Banff National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains and was established in 1885 making it Canada's oldest national park.
The park is located 110?180 kilometres (70?110 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, and encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes.
The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial centre of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.
The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in Banff's early years, building the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, and attracting tourists through extensive advertising. In the early 20th century, roads were built in Banff, at times by war internees, and through Great Depression-era public works projects.
Since the 1960s, park accommodations have been open all year, with annual tourism visits to Banff increasing to over 5 million in the 1990s. Millions more pass through the park on the Trans-Canada Highway. As Banff is one of the world's most visited national parks, the health of its ecosystem has been threatened.
In 1984, Banff was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the other nearby national and provincial parks, for the landscapes containing mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and limestone caves as well as fossils found here. With this designation came added obligations for conservation.