Banff National Park is located in southern Alberta along the shared border with British Columbia in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This is the same range of mountains that extend down into Colorado and Rocky Mountains National Park.
As Canada’s first and oldest national park, Banff National Park covers an area of 2,564 square miles (6,641 sq km), and reaches all the way to the border of Jasper National Park. The park features glorious mountain landscapes, ice fields, glaciers, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, canyons, tremendous forests, and an abundance of wildlife.
The Banff-Windermere Parkway travels through the national park and up into Jasper National Park and is affectionately known as the Icefields Parkway because of the extensive views of icefields, glaciers and majestic snow-capped mountains.
Because of the latitude and altitude, Banff National Park displays three ecoregions consisting of alpine, montane, and subalpine. Lodgepole pine accounts for the predominant forest in the lower elevations with Engelmann spruce taking over in the higher elevations.
The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife adding to the intrigue and splendor of the Banff area. Sought after wildlife sightings include cougar, grizzly and black bear, lynx, coyote, wolf, red fox, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, caribou, moose, elk, mule deer, beaver, and wolverine.
Bird lovers can have hopes for seeing predator birds that include bald eagles, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, osprey, and merlin.
Banff National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Canada for tourism during both the summer and winter months. Winter snows entertain skiers of all types, snowshoe treks, curling, and other snow-related activities.
The summer months are the highlight giving way to hiking, trekking, and exploring the abundance of phenomenal natural highlights like Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks, Peyto Lake, the hoodoos, and many of the nature trails that traverse the various parts of the park. It seems like every direction you head, it leads you to something new and exciting.
The drive along the 140 miles (230 km) Icefields Parkway takes travelers from Lake Louise to Jasper National Park while offering views of Hector Lake, Peyto Lake, Mistaya River, and numerous snow-capped peaks. The overlook over Peyto lake is a must providing a natural view that is so stunning you will believe it is photoshopped even though it is true life – what amazing color!
Banff also affords visitors with an array of cultural experiences as well. Within the park boundaries, travelers can explore the Whyte Museum, Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.
Trails in Banff National Park
Banff National Park is massive and there are well over 200 hiking trails that traverse and meander about the national park providing views of the astounding facets of nature like Lake Louise, Peyton Lake, Moraine Lake and so many more. The trails vary from short to long and easy to difficult. Every bit of your hiking adventure will be a remarkable experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail: This is an easy and short trail about half-a-mile (0.8 km) long. The trail ventures off away from the parking lot to a stockpile that provides a little elevation and vista over Moraine Lake looking back at the Valley of Ten Peaks that serve as the backdrop behind the lake.
Johnston Canyon - Ink Pots Trail: This is a moderate rated trail with an elevation gain of 1,994 feet (607.77 m) while traveling out 7.3 miles (11.7 km). The glorious mountain backdrops blanketed with forested hillsides along with a waterfall and chances to see wildlife make this one of the most memorable treks. The terrain and landscapes are stunning in every direction and the journey back lets you see it from different perspectives.
- Lake Louise
- Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks
- Peyto Lake
- Banff Springs Hotel and Bow Falls
- All Trails, Best Trails in Banff National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/canada/alberta/banff-national-park, retrieved July 2020.
- Banff Lake Louise, Official Site, https://www.banfflakelouise.com/, retrieved September 2019.
- Britannica, Banff National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Banff-National-Park, retrieved September 2019.
- National Geographic, Banff National Park, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/parks/banff-canada-park/, retrieved September 2019.
- Parks Canada, Banff National Park, https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff, retrieved September 2019.
- Travel Alberta, Banff National Park, https://www.travelalberta.com/us/places-to-go/national-parks/banff-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.