Banff National Park was born in the fall of 1885, when three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers found a cave containing hot springs, on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Banff National Park became Canada’s first national park and the world’s third.
It spans 6,641 square kilometers (2,564 square miles) containing mountains, valleys, forests, glaciers, meadows and rivers. In recent history Banff National Park became one of the world’s leading destination spots. Visitors can tour a number of historic sites, hike along the shores of Lake Louise, soak in Banff’s famous hot springs, spend a night in the luxurious and historic Banff Springs Hotel, or drive the Icefields Parkway into neighboring Jasper National Park.
Banff is home to many different geological and ecological wonders. The best know are the hot springs, but there are also the Castleguard Caves that are located in the remote northwest corner of the park. They are considered to be the longest cave system in Canada. To top that, the park also holds Alberta’s southernmost herd of the endangered woodland caribou.
Since the park is in the Rocky Mountain natural life zone, with terrain divided into three separate eco-regions: the montane, the sub-alpine and the alpine, it is a hiking paradise. In all, it contains about 1,600 kilometers (about 1,000 miles) of trails, which is by far more than any other mountain park in Canada. Whether it’s a one hour stroll up a mountain, or a month long backcountry expedition into some of the most remote areas of the park, Banff National Park won’t disappoint hikers of any level of expertise.
Lucky travelers may see deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, grizzly bears, black bears, and wolves among a number of other large and small animals. In most cases they don’t even have to go far as all of this wildlife can be spotted right along the travel routes that cut through the park. The Trans-Canada Highway, the Banff-Radium Highway, the Bow Valley Parkway and the tremendous Icefields Parkway will enchant the visitors with there immense beauty.