Banff National Park Information
Many sources of Banff National Park information are available on the park and its commercial facilities.
Banff Visitor Centre
Many sources of information are available on the park and its commercial facilities. Once you’ve arrived, the best place to make your first stop is the BANFF VISITOR CENTRE (224 Banff Ave., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily mid-June to Aug., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily mid-May to mid-June and Sept., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily the rest of the year).
On the right-hand side of the Banff Visitor Centre is a row of desks staffed by PARKS CANADA (403/762-1550) visitor experts. They will answer all of your queries regarding Banff’s natural wonders and advise you of trail closures. Also here, you can pick up park brochures, or wander down the back to peruse park maps, view a free slide show, and watch videos about the park.
Also in the Banff Visitor Centre is a desk for BANFF LAKE LOUISE TOURISM (403/762-0270). This organization represents businesses and commercial establishments in the park. Here you can find out about accommodations and restaurants, and have any other questions answered. To answer the most frequently asked question, the restrooms are downstairs.
Also here is a small shop, which stocks a good variety of park-related literature, hiking guidebooks, and Gem Trek Maps.
Look for the free Bow Valley Crag and Canyon each Wednesday. It’s been keeping residents and visitors informed about park issues and town gossip for more than a century. The Rocky Mountain Outlook is another free weekly newspaper that offers coverage of mountain life and upcoming events. Both are available on stands at businesses throughout town.
Banff Books and Bookstores
The Canadian Rockies are one of the most written about, and definitely the most photographed, regions in Canada. Ted (E.J.) Hart, a former director of the Whyte Museum, has authored over a dozen books on the history of Banff National Park. SUMMERTHOUGHT PUBLISHING is a local company that has been publishing the authoritative Canadian Rockies Trail Guide since 1971. The WHYTE MUSEUM BOOK SHOP (111 Bear St., 403/762-2291, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) specializes in regional natural and human history books, and also has a good selection of historic prints.
Banff Public Library
BANFF PUBLIC LIBRARY (opposite Central Park at 101 Bear St., 403/762-2661) boasts an extensive collection of nonfiction books, many about the park and its environs, which makes it an excellent rainy-day hangout. It also has a large collection of magazines and newspapers. Internet access is free.
The POST OFFICE is on the corner of Buffalo and Bear Streets opposite Central Park. The general-delivery service here is probably among the busiest in the country, with thousands of seasonal workers in the area. Major BANKS can be found along Banff Avenue and are generally open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon. to Thurs. and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. FREYA’S CURRENCY EXCHANGE is in the Clock Tower Mall (108 Banff Ave., 403/762-4652). The only downtown laundry is CASCADE COIN LAUNDRY (7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily), on the lower level of Cascade Shops.
MINERAL SPRINGS HOSPITAL (301 Lynx St., 403/762-2222) has 24-hour emergency service. REXALL DRUG STORE, on the lower level of the Cascade Plaza (317 Banff Ave., 403/762-2245), is open until 9 p.m. daily.
Banff National Park Pass
Permits are required for entry into Banff National Park. A DAY PASS is adult $10.50, senior $9, to a maximum of $21 per vehicle. It is interchangeable between national parks and is valid until 4 pm the day following its purchase.
An annual DISCOVERY PASS, good for entry into national parks and national historic sites across Canada (including two within Banff National Park), is adult $73, senior $62, to a maximum of $146 per vehicle.
Passes can be bought at the eastern park gate on the Trans-Canada Highway, the park information centres in Banff or Lake Louise, and at campground kiosks, and online at the Parks Canada website.