Words by Tamara Elliott | Posted July 14, 2016
With 10 days of non-stop parties, all-you-can-eat flapjacks and two-stepping, it’s no wonder the Calgary Stampede is known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” But once the Rangeland Derby winner is declared and the spectacular fireworks show lights up the sky for the final time, it’s back to reality for wanna-be cowpokes—unless they plan an escape to the Rocky Mountains for some much needed R&R. Here’s how to recharge after the Calgary Stampede in four easy steps, while still enjoying the best of Banff.
Step 1: Detox
Those late nights can take a toll, so give your body a well-deserved cleanse by making your first stop in town the Banff Tea Co. Their Detox Tea uses herbs such as burdock and dandelion root which are known for their blood cleansing properties, along with cinnamon, ginger and juniper berries to round out the flavour.
Then, grab a bite at the eclectically-decorated Nourish Bistro, which is a popular vegetarian restaurant on Bear Street. The sharing-style menu uses local, fresh and organic ingredients in dishes like their Thai Curry, Num Num Nachos and King Kong Noodles, with results so tasty all of those burgers you scarfed down during Stampede will soon be a distant memory.
Step 2: Relax
Anyone who went up against the mechanical bull will be sorely in need of a day at the spa, so schedule a session at the Willow Stream Spa in the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. The European-inspired spa features an indoor mineral pool perfect for soothing those aching joints, three waterfall treatment whirlpools, and an outdoor tub with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain valley.
Be sure to book one of their signature treatments, such as the Destination Rejuvenation massage with essential oils which is designed to regulate sleep, hydrate skin and restore energy. The Energizing Detox is also perfect for those feeling sluggish post-Stampede, as the 90-minute session starts off with a body exfoliation to detoxify and promote circulation, before moving on to a nutrient-boosting body wrap and massage.
Step 3: Recover
Enjoy the fresh mountain air the Rockies are famous for by heading up the Banff Gondola. The eight minute ride will see you glide up the side of Sulphur Mountain, reaching heights of nearly 23-hundred metres which is the perfect way to clear the Stampede-induced fog inside your head. Enjoy the views afforded in the redeveloped upper terminal building, or take on one of the scenic hiking trails heading to the likes of Sanson’s Peak or Sulphur Mountain’s summit. The Bow Valley never looked so good!
Step 4: Rejuvenate
Now that your feet have recovered from breaking in your cowboy boots, it’s time to get active. There are countless day hikes in and around Banff, including Johnston Canyon which ends at a towering waterfall, and Sunshine Meadows which features dramatic alpine scenery and straddles British Columbia. A bit farther away from the townsite, the Sentinel Pass just beyond sparkling Moraine Lake is always a popular pick, while hikes leading to the vibrant turquoise waters of Peyto Lake are unforgettable.
Tamara is a Calgary-based writer and founder of Globe Guide.