The world's third national park and Canada's first, was born Banff National Park from a humble beginning.
On the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains in the fall of 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers stumbled across a cave containing hot springs.
Banff National Park is one of the world's premier destination spots, spanning 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles) of rivers, meadows, forests, glaciers, mountains and valleys!
From May to October, the hiking season usually lasts. Many passes are still snow bound with most trails accessible only on south facing, drier slopes or at lower elevations, from mid May to late June. During the spring, trails tend to be muddier. Most passes are usually open, towards the middle of July.
Particularly at higher elevations, temperatures are lower with a greater chance of snowfall occurring from September to October, although the climate is generally drier.
Unpredictable is mountain weather. Particularly at higher elevations, be prepared for snow or rain at any time. Even in summer, freezing temperatures are not uncommon above 1,500 meters.
Select a Banff National Park trip which best suits the time you have available, equipment, interests and your party's experience and abilities. Ten people is the maximum group size. With the trail you have selected, familiarize yourself. This includes using additional topographic maps and reference guides. Through the Friends of Banff National Park, these are available.
Up to three months in advance, you may reserve the campsites you want. A reservation fee applies, non refundable. For popular campsites, book early. From a Park Information Center, obtain your Wilderness Pass. Prior to departure, check conditions. Available at Park Information Centers are road, trail, and weather reports.
By packing the right camping gear and clothing, be prepared to be self sufficient during rapidly changing and inclement mountain conditions. For cooking, bring along a backpacker's fuel and camp stove. Use the safety registration system, or let a family member or responsible friend know about your travel plans.
For important updates prior to your hike, check the trailhead kiosk. Have fun backpacking and I hope to see you on the trail!
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