Banff National Park

Banff National Park


Description of Banff National Park

Banff National Park

Location: Alberta   Map

Area: 2,580 sq. mi (6,680 sq. km)

Elev. of Moraine Lake: 6,300 ft (1,920 m)

Park Visitor Center:

224  Banff Ave, Banff

Tel. (403) 762 8421


Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada, established in the Rockies in 1885. Located 180 km (80 miles) west of Calgary, in the province of Alberta, it covers 6641 square kilometers (2564 square miles) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forests and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway (the "icefield road") stretches along Lake Louise, connecting with Jasper National Park in the north. The provincial forests and the Yoho National Park are neighbors to the west, while the Kootenay National Park is located to the south and the Kananaskis field to the southeast. The main commercial center of the park is in the town of Banff, in the valley of the Bow River. It is part of the natural set called Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, which was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1984. Mountain ranges date back in its formations 120 millions ago. Dense coniferous forests and numerous glaciers bring thousands of tourists annually. Additionally over 260 species of different birds nest here during summer months.


The Pacific Railways of Canada were used in Banff some years ago, building the Hotel and the Château Lake Louise, and attracting tourists through extensive advertising. At the beginning of the 20th century, the rails were built in Banff National Park, occasionally by the internees of the war, and through the era of depression of public projects. Since 1930, the amenities of the park have been open all year, with a increase in tourist visits of more than five million in 1990. Millions more pass through the park through the Trans-Canada highway, as Banff National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the world, the health of its ecosystem has been threatened. In the mid-1990s, Parks of Canada responded by initiating a two-year study, which resulted in management recommendations, and new policies aimed at preserving ecological integrity.


Banff National Park was established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada's first national park, and its creation gave birth to Canada's national park system. At 6,641 km², it is also one of the largest national parks in Canada. The park sees visits well into the millions annually.

1 Banff Information Centre, 224 Banff Av, ☎ +1 403-762-1550, fax: +1 403-762-3380, e-mail:  Banff. Hours: Winter (Jan 1 to May 17) 9AM-5PM; Spring (May 18 to June 20) 9AM-7PM; Summer (June 21 to Sept 3) 8AM-8PM; Fall (Sept 4 to 19) 9AM-7PM; Winter (Sept 20 to May 16) 9AM-5PM. Closed December 25.
2 Lake Louise Visitor Centre, 201 Village Road (near Sampson Mall Lake Louise), ☎ +1 403-522-3833, fax: +1 403-522-1212, e-mail:  Winter (January 1 to April 29) 9AM-4PM; Spring (April 30 to June 21) 9AM-5PM; Summer (June 22 to Sept 8) 9AM-8PM; Fall (Sept 9 to Sept 15) 9AM-7PM; Fall (Sept 16 to Sept 22) 9AM-5PM; Winter (Sept 23 to April 30) 9AM-4PM. Closed Dec. 25.

Banff National Park starts in the north at Sunwapta pass just south of the Columbia Icefield and Jasper National Park with the southern park entrance just north of Canmore. The town of Banff and the village and resort of Lake Louise are within the park. The other park entrances are from the east near the Saskatchewan River Crossing and from the west at Kicking Horse Pass and Vermilion Pass.


Banff National Park

Fees and permits

All visitors stopping in Banff National Park (even just for gas) require a park permit. If you are driving through non-stop, the pass is not required. Day passes and annual passes are available.

All Canadian National Parks require visitors to pay an entry fee. Your citizenship or place of residence does not change what you pay; Canadian residents and international visitors pay the same fees. The national parks in Alberta and BC are fairly close to each other and it is possible to visit several of them in a single day. If you pay an entry fee in one mountain park (e.g. Banff National Park), and visit another on the same day (e.g. Yoho National Park), you will not have to pay a second time. Your paid entry fee is valid until 4PM the following day.

The fees that visitors pay do not go to general government revenues; they are used to enhance and maintain the parks and visitor services.

The daily entry fees for 2018 are:
$9.80 for an adult (aged 18-64)
$8.30 for a senior (aged 65+)
free for children and youth (17 and under)
$19.60 for a family/group (up to 7 people arriving in one vehicle)
Parks Canada Passes

The Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year at over 80 Parks Canada places that typically charge a daily entrance fee It provides faster entry and is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Prices for 2018 (taxes included):

Family/group (up to 7 people in a vehicle): $136.40
Children and youth (0-17): free
Adult (18-64): $67.70
Senior (65+): $57.90
The Cultural Access Pass: people who have received their Canadian citizenship in the past year can qualify for free entry to some sites.