Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Banff--premier mountain retreat in Canadian Rockies

Established as a tourist town from its inception,  Banff in Alberta, Canada lives up to its reputation.  The first stop for many people touring the Canadian Rockies, Banff came into existence when the Canadian Pacific Railroad determined that the natural beauty of the area would attract visitors if there was an easy means of transportation. That’s exactly what happened.

View of Banff Springs Hotel across Bow River
So, of course, we couldn’t miss this exhilarating mountain town on our tour of five national parks in Canada and Glacier National Park in Montana. Discovery of natural hot springs in 1883, which first attracted wealthy European visitors, was the catalyst for creating the national park--2,564 square miles of glorious mountain territory.  Banff’s rich railroad heritage, including opening of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in 1888, adds another dimension for history buffs. I’ll share more about our visit to the iconic hotel in a future post.
Looking down Banff Avenue toward
Cascade Mountain
The town’s first and main street, Banff Avenue, is oriented to offer incredible views of Cascade Mountain, a sentinel overlooking the town.  We discovered there’s a vibrant community of artists and outdoor enthusiasts, and Banff has a plethora of hotels, restaurants, and shops within easy walking distance in the downtown area.

We arrived in Banff at dinner time after a long day of air travel and a 90-minute drive from Calgary. Following a recommendation from the attendant at Bumper’s Inn (we stayed in this mid-range hotel not far from downtown), we found Athena, a pizza restaurant that served hearty baked lasagna and spaghetti, too. Actually, there’s a good variety of restaurants in Banff that provide casual to fine dining. Some feature Canadian cuisine that includes locally sourced Alberta beef and bison, fine cheeses and wines.
Revived with a tasty meal, we took advantage of extended day light to walk south along Banff Avenue to the Bow River Bridge, by the Park Administration Building, and caught quick glimpses of  immacuately manicured Cascade Gardens. We drove just a few minutes to Surprise Corner, a beautiful spot with a view across the Bow River of the Banff Springs Hotel. Since it was a bit late for hiking, we decided to return in the morning for a downhill trek to the water’s edge and a better opportunity to explore the surrounding area.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
Read more travel stories by Beverly at Striped Pot and Austin Adventure Travel.


1 comment:

Budget Jan said...

Hi, We loved Banff, so picturesque and friendly.
Budget Jan