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The dramatic mountains, lakes and forests of Banff National Park's 6,641 square kilometres make it the ideal destination for scenery lovers and thrill-seekers alike. Mountain bikers, hikers, white-water rafters and kayakers take advantage of the unspoiled wilderness in the summer, while skiers and snowboarders tackle the many and varied ski runs during the winter months.
Banff National Park is home to three ski resorts, including Sunshine Village, located just outside Banff. With its three peaks, Sunshine Village caters to winter-sport enthusiasts of all abilities, and provides off-piste areas for experienced visitors. Take your après-ski on the mountain at one of the resort's restaurants.
In summer, visitors throng to Canada's oldest national park to catch a glimpse of its famed lakes. Their spectacular blue colour and mirror-like reflection of the surrounding snow-capped mountains are picture-postcard perfect. Get your own snaps of two of Canada's most famous images from the hiking trails above Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake. Very few of the park's lakes allow boats. One exception is the non-glacial Lake Minnewanka, so head here for some fishing or a boat cruise.
Some of the park's mountains provide chair lifts or gondolas to take visitors to their summits. Banff Gondola, just outside the town itself, takes you to the top of Sulphur Mountain in minutes. However, if you prefer to get around under your own steam, there are plenty of hiking trails. Some have man-made paths; Johnston Canyon, for example, has a walkway built along its steep sides. Others are navigated via rocky trails.
You'll find a variety of accommodation in both Banff and Lake Louise, Banff National Park's two towns. If you're on a budget, opt for one of the area’s many hostels. Otherwise, treat yourself to a swanky lodge, or splash out on a room at the luxurious 19th-century Fairmont Banff Springs hotel.
Visitors can hire a car, but it's not essential as there are regular shuttles and buses from the towns to the area's main attractions. Shops renting fishing equipment, skis, kayaks and bikes are also plentiful.
There are so many unique ways to get a feel for Banff National Park. Here is a list of some of our favorites:
Take a look at our Canadian Rockies things to do page to find more activities in the area.
Nestled in the mountains 750 feet above the town of Banff, The Rimrock Resort Hotel is across from the Upper Hot Springs and within walking distance of the Banff gondola.
Located on the main street of Banff, this inn is within 5 km (3 mi) of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and Upper Hot Springs.
Located in Banff National Park just a short walk from downtown Banff, Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa has friendly staff and convenient location with easy access to local sights and activities.
Situated in Canmore, this eco-friendly hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Canmore Golf and Curling Club and Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre. Cross Zee Ranch and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Conveniently located near the ski slopes, this Banff condo building is within 2 mi (3 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Tunnel Mountain is 2.2 mi (3.6 km) away.
Situated in Canmore, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre, Canmore Golf and Curling Club, and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park and Cross Zee Ranch are also within 3 mi (5 km).
The Fox Hotel and Suites is 4 blocks from downtown Banff, 1 km (0.6 mi) from the Bow River, and 5 km (3 mi) from the Sulphur Mountain Gondola.
Surrounded by the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, this mountain resort in Banff National Park on the shores of Lake Louise is a popular destination for hiking, canoeing, and skiing.