Banff National Park Travel Guide

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Famous around the world for breathtaking scenery, an abundance of protected wildlife, and rich history, Banff National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site right in Canadians’ backyard. Elevate your soul by inhaling the fresh mountain air on hundreds of kilometers of hiking, biking and walking trails. Challenge yourself with an invigorating hike to an alpine teahouse, saddle up on horseback, or relax and enjoy a gondola ride up the Canadian Rockies and catch the view from the top. Break from the trails and head to the pure clean waters for canoeing on Lake Louise, hop on a Lake Minnewanka boat tour into the backcountry or take a gentle float trip down the glacial waters of the Bow River.

The two small communities of Lake Louise and Banff offer premium hospitality and creature comfort convenience in the middle of rugged natural beauty. Active or educational, thrilling or relaxing, a journey through the Canadian Rockies is a spectacular colour feast for the eyes: Mother Nature’s canvas painted with bright greens and yellows of the firs and pines, the outspoken red of the Indian Paint Brush wildflower and the jewel-like gems of clear emerald lakes reflecting glaciers and mountains. Watch while the peaks change from blazing white to fiery pink — moment by moment — at sunset.

Keep your cameras focused and eyes peeled for the over 260 species of birds that inhabit the evergreen forests. Scan the cliffs for mountain goats or look to the forest floor for wild herds of grazing elk, bears feeding on berries, a timid but cheeky coyote or — if you are lucky — a rarer sighting of the wolves and cougars as they jockey for position in the animal kingdom. Enjoy a scenic drive along the 230 kms-long Columbia Icefields Parkway which offers easy access to one of the most spectacular mountain landscapes on Earth. Travel back in time north of Lake Louise while viewing these masses of pale blue ice, frozen remnants of the last Ice Age and rumble over the glacier on a specialty vehicle with six-foot tires and an on-board interpreter. On the return trip drop by for a slice of homemade pie at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge and learn the story of legendary trapper Jimmy Simpson who first built the red-roofed cabin on the lakeshore.

Learning has never been so fun. Unleash your inner explorer with a walk through history at one of our museums, take an old fashioned carriage ride through downtown Banff, embark on an interpretive tour to hear about the local flora, fauna and stories of early settlers, or view some local and Canadian artists’ perspectives at an art gallery. Expand your cultural horizons at the internationally-renowned Banff Centre for the Arts, which stages performances of contemporary dance, theatre, opera and music throughout the annual Summer Arts Festival. If you’re travelling with the grandchildren or simply awakening your inner child, there are many affordable activities to choose from. Fly down the water slides at the Douglas Fir Resort, toss a few balls down the lane at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel bowling alley, or have a relaxing soak in the Upper Hot Springs.

Refuel at a friendly-family restaurant or try some amazing, award-winning cuisine where gourmet chefs tantalize taste buds with fresh, regional and innovative food. Then, after a long summer’s sunny day, relax in accommodations that range from self-catering condominiums with kitchens and bed and breakfast inns, to the rustically elegant cabins at Baker Creek Chalets and the five-star service at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

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