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Sights & Attractions

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

One of the most iconic structures in the Canadian Rockies, this is a must stop for any traveller to Banff. Take a wander through the halls, and ballrooms or go for high tea in the Rundle Lounge. Coined the 'Castle in the Rockies' the Scottish Baronial style building is completely clad in locally found Rundle Stone. Bruce Price, a New York architect was hired by Canadian Pacific Railway and construction of the Banff Springs Hotel began in the spring of 1887 and it opened officially on June 1, 1888.
The 1930's were an exciting time at the hotel as members of high society, including heads of state and actors, came to stay for months at a time. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were among some of the guests.
By 1942, the hotel had closed its doors due to the war but re opened in 1945. The hotel opened its doors for business year round in the 1970's.
In 1995, the hotel opened its 12 million dollar luxury Willow Stream Spa.
405 Spray Avenue
Ph. 403 762 2211

The Banff Centre

It's well worth having a look around at the various art exhibitions and experiencing the several public concerts. Be sure to check the box office to see what's on. This is a first class venue and if you're at all interested in the arts this is the place to go.
Also try their new restaurant the Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar, atop the Sally Borden Building - Ph. 403 762 6300.

The Banff Centre was founded in the 1930's and since then has been an iconic establishment for the arts in Canada. The Centre is spread out over several buildings on a large piece of land aside Tunnel Mountain. The Centre's focus today is on "professional career development and lifelong learning for artists and cultural leaders in performing, literary, new media, and visual arts."
107 Tunnel Mountain Dr
Main switchboard Ph. 403 762 6100
Box office Ph. 403 762 6301

The Bow & Spray Rivers
The Bow is the main river that runs through the heart of the Banff townsite. There is an excellent paved footpath with interpretive signs that can be started at the intersection of Bow Ave and Wolf St. The river weaves its way alongside Bow Ave, 2 blocks west of the main street, Banff Ave and under the only bridge in town before becoming the famous Bow Falls which can be seen and photographed at a lookout near the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel golf course. This is the point where the Spray River and Bow River converge. This is a lovely spot for a picnic, or to take a rafting tour from.

Cave & Basin National Historic Site
The Cave & Basin is an educational place to visit, run by Parks Canada the area consists of 'The Basin' and open air mineral pool, exhibits, 1887 bathhouse replica & walking trails, guided tours, and the original site of the springs discovery. The area is considered to be the birthplace of Canada's National Parks system. The Cave & Basin was discovered by railway workers William McCardell, brother Tom, and Frank McCabe in the fall of 1883. In 1885 The government of Canada declared that the springs would be included in Canada's first National Park and now belong to all Canadians. The hot springs are a unique ecosystem that provides habitat for rare plants, bright pink bacteria, white and blue-green algae, invertebrates, and fish. The endemic snail, Physella Johnsoni, is on the endangered list.
311 Cave Ave
Ph. 403 762 1566

Marsh Loop
This 2.5km loop is a magical walk along boardwalks over steaming thermal springs and through a lush growth of trees and wild orchids. There are some excellent spots for bird watching. Look out for the bubbling springs filled with pink bacteria and white and green algae.
Trailhead: Cave & Basin parking lot

Upper Hot Springs
This is a classic and very relaxing attraction in Banff. Soak in 100% natural mineral water that can fluctuate in temperature due to rainfall or snow melt. Canadian Pacific Railway workers discovered the Cave and Basin Hot Springs in 1882 at the foot of Sulphur Mountain.
Features: 1930's heritage bathhouse, outdoor spring fed hot pool with great mountain views, children's wading area, day spa, gift store, indoor cafe, outdoor snack bar.
Follow the signs for 3.6km to the Hot Springs parking lot at the end of Mountain Ave.
Ph. 403 762 1515

Vermillion Lakes
The Vermillion Lakes are comprised of 3 shallow lakes and wetland areas with willow flats. This is a lovely, flat walk, cycle or drive and an excellent place to spot wildlife and birdlife. Look out for muskrats in the channels connecting the lakes and old beaver dams and channels just past the second lake. There are a couple of boat docks for canoe launches or picnic stops.
The birdlife is very impressive, be sure to bring your binoculars. Look out for: juvenile Mallards, Teal and Hooded and Common Mergansers, American Bittern, Red-necked Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Cinnamon Teal, Wood Duck, Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Bald Eagles and Osprey.
4km of paved road.
West of townsite before the Mt. Norquay interchange.

Lake Minnewanka
This is a massive awe inspiring lake with mountains rising up along its edges. For centuries, people hunted and camped along the original shores of Lake Minnewanka and the Native Stoney tribe called it "Minn-waki" or "Lake of the Spirits". The lake has undergone several transformations throughout the years including damming in the early 1900's to power a hydro electric plant and the flooding of a small village for the war effort in the 1940's, called Minnewanka Landing which is accessible only by scuba divers.
The best way to experience the lake is to take an interpretive boat ride, the views are stunning and the history is very interesting, its also a great way to spot wildlife on the sides of the mountains.
Lake Minnewanka is approximately 15 kilometers from the town of Banff. The site provides ample free parking. Be sure to stop in at the ghost town Bankhead on your way there and look out for big horn sheep along the road side (near Two Jake Lake).

Bankhead Ghost Town
Several trails and interpretive signs, buildings and exhibits can be discovered by meandering your way through the old foundations and roads of this lost town. The ruins are overgrown and scattered among the black stained earth. The feel here is quite amazing and you really do get a sense of what life was like back in the 1920's. Bankhead was founded for the sole purpose of supplying coal for the Canadian Pacific locomotives. The town reached a population of around 900 people, with a business section, two schools, hotel, four churches & several saloons. The poor quality of coal and continuous labour strikes forced the mine to close in 1922. Several residents chose to move themselves and their homes to Banff. Many of the remaining buildings were torn down, leaving the foundations we can see today.
Located along the Minnewanka Loop Rd about 15 min from downtown Banff. Follow the signs to the lower parking lot.

The Hoodoos are tall thin spires of sandstone that have been formed over thousands of years by erosion and believed to be spiritually significant among First Nation Peoples. See them at the Hoodoos viewpoint, along Tunnel Mountain Rd or walk the 10.2km trail.
Trailhead - follow Buffalo St east to the parking lot at Surprise Corner (parking for the Bow Falls viewpoint).

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