Dashing through the snow in a two-horsed open sleigh is a great way to enjoy the white stuff if you fancy a change from skiing, snowboarding or snow-shoeing. There's something wonderfully decadent about sitting in the back of a bright red sleigh, taking in the fantastic mountain views while someone else takes the strain.
Banff Trail Riders run daily, 45-minute public tours which run on the hour from the beginning of December to the end of March. We booked in advance – not essential but advisable at busy times - and joined about 17 other people on the ride. If you prefer something a little more romantic, you can opt for a private ride in a carriage built for two.
Elk herd as seen on a Banff Trail Riders' sleigh ride
You need to arrive about 30 minutes before the tour to sign a waiver form, grab a hot apple drink or hot chocolate and listen to the brief. Blankets are provided to sit on and to cover your knees in the sleigh and warm clothing is essential to keep out the chill. We went in late December and the temperature was -20degC, which is fairly typical for that time of year.
The staff provide wooden steps to help you get into the sleigh, which is quite high off the ground and has open sides. Our driver, dressed in red to match the wooden sleigh, was quite chatty and introduced us to his two horses before we set off.
Hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows round the fire pit after our Banff Trail Riders' sleigh ride
The route took us through the Bow River Valley among fields blanketed in snow, forested areas and past a herd of tame elk.There are plenty of great photo opportunities along the way.
On our return a fire pit had been lit and we were invited to toast marshmallows over the fire and warm up with a hot drink, which was extremely welcome.
Banff Trail Riders' sleigh rides are run from Warner Stables, located a five-minute drive from the centre of Banff. We drove there from Calgary, a one and a half hour drive along Trans-Canada Highway 1.