The town of Banff may tempt you with high-end shopping, impressive restaurants, and a seemingly endless array of fudge shops, but you owe it to yourself to step out into the park's well-tended wild. From easy to extreme, there are plenty of options for everyone. If you don't know where to start, don't worry; there are many outfitters here, but the recommendations below are typical of what's available.
You need a permit to fish in Banff National Park. Pick one up at the Banff Information Centre (224 Banff Ave., tel. 403/762-1550). Vermillion Lakes is a popular spot with a limited supply of fish. Better for lake fishing is Lake Minnewanka. The Bow River is one of the finest fly-fishing rivers in the world. For the more personal touch, Big Jim Dykstra (a fair name; he's 6?5?) of Hawgwild Flyfishing (tel. 403/678-7980; www.flyfishingbanff.com) specializes in fly fishing, and he'll pick you up in his vintage blue Suburban at your hotel and squire you to his rivers in the area. A catch is guaranteed, or your money back! Tours start at C$479 for two people for a full day.
Banff Fishing Unlimited (tel. 403/762-4936; www.banff-fishing.com) offers a number of fly-fishing expeditions on the Bow River, as well as lake fishing at Lake Minnewanka. All levels of anglers are accommodated, and packages include part- or whole-day trips.
The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course (tel. 403/762-6801; www.fairmont.com/banffsprings/recreation/golf) rolls out along the Bow River beneath towering Mt. Rundle. One of the most venerable courses in Canada, and one of the most expensive, it offers 27 holes of excellent golf. Although associated with the resort hotel, the course is open to the public. Greens fees for 18 holes are C$219 in summer and drop down to C$149 in spring and fall.
Riding a horse in the Canadian Rockies is a classic, fun way to explore the area, which has a rich cowboy heritage and plenty of backcountry to ride. Warner Guiding and Outfitting (tel. 800/661-8352 or 403/762-4551; www.horseback.com) offers short day trips with a meal (breakfast in the morning or evening dinner rides) from the town of Banff for C$151 per rider. Multiday trail rides start at C$825 per person for 3 days. Minimum age is 18.
In Lake Louise, Timberline Tours (tel. 888/858-3388 or 403/522-3743; www.timberlinetours.ca) offers day trips to some of the most spectacular nearby spots, such as a 3-hour ride to Big Beehive, above the lake (C$105) or a 4-hour ride to the Plain of Six Glaciers (C$125). Three day trips start at C$705 per rider; you can go as long as 10 days in the back country for C$2,350 per rider.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.