Bow Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Daryl Benson/Digital Vision/Getty)

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Corbis)

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Travel Alberta)

Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Travel Alberta)

Banff Springs, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts)

Skiing at Lake Louise resort, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Travel Alberta)

Fairmont Chateau ,Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Travel Aberta)

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Purestock/Getty)

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What to do in Banff National Park

One hour southeast of Calgary, stupendous five-fingered peaks wrapped in glaciers rise out of the prairie. Welcome to the Canadian Rockies and the oldest national park in Canada, Banff. In 1882, Canadian National Railroad surveyor Thomas Wilson wrote of what is now Lake Louise: “I never in all my explorations saw such a matchless scene.” But Banff is more than sheer wilderness. The national park houses some of the country’s most impressive hotels, grand chateaus with blue roofs and turrets created by Canadian railroad barons. More than five million visitors a year come to hike through wildflower-draped meadows, paddle green and cobalt lakes, fish for trophy-size trout, ski at one of the park's three resorts, and lounge in the natural hot springs. Spend one day outdoors here and you’ll no doubt come to the same conclusion as Mr. Wilson.

Traveler Reviews of Banff National Park


Alistair rates Banff National Park
This is a stunning part of the world, with the town of Banff a mere pebble amidst a sea of wonders. Whether you arrive by car from Calgary or on the train that comes from Edmonton or Vancouver, the first glimpse of the towering Rocky Mountains peaks is breathtaking. Be sure to plan some time to get on the trails away from the roadside vistas and mountain overlooks. This place gets really, really crowded yet less than 5 percent of visitors stray more than a mile from their vehicles. Mount Royal Hotel, right on Banff Avenue, is a good choice for lodging, as is the Buffalo Mountain Lodge (though this is a little out of town). I've been in both summer and winter, and each season presents its own obvious delights. Pack those hiking boots! Evelyns in Banff is a nice spot for a coffee and a pastry before you go and explore.
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