Banff National Park
A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, Banff in Alberta is also Canada’s oldest national park and one of its most popular. Encompassing 6,641 sq km of pristine alpine wilderness, the park sits in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and is home to some of North America’s most spectacular scenery. Emerald lakes, snowcapped peaks, waterfalls, glaciers and rich forest provide the backdrop to a wealth of wildlife encounters and outdoor adventures providing a wide range of things to do year round.
The gateway to the national park is the lively resort town of Banff, flanked by mountains and dissected by the Bow River. Here you can pick up trail maps, hiking boots and souvenirs, or enjoy a well-earned drink in one of the many bars and restaurants at the end of a day exploring the Rockies. Countless guided activities are available from town, such as whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River and horse-riding into the rugged high country.
Nearer to town, drive up Tunnel Mountain to start the short walk to the mysterious Hoodoos rock formations, or take the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain for fantastic views over Banff. Hire a bike to cycle down to the Vermilion Lakes, overlooked by the jagged Mt Rundle, or head to Lake Minnewanka for a scenic cruise. Lesser known gems include Johnson Lake and the beautiful Cascade Ponds, the perfect picnic spot away from the crowds.
Situated in the evocatively named Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake is fed by meltwater from the Fay Glacier, resulting in its distinctive and much photographed turquoise hue. With fewer visitors than its famous neighbour, Lake Louise (just 14kms down the road), Moraine Lake offers equally spectacular views and a good variety of hiking trails. Meander along the wooded lakeside trail or tackle the longer trek to Wenkchemna Pass – your efforts will be rewarded with panoramic vistas of all ten peaks down the length of the valley. For a different perspective paddle across the lake in a canoe or board a helicopter to watch a landscape of vivid lakes and dazzling glaciers unfurl before you.
Banff is just one of several parks which protect the Canadian Rockies, ensuring that the landscape and its wild inhabitants are well looked after. The ranges, which follow the course of the Continental Divide, are home to various Canadian icons including grizzly and black bear, caribou, moose, wolves and coyotes. Mt Robson is the highest peak of the Rockies at 12,972ft, appearing all the more impressive as it towers over one of the area’s lowest passes, the Yellowhead Pass. Amongst the jagged Rocky Mountains you will find countless shimmering lakes, ancient glaciers and waterfalls, making a dream destination for keen photographers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Banff National Park Holidays
Explore Banff National Park at your own pace on a self-drive holiday, or benefit from the insights of an experienced guide by getting off the beaten track on a hiking adventure. Whether you choose a winter wonderland, a summer playground or a stay in the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs, don’t miss one of the essential highlights of the Canadian Rockies.