Banff National Park: Natures Beauty Exemplified

North America

Image source: Bruno.menetrier

Banff National Park is a protected sanctuary in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Banff is a vast and stunning environment with miles of mountains, glaciers, lakes, and dense forests. With so much surrounding beauty and abundance of outdoor fun available to visitors’, it’s no wonder it is one of the most sought out destinations in the world, welcoming millions of people every year.

Banff National Park is on the western border of Alberta near British Columbia. The largest nearby town is Calgary, which is about an hour and a half away.  The highly traveled Trans-Canada Highway passes through the park, along with the small towns Banff and Lake Louise.

The park was established in 1885 after the Cave and Basin Hot Springs was discovered and set aside as a reserve. Lake Louise and the Rocky Mountain’s Columbia Icefield became included into the park once it was expanded. This icefield feeds eight major glaciers in the alpine region.

Image source: Pascal

Many hanging and U-shaped valleys with waterfalls formed due to glacial melting and erosion. It also contributed to the jagged mountain peaks towering above the land.  There are also many small gorges including Mistaya Canyon and Johnston Canyon.  Johnston Canyon has a seasonal waterfall flowing through gorges before reaching the Bow River. The waterfall freezes in the winter, making for great ice climbing in the canyon.

The three main ecoregions of Banff National Park are montane, subalpine, and alpine. The subalpine region takes up more than half of the park’s area and consists of thick forests. The montane region makes up a smaller portion of the park, with fir, maple, spruce, aspen, and willow trees. The alpine region has glacial valleys and meadows.

The lower montane region of Banff National Park is where the most wildlife can be found. The park has 56 mammals that call it home including bears, cougars, otters, elk, Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, moose, caribou, and beavers.

Banff National Park is on the eastern side of the Continental Divide and receives almost 20 inches of precipitation every year. The warm Chinook winds keep winter temperatures in this region tolerable, ranging from 6-degrees F to 24-degrees F in the town of Banff. July is the warmest month of the year in the park, with highs reaching about 70-degrees F during the day.

Image source: Florian Fuchs

Each year, people come from all over the world to explore this Canadian gem. There are numerous resorts and luxurious hotels including the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise. The mountainous terrain makes for excellent downhill and cross-country skiing.Lake Louise is known for its numerous day and backcountry nature trails. Another popular activity throughout the year is mountain climbing.

Summer activities include visiting the local hot springs or swimming, canoeing, and kayaking in on one of the park’s lakes. Other ways to explore this rugged landscape include mountain biking and horseback riding. There are many adventures possible at this vast Canadian park. A variety of rentals are available around the lakes where people can boat and fish in the summer or ice skate and ice fish in the winter. Banff National Park is a land full of adventure any time of the year.

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