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Banff National Park - General Park Information

Established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, and among the oldest national parks on the world. Located about an hour from Calgary in the province of Alberta, the park spans more than 2,600 miles through the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The park's mountainous terrain contains thick forests, ice fields, several glaciers and Lake Louise. But the beautiful landscape is not the only draw to Banff National Park, there are several attractions to see within the park including the Upper Hot Springs, three ski resorts (Lake Louis Mountain Resort, Mount Norquay ski resort and Sunshine Village), a 27-hole golf course located at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Visitors to the park can enjoy a wide array of activities such as cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing in the winter and hiking, camping, horseback riding in the warmer months.

The popularity of Banff National Park is due in part to the Canadian Pacific Railway who built the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, which drew tourists to the area. The Banff National Park sees approximately five million visitors each year, not only from Canada and the United States, but also internationally. Today, Banff National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the world.

In 1984, Banff National Park was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, along with several other neighboring national parks including Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park for conservation purposes.

Located in the Bow River valley, at the center of the park is the town of Banff, which was incorporated in 1990. The town has a population of more than 8,000 residents, most of which live in the town year round. In town visitors to the park with find and information center at 224 Banff Avenue, along with many other cultural institutions including many art galleries, the Banff Centre, the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and the Whyte Museum.