Views: Banff National Park: Moraine Lake by Google Maps

Banff National Park (established 1885, 6641 km2) is Canada's first and most heavily visited National Park. Its eastern gate is located 111 km west of Calgary in the Rocky Mountains, and stretches 240 km along the eastern slope of the continental divide. Jasper National Park lies at its northern boundary. Originally set aside to preserve sulphur hot springs for public use, Banff's blend of towering peaks and flower-strewn meadows makes it among Canada's most exhilarating holiday areas.

The largest cave system in Canada (Castleguard Cave) extends for 23 km below the Columbia Icefields. The glaciers still clinging to upper mountain slopes have helped shape the park's landscape, creating numerous lakes, waterfalls and broad, U-shaped valleys. Forests of lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce and alpine fir soften the flanks of the mountains and are home to many large mammals, including moose, elk, black bear and the awesome grizzly bear - the park's most formidable resident. Bighorn sheep, mule deer and other wildlife can often be seen alongside park roads. In contrast, the small population of cougar and wolf are rarely seen.

Campgrounds, resorts, alpine and cross-country skiing, and 1100 km of hiking trails radiate from the Banff town site. Over 4.5 million visitors come to the park each year.