Brewster (403/762-6767 or 877/791-5500, www.brewster.ca) is the dominant tour company in the area. The three-hour Discover Banff bus tour takes in downtown Banff, Tunnel Mountain Drive, the hoodoos, the Cave and Basin, and Banff Gondola (gondola fare included). This tour runs in summer only and departs from the bus depot daily at 8:30 a.m.; call for hotel pick-up times. Adult fare is $78, children half price.
Brewster also runs several other tours. A four-hour tour to Lake Louise departs select Banff hotels daily ($65). In winter, this tour departs Tuesday and Friday mornings, runs five hours, and includes Banff sights. During summer, the company also offers tours from Banff to Lake Minnewanka ($64, includes two-hour boat cruise), and Columbia Icefield ($149).
Discover Banff Tours (Sundance Mall, 215 Banff Ave., 403/760-5007 or 877/565-9372, www.banfftours.com) is a smaller company, with smaller buses and more personalized service. Its tour routes are similar to Brewster’s: A three-hour Discover Banff tour visits Lake Minnewanka, the Cave and Basin, the Fairmont Banff Springs, and the hoodoos for adult $52, child $32; a full-day trip to the Columbia Icefield is adult $154, child $79; and a two-hour Evening Wildlife Safari is adult $42, child $25.
This company offers a good selection of other tours throughout the year, including a wintertime “Icewalk” in frozen Johnston Canyon (adult $66, child $40).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition