Banff – Alberta, Canada
Explore the History of the Canadian Rockies
Banff National Park is famous for its natural wonder: from the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the natural hot springs. In Banff you’re greeted by the majesty of nature at every turn. While you’re exploring the great outdoors, why not experience Banff’s cultural history. These historic hikes are excellent things to do if you want to experience the authentic history of the Rocky Mountains.
Visit the Cosmic Ray Station on Sulphur Mountain
Located just south of the Banff town site a hike up Sulphur Mountain will lead you to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site and a beautiful panorama looking down on the Banff town site.
The trailhead for this five and half km hike is located at the north west corner of the upper parking lot. The hike should take 2 to 5 hours to complete depending on your fitness level.
The trail climbs 742 meters through a series of switch backs before you’ll reach the Cosmic Ray Station.
With its retro name the Cosmic Ray Station conjures up images of the space race. However, the scientific outpost was originally built on the top of Sulphur Mountain in 1956 to study the Sun’s impact on Earth.
The Banff Gondola also scales Sulphur Mountain and some like to hike up and take the gondola down.
Hike to Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site
Skoki Ski Lodge is located north of Lake Louise in Banff National Park and was originally built in the 1930’s by the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies as a lodge for backcountry skiers. Today it still operates as a hotel year round providing home cooked meals and rustic sleeping quarters to weary skiers and hikers.
The hiking trail starts 100m uphill of temple lodge. The 2.5 km trail has and elevation gain of 500 m and should take you 3 to 5 hours to complete depending on your fitness level.
Follow the Path of Early Adventurers to the Twin Falls Tea House
Located just over the BC-Alberta boarder the Twin Falls Tea House is technically in Yoho National Park however it’s still a short drive down highway one from the Banff town site. The idyllic combination of the tea house and nearby falls are an example of the best the Rocky Mountains has to offer and is well worth the visit. A trip to the Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site makes a great day trip from Banff.
Built in 1908 as a stopover camp for mountaineers and trail riders, the Twin Falls Tea House still serves tea every summer to modern Rocky Mountain adventure seekers.
The spectacular alpine trail will lead you through 18 km of pristine wilderness and past several waterfalls. Although the trail is long it’s also relatively flat with only a 300m elevation gain so expect to spend five hours on this hike. The trailhead is located 0.5 km north west of the Takkakaw Falls parking area.