Banff is a town within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It is located in Alberta's Rockies along the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately 126 km (78 mi) west of Calgary and 58 km (36 mi) east of Lake Louise. At an elevation of 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 1,630 m (5,350 ft), Banff is the community with the second highest elevation in Alberta after Lake Louise. Banff is a resort town and one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations, known for its mountainous surroundings and hot springs. It is a destination for outdoor sports and features extensive hiking, biking, scrambling and skiing areas within the area. Sunshine Village, Ski Norquay and Lake Louise Mountain Resort are the three nearby ski resorts located within the national park. Banff is home to the well-known Banff World Television Festival, Banff Mountain Film Festival, Rocky Mountain Music Festival and Bike Fest. The city is also the starting point of the 4,417 km (2,745 mi) Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Listed below are some of Banff's top attractions!
Banff National Park spans 6,641 square kilometers (2,564 square miles) of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, and rivers. It was Canada’s first national park and the world’s third. Some of the highlights of the park include the Cave and Basin National Historic Site (visit their website here), which celebrates Parks Canada’s protected natural and cultural treasures with interactive exhibits and a visit to the underground Cave with its bubbling thermal waters. Lake Louise is also a popular destination, with its emerald hues and glacial backdrop. The lake offers photographic moments, a lakeshore stroll, canoeing and horseback riding.
The area around Banff can be a shopper’s paradise, with everything from local arts and crafts to wines and collectibles. Most shopping opportunities exist on Banff Avenue's downtown blocks, and on Bear Street, which runs parallel to Banff Ave just one street over.
At 28 kilometres long, Lake Minnewanka is the longest lake in Banff National Park. Known to the First Nations as the “Lake of the Water Spirits”, Lake Minnewanka is also at the centre of local folklore. From Minnewanka Landing, the abandoned town now submerged under the lake, to ancient archaeological findings, you will be surprised to learn that there is much more to Banff place than just water and mountains. For more information on the cruise, please click here.
Banff is a beautiful and quaint town with much to offer. For more information, please visit the Town of Banff’s official website here.
Banff National Park’s website also has detailed information on the town and the surrounding area, including visitor and hiking information, as well as trail reports and important news. Please click here to visit their website.
Banff/Lake Louise has excellent tourist information. Please visit their site here.
For food and dining information, Banff Dining Guide has compiled a list of the best restaurant options. Please click here for this.
TravelAlberta has a wonderful YouTube channel with videos about this beautiful area. Please click here for this.
Ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain to experience a stunning bird's eye view of six mountain ranges. The journey takes eight minutes to arrive at the summit of Sulphur Mountain, an elevation of 2,281 m (7,486 feet), where you will have access to several observation decks. Several scenic hiking trails lead away from the summit complex. One of the most popular is the self-guided interpretive walkway to Sanson's Peak on which you can follow in the footsteps of Norman Sanson, who walked to the top of the mountain about every week for 30 years to check the weather. More adventurous hikers will want to try the South East Ridge Trail - a hiking trail that runs along the ridge of the mountain to the south, taking you to Sulphur Mountain's true summit. For more information and tickets, please click here.
Norquay Resort is a short 15 minute drive from the Rimrock Resort and offers a wide variety of activities for guests to enjoy. There is the Via Ferrata, the Cliffhouse Bistro, the North American Chairlift and the beautiful viewing platform at the top of the chairlift. Norquay offers 3 Via Ferrata Routes; something for all levels of adventurers. The Ridgewalker route is the middle of the pack and lasts for approx 4hrs and 1.5km. You begin with the usual familiarization of the equipment and how to traverse the Via Ferrata safely. The official start of Norquay's course starts with a suspension bridge with a daunting drop under your feet. This is followed by some steep, but not too challenging cliff climbs. The end of the climbing route brings you to a beautiful trail on top of Mt. Norquay where you follow a path along the ridge to a steep, yet manageable canyon in which you descend. Click here to learn more!
Located in Banff National Park, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies welcomes those who are drawn to the power and inspiration of these mountains. The Whyte Museum is the gateway for experiencing and enjoying the mountains' art, culture and history. Visitors can experience the Museum’s galleries, archives and library, heritage homes, programs, guided walks, tours, museum shop and special events.
Banff Upper Hot Springs are commercially developed hot springs located in Banff National Park. The hot pool is outdoors, offering visitors beautiful views across the valley to Mount Rundle. The hot spring water flows naturally through the Sulphur Mountain Thrust Fault, with the source area located at higher elevations on either Sulphur Mountain or Mount Rundle. Water temperature is kept at approximately 38°C (100°F). For more information, please click here.
Tunnel Mountain is located in the Bow River Valley of Banff National Park. The mountain is nearly completely encircled by the town of Banff. Due to its easy grade and location in the heart of Banff, Tunnel Mountain is a popular hike. The trail has a gentle grade most of the way and is only 4.3 km (3 mi) round-trip. The top offers a panoramic view of the townsite, the Bow valley and the surrounding wilderness.
Take your trip to new heights with a helicopter tour over Banff and the Canadian Rocky Mountains for a once in a lifetime experience. Alpine Helicopters Inc. offers a variety of spectacular sightseeing tours. Click here for more information.