Banff: An Underrated Vacation Destination

Guest post by Nacie Carson

When you think of the great vacation destinations in North America, what locales come to mind? Las Vegas? New York? The Grand Canyon? Montreal? While all of these destinations are worthy in their own right, they often overshadow one of the great gems of the Northern Hemisphere: The Banff region of Alberta, Canada. Located in the breathtakingly beautiful Canadian Rockies, the Banff region is home to some incredible vacation activities and destinations, not the least of which is Banff National Park, which spans almost three thousand miles of the most stunning natural scenery you can imagine. There are so many things to do in Banff, it makes you wonder why it is not one of the number one destinations on the continent!

Banff is such a special tourist destination because it offers such an interesting variety of diverse activities and unique attractions. The area was originally built up around the natural hot springs in the area; in the nineteenth century, the a stretch of the Canadian Pacific Railway was built to specifically serve the area, bringing visitors from around the world to the mineral-rich waters that abound in the region. The clear mountain air and pristine natural setting, combined with the therapeutic hot springs, soon became a favorite recuperation destination for patients in the Northern Hemisphere, and by the dawn of the twentieth century, Banff was a unique combination of bustling tourism and remote natural beauty.

While other, more sensationalist tourist destinations have sprung up around the continent since Banff’s boom years, the region maintains many of the same draws that it had a hundred years ago: the spring water is still world class, the mountain vistas are still incomparable, and the air is just as pure as ever.

In 1985, Banff National Park was been considered a World Heritage Site. However, in addition to all these over-looked wonders, Banff now boasts some incredible additional attractions, including the Banff Gondola. The Banff Gondola ascends nearly 2,300 feet to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, and offers incredible views of the six mountain ranges that surround Banff. Riding the gondola is one of the best ways to take in the real grandeur and splendor of the region’s mountains, and the summit is loaded with activities, learning opportunities, and fun to entertain a whole family or just a curious traveler for hours. There is truly no other gondola ride that is as heart-stopping or truly awe-inspiring as this one! Sure, the Banff region doesn’t have replicas of the Eifel Tower. There is no beach where starlets play and no massive skyscrapers that charge you an arm and a leg to enjoy. But what Banff has sadly very few other places in the world have: natural, unsullied beauty. Banff is a much-overlooked vacation destination not just for the variety of things to do but also for its most fundamental element: a deep connection with the natural world. In the Banff region, you can see in abundance things that are quickly disappearing from the rest of the world: glaciers, clean air, certain species of plants and animals. Cities, those concrete jungles, are the future of humankind; we are building them everywhere, and really, what makes one so special you have to see it? But the Banff region helps everyone who travels there remember our human past, one that was connected and integrated within the natural world, not on a quest to force it into submission and scarcity.

If you have an opportunity to travel this year, why not check out the Banff region? It holds more uniqueness, more specialness, and more opportunities to recharge your batteries than those other travel destinations you’ve been thinking about!