Banff National Park is one of the main natural attractions in Canada. Founded in 1885, it is the first and also the largest nature reserve in the country – its area is 6641 square meters. km. Since 1984 it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Banff Park is located in the province of Alberta, west of the town of Calgary, in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. It was created to protect the diverse and unique landscape, as well as to develop the health and tourism infrastructure of the region. Every year, Banff National Park is visited by 4 million tourists from all over the world. Majestic mountains, dense coniferous forests, rich flora and fauna, mesmerizing glaciers, alpine landscapes, pristine lakes – this is a short description of the beauties that can be observed here.
The territory where the reserve is located once belonged to the Paleo-Indians. They were engaged in gathering, hunted for buffalo and mammoths, and fished. In 1540, the first explorers from Europe visited it. And in 1783, Alexander Mackenzie, a Scottish traveler, first crossed the Rocky Mountains.
When the transcontinental railway was built here, more and more tourists began to come here. In 1888, the first hotel appeared here – Fairmont Banff Springs, its construction was initiated by William Cornelius Van Hoor.
With the influx of travelers, a resort town of the same name was formed near the national park. Today Banff hotels have about 50 hospitality facilities. In addition, there are cafes, shops and even a golf course.
By 1902, areas near the rivers Kananaskis, Red Deer, Bow and Spry, as well as Lake Louise, had joined the territory. The boundaries of the park were changed several times, but by 1949 the final area had been established.
The “eyes” of the national reserve are three picturesque lakes:
A turquoise lake surrounded by forests and mountains is the most recognizable landscape when it comes to traveling in Canada. Moraine Glacial Lake can be called the hallmark of Banff Park. The reservoir is located in the Valley of Ten Peaks at an altitude of 1885 m. The lake reaches its maximum filling from mid to late June. It was during this period that it looks the brightest due to the refraction of sunlight on a rocky bottom.
Lake Peyto is located at an altitude of 1860 m, it is also glacial and has a fabulous turquoise color. The reservoir is named after its discoverer – Bill Peyto. The main feature of the lake is its shape – from above it resembles a dog’s or wolf’s head.
Another glacial lake, Louise, is located at an altitude of 1700 m. Because of its color, it was once called Emerald. But around 1880 it was renamed in honor of the 4th daughter of Queen Victoria – Princess Louise, wife of the Governor of Canada. The Indians called it “a lake with small fish”.
In Banff National Park, there are 996 plant species of various altitudinal zones: subalpine, alpine meadows and tundra, forest, glacial. 55% of the territory is covered by mountain forests, consisting of Canadian spruce, pine, Douglas, aspen and juniper. Among the flowers, you can see the nodding violet, the common dodecateon, the stemless resin, the northern linnea, the Alpine forget-me-not and others. Among the rocky terrain, there are about 243 species of mosses and 407 species of lichens.
The wildlife of Banff National Park is determined by its mountainous location. In total, 56 species of mammals live here. The most striking representative that can be easily found on the territory is the red squirrel. Puma, lynx, wolverine, wolf, grizzly live here. Ungulates are represented by the snow goat, mule deer, wapiti, bighorn sheep.
There are as many as 200 species of birds. The most common are black-headed blue jays, blackbirds, American nutcrackers, golden eagles and bald eagles. On the reservoirs, you can find gray-cheeked grebes, dippers, stones.
Banff Park is beautiful at any time. In summer they come here to go mountain biking, rowing and mountain climbing.
From late autumn until May, Banff turns into a ski resort. Backcountry ski trails are available throughout the park, and for those who are confident in skiing and snowboarding, there are Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Area and Mount Norquay trails. In addition, ice skating, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and dog sledding are available to tourists.