"CANADA'S FIRST NATIONAL PARK" Top 5 Page for this destination Banff National Park by madamx

Banff National Park Travel Guide: 808 reviews and 1,570 photos

I must admit that all my life I have had a love-hate relationship with Banff. The love started when I was very small and my parents would bundle up my brothers and I in the wee hours of the morning and head off to Banff for the day for our yearly pilgrimage. I can still remember those chilly summer mornings and the excitement mounting as we passed Lac des Arcs on the Trans Canada, and the mountains got really big. I think the hate started when for some unexplainable reason, my parents would stop at the Parks Administrative offices at the end of Banff Avenue, and take endless photos of us in front of the beautiful gardens.

All we wanted to do was to go to the day use area in Sundance Canyon and roast hot dogs, and maybe see a bear. Then, wade into the hot springs to filch some delicious watercress for my mom to make into soup (TOTALLY against the law, don't try this now). The day would end at about 9 p.m., after making the rounds, and of course we would perk up when my dad pulled into Kentucky Fried Chicken for a late supper.

Well, fast forward to 2004 -- Sundance Canyon has been closed to automobile traffic now for years for reclamation, and the gardens at the administrative offices are not the glory they used to be. Kentucky Fried Chicken makes me cringe now. The love remains -- of the mountains and gorgeous scenery, and the hate has changed -- the unecessary development of Banff National Park, and subsequent concerns of overuse, and how Banff has become almost a parody of itself.

For years I had avoided Banff -- "Too commercial" I'd sniff to people, or "Too touristy". However, due to the unfortunate plague of forest fires in 2003, my husband and I had to curb our exploration of Kananaskis and rediscover Banff all over again; we had to find mountains somewhere!.

I'm happy to report that the love totally outshines the hate, and I'm learning to love Banff all over again. I'm also learning to count myself in as one of the several million visitors that Banff gets each year.

A Short History of Banff

In 1883, about 2 years before the completion of Canada's transcontinental railway line, three railway workers stumbled into what would would eventually cause formation of Canada's first national park -- the hot springs, located at the base of Sulphur Mountain.

The CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) made good use of this discovery, bringing in wealthy Victorian tourists looking to relax in the hot springs and explore the mountains. Tourism exploded in 1912, with completion of a road into Banff, and other people less priviliged than the Victorians wanted to see what Banff was all about. Today, the town of Banff remains very small, despite drawing millions of visitors each year, and not without controversy. There is still difficulty trying to balance the hoards of tourists that come to visit (and some who stay) and the impact of park development on the surrounding wildlife.

Variety is The Spice of Life

Banff offers something for everyone -- from the little Japanese ladies tottering around their digs at the Banff Springs Hotel, to the people looking for a rustic or backwoods experience. I hope to bring a refreshing perspective to Banff, and I hope you enjoy my rediscovery of Banff as much as I have had.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Over a hundred years old, and carrying her age well
  • Intro Updated Sep 11, 2006
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Reviews (54)

Comments (57)

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    Dec 17, 2010 at 5:40 AM

    Such a beautifulpart of Canada.Great pages. Our son lives in Clgary so I often visit that area .

  • Dec 13, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    The mountains of the Banff National Park exhibit the several different shapes that have been influenced by the composition of the rock deposits, layers, and their structure.wildlifeworld360.com/banff-n...

  • May 14, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    Nice to have found your pages - marvellous descriptions of the restaurants too!! Cheers, Marina ;-)

  • MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2008 at 7:19 AM

    Hi Helen, thx for the nice comment on my Canada page (still unfinished). I wish we had more time, so many places we missed out this time. Agree with your judgement on Canmore - it was a really nice and not too touristy place. Best regards - Michael

  • Fullmoonfever's Profile Photo
    Jun 9, 2008 at 6:30 AM

    check out my comment on Keida's page. hehehe, hahaha

  • STEWMASS's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2008 at 4:08 AM

    Excellent tips and stunning photos. We also have a Banff and Banff Springs Hotel here in Scotland ... but I know where I would rather go. SM

  • BarbRN's Profile Photo
    Aug 11, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    What great pictures you've taken, and great information on accomodations. I'm hoping to head out West again this coming winter to ski louise again, and hopefully sunshine, as well. Thanks for sharing the information!

  • pattypoo's Profile Photo
    Jul 29, 2007 at 1:48 PM

    helen what beautiful scenery you have in Canada,,Its a realy nice world we have isnt it. Glad you didnt catch fire heheh Love Pattypoo

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2007 at 3:22 AM

    Yes, lots of five star stuff here. Thanks for sharing (I've used a lot for my upcoming trip)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2007 at 5:11 PM

    great tips!

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