Outdoor Activities in Alberta

Dear All,

I'd like to invite you all to enjoy the scientific program at the meeting. At the same time I hope you take the chance to explore the unique environment of the Canadian rockies. The meeting is held within convenient walking distance from the Banff town center, the hub for exploring Banff national park. However, the opportunities does not stop there. Adjacent to Banff is Jasper in Alberta, Kootenay and Yoho across the continental divide in British Columbia. Together the four parks make up the Canadian rocky mountain parks, and are listed with the United Nations (UNESCO) as a world heritage site. In fact there are five UN listed world heritage sites wholly or partially in Alberta - more than in any other province or state in North America. The other four are: Dinosaur, Head-smashed-in-buffalo-jump cultural historic site, Waterton-Glacier parks, and Wood Buffalo park. The first three out of these four are within convenient driving distance of the conference.

Below I give only a brief sampling of the almost endless possibilities to explore in and around Banff and the Canadian rockies. I will update this site with more specific information as the conference approaches. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any more information.

Martin Jagersand

Tunnel Mountain

View from halfway up Tunnel Mountain. The conference center is located a bit further down the slope. Picture by Martin Jagersand.

Johnson canyon

Numerous roadside stops along the Icefields Parkway offer everything from overlooks and interpretive displays, through short side hikes, to long multiday hiking trips.

Sentinel pass

Hike to Sentinel Pass, near Moraine lake after ICML 2004.

There are several possibilities for activities out of Banff, of which I list only a few here. They are listed roughly from easy quick walks near the conference center, to more involved adventures.

    Within walking distance from the conference center

  • Tunnel mountain hike The conference center is located on the lower slopes of tunnel mountain, a small mountain within the Banff town site. A trail leading to the top passes right by the center. The hike could be easily done in a couple of hours even over lunch break. See the picture above for a view from tunnel mountain. Several other part day, full day and multiday hikes start from Banff and vincinity. See for some hike descriptions.
  • Banff museum Housed in a turn of the century building, the Banff park museum a historical landmark. It was designed for and still houses natural history collections. A more recent focus is on resource management exhibits. The museum is downtown, a short walk or ride from the conference center.
  • Historic Banff Established in 1885 Banff is Canada's oldest national park. The Banff town site still preserves a lot of the architecture and feeling of earlier times. Taking the self guided Banff historic walk is one way to experience and learn more.
  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site The CPR - Canadian Pacific Railroad passes through Banff. In fact the impetus for establishing the national park came when railroad workers discovered hot springs at nearby Sulphur mountain. The workers tried to lay claims to the area. The railroad owners also saw it as a potential source of passengers and profits. Wisely the government decided to set it apart as a national park, which has been successively expanded into what is today's Banff. The original springs can be seen by visiting the Cave and Basin historic site.

    Half day trips

  • Lake Louise Nearby Lake Louise is blue lake set amid mountains. The shoreline is dominated by a large hotel, and the area can get quite crowded in the summer.
  • Moraine Lake More remotely situated, Moraine Lake has fewer visitors. The view of the nearby 10 peaks is immortalized on the old Canadian 20 dollar bill.
  • Bankhead The old coal town ruins of Bankhead is the starting point for several back country trails, as well as a historic site. In the early 1900's coal for the CPR railroad was mined here. An interpretive trail leads around the mine and various processing sites.
  • Route 1A Bow valley parkway Route 1a between Banff and Lake Louise is a more scenic alternative to the busy Trans Canada Hwy. Along the way are numerous pullouts and interpretive displays.

    Day and multiday adventures

  • Icefields Parkway Paralleling the continental divide and going between Banff and Jasper, the Icefields Parkway is a spectacular drive. A trip guide lists the roadside attractions.
  • Columbia Icefields One of the areas premier attractions are the Columbia Icefields (see picture below). Athabaska glacier is right near the road. An interpretive center explains the evolution of glaciers and gives tours.
  • Jasper Just north of Banff, Jasper national park is a bit quieter in the busy summertime compared to Banff. The area around Maligne lake and river offers some of the most spectacular hiking and boating.
Athabaska glacier
Athabaska Glacier seen from the icefields visitor center. Picture by Martin Jagersand.