All accommodation prices listed are for high season, normally mid-June to mid-September and over the Christmas and New Year's holidays; nearly all hotels have discounts for late fall, late winter, and spring lodging. If you're having trouble finding affordable lodgings in Banff, try properties in Canmore, located 20 minutes away (seeabove). If you want to camp, Banff National Park offers hundreds of campsites.
If you aren't up for carrying a tent and gear on your back, but still want a true wilderness experience and excellent hiking, consider spending a night or two at one of Banff's historic backcountry lodges. Banff has three rustic private lodges operating in its backcountry (meaning there is no road access; they're all ski-, hike-, or bike-in). And this is not "rustic" in the sense of luxuriously appointed log cabins with private fireplaces and stone bathrooms; no, the rusticity is not a decor choice, but is utterly authentic -- meaning some lack such things as electricity, phones, and (alas) indoor plumbing.
For that level of rusticity, you might expect them to be easy on the budget. They're not. But they operate on the principle that some things are worth more than a Jacuzzi tub. Like, say, a night or two in the untouched alpine wilderness, where no car will ever go. This is peace beyond peace -- places where you truly realize how tiny we are in the churn of natural history.
Most include all meals, have at least a 2-night minimum stay, and are open to hikers in July and August and skiers from January through March.
A few hours' hike from the Lake Louise ski area, the revered Skoki Lodge (tel. 877/956-8473 or 403/522-1347; www.skoki.com) is a National Historic Site nestled next to wildflower-dotted alpine meadows. The first ski lodge in Western Canada, the building itself is a gorgeous log structure. It is rustic -- there's no running water or electricity. But there is serene beauty and warm hospitality, not to mention a soothing wood-fired sauna and gourmet meals (all included), served buffet-style. Candles and kerosene lamps light up the lodge at night, giving the lodge that unstuck-in-time sense of apartness in the wilderness. It's open to cross-country skiers in winter and hikers in summer. Rates are C$109 to C$263 per person, depending on dates.
Brewster's Shadow Lake Lodge (tel. 866/762-0114; www.shadowlakelodge.com), on the shore of Shadow Lake in the Egypt Lakes area about four hours hike in from the highway northwest of the Town of Banff, has heated washrooms with running water, showers, and solar-powered lighting -- for the backcountry, luxury indeed. Its rates are C$215 per person per night, based on double occupancy.
Just outside the park is another historic and charming gem, Mt. Assiniboine Lodge (tel. 403/678-2883; www.canadianrockies.net/assiniboine). Rooms start at C$260 per person per night, including meals, guides, and lodging. For those not keen on hiking or skiing the 28km (17 miles) into the lodge, it can be accessed by helicopter for an extra $130 per person each way.
Sundance Lodge (tel. 800/661-8352; www.xcskisundance.com) is a heritage building deep in the woods, but only a 16km (10-mile) hike or ski from the town of Banff. It's a great choice for families looking for a true wilderness experience, with the creature comfort bonus of hot showers and fresh-cooked meals. Rates are C$166 per person for the first night, with lower rates for additional nights; children 6 to 12 are welcome here, at C$85 a night (children under 6 not allowed).
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.