Scenic and Panoramic don’t even come close to describing the immense natural beauty and wholesome wildness that is Banff National Park. Designated as Canada’s first national park in 1885, this stretch of the Canadian rockies is also a UNESCO world heritage site and attracts over 4 million guests annually. The park encompasses over 2,500 sq. miles of rugged terrain with crystal clear lakes, lush pine forests and snow capped peaks of the silver colored rockies.
Banff is located in Southwestern Alberta on the border with British Columbia. The closest access point of a major airport and city is Calgary which is 80 miles East of the national park. Edmonton and Vancouver are much further still, but these are the next closest airports. By car one can take the Trans Canada Highway right into the park itself. By Bus: there is direct bus service connecting downtown Calgary and the Calgary International Airport with the town of Banff and village of Lake Louise.
What to See:
For lovers of camping, hiking, the outdoors and native species this is like a theme park. The forests are composites of fir, pine, and spruce. The mountain rocks are ancient shale with limestone. There are over 50 species of mammals alone that inhabit the region. This includes mountain goats, moose, elk, deer, big horned sheep, cougars, various kinds of bears as well as Caribou. Camping is the best way to make an extended stay in the park and during peak season, there are 2,468 sites located within 13 campgrounds. Reservations and fees are applicable, but the fares are good with various services being offered at campgrounds.
A visitor to the park will find that almost anything conceivable about the outdoors is available here. There are opportunities for birdwatching, hiking, mountain climbing, trout fishing, lake fishing, canoeing and exploring the longest cave system in Canada known as Castleguard. There are seven national historic sites in the park: Skoki Lodge, Howse Pass, Cave and Basin, Abbot Pass Hut, Cosmic Ray observatory, Banff Park Museum and Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. There are many lake of renowned fame in the park, but none so iconic as Moraine Lake. It has sapphire blue waters and is encircled by 10 peaks over 10,000 ft. in height. Lake Louise is famous for its mirror like reflections.
The best time to visit the park is in summer when the weather is more favorable and everything is lush and active. The peak months are July and August, but this should not be the only time considered, the park is open year round and each season has its own perks. In summer there can be quite a few guests on holiday in the park lands. A complete and creative itinerary would be setting aside time for some of the major geological wonders: lakes, caves, mountains, hot springs, glaciers, meadows and trails.