What Is So Special About Banff National Park?

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Reflections of the mountains on Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

When we decided to explore Canada, visiting Banff National Park was at the top of our list. We were excited to see the impressive landscapes with our own eyes.

The majestic mountains, turquoise lakes, and cascading waterfalls combine to create a magical experience for guests.

Today, we’ll see what’s so special about Banff National Park and whether it should be in your future travel plans. Let’s get started!

About Banff National Park

Banff National Park lies in the province of Alberta, Canada. A trio of railway workers in the late 1800s discovered the area, now recognized as part of the park. The men thought they had found paradise when they found a series of natural hot springs. When word began to spread, many saw the importance of preserving the area for all to enjoy.

As a result, Banff Hot Springs Reserve, a tiny 10-square-mile area, was formed in 1883. However, while it started as an attempt to draw tourists, the reserve quickly grew. 

By 1884, Banff National Park became Canada’s first national park and only the third in the world. Today, visitors flock to the park to spend time in nature and soak in the springs. 

In a typical year, approximately 4.5 million people visit Banff. This makes it the most popular of all the Canadian national parks. 

When Is the Best Time to Visit Banff National Park?

If you want to have the best experience, you have to time your visit wisely. Nothing is quite like visiting Banff during the fall. The temperatures are just right, and you still have plenty of sunlight for spending time outdoors.

As if the incredible mountain views weren’t enough, the fall foliage paints an astonishing picture across the landscapes. The unique colors of the changing leaves are unlike anywhere else. 

In general, there’s never a wrong time to visit this park. On the other hand, it will radically determine how you spend your time. Visiting in the winter requires you to bundle up and enjoy activities like skiing and other snow sports. However, not everyone loves cold weather. 

Summer is also a fantastic time to visit, but it has the most crowds. The temperatures are great for hiking, biking, and splashing in the water. Just prepare yourself for the incredible number of people you’ll encounter along the way.

What Is So Special About Banff National Park?

Need some more evidence that Banff National Park is a special place? Let’s dive in and look at several reasons you need to visit.

Stunning Mountain Landscapes

One of the biggest reasons visitors flock to the park is to experience the stunning mountain landscapes. The park sits within the Canadian Rockies, which creates impressive peaks and rugged cliffs. You’ll find eight mountains within the park standing over 10,000 feet.

The landscapes throughout the park leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into a postcard. They’re so incredible that it’s hard to imagine they’re real. Whatever you do, take your time to sit and revel in their brilliance. And free up plenty of space on your phone or SD cards for photos; you’ll need it.

Glaciers and Icefields

Glaciers and icefields formed much of what you see around the park. They carved through the area to create deep valleys and sharp peaks. In addition, they feed into creating the many rivers, lakes, and waterfalls around the park.

You can sign up for a guided glacier hike, ice climbing, and other adventurous experiences. This is an opportunity to see the importance of protecting and preserving fragile ecosystems. 

Unfortunately, many of these glaciers and icefields are quickly shrinking. If you procrastinate making your trip, they could be gone before you get there.

Turquoise Lakes

One of our favorite features of Banff National Park was its turquoise lakes. The snow-capped mountains and bright waters contrast the blue skies to create a magical experience.

One of the most famous lakes in the park is Lake Louise. It exemplifies many of the park’s best features. As a result, it’s one of the most photographed spots in the entire park.

The lakes here receive their turquoise color from rock flour suspended in the glacial meltwaters. These minerals end up in the water and reflect the sunlight to create impressive colors we can’t resist. 

Diverse Wildlife

One of the most exciting things to do when visiting any national park is to try to spot wildlife. When it comes to diversity in wildlife, Banff doesn’t disappoint.

Some of the most common animals include mountain goats, otters, and various bird species. However, if you enjoy large wildlife, the park also has them.

Whether on a hike or a scenic drive, you have a chance of seeing a moose, elk, or even a grizzly or black bear. We suggest you invest in binoculars or a capable camera lens for these animals. The last thing you want to do is get too close when trying to get a look.

Keep in Mind: You never know when you’ll come across a bear in a national park! Before your next park visit, make sure you know what ‘Bear Aware’ Means!

Hot Springs

What initially attracted three railway workers to the area continues to attract visitors today. Soaking in the natural hot springs is a great way to soothe and rejuvenate your aching and tired bones. We can’t say whether the waters have healing powers, but we can confirm they feel fantastic.

One of the most famous hot springs in the area is Banff Upper Hot Springs. Temperatures in the spring vary based on the season but can reach upwards of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, no matter when you visit, you can soak and enjoy the benefits of the hot springs throughout the area.

Scenic Drives

One of our favorite ways to explore any park is through scenic drives. You can sit in the comfort of your vehicle and take in the views.

If we had to pick one drive you don’t want to miss, it’s the Icefield Parkway. This 143-mile road runs between Lake Louise and Jasper National Park. It allows you to experience both Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Another epic drive you should experience is Moraine Lake Road. It is a shorter 9-mile drive on a paved road. However, it winds you through a valley where towering peaks and dense forests surround you. Ultimately, you’re rewarded with an incredible view of Moraine Lake with the Valley of the Ten Peaks in the distance.

Read More: Check out more of Our Favorite Things To Do In Banff In The Summer!

Dark Skies

While the park offers some of the best views during the day, the skies come alive at night. In addition to being one of the best national parks, it’s also an International Dark Sky Park. If you’ve not spent much time away from urban areas and light pollution, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

On a clear night, you’ll see more stars than you ever imagined. The absence of light also causes the stars to be even brighter. You can sign up for guided tours where experts can help navigate you through the park and the constellations.

If lucky, you may even experience a meteor shower or experience the Aurora Borealis. 

Is Banff National Park Worth Visiting?

If it isn’t clear, we think everyone should visit Banff National Park at least once. It’s the type of park that provides something new no matter how many times you’ve visited. 

We recommend you spend at least two full days exploring the area. However, if you have more time, you can dive into the nooks and crannies and experience all it offers.

Will you go to Banff National Park in Canada anytime soon?

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