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Banff National Park, Alberta
 
Banff Town ( view from Sulphur Mountain ) 
Banff has the highest elevation of any town in Canada (1463m=4800ft). From this view atop Sulphur Mountain, we see to the left is Cascade Mountain, Tunnel Mountain (town-center), the Bow River and Spray River. Cascade Mountain (2998m = 9836 ft) native name is "Minihapa", which means "Mountain Where the Water Falls”. Whiskey Creek and Cascade Mountain were renamed by explorer James Hector in 1858. Cascade Mtn. first known ascent was in 1897 by L. Stewart, Tom Wilson.

In the top center is the Fairholme Range and Lake Minnewanka. The Fairholme Range is a large "montane" region which has a milder climate that enables vital plants to grow and provides living space habitat for many species of wildlife. Montane regions cover only about 3 percent of all of Banff park. Lake Minnewanka got it's name from the Nakota (Stoney) native name “Minn-waki” for the “Lake of the Spirits”. They respected and feared this lake for its resident spirits - even the European explorers called it Devil's Lake. In 1886 a log hotel “Beach House”, was built on the original lakeshore and by 1912, a summer village called Minnewanka Landing was established but is now flooded over (30m=100 ft) from a dam built in 1941. The lake is 28 km (17 mi) long, 142 m (466 ft) deep and is fed by the Cascade River.

The Stoney people had first called the hill in the middle "Sleeping Buffalo" - renamed "Tunnel Mountain" for the suggestion to build a railway tunnel through it. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth hiked to the top of "Sleeping Buffalo" hill during their 1939 Royal Tour. The area was named Banff in 1884 by Lord Steven, a Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) director, for his birthplace, Banffshire, Scotland. The C.P.R. built grand hotels along the rail line to promotw the Banff Hotsprings Hotel as a popular international tourist resort and business stop. At one time this route was the fastest way to travel from the East to the Pacific West Coast. Banff was settled in the late 1880's, after the railway was built through the Bow Valley. In 1883, three C.P.R. workers were told by natives of natural hot springs on Sulphur Mountain. To protect the area, in 1885, the Federal Government of Canada led by Prime Minister John A. MacDonald, established a federal land reserveof 26 km² around the hot springs. In 1887, the reserve area was increased to 673 km² and named "Rocky Mountain Park." This was the beginning of Canada's National Park system. Banff's recent growth concerns many people as to the damage to the surrounding wilderness, so growth is carefully controlled. Unfortunately, fences and a lack of animal overpasses cutoff many animals from safe, out of town migration to high nutrient, natural aquatic plants and watering areas of Vermillion Lakes, and nearby rivers. Natural migration patterns have been altered. Cougars, Bears, Elk and Deer can occasionally be glimpsed nearby - keep your distance ! They are wild and can be dangerous as they hunt or defend their young, territory and themselves. Banff and Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks are United Nations World Heritage Sites.

Mount Rundle
Mt. Rundle first had the Cree name "Waskahigan Watchi" meaning "House Mountain." Renamed Terrace Mtn. by James Hector during his explorations, it was again renamed circa 1857 by James Palliser for Reverend Robert Rundle, who learned the Cree language and culture. Rev. Rundle acted as a calming influence among both cultures in Edmonton, Rocky Mtn. House and Banff. 
First ascent by J. McArthur during the 1888 Bow Valley survey.
 
Banff Springs Hotel
William C. Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, commsioned B. Price of New York to design the original wooden hotel. Construction began in the spring of 1867, and opened June 1, 1888. A fire destroyed the original hotel in 1926, then was rebuilt in 1928 using the stone and brick we see today. Each decade added more rooms so that by 1967, the hotel had 1000 rooms and a spectacular golf course, with a conference centre added in 1990. For over a century, the Banff Springs Hotel still remains a premier mountain resort destination in the Canadian Rockies.
 
 
Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain is located about halfway between Banff & Lake-Louise, at the Hwy 93 turn-off to Johnston Canyon or Kootenay National Park. In 1858, explorer James Hector marvelled at this mountain range, which reminded him of a castle. The limestone cliffs are about 500 million years old, however the rocky base under the cliffs was formed only 200 million years ago. Glaciers, the sun, ice and wind driven sands have eroded the cliff tops to create the jagged peaks that we see today.   Castle Mountain ( 2766m / 9029 ft ) was first ascended in 1884 by Arthur Coleman.
 
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon began forming about 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated after the last ice age. The canyon is made of soft limestone rock, which is easily carved by the waters of Johnston Creek. There are various layers of much harder Dolomite rock which slowed the erosion, thus creating many waterfalls such as the 20m (60ft) Lower Falls (distance 1.1km) and the 40m(120ft) Upper Falls (distance 2.7km). Near the Upper Falls, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats may be seen. Near the entrance are Columbia Ground Squirrels, and along the trail one ofter encounters cheerful Chipmunks scampering about. Trees of spruce, pine, fir, aspen provide food and homes for wildlife. The steep cliffs provide natural defense for the rarely seen Black Swift, which lays a single egg. The cooler temperatures of the canyon prevent dehydration, and slow the chicks metabolism to enable it to go all day without food. Many other species of birds such as Townsend Warbler, Black-eye Juncos, the Dipper, Winter Wren, Cordilleran Flycatcher, and Yellow-rump Warbler can also be found nesting or looking for food in the cool canyon. Among the gentle fragrances of pine trees, and the twittering of birds, there is always something interesting to see at Johnston Canyon !   Johnston Canyon Ink Pots - At the end of the 6km trail are the Ink Pots, natural pools of colorful algae and delicately tinted water that bubble up from an underground water spring. Minerals in the water delicately paint the colorful algae. You may also wish to visit the Paint Pots nearby at Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park.
 
 
Lake Louise
This photo shows the true perspective of Lake Louise compared to Mount Victoria. Natives of the Stoney tribe once called this HO-RUN-NUM-NAY - "Lake of Little Fishes". In August 1882, explorer Tom Wilson, was shown this lake by natives and he called it "Emerald Lake". "Lake Louise" was named in 1884, to honour Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. In 1892 the Lake Louise Forest Park was formed to protect the forest & wildlife. In 1902, Lake Louise & Moraine Lake were added to the new Banff National Park. Mt. Victoria ( 3464 m / 11,365 ft ) is located on the continental divide, on the border of Banff & Yoho National Parks. Mt. Victoria is named for Queen Victoria of England. Queen Victoria was the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent & Strathearn and former widow Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Queen Victoria was born at London on 24 May 1819 and became Queen a month after her 18th birthday. Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert in Feb.1840 and she saw the need for European harmony, so arranged many marriages of her children and grandchildren with the nobility of Europe. Queen Victoria ruled for over 63 years, the longest of any British Monarch, during a time when Britain rose to new heights as a worldpower. She died 22 January, 1901. Mt. Victoria was previously known as Mt. Green, for priest Rev. William Green, of the British Alpine Club. Rev. Green's book "Among the Selkirk Glaciers" written in 1888, popularized Canadian Rockies for international tourists and mountain climbers. The first recorded ascent was 1897 by J.N.Collie, C.Fay, A.Michael, guided by P.Sarbach.
 
Vintage photo of Chateau Lake Louise
In 1889, William Whyte of the C.P.R. hired W.J. Astley of Banff to make a log cabin using the CPR's carpenters. The cabin was destroyed by fire in 1891. Astley was then directed to build a Swiss-style chalet, which was completed in 1893. A new wing was added in 1913. The Swiss style chalet was destroyed by fire in 1925. The new wing was undamaged, and is still part of the present-day Chateau. The original photograph was by Byron Harmon who arrived in Banff in 1903 (died in 1942). Mr. Harmon is still is reknowned as one of the best photographers of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This card is a tribute to him. The orignal B&W picture was enlarged & enhanced to clarify detail, corrected for aging flaws then colored for artistry.
 
Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake gets its color from rock dust created by glaciers eroding these mountains. A picture of this beautiful lake was on the Canadian $20 currency from 1969-1979. The lake is adjacent to Lake Louise, in the Valley of Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 6183 ft (1884 m). The peaks are part of the continental divide, which is also the boundary between Banff & Kootenay parks. The peaks were originally named in 1894 by explorers Wilcox & Allen using Stoney native words for counting. Some peaks were renamed whiles others still retain their original native counting word names( left - right ) - Fay (1-Heejee), Little (2-Nom), Bowlen (3-Yamnee),4-Tonsa, Perren (5-Sapta), Allen (6-Shappee), Tuzo (7-Sagowa), Deltaform (8-Sahnowa), 9-Neptuak, Hungabee "chieftan" (10-Wenchemna). Altitudes: Fay 3235m=10,614 ft Little 3088m=10,132 ft Bowlen 3072m=10,079 ft Tonsa 3057m=10,030 ft Perren 3051m=10,010 Allen 3310m=10,860 ft Tuzo 3246m=10,650 ft Deltaform 3424m=11,234 ft Neptuak 3233m=10,607 ft Hungabee 3492m=11,457 ft
 
Mount Temple
Mount Temple is located in the Bow River Valley, north of Moraine Lake. Named by George Dawson in 1884 for Sir Richard Temple, leader of the British Association Excursion Party. First ascent in 1894 by Samuel Allen, L.F. Frissel, Walter Wilcox. Mount Temple is composed of quartzite and limestone from the early Cambrian era 550 million years ago. Autumn cold changes the needles of larch trees to spectacular golden colors.
 
 
Herbert Lake
Scenic Herbert Lake is along the highway just a few miles north of Lake Louise village. A pleasant rest stop and picnic site where you can often see migratory waterfowl and the occasional moose.  Named for H.Herbert, Earl of Carnarvon, author of British North America Act for the Confederation of Provinces to form Canada (1867). In Yoho N.P. at Emerald Lake ( 27 km / 17 miles ) , you can see Carnarvon peak, also named for H. Herbert.

In the background is Waputik peak (elev. 2755m = 9039 ft), in Yoho National Park. Waputik is the Stoney Indian word for white goat - the mountain goat. George Dawson gave the peak this name in 1884 during the survey of the region. Autumn cold causes the larch trees to a golden color. The Waputik range extends west into Yoho N.P. to include the President Range on the West side of Emerald Lake The Waputik Range also goes 20 km/ 12 miles North to Howse Peak at Waterfowl Lake near Saskatchewan Crossing.

 
Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake is named after explorer Bill Peyto. The lake is colored by minerals from and possibly algae in the lake water. 7000 years ago, gigantic Wapta Glacier extended a toe of Peyto Glacier to fill this valley to 500m / 1640 ft above the viewpoint where the picture was acquired.  For many years, glaciers measured in Jasper-Banff Icefields, and other parks, are found to be shrinking very rapidly.

(L-R) Mistaya Mountain (3096m), Barbette (2952m) and Patterson (3191m).    Mistaya is a native's word for "grizzly bear".  A barbette is a cannon elevation platform in a fort or ship.  John Patterson was the third president (1914) of the Alpine Club of Canada.  Peyto Lake is found at Bow Summit, the highest point of the highway between Jasper & Banff.
 
Mount Chephren
Located in the Mistaya Valley near Saskatchewan River Crossing. The lower part of Mt. Chephren is comprised of pink & red quartzite rocks. First named Pyramid Mountain, however, that was easily confused with Pyramid Mtn. by Jasper townsite, so it was renamed in 1918 by J.Torrington for Chephren (a.k.a.Khafre) the Egyptian Pharoah whose slaves built the second Great Pyramid circa 2330 B.C. Viewed from the North, the mountain shape is similar to the Sphinx in Egypt (without face details). First ascent in 1913 by J.Hickson, Ed Fuez Jr.(guide). At the left is Howse Peak 3290m = 10,794 ft. named for Joseph Howse, a trader who traversed this mountain pass in 1809, two years after it was discovered by explorer David Thompson. From 1799-1809 Howse was in charge of Carlton House, of the Hudson Bay Co. near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. First ascent of Howse Peak in 1902 by J.N. Collie, H.Stutfield, G.Weed, H.Woolley, H.Kuafmann (guide).
Waterfowl Lake is named for the many migratory birds who travel thousands of miles to nest here and raise their young.


Mount Murchison

Mt Murchison was named in 1858 by explorer James Hector for Sir Roderick Murchison, director of the British Geological Survey - whom had appointed Hector geologist for the Palliser Expedition.  Murchison was an accomplished adventurer, having explored UK and nearby nations and developed geological theories for Russia's Ural Mountains.  The base of Mt Murchison is about 5 x 7 km (3 x 4.5 miles ) with seven peaks over 3000m ( 9842 ft ).  The peaks are unofficially named for mythical castle towers to honor people & animals - Engelhard (tower), Gest, Feuz, Bison, Cromwell, Hall & South East Towers.  First ascent 1902 by J.N. Collie, H.E.Stutfiled, G.M.Weed guided by Hans Kaufmann. The North Saskatchewan River flows from the Saskatchewan Glacier of the Columbia Icefields about 50km NW of here to the City of Edmonton, Alberta then eventually through the province of Saskatchewan into Lake Winnepeg, Manitoba.

 
Parker Ridge

The highest apparent peak (photo-center) of Parker Ridge is Hilda Peak ( A3 peak) (3060m=10039 ft). Hilda Peak is a subsidiary peak of Mt Athabasca to the West. Hilda Peak is technically a “Horn” as it has at least three glaciers adjacent to it  – Boundary (NW-not in photo), Hilda (South-in photo), Saskatchewan (West-not in photo). 


Parker Ridge is just a few miles south of Mt Athabasca and the Columbia Icefield, near the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks. Parker Ridge is actually part of an extensive syncline rock formation that extends from Castle Mountain near Lake Louise to Mt Kerkeslin about 50 km North near Athabasca Falls, near Jasper. A syncline is a down-folding or bending of the sedimentary rock - which occured when the Rocky Mountains were formed. This down-folding of rock is visible at the Weeping Wall of Cirrus Mountain, Parker Ridge, and the  twisted rock of Nigel Peak ( NW, visible from road).

Parker Ridge has a relatively easy hike (275m=893 ft) to a viewpoint to better see the surrounding glaciers and peaks. Please be careful not to damage the delicate plants which have a very short growing season – usually just a couple of weeks each summer. The cold,dry winds draw moisture from the plants, yet this harsh climate miraculously is home to alpine flowers such as the forget-me-nots, cinquefoil, rock jasmine,buttercup, purple saxifrage, moss campion. Where there are flowers there may be mountain bees and alpine butterflies. Trees are stunted by the cold average temperature year round (treeline 2100m=7000 ft),so the trees near the higher elevations do not have enough time to produce cones – instead, branches that touch the ground will take root and enable the trees to spread out. Soaring high above are Hawks and Golden Eagles that keep a sharp eye on Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Pikas and Columbia Ground Squirrels. Other birds nest in the surrounding valley, such as the White-tailed Ptarmigan, Rosy Finches, Pippits, Horned Larks, Golden Crowned Sparrows, and the ever cheerful Robins, heralds of spring. So with all this wildlife, please drive slowly and carefully everywhere, giving even the smallest creatures the benefit of your brakes and a safe distance. Thank you ! : )

 
Weeping Wall
Water falls tumble down about 300m = 1000ft from Cirrus Mountain to the Sunwapta Valley and then into the North Saskatchewan River, which begins at Saskatchewan Glacier of the Columbia Icefields. The river turns East at Saskatchewan Crossing, eventually flows through the city of Edmonton, through the province of Saskatchewan, then finally into Lake Winnepeg, Manitoba. In the winter, this is a popular place for ice climbing.
 
 
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