Banff Tourist Attractions
Banff or Banff Townsite, lying in a charming valley in the south of Banff National Park and dominated by high mountains, has a permanent population of some 4200 and ample accommodation makes it the tourist center of the park. During the summer months its broad main street, Banff Avenue, is crammed with visitors, and it is almost as busy as a city. Between Wolf Street and Bow River will be found row upon row of shopping streets. Here, too, is the Parks Canada Information Centre, where information about events, "backcountry permits", and maps and guides for excursions and tours can be obtained.In summer there are pleasant excursions available by horse-driven coaches around Banff and the surrounding countryside. On Banff Avenue - between Rocky Mountains Resort Avenue and the Banff Springs Hotel - runs a tram or trolleybus line constructed in early 20th c. style.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Banff Springs Hotel at Spray Ave. (guided tours) was built in 1888 and is today the emblem of Banff. Once planned to be the largest hotel complex in the world this traditionally-designed, castle-like Grand Hotel still preserves much of the glamour of the early days of railway tourism, when only very well-to-do travelers could afford to make the journey into the then still remote region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.The hotel is set off on its own in a wooded area with good views of the surrouding area.The Marsh Loop leaves from the Banff Springs Hotel.
Address: 405 Spray Avenue, Banff, AB T1L1J4, Canada
Below the Banff Springs Hotel the Bow River tumbles over a cliff-like rise formed from sloping layers of limestone. In pre-glacial times Bow River initially flowed north of Tunnel Mountain through Cascade Valley and Lake Minnewanka; later the valley became cut off by retrograde erosion, causing the river to flow between Fairholme Range and Tunnel Mountain. Massive moraines of Ice Age glaciers then blocked the original course and probably formed a lake until such time as the river was able to burst through between Mount Rundle and Tunnel Mountain.Bow Falls is located just below the Banff Springs Hotel and are easily reached on foot from downtown Banff.
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
Banff has the artists Catherine and Peter Whyte to thank for the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. The museum houses the archives of the Canadian Rocky Mountains as well as art exhibitions and some interesting material on the history of Banff. Adjoining it are the "Heritage Homes". Guided tours show what life was like in Banff in the 1920s.The Art Collection at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies displays works by artists who have lived and/or worked in the region. Works include paintings, drawings, a remarkable photography display by Byron Harmon, sculptures, prints, and more.The Heritage Collection includes displays on recreation in the Rockies, such as skiing and climbing, employment in the Rockies, and Canadian First Nations. The Museum includes a variety of exhibitions, art shows and sales, guided tours including tours of historic homes, the Archives and Library.
Address: 111 Bear Street, Box 160, Banff, AB T1L1A3, Canada
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in CAD: Family $20.00, Adult $8.00, Students $5.00, Senior over 65 $5.00, Child 6 & under FREE
Useful tips: Admission to the library and archives is free, and they are open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm (closed noon to 1pm and on holidays).
Facilities: Gift shop
Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum
The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum stands on the far side of the Bow River. Sundry scenes from the life of the plains Indians before the Europeans arrived are depicted in a reconstructed fur-trading post.The trading post was run by Norman Luxton, for whom the museum is named. Luxton developed a long standing relationship with the Stoney Indians. The Luxton Museum of the Plains Indians' collection displays some of the memorabilia he obtained, as well as stuffed animals, traditional Indian garments, weapons, and other related items.
Some 4 km (21/2 mi.) from Banff Townsite, 1600 m (5250 ft) up on Sulphur Mountain, is the hottest of the five hot sulphur springs. In summer its water temperature is 42°C (107°F), in winter 29°C (84°F).From the lower station of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola cable railway, opposite (in use all the year round, but at varying times) it is an eight minute trip to the upper station at 2270 m (7450 ft) above sea-level. On a clear day there a splendid panoramic view from the three terrace decks and the mountain-top restaurant. The mountain walk known as the Vista Trail leads to the nearby Samson Peak.
Banff Park Museum
Banff Park Museum is housed in a building dating from 1903, which used to be the park administration offices.The original exhibits of stuffed animals still stand, allowing visitors a chance to see the wildlife they may not encounter in the park. It also demonstrates what a natural history museum represented in the early 1900s, since little has changed from the time the museum was first opened..For this reason, the Banff Park Museum is a national historic site.
Address: 91 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB T1L1K2, Canada
Opening hours: May 15 to Sep 30: 10am-6pm
Oct 1 to May 15: 1pm-5pm
Oct 1 to May 15: 1pm-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Entrance fee in CAD: Family $9.80, Annual pass or membership $9.80, Adult $3.90, Senior $3.40, Group discounts $3.40, Child 6-16 $1.90
Typical Visit: 45 minutes
Banff Avenue ends on the far side of Bow River in Cascade Gardens. These beautiful gardens are laid out in terrace fashion, and this is where the park administration buildings can be found.From Cascade Gardens there are great views down the street itself to Cascade Mountain. It is a nice place to stroll or take some photos.
Banff Natural History Museum (Closed)
It is worth paying a visit to the Natural History Museum, on the first floor of the Clock Tower Village Mall. Exhibits explain the formation of the Rocky Mountains and the topography of the region.