Facts and Figures about Banff National Park

Location & Population

Location & Population
  • Please find a printable map of

    Banff National Park here
  • Banff National Park is located in the south western corner of the province of Alberta in Canada’s Rocky Mountains
  • Coordinates for Banff National Park are 51°10′00″N  115°33′00″W.
  • The park encompasses 6,641 square kms (2,564 square miles) of protected wilderness areas and was established as Canada’s first national park in 1885. Banff National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
  • Banff National Park is 140 kms from the city of Calgary, 417 kms from Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton and 850 kms from Vancouver, B.C.
  • At 4,537 feet, the Town of Banff is the highest town in Canada. The Lake Louise village is the highest community at 5,033 feet.
  • According to the last municipal census of 2011, the town of Banff has 8,244 residents. The village of Lake Louise has a population of approximately 1,200 residents.
  • Because the Town of Banff is in the unusual position of being a municipality within a national park, environmental concerns about the growth of the town prompted the federal government to employ a “need to reside” requirement of town residents. Learn more about the requirement here: 


A Brief History

A Brief History
  • Archaeological evidence radiocarbon dates the first human activity in the Banff region to 10,300 years ago.  Prior to European contact, aboriginals, including the Stoneys, Kootenay, Tsuu T'ina, Kainai, Peigans, and Siksika tribes, were common in the region where they hunted bison and other game.
  • The inclusion of the province of British Columbia to the Confederation of Canada in 1871 was dependent on the prime minister’s promise to build a transcontinental railroad through the Rocky Mountains that would link the west coast to the rest of the nation. Construction of the railroad began in 1875 and ten years later the last spike was driven not far from Banff at Craigellachie.
  • A few years prior to the completion of the railway, three railroad workers stumbled upon a series of hot springs on the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain. By 1885, after a heated ownership dispute over the springs, the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir. John A. MacDonald, set aside the area and established it as Canada’s first national park.
  • The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) immediately recognized the tourism potential of the Canadian Rockies and their “healing waters” and set about constructing a grand hotel to attract wealthy European travelers to the area. In 1888 the elegant Banff Springs Hotel opened its doors and quickly became a popular destination with the Victorian gentry.

The Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains
  • The chain of mountains known as the Rocky Mountains stretch, in total, for 4,830 kms from the southern United States to northern Canada.
  • The Rockies are significant to the North American continent as a whole because the Continental Divide (the line which determines whether water will flow to the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean) is in the range.
  • The Canadian Rockies are composed of layered sedimentary rock such as limestone and shale, whereas the American Rockies are made mostly of metamorphic and igneous rock such as gneiss and granite.
  • The Canadian Rockies are more jagged than the American Rockies, because the Canadian Rockies have been very heavily glaciated, resulting in sharply pointed mountains separated by wide, U-shaped valleys gouged by glaciers.
  • The Canadian Rockies are cooler and wetter, giving them moister soil, bigger rivers, and more glaciers. The tree line is also much lower in the Canadian Rockies than in the American Rockies.
  • The highest mountain located entirely within Banff National Park’s borders is Mt. Forbes at 3,612 metres (11,850 feet). Mount Assiniboine, which occupies not only Banff National Park but Kootenay National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, is slightly higher at 3,618 metres (11,870 feet).

A Skier’s Paradise

  • Banff National Park is home to three of the world’s finest ski resorts –

    Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise

     – encompassing nearly 8,000 acres of skiable terrain amongst pristine wilderness.

  • Visitors can easily access all the ski areas on a single tri-area lift ticket, available for purchase from

    Ski Banff Lake Louise Sunshine


  • Winter in Banff National Park is low season, therefore lift lines are less crowded and the ski resorts are able to offer off-season pricing.
  • In addition to the dry ‘champagne powder’ for which the area is famous, Banff National Park offers one of the longest ski seasons in North America, from mid-November to late May. As a result, the

    World Cup

     downhill circuit always begins at the Lake Louise Ski Area, one of the only places able to guarantee good snow conditions so early in the season.

  • The communities of Banff and Lake Louise offer over 130 bars and restaurants for endless après ski entertainment.
  • Skiers and Snowboarders from around the world will appreciate the resorts’ body-friendly elevations with the town of Banff situated at 4537 feet, and the top of the highest ski resort at 8,954 feet.
  • Visitors to these three famous ski resorts are afforded the privilege of skiing and snowboarding in a protected national park. Here you will not find million-dollar condos sprawling across the mountainsides and engulfing the last remnants of wilderness – this is skiing as it was meant to be…just you, the snow, and the breathtaking magnificence of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.


  • Tourism is the main and almost sole economic driver in Banff National Park.
  • Banff National Park welcomes between 3-4 million visitors annually.
  • The federal government limits the amount of space available for commercial development in national parks. Commercial space in the town of Banff is capped at 353,000 square metres (3.8 million square feet), or about 10% of the total area of the townsite.


  • Banff National Park is home to 53 species of mammals.
  • Grizzly bears are more plentiful than black bears in Banff National Park. At present, it is estimated that approximately 80 grizzly bears and 60 black bears reside in the park.
  • In Banff National Park, there are currently 41 wildlife crossing structures (6 overpasses and 35 underpasses) that help wildlife safely cross the busy Trans-Canada Highway. Since monitoring began in 1996, 11 species of large mammals—including bears, elk and cougar—have used crossing structures more than 200,000 times.
  • Most of the backcountry wilderness in the park is subalpine forest, alpine tundra or rock and ice, and is thus more suited to grizzlies than blacks. However, visitors are more likely to see black bears because they frequent the low-lying valleys through which our park roads run.
  • Park grizzlies are currently part of a comprehensive grizzly bear study in the Central Rockies Ecosystem. Over twenty silvertips have been radio collared and are being monitored weekly using telemetry technology.
  • Cougar, lynx, wolverine, weasels, northern river otter and wolves are the primary predatory mammals. Elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer are common in the valleys of the park, including around (and sometimes in) the Banff townsite, while moose tend to be more elusive, sticking primarily to wetland areas and near streams. In the alpine regions, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots and pika are widespread. Other mammals such as beavers, porcupines, squirrels, chipmunks, and Columbian ground squirrels are the more commonly observed smaller mammals.
  • Following their extinction from the park, elk were reintroduced from Yellowstone in the 1920s. Approximately 1000 elk roam the park today.
  • Due to the harsh winters, the park has few reptiles and amphibians with only one species of toad, three species of frog, one salamander species and two species of snakes that have been identified.
  • At least 280 species of birds can be found in Banff including many predatory species such as bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawk, osprey, and merlin.
  • Endangered species in Banff include the Banff Springs snail (Physella johnsoni) which is found in the hot springs of Banff. Woodland caribou are listed as a threatened species.
  • More information about wildlife in Banff National Park can be found here: 


Parks Canada



  • Winter temperatures range from an average low of −14.1 °C (6.6 °F) to an average high of −4.6 °C (23.7 °F).
  • Summer temperatures in the warmest month are pleasant with an average high of 21.9 °C (71.4 °F) and an average low of 7.4 °C (45.3 °F).

Getting Here

Getting Here
  • Banff National Park is 130 kms from Calgary International Airport on a dual carriageway highway. It is 417 kms southwest of Edmonton and 850 kms east of Vancouver.
  • Visitors can easily access Banff from international airports by rental vehicle, limousine or regular shuttle bus services.
  • The 

    Rocky Mountaineer

     Train also stops in Banff from April – October

  • A park pass is required for stopping in the park. A permit is not required if travelling straight through the park without stopping.
  • There are no commercial aircraft landings in Banff National Park.
  • The town of Banff has a local transit system, Roam, and the schedule can be found here: 


Canadian Customs & Immigration


General Information

  • Official Languages: English & French
  • Time: Banff National Park is located in the Mountain Standard Time (MST) zone of GMT -7 and recognizes daylight savings time in the summer adjusting its time to GMT -6
  • Currency: The Canadian Dollar
  • Taxes: Federal Canadian sales tax is applicable to goods & services at 5%, known locally as GST. There is no provincial sales tax in Alberta.
  • Electricity: 110 volt at 60 hertz
  • Radio stations: 106.5 Mountain FM 

  • Local Newspapers: The Banff Crag & Canyon 


    ; The Rocky Mountain Outlook 

Jonny Bierman
Coordinator, Media