Banff National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in Alberta, Canada and is considered as the oldest national park in Canada. Officially opened in 1885, it was originally called the Banff Hot Springs Reserve, as the area is home to hot springs. Since this national park is located in the Canadian Rockies, its snowy slopes and glaciers are excellent sites for winter sports and activities.
The subarctic climate and the landscape of the Rocky Mountain range, along with the surrounding wildlife, are just some of Banff National Park’s main attractions. Visitors will have no shortage of options when it comes to outdoor activities, which can cover anywhere from skiing to bird watching.
Banff National Park is also home to many lakes, the most prominent of which is Lake Louise. Other nearby lakes include Emerald Lake, a perfect location for picnics and strolls, and Bow Lake, home to the Bow Glacier, which is a lake accessible for fishing.
In the surrounding areas of the park, in the town of Banff, visitors can experience the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and see one of the sources of thermal water in an underground cave.
Banff National Park also has an array of hiking routes for visitors who want to experience the great outdoors. One of which is the Banff Legacy Trail, which stretches over 20 km around the park, perfect for biking and walking.
Banff National Park itself is popular for winter trips, so travelers hoping to ski can visit the park from around November to February. Banff National Park is also a popular destination in summer, as the weather is warmer.
Please note, however, that some parts of the park are closed off at different times of the year due to avalanche warnings (warnings extend from November to June) and wildlife conservation measures, so plan your activities accordingly.
Most international travelers start their journey from Calgary International Airport. From there you have a few options to get out to Banff National Park.
By Car: The TransCanada Highway runs alongside Banff National Park. The TransCanada is a well-maintained road that winds across the Canadian Rockies and is open all year long.
From Calgary, Alberta, Banff is a 90-minute (140 km or 87 mi) trip to the west if you are traveling from the east.
Shuttles: From Calgary’s city center to Banff, you can use On-It Regional Transit.
Operating on Fridays through Sundays and on statutory holidays from June through September, with a variety of departure times.
The Banff Express runs from Eau Claire Market, HI Calgary City Centre Hostel, or Foothills Hospital to Canmore or Banff twice daily from Tuesday through Sunday. Prices vary; reservations are needed.
By Train: From April to October, the Rocky Mountaineer offers regularly scheduled rail service that makes a stop at Banff.
Information on Rocky Mountaineer can be found on its website.
Instead of driving you can explore using one of the many shuttle and transit alternatives, so you don’t have to worry about parking, etc. Six available bus routes are also available for going to other attractions inside and around the park.
In Banff National Park, parking is scarce and tends to fill up early. Find out more about parking right here.
Experience the wildlife of Banff National Park. The park area is home to many kinds of flora and fauna.
Don’t forget to follow park regulations, especially concerning the preservation of the landscape and wildlife. They can be found here.
Prepare for the weather in Banff. Pack winter clothes and gear, especially for those planning to go skiing, snowboarding or on an ice hike.
Don’t miss out on the scenic drive through the Icefields Parkway, which is a route that goes from Banff National Park to the Jasper national parks.
Do note the closures and safety warnings for many of the lakes and hiking trails inside the Banff National Park.
Price Range for Hotels
Banff National Park offers many options for accommodations, including hotels, ski lodges, and camping grounds.
Camping grounds charge camping fee ranging from $17 to $120. Hotels and ski lodges can range from $100 to $400 a night.