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10Best Parks
Bow Falls
(Attractions - Parks)
Rundle Ave, Banff  T0L 0C0 • 403-762-1550
Distance: ~422 m *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. Located not far from the Banff Springs Hotel, this waterfall is most impressive in the spring, when water from melting snows gives it added volume. Created by the forces of glacial movement, the falls are an easy walk from downtown and offer visitors a glimpse of the area's local beauty without having to go too far out of town.
        User Rating: 9 / 10
       

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Upper Hot Springs
(Attractions - Parks)
101 Mountain Ave, Sulphur Mountain, Banff  T0E 1E0 • 403-762-1515 • 800-767-1611
Distance: ~0.791 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. Just a brief drive south of town, these thermal springs draw bathers year-round to their warm, soothing waters. The complex, which was renovated in 1996, has attracted visitors since the 1880s and now boasts modern facilities, including a large outdoor pool, a wading pool, and an indoor spa. Several shops and a cafe are available as well. If you're ambitious, you can hike from town to the site over somewhat steep terrain. If not, simply enjoy the incredible vista from the comfort of the pool.
       

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Cave and Basin National Historic Site
(Attractions - Parks)
311 Cave Ave, Banff  T1L 1K2 • 403-762-1566
Distance: ~1.079 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA.  
First discovered in 1883 by railroad workers, this underground spring is the reason that Banff and the Banff National Park exist today. Wealthy Victorians flocked to take the heated waters, believing the mineral-infused springs to be healing and therapeutic. The town was created around the site, and the springs operated until 1976. They were restored and reopened in 1985 for the centennial celebration of the park and have been open ever since. Although bathing in the pool is no longer permitted, visitors may explore the area via trails and informational displays. A fascinating excursion and a great attraction for kids and adults alike.
       

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Castle Mountain
(Attractions - Parks)
Bow Valley Pkwy, Banff National Park  T1L 1K2 • 403-762-1550
Distance: ~1.388 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. This spectacular rock formation immediately catches your eye as you drive along the Parkway. The towering spires bring to mind a fortified castle, as they did for early explorers, who named the mountain after its imposing presence. For a time from the 1940s to the 1970s, the formation was called Eisenhower Mountain in tribute to Dwight D. Eisenhower's role in WWII. After an outcry from local inhabitants, the name was changed, and Eisenhower Mountain came to refer only to a particular peak.
       

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Banff National Park
(Attractions - Parks)
224 Banff Ave, Banff  T0L 0C0 • 403-762-1550
Distance: ~1.736 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. The town of Banff is actually located inside Banff National Park. At 6641 square kilometers (2564 square miles), the park is a vast playground for close to four million visitors annually. Most are outdoorsy types who enjoy hiking, backcountry camping, cross country skiing, rock climbing, fishing, and a wealth of other activities. If time is a factor or if you simply prefer to see the wilderness from the relative comfort of an enclosed vehicle, there are a couple of scenic highways that cut through the park, so you can still appreciate the majesty of the rugged Canadian Rockies without getting dirty! But with its roaring waterfalls and ice-blue glaciers, meadows full of wildflowers and breathtaking panoramic vistas, this is one park that is best appreciated on foot. Luckily, several turnouts along the Icefields and Bow Valley Parkways allow you to get a closer look without investing too much time or energy. A plethora of companies offer guided one-day and multi-day park tours via bus, bike, snowshoe, ski and hiking boot. A Park Pass (available at the Banff or Lake Louise Visitor Center) is required.
       

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Hoodoos
(Attractions - Parks)
Tunnel Mountain Rd, Banff  T0L 0C0
Distance: ~2.762 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. These rock formations, which are essentially pillars of stone, look out across the Bow River from their perch on Tunnel Mountain. Sculpted by erosion, the Hoodoos are an intriguing example of geological activity; other similar formations can be found at Lake Minnewanka. Native Americans believed the pillars were giants who threw rocks at travelers each night or that they were homes for evil spirits. Their activity seems to have lessened in the recent past.
       

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Vermilion Lakes
(Attractions - Parks)
Vermilion Lakes Dr, Banff
Distance: ~2.892 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. Wildlife of all sorts inhabits these shallow lakes. Beaver, elk, deer, and a great number of birds rely on the environs for their homes and sustenance. Previously, the lakes were dammed to maintain a water level high enough for recreation, but for ecological reasons, the barriers were removed to allow the terrain to return to its natural state. Now, beavers create the only dams, and the abundance of plants and animals attracts sightseers along the lake perimeters. Nearby, the Fenland Trail provides a path through the accompanying vegetation.
        User Rating: 8.75 / 10
       

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Johnston Canyon
(Attractions - Parks)
Bow Valley Pkwy (Hwy 1A), Banff National Park, Banff  T1L 1K2 • 403-762-1550
Distance: ~3.455 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. This canyon, about 15 miles from Banff, is known for the seven waterfalls that tumble along its course. The limestone canyon is crisscrossed by boardwalks, providing close-up views of local vegetation. At about a 4-hour hike from the highway, the Inkpots are a collection of springs found in the vicinity of the canyon. Thanks to mineral sediments, they're colored an unnatural, but beautiful, blue. If you want a quicker jaunt, some of the lower falls are a much closer walk less than 2 miles from the road.
        User Rating: 10 / 10
       

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Lake Minnewanka
(Attractions - Parks)
, northeast of downtown, Banff  T0L 0C0 • 403-762-1550
Distance: ~17.136 km *
        Description: AIRPORT - YBA. Banff National Park's largest lake, this body of water is the only one in the area open to power boats. As a result, it's a popular destination for fishermen. The name, Cree in origin, means "lake of the water spirit." Today, following engineering efforts earlier in the century, the lake has been enlarged; the water level has increased 82 feet, and an early resort now lies beneath its waters. Boat tours offer recreational circuits around the lake, showcasing the area's scenery and wildlife. Visitors also enjoy hiking and picnicking along the perimeter.
       

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* All distances are approximate "straight-line" distances.
  See Directions for actual "travel distances."