Established as Canada’s first national park in 1885 after railway workers stumbled onto a thermal hot spring, Banff National Park is today part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and spans 2,564 square miles of mountainous terrain packed with spectacularly scenic valleys, peaks, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers.
In the picturesque town of Banff, wander along lively Banff Avenue to browse boutiques and souvenir shops, visit art galleries and museums, or chill out in the bars and restaurants.
For a loftier perspective of the town and valley, hike the 2.6 mile trail up Tunnel Mountain or hop on the Banff Gondola which is open year round and floats its way up Sulphur Mountain. When in need of some relaxation and rejuvenation head to the geothermally heated Banff Hot Springs. It’s magical to sit in the pools whatever the time of year or hour of day.
Alternatively, don your hiking boots or hire a bike and discover more than 1,000 miles of maintained trails. Wander or ride along the shores of glittering blue-green lakes, trek up a mountain pass, hike across a frozen lake and be entranced by the landscapes around you.
Notable sights within the area include the large glacial Lake Minnewanka, where scenic cruises go out to Devil’s Gap. Or you can travel under your own steam and hire a canoe or kayak. Dramatic Johnston Canyon is another must-visit natural attraction along with Vermilion Lakes which are a fantastic place to watch sunrise or sunset, see wildlife or spend a day exploring its shores.