› Facts of Banff National Park

About Banff National Park

Banff National Park was established in 1885, after three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers discovered a cave containing hot springs. It is the first national Park in Canada, and the third one in the world.

The following information about the National Park will provide you with a better idea to plan your trip and be well prepared.

Where is Banff National Park?

The National Park, the most popular in the Canadian Rockies, is located in the Canadian province of Alberta, around 137 kilometers west of the city of Calgary, close to the border of British Columbia (B.C.).

How Big is the Park? What are there in the Park?

The park itself now consists of 6,641 square kilometers (2,564 square miles) of valleys, mountains, glaciers, lakes, forests, meadows and rivers. There are wild animals roaming the valleys, eagles soaring over the Rocky Mountains, and pure water streaming into rivers from 1,000 glaciers.

Banff is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site which also includes Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho National Parks, and the Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks. Together, they represent one of most magnificent natural areas in the world - some 23,000 square kilometers of spectacular mountains, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, canyon and limestone caves.

Banff National Park

  • has in excess of 2,468 campsites, not including backcountry campgrounds;
  • has in excess of 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) of hiking trails;
  • has mountains aging 45 to 120 million years old;
  • has more than 1,000 glaciers;
  • has a river called Bow River, whose source is the Bow Glacier and Bow Lake (located along the Icefields Parkway, Highway 93 North), flowing through Banff and continues as far as Hudson's Bay;
  • is home to Alberta's southernmost herd of the endangered woodland caribou;
  • the highest mountain in Banff National Park is Mt. Forbes, which stands at 3,612 metres (11,850 feet);
  • has Canada's longest cave system - Castleguard Caves in the northwest corner of Banff National Park;
  • the largest man-made lake in Banff is Lake Minnewanka and the largest natural lake is Hector Lake;

Most travelers come to Banff also travel around the surrounding Parks - Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho.

Are there towns or villages in/around the Park?

There are two towns inside of the park, Town of Banff (heart of the park) and Lake Louise Village. They complement the wilderness with dramatic mountain scenery, beautiful historic first-rate hotels, fine restaurants, unique shops, and lively nightlife - amenities not usually found in a national park. This makes Banff National Park a very unique destination.

The small village of Lake Louise is located at 52 km (31 miles) west of downtown Banff.

With dramatically growth in the Town of Banff, Canmore, located just outside the Park, 22 km (13.7 miles) east of Banff townsite, has been growing rapidly to serve increasing demands of tourists.

How easy to access the Park?

The airport gateway to Banff National Park is Calgary International Airport, located at 140 kilometers east of Banff – less than a one and half hour driving distance along the Trans Canada Highway.

Most of Banff's beauty is within easy access of the Trans Canada Highway and the connected Icefields Parkway - One of the world’s most spectacular mountain highways.

Icefields Parkway extends 230 kilometres (143 miles), connecting Lake Louise to the heart of Jasper National Park, Alberta – a sister park, located at north of Banff.

86.5 km west of Banff along Highway 1 is Yoho National Park in British Columbia (B.C.) province.

65 km south-west of Banff along Highway 93 S is Kootenay National Park in B.C. province.

What is the Weather Like Here?

The weather here, like rest of Rocky Mountains, is unpredictable. It could change from one valley to another one, and from one moment to the next.

Normally, January is the coldest month - average lows of -15°C/5°F. It could drop down to the negative thirties. July is the warmest month - average highs of 22°C/71.6°F. It could drop near freezing at night sometime.

If you want to know more about Banff weather condition in order for you to be well prepared, please check Banff Weather page.

Banff National Park Radio Station

Tune your radio to 101.1 FM (English) or 103.3 FM (French) for the latest weather, road, and trail conditions; any pertinent road closures or warnings; entertaining, informative and educational radio programming about the history and ecology of this stunning mountain environment.

If you are outside of the radio boundary, you can also listen the park radio on the internet at Friends of Banff.

› Facts of Banff National Park