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December 5, 2008

A Visit to Banff National Park

My special guest today is Barbara Martin who lives in Canada. I met Barbara online and love visiting her blog because it’s always interesting. On each visit I learn something about wildlife, history or beauty spots in Canada. She writes dark fantasy, short stories and flash fiction. Today Barbara gives us an opportunity to visit a beautiful spot in Canada, Banff National Park. Once again, I think you’ll need your warm clothes for this visit, although the pool looks inviting.

Thank you, Shelley, for this opportunity to provide a post during your birthday month.

This post is on my favourite vacation location in Canada, Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Every summer during my young formative years my family would come here to enjoy the sights and excursions, as my mother had done during her childhood.

A famous landmark in this national park is the Banff Springs Hotel, formerly known as one of the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotels, is now operated under the name, Fairmont.


[1-Banff Springs Hotel in 1929 by wikimedia]

Its unique blend of opulence and seclusion has been a symbol of Rocky Mountain magnificence for more than a century. Styled after a Scottish baronial castle, The Fairmont Banff Springs offers stunning vistas, golf courses, skiing, classic cuisine and a European-style spa. I can provide a personal recommendation for staying in this luxurious hotel. There is nothing quite like this magnificent hotel with the surrounding pristine wilderness.


[2-Banff Springs Hotel BNP by wikimedia]

In 1886, the CPR began to develop William C. Van Horne’s idea of luxurious accommodations for the tourists he intended to bring to the Canadian west via the new transcontinental railroad. Bruce Price of New York, one of the leading architects of the time, was hired. Price’s buildings displayed important characteristics of Late Victorian architecture which influenced the château style for government structures at the time. Construction of the Banff Springs Hotel began in the spring of 1887 and the hotel publicly opened on June 1, 1888.


[3-Upper_Hot_Springs_Banff_BNP by wikimedia]

During the construction of the CPR in 1884, two workers discovered the Banff’s Upper Hot Springs; waters which had only been known until then to the Stoney Indians. These were sacred waters of the Stoney and believed to have healing properties. The local Stoney also used the lower hot springs, known as Banff Cave and Basin, by lowering their sick, injured or elderly members through a hole in the ground by a rope to an underground cavern.


[4-Banff cave and basin hole in cave roof by cicadas CC=nc-sa-flickr]

Because heated water can hold more dissolved solids, warm and especially hot springs also often have a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium to lithium, and even radium. The hot springs in Banff contain sulphur which produces an odour.


[5-Banff Cave and Basin pool by PoYang CC=nd-flickr]

The Cave and Basin is a National Historic Site in Canada. The reason the swimming pool at the Cave and Basin closed was due to the Banff Springs Snail. In 1997, the Banff Springs snail became the first living mollusc to be listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In 2000, COSEWIC upgraded the snail’s status from “threatened” to “endangered.”


[6-Cave and Basin cavern pool by PoYang CC=nd-flickr]

The Banff Springs Snail inhabits six springs on Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park: four at the Cave and Basin and two at the Middle Springs National Historic Sites. Only in this corner of the world is the Banff Springs Snail able to survive. The snail has already disappeared from four of the nine thermal springs it was found in. The numbers of the snail are lowest just before the peaking of the tourist season.


[7-Mt Rundle from Vermilion Lakes by Cuppojoe CC=nc-sa-flickr

I hope you have enjoyed your brief tour of Banff.

ParksCanada http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/;


  1. Nancy Henderson

    Gorgeous pictures! Great post.

  2. Val Pearson

    Wow! I want to live where those pictures were taken. I think that castle is big enough for me ….. but I dunno …….. the hot springs look awesome!

  3. Leah Braemel

    I LOVE Banff! I’d stay there all summer if I had the opportunity. I’m even writing a paranormal inspired while I was in Banff in 2006. Lovely to see it again. Thanks Barbara and Shelley.

  4. Fedora

    Hi, Barbara! I’ve been to Banff–my family vacationed there years ago, and I agree, it’s spectacularly beautiful! Thanks for the lovely photos!

  5. Gabriele

    That’s some great scenery you got there.

    While I understand about the snails, it’s still a pity that big pool with no people in it can’t be used. It looks very inviting. :wink:

  6. Shelley Munro

    The scenery is just gorgeous, Barbara. I visited briefly a few years ago and walked inside that hotel. We were on a camping tour and didn’t stay there! The pools look very inviting and I love the last photo of the mountain.

  7. Karin

    The pictures are gorgeous. What a beautiful spot.

  8. Estella

    Sounds like a beautiful place to visit.

  9. Jane

    Wow, Banff is so beautiful.

  10. Gayle O

    Congrats to Aubrey Rose on the release of Crimson Prey. Love the excerpt. It sounds like a great book.
    Also, I love the photos of Banff. It looks gorgeous.

  11. Vicky Cormier

    OMG!!! I have never been there but I should. Those pictures are beautiful. What a trip. Just to be there and see that. Fantastic. Enjoy.

  12. Barbara Martin

    Thank you, everyone, for the lovely comments.

    Banff is an extraordinary place to visit, with many different activities to experience. For those robust individuals: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and mountaineering. For those who choose a quieter visit: museums, gardens, horseback riding along scenic mountain trails and, of course, quaint shops with a variety of items to remind you of your visit.

    The hot spring pools are a wonderful way to relax after a strenuous day on the hiking trails or shopping. All those aching muscles will disappear after a twenty minute dip.

    For future and other jaunts into Banff National Park and other locations in the Canadian Rockies please drop by my blog.

    Thank you again, Shelley, for inviting me to present a post here. May your birthday, whatever day it is, bring you joy and many memories.

  13. Catherine Bybee

    This looks amazing! Thanks you for sharing a vacation spot I wouldn’t have known of otherwise.

  14. Colleen Love

    What an enchanting place! This is going on my list of places to visit, someday!

    Thank you for showing such lovely photos!


  15. Shelley Munro

    My birthday is on Monday, Barbara. :grin:
    Thanks so much for visiting me. I’m all ready to visit the Rockies again. I guess I’d better start saving!

  16. Cathy M

    Looks beautiful, thanks for sharing your pictures with us.

  17. David Maynard

    Fantastic views. I wish I could move to some of those areas. Beautiful mountains and trees.

  18. Paz

    What a wonderful-looking place. I’d love to visit. I’m putting the place down on my list of places to see. Thanks for this tour.


  19. Lindsey Ekland

    Would be worth the hassle of travelling to end up there. A trip to visit and spend time there in the late summer/early fall to avoid the mosquitoes will go on my wish list.

  20. Dani

    Those pictures are beautiful! I’d love to look out the windows of that place every day because the views are amazing.

  21. Tami Cullen

    Absolutely STUNNING!