With its endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, glacial lakes, and stunning snow-capped mountain peaks, Banff has easily become one of the world’s most sought-after places to visit.
This national park located west of Calgary, Alberta is rich with culture and natural history that amaze all visitors who come to experience what Banff has to offer. Below, we’ve outlined ten of our favourite interesting facts about Banff National Park.
1. Banff was founded by three railway workers
In 1883, three railway workers named Thomas McCardell, William McCardell, and Frank McCabe discovered natural hot springs that are now known as the Cave and Basin natural hot springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain. After conflict erupted over disputes of who claimed the springs, the federal government established a reserve over the land. A few years later the reserve was dubbed ‘Rocky Mountain Park’ and became Canada’s first official national park.
2. Banff is one of the most popular tourist spots in the world
Banff sees an estimated four million visitors per year. That’s about 10,958 visitors per day! With the stunning mountain scenery, outdoor adventures, and an abundance of wildlife, it’s no wonder people can’t resist.
3. Banff started as a 25 square km reserve around Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs
What started as a 25 square km reserve has expanded to 6,641 square km today. Banff boasts 1,600 km of hiking trails and is the second-largest national park in Canada, second only to neighbouring Jasper National Park.
4. Banff is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
In 1984, Banff has declared a World Heritage Site as part of the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site that includes Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay. This means that it is a landmark legally protected by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for its historical and cultural significance.
5. The mountains in Banff National Park are up to 120 million years old
That’s right, some of the mountains that you’ll be observing in Banff are older than dinosaurs.
6. Skiing was introduced to the Banff and Lake Louise area in 1909 by Swiss and Austrian mountain guides
Today, Banff offers three world-famous ski-hills that include Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Area. Deep snowpacks, champagne powder, and ideal weather conditions lend a hand to one of the longest ski seasons in North America.
7. Lake Louise is one of the most photographed lakes in the world
Aptly nicknamed as Canada’s ‘Diamond in the Wilderness’, the beautiful area of Lake Louise is set against a surreal backdrop of the overhanging Victoria Glacier. If you haven’t guessed already, the lake and glacier combo were named after the British Royal Family, Queen Victoria and Princess Louise.
8. Mount Forbes is the highest mountain in Banff
Sitting at an impressive 11,850 feet, Mount Forbes is the tallest mountain in Banff and the seventh in the Canadian Rockies. It is located in 18km southwest of the Saskatchewan River Crossing and is a challenging yet rewarding climb for avid mountaineers.
9. Moraine Lake and Peyto Lake get their distinct colour from glacial rock flour
The unique turquoise hue of these two lakes attracts thousands of tourists who marvel at the stunning colour of the water. The reason for the bright blue is that they are naturally fed by melting glacier ice, which carries silt-sized particles of rock called ‘rock flour’ into the lakes.
This rock flour creates a milky look to the lake water, which sometimes creates a beautiful iridescent blue-green hue. Two other popular lakes, Lake Louise and Emerald Lake are blessed with this phenomenon. Many glacially-fed lakes accessible by hiking in the backcountry are also gifted with turquoise waters.
10. Banff is a tourist destination all year round
Visitors can spend summers hiking, fall photographing the larches, spring biking and winters skiing. Whatever your preference, there’s something for everyone in Banff National Park. The friendly and hospitable staff at your chosen hotel in Banff can guide you on creating the perfect itinerary for your stay.