Experience the power and majesty of the Canadian Rockies at Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park, established in 1885. This national park forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 6,641 km2 (2,564 mi2), the mountainous landscape is broken up by glaciers, ice fields, thick coniferous forest and hot springs.
The climate here is classed as subarctic, with freezing winters and mild summers. Winter temperatures can fall to -15°C (5°F), rising to temperatures of 22°C (72°F) in summer.
Bird watchers and wildlife viewers will be spoilt by the array of fauna here. There are over 280 bird species, including varieties of eagles, the red-tailed hawk and white-tailed ptarmigan. There are also 56 recorded mammal species spread over the differing habitats, from grizzly and black bears in the forest areas to mountain goats, marmots and pika in the alpine regions. Caribou, a threatened species, and the endangered Banff Springs snail are some of the rarer inhabitants.
Over 3 million people visit Banff National Park a year, confirming it as an iconic tourist destination in Canada.
The park’s location makes good snowfall a certainty, ideal for skiers who can take advantage of three ski resorts as well as alpine and Nordic skiing in the backcountry. Other winter sports available include ice diving, ice skating, snowboarding, waterfall ice climbing and snowshoeing. The stunning scenery is perfect for exploring by hiking - there are over 1,600 km (1,000 mi) of defined trails to explore - climbing, camping and horseback riding; or try kayaking and canoeing, angling. For those in search of more sedate activities, there’s a large golf course, or relaxation in Upper Hot Springs, an outdoor naturally heated pool.
The park is about an hour and a half’s drive away from Calgary. Coach trips from Calgary are also available.