Backpacking in Banff National Park is usually done from May through October due to the severity of the Canadian winter. There are over 1,500 km of trails to use along with 50 campsites located in the back country. There are also trail shelters as well as alpine huts for hikers and backpackers to spend time in during their journeys. Guides are available and permits are required for any person or group planning on being in the park overnight. Since the weather in this part of the world can change rapidly for the worse, hikers are advised to take extreme caution and be aware of all possibilities.
According to the Parks Canada website, birdwatchers in Banff have documented as many as 260 separate bird species. In addition to those that live in the park, there are numerous migratory birds that can be spotted as these creatures make their way either north or south at certain times of the year. Among the multitude of birds that can be seen in Banff are bald eagles, mallards, tundra swans, redpolls, pygmy owls, snow buntings, teals, ospreys, mergansers, wood ducks, barn owls, Canadian geese, scaup, goldeneyes and warblers.
A total of 53 different kinds of mammals call Banff home, with predators such as the grizzly bear, brown bear, bobcat, Canadian lynx, wolverine, mountain lion, coyote and wolf at the very top of this ecosystem's food chain. There are actually more grizzly bears than black bears in this region, and anyone that ventures into the wilderness needs to be aware that the potential for a bear encounter is very real. Other wildlife that lives in Banff includes marmots, beavers, porcupines, elk, bison, mountain oats, bighorn sheep, caribou, mule deer, white-tailed deer and ground squirrels.
The winter months bring a whole new set of fun things to do for tourists flocking to Banff. Cross-country skiing is immensely popular as are downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. Extreme sports such as ice diving and ice waterfall climbing are not for the faint of heart but are allowed in the park. Skating, photography and experiencing the many hot springs located in Banff are also popular winter activities.
Scenic Gondola Ride
It is highly recommended that anyone traveling to Banff take a ride on the gondola that brings people to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. This allows you to view the surrounding countryside from an elevation of almost 7,500 feet and gives you a breathtaking look at nearby peaks, crystal clear mountain lakes and Bow Valley, which expands from east to west from that area. The ride takes 8 minutes one way and the scenery will not soon be forgotten.