The oldest national park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff is a highly frequented adventure locale that truly represents the undisputed beauty of the region. A one to two hour drive west of Calgary, this area is multi-seasonal, although it is best known for its extensive selection of untouched wilderness and its three skiing and snowboarding resorts: Sunshine, Mount Norquay, and Lake Louise, the largest in Canada. If you'd like the see the amazing mountain vistas and conifer-fringed lakes without having to leave the warmth of the car, there is the 230 km (140 mile) Icefields Parkway, which carves through some of Canada's truly incredible landscapes and ends in Jasper National Park. If you're the photographing type, don't be surprised if you find yourself stopping more often than a city bus.
For those who seek their excitement aboard a whitewater raft, the Kicking Horse River has three canyons that will leave even the most experienced adventurer suitably challenged. Then again, if you would rather court the obstacles of terra firma, there are plenty of day and multi-day hikes. A hike of any sort done in the Canadian Rockies shames your afternoon walk to the mailbox, but treks like the spectacular variety of Mount Bourgeau, the unparalleled views from Tunnel Mountain, the aptly named Giants Steps, and the tourist-targeted beauty of Johnston Canyon are just some of many that can be tackled in a day's time.
Both the towns of Banff and Lake Louise have your basic travel amenities, while there are camping opportunities and even hostels within the park limits for those looking to rough it. If money is not an issue, check out Chateau Lake Louise, which sits majestically in a peak-straddled valley on the lake. Then again, beholding is free, so we suggest sticking with that.