Banff National Park

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Canada’s oldest national park, and one of the largest, is the Rocky Mountain paradise of Banff, Alberta. Just 110 km west of Calgary, Banff is one of the most visually stunning natural landscapes found anywhere in the world! 6,640 square km of pristine, untouched mountains, forests, rivers and lakes are filled with wildlife and tourists in the summer. Mountain elevations are so high that snow sticks around all year.

In the southern middle of this vast park sits the town of Banff, named so by George Stephen, the grandfather of the Canadian National Railroad. As the railway was forged westward, natural hot springs were discovered in the western Rockies. George Stephen founded the town of Banff on the site to act as a rest stop for weary passengers on the trans-continental journey. Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald declared 6,000 square km of the land around the town as a National Park in 1885. The park has been a protected site ever since, with several large and luxurious hotels and ski resorts opening up, but otherwise leaving the nature alone.

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In the 1940’s the Trans-Canada Highway was built through Banff, connecting the park to both Calgary in the east and Vancouver in the west and opening the park up to a massive influx of tourists in the post-war boom years. Today, more than 3 million people from around the world visit Banff National Park every year. Instead of telling you about it, just look!

The town of Banff, Alberta, in the middle of the park.

The town of Banff, Alberta, in the middle of the park.

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George Stephen, the builder of Canada’s national railway and founder of Banff.

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The Canadian Pacific Railway is forged through Banff

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This photo, which went viral due to the photo-bombing squirrel, was taken by tourists in Banff.

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The Banff Springs Hotel, the original Banff tourist trap, dates to 1885 and the days of the railway.

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Castle Mountain in Banff National Park

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The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, one of the most luxurious hotels in Canada and also where the Jack Nicholson film, The Shining, was filmed.

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Heli-skiing in Banff.

Inside Chateau Lake Louise, the setting for The Shining.

Inside Chateau Lake Louise, the setting for The Shining.

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The Banff Hot Springs, which started the whole thing in 1880.

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Banff has an abundance of wildlife. Mountain goats, elk, moose, black and grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions, deer, squirrels, raccoons and so many more.

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Johnston Canyon Falls in Banff National Park

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Women Olympians practise at Banff Hot Springs, circa 1910.

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Another view of Chateau Lake Louise

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Via Rail’s “Rocky Mountaineer” luxury train travels through Banff.

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In 2011 Princess Kate and Prince William took their honeymoon in Banff.

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Moraine Lake was featured on Canada’s old $20 bill (no longer in circulation).

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