Banff 2 Wearing the Crown
Wearing the Crown
Hey! So glad you made it and 'welcome' to the town of Banff, Alberta, Canada. Undoubtedly, you are entering the heart of the Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies. Sitting at 4500-5300ft above sea level, it will take your breath away.
Banff is a destination and caters to tourists from all over the world. The attractions can be tailored to suit just about anyone's abilities, and the facilities are easily accessible. (It's how we do things in Canada.) And while Banff is an outdoor enthusiast haven for skiing, hiking, scrambling, biking, and mountain climbing, there are also wonderful activities like soaking in the soothing hot springs or windowshopping downtown, eating fudge, or strolling and enjoying the scenery.
From a historical standpoint, once the transcontinental railway passed through the Bow Valley in the 1880s, people started to arrive and settle in and around Banff. Then again, who wouldn't? By 1885 a small federal reserve was dedicated for protection around the Cave and Basin hot springs, which were discovered by three Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR) workers. Soon after, it was advertised as an international spa and resort area and expanded again in 1887 to encompass 260 sq mi in 1887, and aptly named at the time, Rocky Mountain Park.
George Stephen, president of the CPR, named Banff after his hometown of Banff in Scottland. As one of the first in a series of grand CPR hotels, the Banff Springs Hotel opened to tourists in 1888 but was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1926, reopened in 1928. It is now a dedicated National Historic Site in Canada. Boasting elegant 764 rooms and suites, the hotel is a once in a lifetime destination. All attention to details in this magnificent hotel warrant the somewhat expensive price tag, but I am sure it is worth every penny to stay in this alpine setting. The views from every window of the hotel must reveal the most stunning images. And although a stay is out of the question for many peoples' budget, feel free to wander in the hotel's ground floor explore the shops, and the vintage appeal of this hotel. Please be mindful of paying guests and be courteous.
The town is built around Tunnel Mountain, and the hotel has a clear view of Mount Rundle. Surrounded by the Cascade Mountains, Mount Norquay, Stone Squaw Mountain, and Sulphur Mountain, it's impossible to tire of the scenery. The nearest airport to Banff is Calgary International Airport, which is roughly an hour and twenty minutes by car. Banff also has a transit system called Roam; although it is limited, it's a great addition. There are only 8875 residents in Banff, and they must meet strict requirements set out by Parks Canada to enjoy living there.
While visiting Banff, tourists have many opportunities to come face to face with wildlife. Early morning excursions are best for capturing animals with a lense but always use common sense and caution. It's not uncommon to see moose, elk, bighorn sheep wander down the main street in Banff. Remember, this is their territory, so please respect it. Brown and black bears, Grizzly, wolves, and more elusive lynx and mountain lions also live here. The best season to see wildlife is in spring, fall and winter.
Banff is also home to the Banff Centre, a renowned destination and promoter of arts, whether literary, visual, theatre, or performing, and indigenous art and is Canada's largest postgraduate arts and leadership school. Ah! To be so lucky and attend school in such a setting.
In the downtown core, there are many opportunities to indulge in a meal, shop for shiny pebbles, get and ice cream cone, walk and talk, enjoy a latte and smell the flowers (spring and summer only). To orientate yourself, visit the Banff Visitor Center on 224 Banff Ave, or the kiosk in the Heritage Railway Station on 327 Railway Ave, or get a guided tour at Guide Services on 222 Lynx Street.
To visit Banff, you will have to purchase a pass at the Banff Park entrance or online. For single visitors, a day pass is $10CAD, a vehicle with up to 7 people will only cost you $20CAD per day, but the tag must be displayed in your car. Please copy and paste this link for updated information. https://www.banfflakelouise.com
If you plan to visit Banff, consider booking early. It's a busy destination and hotels book up early, especially so around Canada's long weekend holidays. See the official public holiday schedule here, https://www.canada.ca
When you finally decide that this is it, 'you are coming to visit Banff,' don't overlook the quaint town of Canmore on the way to Banff. It may be a less expensive alternative and has Roam bus access to Banff. It's truly a lovely town away from the hustle, but it still bustles.
As always, one of my favorite activities is people watching, and don't be surprised if I chat you up while we stand in line someplace. It's what I do, and I can't wait to see you there. And a great way to stay tuned, for further articles about Banff or other Canadian culture posts, is to sign up for my weekly newsletter.
Disclaimer. I am not affiliated or paid by the town of Banff, the Banff Springs Hotel, or the town of Canmore.
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