The town of Banff is the largest municipality located in a Canadian national park. It provides residents and visitors with superb access to the surrounding wilderness. Conversely, the national park status also requires the town to adhere to laws that regulate its growth, commercial development and population. What results is a very unique community that proudly acknowledges the privilege it is to exist in a protected park while serving the needs of the people who work, visit and play in the mountains. Learn more about the town's "Need to Reside" clause. Speak to a city planner at the town of Banff and learn about this municipality’s unique challenges. Or, talk to locals about what it is like to live in a national park.
Banff National Park was declared a park for the people when it was first established in 1885. However, humans share the park with wildlife and a delicate ecosystem – one that needs to be preserved if we are going to enjoy it for years to come. Park managers must find a way to balance the visitor experience with conservation and preservation efforts.
Talk to representatives at Parks Canada and the Association for Mountain Parks Protection & Enjoyment. Read the Banff National Park Management Plan and the Long-Range Plan for Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Our member businesses and partners are doing great things to ensure the sustainability of their business and the destination. Some examples of the impact they have had and what we are striving towards include:
- The Canada National Parks Act requires that each of Canada’s national parks have a management plan, reviewed every ten years. This plan identifies the vision and long-term strategic direction for the park and describes how that vision and direction will be achieved. It also describes how the park’s natural and cultural resources will be protected while promoting public understanding and appreciation and facilitating exceptional visitor experiences. Learn more
- Wildlife overpasses and underpasses have reduced highway wildlife collisions in Banff National Park by over 80 per cent.
- Town of Banff has a master environmental plan and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels.
- They are aiming to have zero human-big mammal conflict incidents by 2022.
- Accor Hotels (mother company to Fairmont Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise) has committed to being free of single-use plastic by the end of 2022. By the end of 2020, all individual toiletries and cups. Learn more
- Did you know you don’t need a vehicle at all to get around Banff National Park?
- In the high season, June to September, BLLT works closely with the Town of Banff, Parks Canada, and our member businesses to encourage the use of public transit or tours to experience Banff National Park. The goal is ultimately to reduce congestion and greenhouse gases while improving the visitor experience.
- In the summer, if you are heading to Banff and Lake Louise from Calgary, take advantage of On-It buses, and leave your car behind. They provide you with the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit to the mountains, while also reducing the number of cars on the road.
- Once you are in Banff, Roam Transit is a great option to travel locally, but also further afield to Lake Louise and Canmore. Buses run regularly to the Banff Upper Hot Springs, Banff Gondola, and Tunnel Mountain campgrounds.
- And Parks Canada offers shuttle service to the must-not-miss Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
- In the winter, SkiBig3 offers free shuttles when you purchase a lift ticket. Shuttles run from Banff and Lake Louise to Banff Sunshine Village, Mt. Norquay, and Lake Louise Ski Resorts.
- For tips on transportation within the park, and to stay up to speed with the latest trip planning information, visit Explore The Park.
The Banff townsite is very walkable. If you’re visiting for the day, consider parking your vehicle at the Fenlands parking lot or the Banff Train Station public parking lot (available May - October) and walking the 10-15 minutes into town. Not only will you benefit from a longer parking time limit, but the walk along the river into town also provides extra opportunities to soak in the glorious mountain views.
Lots of Banff locals use bicycles to get around town and you’ll notice bike racks everywhere once you start looking for them. There’s even a Bike Fix-It station in Central Park if you need to pump up your tires or make a minor repair. Bring your own bicycle or rent one from Snowtips-Bactrax, or Ultimate Sports.
In addition to wildlife-proof garbage bins, you’ll find compost and recycle bins throughout the Town of Banff. Follow the pictures on the side of the bin to learn what goes into each receptacle. And don’t forget to pack out your garbage when you’re hiking.
Make sure to bring your reusable water bottle to test out one of five water bottle filling stations. The drinking water in Banff is refreshing and delicious.
Whilst staying in Banff and Lake Louise, enjoy an authentic food experience by consuming local and regional ingredients. Many of the Banff and Lake Louise restaurants practice in farm-to-table, ensuring the use of local and regional ingredients. Try out The Bison or Chuck's Steakhouse in downtown Banff or head out to 1888 Chop House, Eden or Sky Bistro on the outskirts of Banff. For a warm, log cabin dinner surrounded by the national park, Storm Mountain Lodge offer exceptional cuisine that is locally sourced.
In the summer, the Banff Farmer’s Market is a great source for fresh produce from local and regional farmers. Remember to pack a reusable bag for your delicious finds.
BLLT has a food tourism strategy that is building the destination’s reputation as a ‘where to eat’ destination. We have been working closely with businesses to encourage regionally sourced ingredients and telling that story of where the food is from to customers.
With 6641 sq. kilometres of protected wilderness, Banff National Park is a haven for wildlife. While the likelihood of an encounter with an animal is unpredictable, when it does happen – and the animal is viewed from a safe distance – it can be a magical experience. Watching a herd of elk in a field, a mountain goat scaling a cliff or a grizzly bear fishing in a creek is something unique to the natural world and the “big backyard” of Banff National Park.
Respect and keep a safe distance away from wildlife to protect both yourself and the animal. Never feed, entice, or disturb a wild animal. Parks Canada have provided ten tips to respect wildlife and keep both you and wildlife safe.
- Join a wildlife viewing tour with a local operator (ask us for a recommendation)
- Take the Bow Valley Parkway from Banff to Lake Louise instead of the TransCanada to increase your chances of viewing wildlife near the road
- For the birders out there, spectacular locations for birdwatching near the Town of Banff include Vermilion Lakes and the Marsh Loop
- Go for a backcountry hike for the opportunity to see wildlife away from human settlements