- Banff National Park
* * *Park, southwestern Alberta, Canada.Established in 1885 as Canada's first national park, it lies on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and includes mineral springs, ice fields, and glacial lakes, including Lake Louise. It has been greatly expanded to its present area of 2,564 sq mi (6,641 sq km). Banff is famed for its spectacular beauty, and visitors are so numerous that it is now more a recreation than a conservation area.
* * *national park in southwestern Alberta, Canada. Located on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Banff occupies 2,564 square miles (6,641 square km). It is adjacent to Yoho (Yoho National Park) and Kootenay (Kootenay National Park) national parks and south of Jasper National Park. Noted for its beauty, plant and animal diversity, and ongoing geologic processes, Banff was designated part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage site in 1984.In 1883 employees of Canadian Pacific Railway (Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.) discovered a cluster of natural hot springs (hot spring) above the Bow River valley, a narrow montane ecoregion that runs through the heart of what is now Banff. Squabbles over ownership of the springs led the Canadian government in 1885 to declare the 10-square-mile (26-square-km) area around the springs a natural reserve. Two years later, the region became Canada's first national park under the Rocky Mountains Park Act. In 1930 the park was extended to 2,585 square miles (6,695 square km) and given its present name, and in 1949 the park was slightly reduced in size.In its western section, Banff extends to the high alpine peaks along the Continental Divide, but most of the park area lies in the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains, which are locally composed of limestone and shale and have a toothlike appearance. Banff contains active glaciers, including the great Columbia Icefield to the north, and montane wetlands and meadows, such as the valleys of the Bow (Bow River) and Red Deer (Red Deer River) rivers. Tree species of the montane region include lodgepole pine, aspen, and, less commonly, black spruce. Englemann spruce and limber pine grow in the subalpine region, and hardier vegetation, such as the low-growing willow, inhabit the alpine zone. The park is home to the grizzly and black bear, wapiti (elk), moose, mule deer, wolf, cougar, mountain sheep, mountain goat, marmot, and an abundant bird population. Banff's Vermilion Lakes is an archaeological site with some of Canada's earliest known human remains, dating to 10,500 years ago.With more than 4 million visitors each year, Banff is Canada's most popular national park and an internationally famous alpine sports location. There are numerous campgrounds and trailer sites, and there are many hotels in nearby towns. Ecologists have warned, however, that this human presence is having an adverse effect on wildlife and fish habitats, animal migration, and water quality.
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