The beauty of Banff is not confined to the breathtaking views and beautiful scenery. There is a lot that you can do and learn from this area. More so, it is an award-winning town that is recognized globally.
Its simplicity and natural landscape make it the perfect place for any tourist in Canada. It is a destination that should be on your bucket list for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is an all-weather destination that will give you lots of memories to reminisce about.
The good news is, you can plan an exquisite trip to Banff and get firsthand experience. Here is what you need to know about the town.
Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It has a rich history which you can trace back to the 19th century. It might be a small area in terms of space, but it holds rich traditional and natural features which attract tourists.
It is the highest town in Canada at 1383m above sea level, approximately 127km west of Calgary. It is in the middle of these mountains: Sulphur Mountain, Mount Rundle, Mt. Norquay, and Cascade mountains, thus explaining its high elevation.
With so many mountains surrounding it, you can witness different beautiful scenic views from any point in the town.
The history of Banff dates to 1883, during the construction of the railway in Bow Valley. The hot springs in the area caused an attraction to the workers, and Canada thought to establish and promote the natural features and the newly built spa and resort to popularize the railway.
Its name originated from the Canadian Pacific Railway's president, his native land back in Scotland. The purpose of developing the town from the onset was tourism.
So it has remained a tourism centre that has won many accolades and has been recognized as one of the best national parks.
Indigenous Peoples in Banff
Initially, Indigenous people who inhabited the foot of the Rocky Mountains were hunters and gatherers. They thrived in hunting game meat like bison, and foraging for natural herbs in the forests.
Banff is located on the Bow River which was used by Indigenous people for hunting and travel. The community is located within the Region of Treaty 7, which was signed in 1877. This region includes the territories of:
The Blackfoot Confederacy (comprising the Siksika, Kainai, and Piikani nations)
The Tsuut'ina First Nations,
The Stoney Nakoda Nations of Chiniki, Wesley and Bearspaw.
The arrival of the Europeans and the new tourism policies certainly put them off their regular activities. But they were still valuable to them since they knew the area comprehensively and would provide helpful insight into their operations.
However, their integration with the new and busy tourist activities has made it more bearable for the Indigenous people.
Establishing Rocky Mountain Park
There have been developments by the Canadian government to improve the natural hot springs in the area that resulted in the town's growth and the park around it. As well, the beauty and landscape of the region made it easier to develop it into a well-known park and town.
These improvements earned the name the Rocky Mountains of Canada, which later changed to Banff National Park. Its growth continues to attract more tourists and makes it a must-see destination in the country.
Conservation in the Park Today
The Park began as a cave and basin attraction centre. However, the improvements in the infrastructure around the hot springs are steadily growing. There are improved transport and accommodation areas in the Park which encourage many tourists to visit the site.
Its interchangeability in different activities in different weather conditions makes it a stunning place all year through. There are specific rules imposed in the park that ensure that they protect the tourists and the natural environment.
The museums, spas, resorts, hotels, and other seating areas are also quite improved and developed since inception. In addition, the conservation and law changes in the region benefit the tourist and the locals alike as they create a harmonious and peaceful environment in the park.
The geology of Banff has many ranges in its sight. The Rockies consist of sedimentary rocks, including sandstone and limestone. Due to erosion in the mountainous and high peaks in the area, you will find rugged landscapes on the mountainsides, which enhance the cliffs and slopes for each mountain.
These areas usually create an uncanny and stunning landscape that matches the mountains and ranges in every direction. Banff is also home to gorgeous glaciers and icefields. This attracts many tourists looking for new activities on the ice during the winter.
Getting to Banff National Park
Banff has no know airfields in the area, hence no direct flights. The nearest terminals are in Calgary and Edmonton airports, connecting to Banff using road transport.
The nearest town to Banff geographically is Calgary which is about 187km. It opens Banff to other areas through transportation. Edmonton is approximately 387km from Banff, while Vancouver is 890km from Banff. However, there is a direct train from Banff to Vancouver, which makes the journey more worthwhile.
Transportation in Banff is mainly by vehicles. However, you can get a private hire, shuttle, bus, or a taxi. These means will help you get by from the airport and within the Park.
You can hire a car for your transport needs in Banff. It is a 90-minute drive from Calgary. The highway roads are well-maintained, heading into the Canadian Rockies. Though you might have the challenge of parking when visiting your favorite place, you will enjoy the luxury of being in control of your trip.
But you can make the trip easier by following the local maps and routes to guide you in your journey. Driving blindly will only cause you to lose out on time.
Several shuttle services head to Banff's key attraction areas every day, and it will be the most enjoyable day in the Rockies. In addition, the shuttle will transport you through to the lakes, like Moriane Lake, and the canyons.
You can also get guided tours or head to the ski shuttles to enjoy your time in Banff.
There are buses that you can use to get around town easily. With the scheduled routes for public transit, you can plan your trip well in advance to avoid any inconveniences.
You can book a sightseeing tour in shuttles to the different tourist attractions. This way, you will have an organized trip free from any confusion. The tours are pre-arranged; hence you do not have to worry about your transport, park fees, or parking. As a result, you will be able to enjoy your trip better.
Biking or Hiking
There are many opportunities to cruise through the scenic landscapes on your two-wheeler. There are many trails and routes that you can enjoy. Additionally, you can also go on foot and flex your muscles while enjoying your view in Banff.
Things to Do in Banff
Banff is loaded with attractions for single travellers and families alike. Plan on staying in Banff for at least a week so you can get to everything you want to do.
The beauty of Lake Lousie almost matches that of Moraine Lake, only that its blue colour is lighter. In addition, it has different hiking opportunities that you can take along the shoreline to enjoy the place more.
The beautiful blue shoreline that disappears into the abyss presents a calming experience. During the winter, you can enjoy the free snowshoeing experience in designated areas. In the summer season, you can canoe on the shining blue waters - canoe rentals are by the hour and operate on a first come first serve basis. It's an adventure you wont want to miss!
This is where you use the cable cars to reach the top of Sulphur Mountain. You can then view the gorgeous mountain scenery, and it's the perfect spot for a photo-opp.
It is an 8-minute ride to the top where you can experience breathtaking views from every corner in town. It will cost you around $58 to enjoy this ride in the glass cabins.
There are also other activities that you can do at the top of this mountain. You can look into the boardwalk to Sanson’s peak to enjoy the historic site at the top.
The Moraine Lake is considered the most extraordinary Lake in Banff. The eternal blue view on the Lake makes each moment memorable for anyone who visits it. The sunrise and sunset pictures make them more memorable, authentic, and unique, which explains the always busy area with total parking spaces.
There is also the famous Moraine Lake biking trail that every rider will enjoy. The trail is challenging, but the sights you will see will take your breath away. However, they usually close the trail during some parts of the summer for safety purposes.
Lake Agnes Tea House
The Tea House is located on the shores of Lake Agnes in a lovely hanging valley. Its beautiful surroundings will give you a relaxing vibe to go along with your delicious tea served.
It is the perfect place on an overhanging valley with an unending lake view. You can choose to make your visit to Lake Agnes tea house more interesting by hiking or hiring a horse to the hotel. The hike is moderately difficult with a pretty consistent incline throughout. But it's great way to get your workout in before relaxing at the peak where the Tea House is situated. It is surrounded by three lakes that create a beautiful experience with scenic views.
This is the largest water body in Banff. It has a lot of hiking and biking trails in the area, which makes it quite popular. The other reason Lake Minnewanka attracts a lot of tourists, is that the mountain ranges presents a beautiful backdrop for your pictures.
There is also the Aymeric Lookout trail that stretches from the shores of the Lake. Though it is a physically demanding (25km) stretch, it is quite an exciting hike with an overview of the town.
Banff Hot Springs
Hot springs in Banff were the first things to be discovered in the town. People describe them as being authentic and relaxing. There are special care procedures that ensure the springs remain in perfect condition.
The hot springs use geothermal energy and bring bubbles to the surface. This phenomenon is usually suspected to originate from the Sulphur Mountain. The temperatures usually vary from 27 to 47°C. Be sure to arrive early to also secure a parking spot and to get the best experience. Entry is first come, first serve and you cannot make reservations. There are single entry tickets, group rates, and even annual passes if you want to come back year after year.
This place is perfect for all ages and will be more suitable for a family setting. The Lower to Upper Falls trail gives you an excellent view of the valley bordering the clear waters, making it therapeutic. However, it is a busy area, thus showing its beauty and importance to the tourists.
The numerous natural sights in the creeks, waterfalls, forests, and walls, give you the perfect opportunity for your hikes and photography. It is a common attraction in the park. During winter, you can go ice walking and climbing instead of the usual hikes in summer.
These Falls are on Bow River near the Banff Springs Hotel. You cannot afford to miss this spectacle while in the area.
The natural trails and walkways standing up to the Bow Falls always create the perfect experience in Banff. Besides, the beauty of Banff springs hotel makes the area more beautiful and intriguing to visit.
You can find this spectacle on Lake Louise. They are high falls with a viewpoint where you can enjoy the beauty and calmness of the water over the cliff.
Though not as popular, you can enjoy the perfect hike and view of the falls. The hiking point to the trail also offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the area. This might be a good hiking option for those looking for less-touristy trails.
Banff has grown in infrastructure to support the tourism goal of the area. The resorts, spas, and hotels in Banff provide sufficient accommodation for tourists who plan to visit the site.
Fairmont Lake Louise
This highly classified hotel has over 500 rooms where tourists can easily enjoy the view and scenery in the area. Its prime location allows tourists to take in the breathtaking view of the town from different angles.
Fairmont Banff Springs
This is one of the best hotels in the Rockies. It has excellent points where you can take clear and beautiful photos in the resort. It has high ratings such that it is called the Castle on the Rockies.
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
This beautiful resort at the park's heart presents an exquisite place to enjoy your stay. There are many activities in this resort, including swimming, biking, and other games.
With modern facilities and amenities, Banff Inn provides excellent accommodation services in the town. In addition, its proximity to other facilities makes it perfect for any visiting tourist.
Best Times to Visit Banff
You can enjoy Banff all year-round. You only need to identify which season you want to visit Banff.
Banff in the summer is the most popular time of the year where many people are in the town. So you can experience the perfect sunsets and sunrises on the glistering blue lake. There are also many activities in Banff that you can do, including hiking and biking along the trails and lakeshores.
The winter season usually starts from around mid-October to mid-May. Though it may be a dull period due to the cold temperatures, you will find some activities like skiing in the glaciers and enjoying the peaceful and quiet time for yourselves.
Plan Your Trip to Banff Today
Planning your trip to Banff will be pretty easy once you master this Banff guide.
There is so much that you will need to do, especially financially when preparing your trip to Banff. Items like travel insurance, park and transport fees, and accommodation can be cheaper when you have the right guide for it.
With the help of professionals at Insurdinary, you are sure to be on the right path when it comes to insurance. Contact us to find out more about Banff and how to plan your trip soundly.