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The oldest national park in Canada, Banff was established in 1885. Today, this scenic destination covers 6,641 square kilometres, and draws nearly four million annual visitors – making it the most visited Alberta attraction.
Banff National Park is located in southwestern Alberta – surrounded by cities like Banff and Canmore, and all just west of the Calgary metropolitan area. A gorgeous example of the Canadian Rockies, Banff features an array of outdoor activities and unmatched views.
Banff offers hiking, biking, climbing, horseback riding, kayaking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and an array of winter recreation.
Popular hikes include the Johnston Canyon & Ink Pots and the Cory Pass Loop, while visitors are encouraged to visit famous lakes like Moraine Lake and Lake Louise – reached by Bow Valley Parkway.
Other attractions include the Banff Gondola, Upper Hot Springs, Banff Springs Golf Course, and three ski areas: Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Area, and the Mount Norquay Ski Area.
Admire the beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains of Banff National Park from the air. Step aboard one of the Banff Gondolas, for a relaxing eight minute ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Once you reach the top elevation of 7,486 feet, take several moments to gaze at the six mountain ranges and the surrounding valley. This is an ideal attraction for anyone visiting Banff.
Make your way to the upper terminal's observation deck on the top of the mountain, for completely unobstructed mountain views. Before leaving the top of the mountain, enjoy strolling along the summit ridge on the Banff Skywalk leading to the Cosmic Ray Station, a Canadian National Historic Site.
Those ready to explore the rugged Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park have plenty of opportunity. Travelers have explored the area since 1885 when the park was established, making it Canada's first national park.
The park boasts of beautiful mountains, glacier-fed lakes, Castleguard Caves, glaciers, wildlife and wonderful hiking trails. Of the many park trails, the Plain of Six Glaciers trail leading to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, is one not-to-miss.
This moderate trail, offering incredible views of the park, runs along the west end of Lake Louise. Bring your camera to capture the views of Lower Victoria Glacier before reaching the teahouse. Take a break to enjoy the view of the six glaciers, four of them classified as hanging glaciers. Make the most of your next visit to Banff.
One of the most beautiful glacial lakes in North America is located in Banff National Park, Canada's oldest National Park. Lake Louise, Canada's "Diamond in the Wilderness", is a true gem in Southern Alberta. This blue-green coloured lake, measuring 1.2 miles in length, is located at the base of Victoria Glacier north of Banff.
The colour of the water is a result of the rock flour in the water that runs into the lake, from Victoria Glacier. The lake was named after Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta.
Recreational enthusiasts love spending time at this breath-taking lake. Whether you ride your mountain bike, saddle up on horseback or lace up your shoes for hiking, there are plenty of trails around the lake for a fun day outside. Some of the more popular trails are Saddleback Pass, Lake Agnes, Little Beehive, Fairview Mountain, Devils Thumb and Mirror Lake.
Winter-time fun abounds at nearby Lake Louise Ski Area, where skiers and snowboarders challenge themselves on some of the Canadian Rockies' best slopes.
Make plans to visit Alberta and head for the Johnston Canyon and Ink Pots area of beautiful Banff National Park. They remain one of the more popular summer-time hiking areas in the park. This easy-to-find trailhead is located a short distance from Banff.
Lace up your hiking shoes to enjoy a wonderful afternoon in the park. The hiking trail follows Johnston Creek through the forest as it makes its way to the Lower Falls, approximately 1.1km into the hike. Be sure to view the falls from the tunnel and be prepared to get wet.
Continue your hike along the trail to the Upper Falls at the 2.7km mark. The falls can be viewed from the bottom or the top. Walk along the cat-walk to reach the bottom falls viewing platform, or climb a short distance to reach the top viewing platform, near the top of the falls. Continue your journey in this wonderful recreation area, another 3km, to see the Ink Pots.
The Southern region of Alberta is home to Jasper National Park and Banff National Park, two incredible National Parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Travelers ready to explore the wonders of Banff National Park in the Lake Louise area, do so on the Bow Valley Parkway. This roadway, also known as Banff National Park 1A Route, runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway from Lake Louise to Banff.
While enjoying the scenic drive, keep a lookout for the variety of wildlife, including elk, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep and wolves. Take time to stop along the road to read the interpretive signage, providing more information on the geology of the area. Be sure to bring along your hiking shoes for a side journey into the Rockies.