Banff, Alberta | Attractions

From cowboys to glaciers
Choose your adventure: exciting Calgary or scenic, soothing wilderness

Western heritage takes many forms in Alberta, from the history of cattle drives and livestock wrangling, to the sacred grounds of Banff National Park. Since both experiences are only a short distance apart, you can see it all on your Banff vacation.

Two Jack Lake & Mt. Rundle, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Two Jack Lake & Mt. Rundle, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park

Canada’s first national park is only a 1.5 hour drive west of Calgary, but it feels like a different world.  Nature is the star of the show here. The park had small beginnings as a 16 square mile hot springs reserve, and now encompasses more than 4,000 square miles of idyllic Canadian Rockies landscape. The road to iconic Moraine Lake, whose mirrored surface reflecting craggy peaks was once featured on the back of the Canadian twenty dollar bill, is closed in the winter, but is used for cross country skiing in the colder months. In the summer, hike around the lake for stunning vistas. Another showstopper, Lake Louise boasts emerald-colored waters in a jaw dropping mountain setting. Hop on the Banff Sightseeing Gondola, a four-person, glass enclosed ride that allows unsurpassed mountain views of six mountain ranges and the expansive valley below. Hike Johnston Canyon, which has steel walkways built into the canyon walls, ensuring access during the winter and summer. View frozen waterfalls in the winter, and see how the creek has carved its way through the narrow canyon rock walls in dramatic fashion.

Calgary Stampede

19527222572_dbc38e104b_oRopin’ and ridin’. Western heritage, cowboys, fireworks, outrageous fair food, big time music acts and a bustling midway. This is the Calgary Stampede, and you’ve never seen anything like it.

The Calgary Stampede is a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit organization that aims to preserve and celebrate Canada’s western heritage, cultures and community spirit. What this means is visitors get to experience all the culture of the area: a tournament-style rodeo, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and bull riding. The exhibition takes place for 10 days in July, but events are hosted from April to September.

The roots of the 208 acre exhibition were formed in 1886 as the Calgary Agricultural Society. Since then, the Stampede has grown to include chuckwagon races, a large agricultural component featuring livestock exhibitions, and world class music acts.

The Stampede is known for over-the-top fair food with something new every year: a lobster corn dog, deep-fried bacon-wrapped anything on a stick, red velvet cake-battered chicken tenders, or how about a world record-breaking $100 hot dog? Just make sure to eat after you ride the roller coasters.

Two wolves are sitting on a rock. RAW-file developed with Adobe Lightroom. Please have a look at my other wolf photos.

Banff’s famous hot springs

Travelers have soothed their aches and pains in Banff’s three steamy mineral water hot springs for more than 100 years, and the hot springs are responsible for the creation of Banff National Park, which was formed in 1885 as a means to protect them. Relax, take in the mountain views and breathe the clean Alpine air at Upper Hot Springs, Radium Hot Springs, or Miette Hot Springs. A perfect destination year round, the hot springs earn their reputation as one of the best relaxation spots in Canada.

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

See native Canadian wolves and wolf-dog hybrids at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, located just a short drive away from Canmore. The sanctuary provides up close and intimate views of wolves and their behavior in their natural environment. Visitors will walk away from the guided experience educated about the importance of wolves in their ecosystem.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .


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