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Banff National Park

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Travel Guide North America Canada Alberta Banff National Park

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Introduction

Banff National Park is a park in the central west of Alberta, Canada. Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains. The park, located 110-180 kilometres west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, encompasses 6,641 km2 of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial centre of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.

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Geography

Banff National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains on Alberta's western border with British Columbia in the Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion. Banff is about an hour and half driving distance from Calgary, and four hours from Edmonton. Jasper National Park is located to the north, while Yoho National Park is to the west, and Kootenay National Park is to the south. Kananaskis Country, which includes Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, Spray Valley Provincial Park, and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, is located to the south and east of Banff.

The Trans-Canada Highway passes through Banff National Park, from eastern boundary near Canmore, through the towns of Banff and Lake Louise, and into Yoho National Park in British Columbia. The Banff townsite is the main commercial centre in the national park. The village of Lake Louise is located at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway and the Icefields Parkway, which extends north to the Jasper townsite.

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Sights and Activities

The most common wildlife seen in the park are bighorn sheep, deer, and North American elk. Moose are more elusive (their population is in decline) and mountain goats are virtually undetectable on the mountainsides without a good pair of binoculars. (Visitors often mistake female bighorn sheep for mountain goats, because female bighorns have short horns somewhat like those of mountain goats.) Although caribou are present in the park, they are rarely seen by visitors. It is important to keep in mind the park is also home to black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, and cougars (mountain lions).

On the warmer and fuzzier side, the park is home to many tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots. The occasional porcupine and beaver may also be found. Bird lovers will want to watch for Ruffed Grouse, Bald Eagles, and the ubiquitous Canada Goose.

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Cost

All visitors stopping in the park (even just for gas) require a park permit. If you are driving through non-stop, the pass is not required. Day passes and annual passes are available.

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Getting There

The following connections are all related to Banff town, located within the park.

By Plane

Calgary International Airport, (airport code: YYC) is the nearest airport, almost 2 hours away from Banff. Air Canada connects Calgary to more destinations across Canada, the USA and the rest of the world direct from here. WestJet flies from Calgary to destinations across Canada, as well as select places in North America. In addition, many US airlines fly to Calgary.

By Train

Between Mid-April and Mid-October, the two-day, all daylight Rocky Mountaineer travels between Vancouver or Whistler, British Columbia and the Rocky Mountain destinations of Jasper, Banff or Calgary Alberta.

By Car

Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) bisects the park east/west. Banff is about an hour and a half from Calgary Alberta and the same from Golden British Columbia. Other ways to enter the park by automobile include the Icefields Parkway from Jasper, Highway 11 from Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer Alberta, and Highway 93 from Radium Hot Springs and Cranbrook British Columbia.

By Bus

Greyhound Canada has buses to Calgary (almost 2 hours) and Vancouver (14 hours) and many places in between. Brewster Transportation offers pick up from the hotel to Lake Louise (1 hour) and Jasper (4,5 hours). Sundog Tours has transfers to Jasper as well.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
AWA Hotel HC Banff419 Banff Avenue, Box 700Hotel-
Banff Chalet - SameSun433 Banff AvenueHostel89
Banff Y Mountain LodgePO Box 520 102 Spray Ave.Hostel75
HI Lake LouiseVillage Road, Box 115 Lake Louise Lake Louise, AlbertaHostel89
HI-Banff Alpine Centre#801 Hidden Ridge Way Banff, AlbertaHostel86
HI-Castle MountainBox 1358 Banff, T1L 1B3 (Banff National Park)Hostel-
HI-Mosquito CreekHighway 93 c/o PO Box 1358, Banff, AlbertaHostel84
HI-Rampart CreekHighway 93 c/o PO Box 1358Hostel-
HI-Whiskey Jack (Yoho)Yoho National Park, c/o Box 1358Hostel-
SameSun Backpacker Lodge - Banff449 Banff Avenue, T0L 0C0 Banff, AlbertaHostel-
The AWA Hotel Driftarrow Banff377 Banff Avenue Banff, AlbertaHotel83

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This is version 6. Last edited at 13:45 on Mar 11, 15 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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