Banff Townsite

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Written by Administrator posted on Saturday, February 14th, 2009

The town of Banff is named after Banffshire, Scotland, the birthplace of two major financiers of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It became so well-known that the park itself — originally called Rocky Mountains National Park — later took on the name of the town. There are plenty of opportunities within the townsite to experience Banff’s rich cultural and natural history.

Banff Town Readable Map (pdf – 76 KB) – the numbers below correspond to the map

13. Banff Information Centre (224 Banff Avenue; 403-762-1550)

THE one-stop centre for all your Banff information needs.

  • Park information, maps, brochures, passes, permits, backcountry reservations, theatre shows
  • Banff/Lake Louise Tourism Bureau information services (year-round)
  • Friends of Banff National Park gift shop and office (year-round)

Open DAILY:
SPRING (MAY 29 – JUN 18): 8 am – 6 p.m.
SUMMER (JUN 19 – SEP 07): 8 am – 8 p.m.
FALL (SEP 08 – SEP 27): 8 am – 6 p.m.
WINTER (SEP 28 – MAY 28): 9 am – 5 p.m.

14. Cave & Basin National Historic Site (end of Cave Avenue; 762-1566)

It ’s the birthplace of Canada’s National Park System! Walk into the same cave that three railway workers ‘discovered’ in 1883, and marvel at its warm bubbling mineral waters. Learn how the area evolved from a place of potential fortune for these three explorers to a priceless national park for all. Interpretive exhibits, videos, and self-guiding trails tell the story.

  • Guided tours at 11 am, daily during summer
  • $1.50/Youth; $2.00/Senior; $2.50/Adult, $5.00/Family

(or LESS: ask about the Banff Heritage Passport)
Open DAILY:
SUMMER (JUN 13 – SEP 13): 9 am – 6 p.m.
REST OF THE YEAR:
Weekends: 9:30 am – 5 p.m.
Weekdays: 11 am – 4 p.m.

15. Banff Park Museum National Historic Site (Banff Avenue by the Bow River Bridge; 403-762-1558)

Built in 1903, western Canada ’s first natural history museum allowed early park visitors to enjoy the animals and curiosities of the Rockies in style and comfort. Now maintained as a “museum of a museum”, the elegant building still exhibits the charm and attitudes of Victorian times, along with hundreds of animal, bird, insect, and geological specimens. There is also a comfortable reading room, and a discovery room for children.

  • Guided tours at 3 p.m., daily during summer
  • $1.50/Youth; $2.00/Senior; $2.50/Adult, $5.00/Family

(or LESS: ask about the Banff Heritage Passport)
Open DAILY:
SUMMER (JUN 13 – SEP 13): 10 am – 6 p.m.
REST OF THE YEAR: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

16. Cascade Gardens (at the head of Banff Avenue)

The gardens, and the Park Administration Building which they surround, were built as a ‘relief project’ during the 1930s. With their flagstone walkways, rustic pagodas, delightful views and colourful plantings, the gardens are an enchanting escape from the bustle of town.

17. Bow Falls (near the Banff Springs Hotel)

Both sides of the Bow River offer good views of the Bow Falls. Don ’t forget your camera!

18. Upper Hot Springs Pool (end of Mountain Ave.; 403-762-1515)

Unwind in a spectacular mountain setting and soak in waters that have travelled deep into the earth, returning to the surface hot and mineral-rich. The restored 1932 heritage bath-house offers a range of services that cater to visitors of the 90s.

  • Open year-round; hours, admission fees, and pool temperature vary by season — see the brochure Soak in Some History for details
  • Fully accessible; towels, lockers and swimsuits (1920s or 1990s style) available for rent
  • Full service spa, for appointments call 403-760-2500
  • Ask about our SMART-CARD

19. Sulfur Mountain Gondola and Weather Observatory (trail and gondola begin at the end of Mountain Ave.)

Follow the 1 km boardwalk trail that leads from the upper terminal of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola (762-5438) to the mountain ’s peak. At the summit, take a glimpse into the windows of the restored 1903 weather observatory, and into the life of meteorologist Norman Bethune Sanson. Along the way, interpretive displays tell some of the stories behind the amazing scenery. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket. You may experience some typical mountain-top weather!

Other Heritage Attractions

Guided tours and interpretive events are also offered by the Luxton Museum of the Plains Indians (1 Birch Ave., 403-762-2388), the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (111 Bear Str., 403-762-2291), and the Banff Springs Hotel (405 Spray Ave.; 403-762-2211). Check out The Banff Centre (St. Julien Rd.; 403-762-6100) for theatre, music, art, and other cultural events.

SOME EASY TRAILS

For a more complete list, see the Banff Drives & Walks brochure.

20. The Hoodoos:

The hoodoos are bizarre natural pillars. A short interpretive trail unlocks the mystery of their creation and takes you to a superb viewpoint.

21. Vermilion Lakes:

These three shallow lakes provide an oasis for birds and other animals. The 4.5 km scenic road along the lakes makes for a pleasant stroll, bike ride, drive, or cross-country ski. Join a Parks Canada Interpreter for a guided walk, daily at 10 am.

22. Sundance Trail:

This wide 3.7 km asphalt trail is popular with hikers, cyclists, and roller-bladers. It starts at the Cave & Basin and ends at a picnic shelter near Sundance Canyon. From here, a 2.1 km trail (for hikers only) loops up into the canyon, along Sundance Creek.

23. Tunnel Mountain Summit:

Take your time, it ’s a 300 m elevation gain! You’ll get a birds-eye view of Banff Townsite, the Bow River Valley, and the surrounding mountains. Near the top, the trail winds around the cliff-side of Tunnel Mountain. Be very careful that you do not approach too close to the edge here.

Historical Walking Tour:

Throughout the town, dark blue oval plaques describe Banff ’s history and heritage buildings. You can pick up the Historical Walking Tour brochure and route map at the Banff Information Centre or the Town of Banff offices. Many of the buildings are private residences, and may be viewed only from the sidewalk.

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