Why you should visit Banff National Park and the Rocky Mountains
Ice fields and exquisite blue lakes are set amid breathtaking Rocky Mountains scenery. Here's why you should visit Banff National Park
Few places are as beautiful as Banff National Park and the Rocky Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking. Here's why you should visit Banff National Park.
The parks feature hundreds of different species
Among towering snow-capped mountains, a crown of permanent ice fields—the Waputik, Wapta and Columbia—feed glaciers that push down like huge white tongues against the dark rock. The meltwater forms torrents that plunge through precipitous gorges and over thundering waterfalls. Some of that meltwater feeds into glacial lakes, bringing with it a fine dust known as "rock flour".
As sunlight hits the water, the dust absorbs all the colours of the spectrum except blue, which is reflected back from the surface. This accounts for the many shades of turquoise seen in the lakes here: Moraine Lake, backed by the Valley of Ten Peaks, is a pale teal-blue; Peyto Lake, ringed by forests, is baby-blue; Lake Louise is a milky turquoise.
"Banff is the epitome of raw Rocky Mountain beauty"
Large animals are commonplace in the park. Black bears and moose feed on dandelions in spring and berries in autumn; wolves lope along the banks of the Mistaya River; bighorn sheep clamber over jagged cliffs; hoary marmots sunbathe near Peyto Lake. All of this combines to explain why Banff is the epitome of raw Rocky Mountain beauty.
Where is Banff National Park?
Created in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada’s premier national park. It occupies 6,475km of the Canadian Rockies. The town of Banff, in the park’s southeast corner, is 120km west of Calgary on Trans-Canada Highway
The best parts of the Rocky Mountains scenery
The Canadian Rockies are blessed with many stunning national parks, of which Jasper National Park in Alberta is the largest, second only to Banff in natural spectacle. It is the wilderness home to an enormous diversity of animals, including herds of woodland caribou.
To the southeast, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, USA is a great place to visit. It has the youngest mountains in the Rockies, rising up steeply from the floor of Jackson Hole.
Yoho National Park on the western slopes of the Canadian Rockies has pristine wilderness around Lake O’Hara. It is also home to the Burgess Shale, whose rocks contain the fossils of primitive creatures from 500 million years ago, the ancestors of all the major animal groups living today.
Banner credit: The town of Banff (Lisa Marie)
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