Canada’s first national park, Banff, was established way back in 1885 and continues to be the flagship national park for the country, attracting nearly 4 million visitors per year. It’s the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery, the history and the wildlife, combined with the fact that Banff is close to a major city (Calgary) that makes this the country’s top national park.
For a family vacation Banff National Park has everything! Miles upon miles of great hiking trails, leading you to the most amazing views of mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes. You could spend an entire vacation here and only get to see a small portion of the park, so if you’re only staying for a few nights out of your road trip there are some sights you simply must see.
If you’re camping leave your vehicle at Tunnel Mountain (Banff’s major campground) and make use of the bus that will take you into town. Banff town gets pretty busy during the peak summer months and although parking is free it’s often hard to come by. The town itself is a mix of quaint and touristy, and though there are many stores selling souvenirs, arts and more, it’s not completely over the top!
Just outside town is the sight that helped to start the whole thing off – the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel was instrumental in attracting the tourists to Banff, and remains one of the country’s top hotels. Pop in for afternoon tea to get a taste of the high life! Hot springs in the Banff area also helped to get tourism underway and you can visit some of these for a warming dip surrounded by the majestic mountains!
Driving the Lake Minnewanka loop makes for a top mini road trip from Banff as you’ll get to see gorgeous lakes, more mountains and possibly some of the Rockies wildlife. Elk are often seen in the Banff area, plus mountain goats and bighorn sheep are regularly seen too. Listen out for the chirp of the marmot, and watch out for those cheeky squirrels and chipmunks!
Rather than simply hiking everywhere why not take the family on a memorable Banff horseback ride? This 3 hour ride takes you on the Bow Valley Loop and offers spectacular scenery (of course) and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Or how about a half day scenic float trip down the Bow River; what a wonderful way to see the Rockies! Whatever you feel like doing let us make all the arrangements for you.
- The beautiful Banff Springs Hotel and, further north, the Chateau Lake Louise were both built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in order to increase the number of rail passengers