In the fall of 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers stumbled across a cave containing hot springs on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains. From that humble beginning was born Banff National Park, Canada's first national park and the world's third. Spanning 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles) of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers, Banff National Park is one of the world's premier destination spots.
Banff National Park is a vast untamed territory that begs to be explored. Wild animals roam the valleys, eagles soar over the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and pure water streams into rivers from 1,000 glaciers. Hundreds of years ago aboriginal natives first discovered its beauty, quickly followed by explorers, map makers, and mountain climbers. Even the odd celebrity or royal type have popped by.
And now you.
Climb the same mountains, ride to the same peaks, paddle the rivers, and inhale the air. That’s pure alpine. The sheer number of adventures, both indoors and out, is as hard to count as the peaks stretching into the distance. Ski, shop or spa, learn local history at museums and art galleries or wander down a hiking trail or two. In Banff and Lake Louise the possibilities are limitless.
Adventures in Banff National Park bring you face to face with nature; jagged mountain peaks rippling into the distance and thickly forested alpine valleys. Here, you’ll share the excitement with wild animals, wild spaces and the soothing rustle of wind through the trees.
Next to our horseback riding adventures, activities in Banff and Lake Louise come at all levels. Take a casual stroll through wildflowers in an alpine meadow or test your extreme limits climbing to the roof of the Rocky Mountains. Backpack across rock ridges formed by undersea oceans over 45 million years ago, or tee-off at a five-star golf course. Throw a fish hook in the water, walk on a glacier, or canoe on Lake Louise’s turquoise water. Take a guided trip outside the park for heli-hiking, whitewater rafting, and ATV fun, where the adventure begins on the shuttle bus.
It won’t be easy to settle on just one.
Where you sleep in Banff National Park can be a rare alpine experience in itself. Rough it at a campground in the deep wilderness or pamper yourself at a five-star resort.
Choose between that friendly bed and breakfast in Banff, a rustic cabin in the hamlet of Lake Louise, or a hotel in any price range. Maybe your taste runs more to a quirky boutique inn, hostel, or a remote mountain lodge reached only by foot, on skis, or on top of a horse.
Dining and Nightlife
The cuisine is both exotic and comforting in Banff and Lake Louise. Savour the freshest local ingredients on a variety of Canadian and internationally-inspired menus, from fondue, fresh fish, wild elk, and bison tenderloin, to sushi, pad Thai and pizza. The dress code here is mountain casual - which includes that cozy fleece sweater.
Follow your nose to a corner café with fresh-roasted coffee and spend some time people-watching on an outdoor patio. After dark you can kick up your heels at a dance club or western saloon, catch a concert at The Banff Centre, listen to live music in a pub, or just relax with a beverage at a local lounge.
How to Get There
Banff National Park is located in the province of Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It is situated 128 km (80 miles) west of Calgary, 401 km (250 miles) southwest of Edmonton and 850 km (500 mi) northeast of Vancouver.
Distances from the Town of Banff and:
Calgary 128 km
Jasper 287 km
Lake Louise 58 km
Vancouver 850 km
There are several major highways in Banff National Park:
- Trans-Canada Highway (#1) runs west from Calgary into the park, through Banff and Lake Louise, and eventually reaches Vancouver.
- Icefields Parkway (#93) runs between Lake Louise and Jasper Townsite
- Radium / Invermere Highway (#93 between the Junction with the Trans-Canada and the Radium Hot Springs
- Bow Valley Parkway (#1A)
By Air Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver all have international airports that are serviced by major national and international carriers. Learn more about airline service to (Edmonton) (Calgary) (Vancouver)
By BusThere is direct bus service connecting downtown Calgary and the Calgary International Airport with the town of Banff and village of Lake Louise. There is also bus service connecting Banff and Lake Louise with the town of Jasper. Taxi service is available in Banff and Lake Louise. Several guiding companies also offer shuttle service to trailheads.
Contact Banff / Lake Louise Tourism for details.
There is limited rail service on a sightseeing basis between Banff and Vancouver. Contact Banff / Lake Louise Tourism for details.