Beautiful Banff National Park lies in the majestic Canadian Rockies. First established in 1885, it is Canada’s oldest national park, spanning 6,641 square km (2,564 square miles) of protected terrain and encompassing picturesque mountains, glaciers, meadows, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, hot springs and a wide array of stunning wild life. Nestled in between Mount Rundle, Cascade Mountain, Mount Norquay, Sulphur Mountain, and Tunnel Mountain, the town of Banff Alberta offers attractions, festivals, arts, outdoor adventure and so much more.
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In 1883, Sulphur Mountain’s hot springs were discovered by three Canadian Pacific railway workers and its popularity quickly grew with the establishment of the castle-like Banff Springs Hotel by William Cornelius Van Horne. Van Horne, the railroad's president, was the one who stated "Since I can't export the scenery; I'll import the tourists.” Other characteristic buildings erected soon after included the centrally located Mount Royal. In the spirit of discovering and protecting the area, numerous tours also began being offered by the local Brewster brothers.
Today, the town of Banff is less than 4 sq kilometres and located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a protected area that embodies a natural, serene yet dynamic way of life. Development is carefully managed within the existing footprint of the townsite.
The summmer season sees approx 4 million visitors to the area. However, winter is low season and ski vacations in Banff are very popular with three ski resorts nearby; Ski Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise ski resort just a short drive from hotels.
Nearby Tunnel Mountain is very popular for quick hikes; named Tunnel Mountain because surveyors initially wanted to make a tunnel for the Trans-Canada (Canadian Pacific) Railroad right through the mountain.
On the edge of town, the Banff Sightseeing Gondola ascends Sulphur Mountain (2,281 m / 7,484 ft) year round, where a boardwalk beginning from the upper terminal takes visitors to Sanson Peak.
This 8 minute ride takes you up to the summit, the upper terminal at the top of the mountain. Enjoy beautiful views of the mountains and the town of Banff. You can also take a short walk along the Banff Skywalk, a one kilometre trail, to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada and the historic Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station to get even better views of the spectacular mountain vistas. Rocky Mountain sheep are a common sight here.
Sulphur Mountain is also the location of one of the most popular attractions in Banff, the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Since the discovery of the upper hot springs on Sulphur Mountain in 1883, the springs have become much more of a spa over time. When visiting the upper hot springs you can enjoy the warm mineral water, which is kept between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius, go for a relaxing massage at the Pleiades Massage and Spa, get a bite to eat at the restaurant located above the gift shop, or enjoy the view on the outdoor terrace. The temperature at the upper hot springs is regulated, as the temperature can reach up to 47.3 degrees Celsius in the winter, which may be uncomfortable for its visitors.
Banff offers a range of natural sights, museums as well as festivals along Banff Avenue and a variety of unforgettable dining. A completely unique place known for an authentic culture as rich as its land, this uppermost Canadian town at 1,463m is a wonderful starting point for distinctive tours and impeccable sightseeing in the Wild West.