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.
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.
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.
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.
The following connections are all related to Banff town, located within the park.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|AWA Hotel HC Banff||419 Banff Avenue, Box 700||Hotel||-|
|Banff Chalet - SameSun||433 Banff Avenue||Hostel||87|
|Banff Y Mountain Lodge||PO Box 520 102 Spray Ave.||Hostel||74|
|HI Lake Louise||Village Road, Box 115 Lake Louise Lake Louise, Alberta||Hostel||84|
|HI-Banff Alpine Centre||#801 Hidden Ridge Way Banff, Alberta||Hostel||84|
|HI-Castle Mountain||Box 1358 Banff, T1L 1B3 (Banff National Park)||Hostel||-|
|HI-Mosquito Creek||Highway 93 c/o PO Box 1358, Banff, Alberta||Hostel||80|
|HI-Rampart Creek||Highway 93 c/o PO Box 1358||Hostel||-|
|HI-Whiskey Jack (Yoho)||Yoho National Park, c/o Box 1358||Hostel||-|
|SameSun Backpacker Lodge - Banff||449 Banff Avenue, T0L 0C0 Banff, Alberta||Hostel||-|
|The AWA Hotel Driftarrow Banff||377 Banff Avenue Banff, Alberta||Hotel||80|
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