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Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885. This amazing park is full of crystal clear lakes, majestic mountains, dense forests, alpine meadows and awe inspiring glaciers. Archaeological evidence dates native inhabitants of the area to 10,300 years ago.

The Park was first established by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald upon discovery of hot springs in Banff. He set aside a small reserve of 26 square kilometers around the Cave and Basin as a public park. Then in 1887 the park was expanded to 674 square kilometers (260 sq mi) and named Rocky Mountains Park. It has been growing since and is now 6,641 square kilometers in size.

An attraction not be missed is the Icefields Parkway which connects Lake Louise to Jasper. Take a leisurely drive and be sure to stop at such spectacular sights as Mistaya Falls and Peyto Lake. Wildlife is abundant throughout the park. In addition to fish and birds, 56 mammal species coexist in this natural environment. The largest predators, grizzly and black bears, cougars and wolves are occasionally seen. Elk, deer, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep are common and smaller animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits are easily spotted.

In addition to the natural beauty of the park, there are many activities and adventures for visitors. Summers are perfect for hiking, biking, boating, fishing and golfing. While the winter weather brings wonderful conditions for skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowmobiling and ice climbing. A plethora of resorts also makes Banff National Park a beautiful destination for honeymoons and getaways.

© 2012 Marcus Dupuis, Century 21 Nordic Realty, Canmore, Alberta, Canada.