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Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff

35-02 Cave and Basin (58)

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.

Historic aspects

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 …

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A visit to the Historic Banff Springs Hotel

09 Banff Springs Hotel

Situated in the heart of beautiful Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs stands like a castle dominating the pretty alpine town of Banff, Alberta.  Nestled between Mt. Rundle, Tunnel Mountain and Sulphur Mountain, it offers some of the best alpine scenery in the world.  It’s just a short 10 minute stroll from the hotel along the beautiful Bow River to the Banff townsite, where a large number of shops, restaurants and other services are located.

Fairmont Banff Springs is a year-round luxury resort that offers access to activities as diverse as horse-back riding and golf, to superb skiing in the winter.  The hotel has been serving guests for more …

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The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site.

06b Banff Museum 08-2015

Today we’re going to visit Western Canada’s oldest Natural History Museum, the quirky yet fascinating Banff Park Museum National Historic Site.   I first visited this museum as a boy decades ago and it’s one of the few things around that hasn’t changed over the years.

Situated at a prime location in Banff, beside the Bow River at the corner of Buffalo St  and Banff Ave, there’s a large building constructed of logs, the Banff Park Museum.   It’s been declared a national historic site because the museum’s original exhibits are still on display, a collection reflecting an early (some might even say “primitive”) approach to the interpretation of Western Canada’s natural history.  Also, the architectural style and detailing of …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 17, 2014: Black Bear, Banff National Park


This is one of my favorite wildlife photos from this past year.  The bear was wandering in the ditch along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, foraging as he went.  He didn’t seem to mind my stopping beside the road, rolling down the passenger window and snapping his picture.  Seems almost posed, but he was actually moving at a pretty brisk pace. When he came across a berry bush, he’d stop and suck all the fruit off — almost like a living vacuum cleaner — then move on!

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Banff National Park: Hiking Tunnel Mountain

026 Tunnel Mountain Banff National Park

As summer is upon us, I thought  I’d feature another walk from the Canadian Rockies, this one directly accessible from downtown Banff on a trail that’s been around almost as long as Banff itself has.  The hike is up Tunnel Mountain, a misnamed place in that there is no tunnel and this “mountain” is really just a large hill when compared to the size and grandeur of the other Rocky Mountains peaks around it (it’s the smallest mountain by Banff, but definitely still a memorable peak).  There are wonderful views to be enjoyed from much of the trail, reason enough to make this a worthwhile hike.

The original name given to this peak by the natives was “Sleeping Buffalo Mountain” (because the …

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Banff National Park: A visit to beautiful Boom Lake

Boom Lake 8-2013-001 intro

In a region where every turn of the road brings an even more beautiful view, it’s hard to pick favorite spots in Banff National Park.  I’ve recently grown very fond of the area near Castle Junction, off Highway #93 on the road to Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs.  The ascent of Hwy #93 from the Bow River Valley gives grand views of the mountains and forests, brings you near the treeline and hanging glaciers, and provides easy access to some great high altitude trails, such as that to Boom Lake.

Boom Lake’s trailhead is located behind the Boom Creek picnic area parking lot a few kilometers west of the TransCanada highway.  The trail crosses a bridge over Boom Creek and begins …

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Banff National Park: “Lake of the Spirits” (Lake Minnewanka)


Lake Minnewanka is a great destination for a day’s visit (or longer if you’re so inclined) while in the Banff Rockies.  The lake’s name derives from the Stoney Indian language and means “lake of the spirits”.  Indian people lived around Lake Minnewanka for 100 centuries before it was “discovered “ by Europeans in the 19th century.   Lake Minnewanka is located just a few kilometers east of Banff with easy access from the Trans-Canada Highway.  The approach to the lake, as you drive past Mt. Rundle and Cascade Mountain, is inspiring!   There’s a large bachelor herd of bighorn sheep that frequent the roads in the area and if you want a chance to see some of these beautiful creatures up close, this is …

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Banff National Park: The Subalpine Splendor of Sunshine Meadows


Those of us who enjoy hiking and backpacking grow impatient by early summer as we gaze to the mountaintops and their passes and wait for the snow up there to finally melt.  We busy ourselves with low altitude hikes and camping and such, but as much fun as these can be we know the best scenery and the greatest hiking awaits in those higher altitudes.  And when subalpine meadows emerge from their snowy blanket its time at last to start exploring!

In the Canadian Rockies the subalpine meadows are usually covered in snow until around the end of June or early July — and snow begins reaccumulating in early October, so the window of opportunity is narrow.  But during those few months there’s a short but intense growing season with lush meadows and a large number and diversity …

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