Where is the Banff National Park? Why is it important? Why should you visit Banff National Park? Read this article to find out!
Established in 1885, Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada. The park spans an area of about 6641 square km. And is located in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains to the west of Calgary.
Surrounded by beauty on all sides, Banff National Park consists of turquoise glacial lakes, rocky mountain peaks, wildlife in abundance, and captivating scenery, basically a perfect treat for the eyes.
Above all that, Banff National Park has a variety of exciting activities to offer like hiking, camping, skiing, and biking, which attracts a large number of visitors each year, around 3 million to be precise.
History of Banff National Park
Banff National Park was built amidst rising tensions between land exploitation and conservationist interests. The park was finally established in 1885 as Banff Hot Springs Reserve, as an answer to who discovered the hot springs in the area and who had the rights to develop those hot springs for commercial purpose.
Prime Minister John A. Macdonald had set aside the hot springs as a protected reserve due to which the conservationists prevailed. The small protected reserve later kept on expanding and included Lake Louise and other areas extending toward Columbia Icefield, which is to the North.
How to Get to Banff National Park
Banff National Park is located to the west of Calgary at a distance of 80 miles.
1. You can use the direct bus service from downtown Calgary or the airport to Banff.
2. You can also rent a car from the airport to Calgary and take Trans-Canada 1 from there, which will take you straight to the park.
3. If you are looking for an alternate mode of transportation, several companies operate shuttles services and will drop you to your chosen accommodation.
Where to Stay in Banff National Park
There are a variety of resorts popular among tourists staying at Banff National Park like Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and Rimrock Resort Hotel.
To book your accommodation and get some great deals for your stay, click on the link.
Let us now see what makes Banff National Park so essential and famous among tourists.
13 Excellent Places and 7 Facts About Banff National Park That Make it Important
Banff National Park has several major attractions that make it a popular place to be visited.
A. Major Attractions in Banff National Park
1. Banff Gondola
Get a beautiful panoramic view of six mountain ranges, the quaint town of Banff and the Bow Valley from the top of the Sulphur Mountain.
Sitting 7486 ft. Above the sea level in the glass-enclosed Gondola, you will feel like you are at the top of the world. There is a free, self-guided 1 km Banff Skywalk available that will take you to Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station and Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site.
There are also many other services available like hiking, restaurants, and snack bars with ravishing food, a Starbucks coffee shop, and a giant compass.
2. Lake Louise
Named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Lake Louise is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and beautiful waters on the sides, and its emerald water reflects the glaciers surrounding it that formed it. The sight is impressive.
Lake Louise is famous all over the world, not only for hiking and skiing but also for its scenic beauty and palatial hotel.
This iconic hotel offers a perfect view of Lake Louise. One can enjoy the scenic view while having lunch at this hotel.
This hotel of the present day was built in 1924 after its smaller predecessor was destroyed by fire. In those days, horse-driven coaches carried guests from the rail station to the hotel, which was at a distance of 6 km. The coaches were later superseded by trams.
To know what all exciting things you can do when visiting Lake Louise, click on the link.
3. Banff Upper Hot Springs
Located at 5200 ft. Above Banff, it is the highest hot spring in Canada. Banff Upper Hot Springs was discovered in 1883 and had hundreds of visitors since then.
The source of the water is around 3 km Deep. The water in the spring flows at a rate of 900 liters per minute, which is exceptionally high. The temperature of the water is maintained at 38 °C, which is hotter than any other springs in the Banff area.
4. Banff Park Museum
Also known as the ‘University of the Hills,’ Banff Park Museum was established in 1895 and rebuilt in 1903 and encompassed 5000 zoological and botanical specimens.
Banff Park Museum also offers you to get close with some of the iconic wildlife present there. The gorgeous architecture of the museum is a major attraction in itself.
5. Banff Springs Hotel
Constructed in 1888, Banff Springs Hotel is surrounded by majestic views and is definitely not something one should miss out on. Back then, only well-to-do people could afford this hotel.
It is a traditional hotel and still preserves the glamour of the early days of tourism until the present. This grand castle-like hotel is the emblem of Banff at present.
6. Sulphur Mountain
To get a fantastic view of the town of Banff and the valley, Sulphur Mountain is the perfect place to visit. To add to your experience, you should definitely take a ride on Sulphur Mountain Gondola as it is also popular among the tourists.
Banff City Sightseeing Tour is another great option to see this beautiful attraction. There are pickup and drop-off facilities available along with gondola ride and sightseeing in the area. The tour is 4 hours long.
7. Lake Louise Ski Resort
Known as one of the best ski resorts in Canada, Lake Louise Ski Resort offers skiing to people with all levels of ability.
There are different dining packages as well as ride packages available here. Whitehorn Bistro, at the height of more than 2000 meters, is open during breakfast and lunch hours at the top of the Sightseeing Lift. The restaurant offers the options of both indoor as well as outdoor dining to its visitors. It provides a great view of the waters of Lake Louise.
8. Bow Lake
Bow Lake is at a distance of 34 kilometers to the north of Lake Louis and is situated below Bow Glacier and Crowfoot Glacier ( It is called so as its shape is identical to that of a crow’s foot).
The water of the Bow Lake is clear like a crystal, and it mirrors the snow-covered and towering continental peaks. You can go for a walk along the lake to the waterfalls at the foot of Bow Glacier or Catherine and Helen Lakes at the Dolomite Pass.
9. Bow Valley Parkway
An alternate route to the Trans-Canada Highway, Bow Valley Parkway, is 48 kilometers long and runs between Banff and Lake Louise.
The route has many picnic parks as well as camping sites. You may also get to see a lot of wildlife in the Banff National Park too. Johnston Canyon is a top-rated stop along the parkway. The speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour has to be strictly followed in this way.
10. Johnston Canyon
The entrance to Johnston Canyon is 26 kilometers along the Bow Valley Parkway. The path is around 6 km. Long and on the far side of the canyon, it leads to a group of springs known as Ink Pots. Two of the springs have a bluish-green color, which makes them very attractive.
Most of the visitors just spend time on the lower level, while those who have more time and energy continue the walk to Ink Pots. Whether it be summer or winter, Johnston Canyon has always had a large number of visitors.
11. Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake of Banff National Park and a perfect scenic spot to soothe your eyes. It is situated 11 kilometers to the Northeast of Banff and has a famous walking trail that leads along the shore and also to the mountainside surrounding it.
This is also the only lake in Banff National Park where motorboats are allowed. Apart from that, it is also famous for mountain biking.
12. Cave and Basin National Historic Site
This place is referred to as the birthplace of Banff National Park as it is this place where the national park was built to protect the critical sites of Canada.
There is a self-guided trail that leads you to the former hotel site and the bathing structure of 1914. There are many exciting hikes in the Cave and Basin National Historic Site too. A 4-D movie showcasing the national parks, including Banff National Park, is also present.
13. Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake was named after the mountain guide Bill Peyto who was exploring the area back in 1894. A short branched road from the Bow Pass, which is the highest pass in Banff National Park, leads to the beautiful Peyto Lake viewpoint. There is another splendid viewpoint at a distance of a kilometer from the parking.
Peyto lake is beautiful, and its beauty gets enhanced in summers when Bow Summit’s Mountain meadows are filled with wildflowers.
Interesting Facts About Banff National Park
1. UNESCO World Heritage Site
Banff National Park, along with other national parks that form the Canadian Rocky Mountains, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
2. Banff National Park houses 40 to 120 million years old Mountains
The mountains in Banff National Park are around 40 to 120 million years old. This is something exciting about the hills as they have lived more than dinosaurs did. The dinosaurs have been known to exist around 66 million years ago.
The peaks and valleys were carved out by glaciers and are still home to a thousand of them. You can even climb and hike glaciers in some places like the Columbia Icefields. It is also a part of the Banff National Park tour.
3. Lake Minnekawa is Man-made
Lake Minnekawa is actually human-made and was made to bring more freshwater close to Banff town.
Minnekawa Landing was a small mining town in the early 1900s and was dammed in the mid 20th century. It was left tact and is still there at the bottom of Lake Minnekawa. Adventurous divers often visit it.
4. Lake Louise – The Most Photographed Lake of the World
Lake Louise is at an unimaginable height of 5052 ft. And famous for its hotels, hiking, waterfalls, lakes, grizzly bears, and Lake Agnes Tea House. This makes it the highest permanent settlement in the country and also the most photographed lake in the world.
5. Swiss and Austrian Mountaineers Introduced Skiing to Banff in 1909
Even though Banff consists of a large number of mountains, skiing was never considered until Swiss and Austrian Mountaineers came in 1900 to develop Banff’s mining operations.
6. Mount Forbes is the Highest Mountain of Banff
At an elevation of only 11,850 feet, Mount Forbes is the highest mountain of Banff. However, Mount Assiniboine, which is just outside the borders of Banff, is a little higher than Mount Forbes at an elevation of 11,870 feet.
7. Home to Different Species of Animals and Plants
Banff National Park houses 53 species of animals. This variety of wildlife is found due to variations in climate, elevations, and other factors in the park.
Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and elk are seen very often. While hiking up the mountains, you may also come across black bears, wolves, moose, grizzly bears, and other animals. Dangerous encounters of humans with these animals are rare in Banff National Park, but one must be cautious at all times.
Apart from a large variety of animal species, Banff National Park encompasses around 996 species of grasses, flowers, and trees.
8. Banff National Park was originally a 10 square mile reserve
Banff National Park started as a 10 square mile reserve around the Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs. At present, it spans an area of 2564 square miles, which makes it the second-largest out of all the mountain parks of Canada behind Jasper National Park.
Banff National Park is an ideal destination to spend your vacation, especially if you are an adventure enthusiast and a foody. There are many outdoor activities available other than hiking and biking and also some restaurants with amazing food which you must check out.