From what to wear to how to pronounce it, our Explore Rockies expert has the answers!
Jasmine Holmes works at the Explore Rockies desk in the Banff Depot - the hub off all Brewster activity. It's a busy place where she gets to interact with visitors from around the world and help them make the most of their time in Banff and Jasper. Originally from England, Jasmine lived in Australia for nine years before making her home here in Banff. Jasmine is passionate about travel, nature and wildlife and loves living so close to such breathtaking scenery. We asked her for some of the most frequently asked questions visitors have at the Explore Rockies desk. Here are her answers!
What Will The Weather Be Like?
As much as I’d like to be an all knowing weather-god, it’s very hard to answer that question! Here in the Rockies, we have unpredictable mountain weather - last week we had a beautifully hot, sunny day (so much so that a few of us were sunburnt), and the following day it snowed. The temperature in Banff in June and July can range from 5°C (41°F) to 25°C (77°F), so bring sunscreen and sweaters!
What Clothing Should I Bring?
My advice is to be prepared for any weather. Shorts and t-shirts will be fine for hot summer days, but always bring warm layers and a raincoat for cooler nights and wet weather. If you’re planning on hiking, you’ll need some decent hiking shoes (boots or sneakers), a backpack and active wear.
Where Is The Columbia Icefield?
One of the biggest misconceptions that tourists have when they come to visit the Rockies is how far away the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre is from Banff. The Icefield is located along the Icefield Parkway (Hwy 93) between Banff and Jasper. It is a minimum of 2.5 hours away from Banff. You definitely don't want to feel rushed as you drive up one of the most scenic roads in the world. Give yourself plenty of time to stop, take photos and soak up the beauty of the Icefields Parkway. And pop by any Explore Rockies Kiosk in Banff the day before to chat with us about your plans.
The Icefield is a stunningly beautiful place and a truly unique experience - you really don’t want to miss it. So, make sure you factor travel time into your plans for the day.
Is It Cold On The Glacier?
It’s a good idea to take a jacket with you when visiting the Icefield as the temperature is a lot lower than ground level (about 6-12°C cooler) due to the cooling effect of the ice and the elevation. I’ve also been asked ‘will it be icy on the glacier?’… Yes. Yes it will. A glacier is basically a huge mass of ice, formed by the accumulation and compaction of layers of snow over many years. The Columbia Icefield is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains - so bring some flat, sturdy shoes because yes, it will definitely be icy! I would also recommend bringing some sunglasses as the light reflection on the ice and snow make the area very bright, and if you wish, bring an empty water bottle so you can take some glacial water home with you!
How Do You Pronounce ‘Banff’ and ‘Maligne’?
I personally enjoy all the different pronunciations of ‘Banff’ we hear every day. For those who have never visited Banff before, it’s a funny-looking word, but it’s pronounced exactly how it is written (B-AH-NF). It’s definitely not ‘Banuff’, ‘Binaff’, ‘Banafé’ and especially not ‘Bumff’. Maligne is pronounced MAH-LEEN (not ‘Maliganny’ or ‘Magilny’).
What Should I Do If I See A Bear?
One of the most important things to know about the Canadian Rockies is that it is home to a wide array of wildlife including birds, small critters like squirrels and marmots, and large mammals like elk, moose and bears. If you see a bear, Do not approach it. Bears are wild animals - not cuddly teddies! Please don’t try to get a selfie with it - save the snapchats for something less dangerous. If you come across a bear, back away slowly and calmly, while talking gently so the bear isn’t alarmed or provoked. It is recommended that you hike in groups of 3, make noise and carry bear spray if hiking in bear territory.
Similarly, don’t get too close to an elk. You’ll see a lot of them around town, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re tame. As someone who recently watched a tourist get chased down the street by an elk, I strongly advise against trying to pat one.
Can I Feed The Wildlife?
Do not feed the wildlife! As much as you think a squirrel might enjoy a Supreme Cheddar Dorito, you’re actually harming the wildlife more by feeding them. There’s a saying that “a fed bear is a dead bear”, meaning that when animals learn to associate humans with food, they begin approaching human residencies and have to be euthanised. For smaller animals like rodents, it also means that they lose the skill to forage and store food as they begin to rely on human input and they end up starving. The maximum fine for feeding wildlife is $25,000.
Visit Jasmine and her colleagues at the Explore Rockies desk at the Banff Depot. And feel free to fire any questions her way!