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Bow Falls is a wide but relatively short waterfall (<9 meters) which, because of it’s location, is often visited. When the Bow River is filled with spring thaw it really roars, but in the drier summer months its flow is significantly reduced and the falls are less impressive.
Bow Falls is located less than a kilometer south of the Banff townsite, near the Banff Springs Hotel. You can access the falls from a parking lot immediately downriver from them or from Banff by following a trail adjoining the Bow River (there are trails on either side, but the best views are from the west side). If you continue further downriver, past Bow Falls, you’ll quickly hit the junction of the Spray River …
One of the iconic images of the Canadian Rockies is that of the Vermillion Lakes, with the distinctive mass of Mt. Rundle rising in the distance, and Sulphur Mountain to the right.
Vermillion Lakes are three interlinked lakes which lie just outside the Banff townsite. The lakes are partially fed by warm water from the Sulphur mountain hot springs, which provides a somewhat sheltered micro-environment for animals in the cold winter months, so you’ll often spot wildlife in the area.
The lakes are popular with hikers, and canoes and kayaks can often be seen on the calm waters. It’s a nice place to enjoy sunrise or sunset, or just to take in the lovely views.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to …
A special place to visit when you’re exploring Banff is this pretty mountain church.
Catholic missionaries have had a presence in the Canadian Rockies for almost 200 years, including during the founding of the Banff townsite in the late 19th century. A log cabin church was built in Banff in 1888 and it was consecrated as ‘Our Lady of the Assumption’, but known by the locals as St Mary’s.
The church you see today was built in 1951 by Fr. Robert McGuinness, and it replaced the original building. Fr McGuinness had attended seminary in Europe and loved the stone churches he saw there, inspiring him to build something of this type in his beloved town, Banff. Fr. McGuinness had been a structural …
One of the classic places to visit in the Banff townsite, within Banff National Park, is the Indian Trading Post. It has been around since 1903 and was originally called the “Sign of the Goat Curio Shop”. It’s one of those places that hasn’t changed much during the years.
Situated on the bank of the Bow River, it is removed from the busy touristy part of Banff. The exterior decorative items are interesting, but not as interesting as what you find when you enter the shop.
The walls of the shop are a museum of taxidermy, with a large variety of local species on display. Initially dealing primarily in furs, the shop now sells mostly First Nations (Aboriginal) handicrafts. These include items like …
The first Europeans to live and work in the Rocky Mountains were hunters and miners. Canada’s Rocky mountains are rich in minerals and the Canmore region — just south of Banff — has especially good coal deposits.
The Canmore Miners’ Union Hall has been part of this community for more than a century and the building is one of the oldest in the town. Completed in 1913, it was built to serve as the union office for local coal miners. The building was one of the first in town to have electric lights. The miners union helped improve working conditions, safety and miners’ wages.
Coal mining has ceased in Alberta and the mining jobs have also disappeared, so there is no need for a …
Alberta has a fine network of provincial parks (analogous to American state parks). One of these is situated just east of the Alberta Rocky mountains on the banks of the Bow River as it makes its way from Banff to Calgary and ultimately to Hudson’s Bay.
The park has several campgrounds which are very popular during the summer months. It provides excellent access to Banff and Canmore, and is also not that far from Calgary. The park also offers some easy hiking trails that provide a nice way to explore the terrain of the Rocky mountain foothills.
We parked at Middle Lake and explored many of the trails in the area — Middle Lake, Moraine and …
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is a small site just outside the town of Banff, but is important to Canadians because it was a catalyst to the formation of Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park.
The Cave and Basin is the lowest of nine sulphurous hot springs, arranged in three groups, on Banff’s Sulphur Mountain. The water is heated geothermally at a depth of about 3 km (2 mi) and escapes to the surface at these sites. The Cave and Basin is the only natural cavern in the area big enough to comfortably accommodate groups of people.
Humans have inhabited this region for at least 10,000 years, back to the retreat of the massive …
Banff is the premier resort town of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Nestled on the leeward side of the Continental Divide, it became a popular tourist destination in the early 20th century when the Canadian Pacific Railroad first laid tracks and built tourist resorts in and around Banff.
Today’s Banff is much larger than the Banff I remember visiting as a boy a half century ago. It still has great historic alpine charm and is in a magnificent natural setting, but during the summer the place is crowded with tourists –mostly Asian tourists (Japanese especially) but with lots of Europeans (Germans mostly). People who live in Alberta value and respect their visitors but tend to avoid the Banff townsite during the summer …