Banff Townsite

The town of Banff is located in the south part of Banff National Park in the Bow Valley region. Downtown Banff consists of countless souvenir shops and restaurants, all along Banff Avenue, which is the main street that cuts right through the middle of this delightful little town.

Even though Banff only has about 6000 permanent inhabitants, there are over five million people visiting a year.

The Bow Falls

With the backdrop of the Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls has become famous world wide as one of the signature locations of the Canadian Rockies. With a height of approximately 30 feet and the width of 100 feet, the rapids and falls show the incredible erosive force of water.

The existing falls are a remainder of what probably was a much larger and more impressive cascade of water. Although relatively quiet in the winter months, the falls roar with the coming of Spring as freshly melted snow and rain water pours over the falls.

Bow Lake

One of the highlights of the Banff/Jasper Highway, is the Bow Lake.

It forms the headwaters of the Bow River watershed. High above the lake, the Bow Glacier sends melt water to begin its long trip to Hudson Bay. The lake is especially pretty at dawn when it is as still as glass.

Lake Minnewanka in Banff

Lake Minnewanka is positioned approximately 11 kilometers northeast from Banff.

It’s the largest lake in Banff National Park.

Vermilion Lakes

Near to the town of Banff, Vermilion Lakes have reflected the waters of Mount Rundle for an endless number of photographs, postcards and movies. They are a series of backwaters along the Bow River. The levels have raised and lowered over the years, but they remain a popular place for a quiet canoe paddle or shoreline walk.

Banff Townsite

Lake Louise lies nestled in a hanging valley near the foot of spectacular Mt. Victoria at 1731 meters above the sea level. It’s approximately 60 kilometers northwest from Banff, and it’s considered as one of the main attractions in Banff National Park.

The beautifully turquoise to dark-green body of water is about 2 kilometers long and about 600 meters wide, and as 69 meters deep. Even in the summer the water is frigid cold mainly because its constant supply of water comes from a nearby glacier. Its main trail around the lake is an easy 3.5 kilometers on the southern slope of Mt. Fairview that is also the beginning of the Saddle Pass trail. Not far from the shore of the lake stands the majestic Chateau Lake Louise complemented by the lake and the mountains surrounding it.

Morrain Lake

Morraine Lake equals Lake Louise in its beauty, but since it’s a little more remote, it’s also less visited, which makes it a perfect destination for hikers.

Its waters also come from a melting glacier, so they are represented in the same beautiful turquoise color.

Takakkaw Falls

Takakkaw Falls is considered to be one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Rockies. The road in to the falls is located behind the Kicking Horse River Campground in Yoho National Park. There are some interesting viewpoints worth stopping at on the way in.

The drive itself is very exciting along a road with many twists and turns right on the cliff face for a stretch of about 13 kilometers to the parking lot across from the falls. This is also the access point to the hiking the Little Yoho Valley with its extensive trail network and views of the glaciers.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is one of the quieter spots in the Canadian Rockies. Located in Yoho National Park, it is away from the principal touring routes, and as such retains a quieter character.

Payto Lake

Peyto Lake stretches out in a great U-shaped valley. The lake is fed by the runoff from the Peyto Glacier which lies about 5 kilometers to the south of the lake above a rock wall that only climbers can scale. Mere hikers can only gaze up at the wall and dream of the view from the top.

Saskatchewan Crossing

The Canadian Rockies could be considered famous for its countless limestone slot gorges, but ever since the Icefields Parkway way rebuilt in this area in the 1940’s, this slot gorge on the North Saskatchewan has been all but forgotten.

In some respects, this is the most impressive of all of them at about 60 feet in height. At several points, including where the falls at its head are located, the gorge is no more than 3 feet wide. At its head, the river plunges through a root wad into the dark chasm below.

Icefield Parkway

The travel through the Icefield Parkway is always one of the highlights of any journey in west Canada, and one of the most beautiful panoramic routes in the world. The Icefield Parkway runs for about 265 kilometers in the middle of the spectacular Canadian Rocky Mountains, and past many glaciers, from Banff to Jasper.

Mount Columbia is also a part of the Icefield Parkway. At a height of 3747 meters, it’s the highest mountain in the Province of Alberta. Also, at the heart of the Icefield Parkway is the Columbia Icefield with one of the most famous glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Athabasca glacier.

Athabasca Glacier

The Athabasca Glacier is by far the most famous glacier in North America. With easy access from the Icefields Parkway, more than 10,000 visitors pass by this river of ice every day in the summer. On busy days, more than 6,000 will take a trip on Brewster Transportation’s Snowcoach Tours. These specially designed 6-wheel drive vehicles take its passengers 1.5 kilometers (1.0 miles) out onto the ice where they can disembark and stand on 300 m (984 feet) of solid ice.

The landscape is fabulous and the experience is equally unusual. As part of the Columbia Icefield, the Athabasca Glacier represents one of six major glaciers that flow off of this enormous accumulation of ice.

In area, the Athabasca Glacier covers 6 square kilometers (2.5 sq. mi) as it stretches 6 kilometers (3.75 mi) down the valley. Its depth varies from 90 to 300 m (270-1,000ft). The glacier moves 125 m/year (400 ft) at the headwall,but only 25 m/year (80 ft) at the snowcoach turn around and a paltry 15 m/year (50 ft) at the toe.

Athabasca Falls

The Athabasca River cascades over a shelf of 570 million year old gog quartzite, uncovered by glaciers as they receded at the end of the last ice age, forming Athabasca Falls.

It has also allowed this falls to carve an intricate canyon as it sculpted the rocks downstream. There are plenty of short trails to explore on both sides of the falls that will satisfy any hiker. The best views are from the opposite side of the falls from the parking area with Mt Kerkeslin towers in the background.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is about 10,878 square kilometers which makes it the largest national park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Situated next door to Banff National Park, it continues the great high mountain landscape with splendid glaciers, crystal-clear lakes, and magnificent meadows and valleys. It is in this park where almost at the border to British Columbia rises the towering, snow-covered Mount Columbia, with the grand height of 3747 meters.

The city of Jasper boomed in 1911, when it was reached during the construction of the Pacific Railway. However, it was first settled in by David Thompson, an explorer and map maker for the North West Company, in 1811.Over the years Jasper was home mainly to fur traders, and a place of refuge for animal hunters. In 1813, the North West Company build a supply depot, which become known as Jasper House after a long living and loyal employee Jasper Hawes. In the second half of the 19th Century, Jasper had less and less visitors, and only an occasional adventurer, explorer, or a gold seeker would venture into these parts of the Rocky Mountains. It was finally in 1907, that the Jasper was named a National Park as it became apparent that two transcontinental railways would soon pass through the Athabasca Valley.

The town of Jasper is the center of Jasper National Park. With many attractions, accommodation possibilities, business, and restaurants, Jasper draws a lot of visitors to share its beauty.