It pays to get up with the sun in the Canadian Rockies. Here in the mountains, where nature rules, being a morning person means something a little different.
A ‘morning person:’ Noun. (plural morning people)
- A somewhat mythical creature who rises naturally before the sun does.
- Someone who has no need for an alarm (or several) and doesn’t struggle to break free from the warm cocoon of sleep.
- A version of ourselves we’re constantly searching for, morning after morning.
Here in the mountains, where nature rules, being a morning person means something a little different.
Take it from the Wildlife
In the Rockies we take our cues from the wildlife that have called the mountains home for much longer than we have. They rise and roam with complete indifference to the hands of a clock or the heavy connotations of a Monday morning. Unless they are quite literally a night owl, they sleep until the sun rises.
As (destination) residents of the human variety, we can’t get away with sleeping through the winter. But we do follow in the footsteps of wildlife when spring arrives. As bears emerge from their dens to make the most of the long daylight hours of the North, so do we. And the time has come –the local wildlife have well and truly started their summer here. Grizzlies have been sighted crossing through valleys. Elk, bighorn sheep and deer have been seen parading through grassy meadows with their new calves.
Morning in the Mountains
Ask any seasoned expeditioner and they’ll tell you that the mood of the mountains in the morning is distinct. The early hours of the day bring light, warmth and an air of potential. Things are more possible, even more realistic, in the morning. Things can be achieved in the morning. Summits are approachable, lakes are calm, and adventure beckons.
It’s easy to understand what captivated the early explorers and founders of Banff National Park years ago. When the morning mists retreat, they reveal a landscape that is both brand new and ancient at the same time. It’s an incredibly magical time of day. The ageless faces of the mountains could tell a thousand stories, but it feels like the only one that matters is the next.
Mountain Morning People
If you find yourself up early in the Rockies, you won’t be alone. You’ll come across locals who are as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as the resident wildlife. They know the chances of having the trails to themselves for a hike or bike, the possibilities of seeing wildlife and the sense of quiet solitude are all greater in the morning.
We’re a special breed, those of drawn to living in the mountains. And the morning people amongst us are the wisest.
We encourage you to get up and get going—see you on the trails!
Here are 5 ways to make the most of mornings in Banff:
- Banff Gondola: Sunrise from the top of Sulphur Mountain is something unforgettable. And while the sun rises before 6am in the middle of the summer (too early for most), and that’ll require you to hike up to the top, you can still soak up the morning glory by getting one of the first Gondola rides up, starting at 8:00am. A coffee from Castle Mountain Coffee Co will help too! And if it’s a chilly morning, you may even spot some pixie dust!
- Whitebark Coffee: Banff has its share of good coffee shops. Our favourite is this little espresso bar on Banff Avenue. Order a pretty-looking latte or a London fog from Banff Tea Co, eavestrough on what the locals are chatting about, and don’t miss housemade egg cups or their famous granola.
- Glacier Skywalk morning tour: At 10:15 AM and 10:45 AM each morning this summer, join a guide for a special morning tour of the Glacier Skywalk. It’s a complementary option that will give you a deeper understanding how the environment of the Canadian Rockies is one of adaptation. Your guide will discuss topics like ancient life forms, fauna and flora of the Rockies, hydrology and an insider’s look at how the incredible Skywalk was built. Group size is limited to 15 people on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Quiet waters: There are big lakes here in the mountains. Banff’s Lake Minnewanka is expansive. Jasper’s Maligne Lake is the largest glacially-fed lake in the Canadian Rockies. The earlier in the day you make it to these lakes for a cruise, the more placid the waters are likely to be. That means great photos, superb wildlife-viewing opportunities, and a chance to see the lakes at their most tranquil and easy-tempered.
- Breakfast at Altitude: You may not have thought of the Columbia Icefields as a place to go for breakfast. But thanks to the exciting new dining options at the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre, it’s actually worth the trip just for the green smoothie and banana bread French toast offered at the stunning design-forward Altitude Restaurant.