a guest of Banff Lodging Co., Mt. Norquay, and Banff Trail Riders in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.