Banff National Park, located west of Calgary in the Canadian province of Alberta, was established in 1885 in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It is the oldest Canadian national park and the world’s third. This popular Canadian destination is also recorded as one of the most visited national parks in North America. Best known for its breathtaking ice fields and landscapes, grandiose glaciers, world renowned mountainous terrain and thick coniferous forest, it has become a top choice for both national and foreign tourists. Bordered by Jasper National Park to its north, Kootenay National Park in its south side, as well as provincial forests and Yoho National Park in the west and the Kananaskis Country in the southeast, Banff National Park is an obvious choice for those who would like to have a great outdoor adventure. The park includes more than 6,000 square kilometers of beautiful valleys, enthralling mountains, rivers and meadows, as well as riveting glaciers, forests and wide open spaces.
Banff National Park was born when three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers discovered a cave that contained hot springs along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta in the fall of 1883. The railway company built the Banff Springs Hotel, as well as Chateau Lake Louise to draw in not only the railway passengers but crowds from everywhere. Since the 1960’s, park accommodations are open all year round, increasing the annual tourism visit to Banff to 3-4 million. Parks Canada, in response, spearheaded a two year study resulting in more effective management recommendations as well as new policies to preserve the area’s ecological conditions and to ensure that the ecosystem surrounding Banff National Park will be maintained while drawing the seemingly never ending number of crowds. Banff, along with the other provincial and national parks comprising the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
The picturesque mountain landscapes, the lakes, along with the beautiful waterfalls, limestone caves and canyons, are just some of Banff National Park’s attractions that encourage guests to flock into this lovely Canadian hot spot all year round. The town of Banff in Bow River Valley is the main center of business activity of the park, as well as the center of all cultural activities. It is home to a number of cultural structures, including the Whyte Museum, the Banff Center, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, as well as a number of other art galleries. Those who are keen on arts and culture will surely appreciate and enjoy the many festivals and events that Banff hosts all throughout the year including Banff Winter Carnival, Banff Mountain Film Festival, and the Banff Indian Days that began in 1889.
Apart from the cultural adventures, visitors and guests can also enjoy a wide array of exciting and exhilarating activities while visiting the Banff National Park, including day hikes to the Cory Pass Loop, climbing, skiing adventures and horseback riding.
Some of the most interesting places to visit while you are in the area include Upper Hot Springs, the world class golf course at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Sunshine Village Ski Resort and Mount Norquay Ski Resort. There are also a number of top attractions to discover and explore in the surrounding areas and one of the most recommended is Lake Louise, located just northwest of Banff town, which is home to the famous Chateau Lake Louise, as well as the scenic Valley of the Ten Peaks and the Lake Louise Mountain Resort. Another interesting place to see is Canmore, located just outside of Banff boundaries, which is home to the Canmore Nordic Center, the Canmore Winter Festival and the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre.