From Canmore to Banff, you are snuggled in the Bow River Valley, wtih
mountains on both sides of the highway. As you move further up the valley, the
mountains appear to close in on you.
Just a few kilometres west of Canmore are the Banff Park Gates. Most visitors
will need to pay admission. You do not have to pay
if (a) you have a Park Pass, or (b) are travelling through to BC, without a stop inside the park (gassing iup
is ok). If you fall into one of these two groups, you can use the right-hand
lane at the gates, without stopping.
Here are some of the attractions from Canmore into Banff:
Minnewanka Power Station
- A few kilometres inside the park gates, on the right-hand side, you will pass
the power station for the National Parks region.
- This 9,833 ft (2,998 m) mountain is the pyramid that welcomes travelers to Banff arriving from Calgary. It almost looks like the highway will tunnel under the mountain, and at the last minute the Trans-Canada turns left at the mountain’s base. Cascade towers a vertical mile above the highway.
- On the northeast side of the Highway is Lake Minnewanka. It was formed earlier this century by a dam at its western extreme to supply power and fresh water to the Banff
area. The dam was raised in the 1930s, to increase its power-gnerating capacity.
Two Jack Lake
- If you continue on the Lake Minnewanka Loop, the
road winds in a clockwise direction. As you head due west, you pass TwoJack
Lake on the left-hand side. You will also pass numerous herds of elk, deer, and
Continue past the first (east) Banff exit to the second by Mount Norquay:
- The mountain opposite the Banff Townsite on the Trans-Canada Highway, is on the Northeast side of the Highway. Its 8,224 ft (2,515m) height makes for great skiing–it gets a lot more snow than the town does. The road across from the Banff townsite provides several scenic viewpoints of Banff, often with sheep and mountain goats stopping by for the same view.
- At 9,673 ft (2,948 m) is the most dominant and unique mountain around Banff. It is an overthrust mountain (see Creation of Mountains), and is regularly featured in numerous TV commercials.
Fenland Trail/Vermillion Lakes
- Delicate mountain marshlands, which are feeding grounds for local moose and deer, are accessible to visitors from the Mount Norquay Road (on the west side of the Trans-Canada) not far the train station. This 1.5 kilometre loop offers a view of an isolated wetland, just off the Vermilion Lakes, and interpretative brochures are provided for hikers.