The actor and activist tells why he often trades his eco-hideaway in L.A. for Banff’s mountain air.
Credit: Courtesy of Fairmont Banff Springs

“I first went to Banff nearly twenty years ago for a fund-raiser for LightHawk, an environmental group that takes policy makers—congressmen, senators—up in the air in small planes so they can see what’s happening deep inside the forests. Since then, I’ve been to Banff more than a dozen times, both with LightHawk and with Bobby Kennedy Jr. for his Waterkeeper Alliance. I try to combine pleasure with these efforts—I like to hike and ski in the surrounding areas.

The Canadian Rockies are beautiful beyond description. Alberta is a magnificent province. Banff looks like a small, Swiss-chalet town. The air and water are very clean. Canada is protecting much more of its ancient forests than we are in the United States—people think our forests are doing well because they see a “beauty strip,” a stretch of forest along train tracks and highways. It’s sleight-of-hand to keep people happy, but it’s not what’s really going on. We should stop cutting down trees in our ancient forests to make two-by-fours and plywood. We all own the native forests, and we have a say in their use.”

Ed Begley Jr. can be seen in Gary Unmarried (Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, CBS) and Living with Ed (new episodes to be announced, Planet Green TV).

“I always stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel and spa, near the center of town. The restaurants have world-class chefs, who are drawn from around the globe to live and work in that environment—and who wouldn’t want to live there?” 405 Spray Ave.; 866/540-4406;; doubles from $459.

“There are great hiking trails in the area surrounding Banff. You can head to Sunshine Meadows and just start walking.” Take the Sunshine Meadows Alpine Shuttle to the Upper Access Road; 403/762-7889;

“There are regular shuttles to Sunshine Village, the main ski resort, where you ride the gondola to the top. The skiing is spectacular, but I tend to stay away from the black diamonds. The Goat’s Eye runs are a favorite.” 877/542-2633;