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Area Information



Here are some basic facts about Banff:

Population

Banff has has about 10,000 residents, and only recently became its own incorporated municipality (the first inside a National Park). Banff receives about 6 million vistors each year!

Location

Banff is located in Alberta, about 100 kilometres west of Calgary, and nestled just inside the Rocky Mountain. The National Park around the town covers and area of 6, 641 square kilometres (2, 564 square miles). The town is at 5110' north latitude, 11533' west longitude. We are in Mountain standard time, two hours earlier than Toronto and New York, and 8 hours earlier than western Europe.
Alberta is the most westerly of Canada's three prairie provinces and home to 2.5 million friendly people living around its 661, 185 square kilometres (264, 474 square miles). The province is about the same area as Texas or twice the size of Japan.

Name

Banff is named for a town of the same name in Scotland, home country to most of Canada's early explorers and particulararly the railway builders.

Nearby Calgary was named by North West Mounted Police ("the Mounties") Col. James Macleod after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull, off the western coast of Scotland, which he had visited. It was a port for poor refugees heading for North America.

Economy

Tourism drives Banff's economy. The 3.5 million annual visitors to Banff National Park [879, 000 of them alpine skiers] spend almost $290 million every year. Other than servicing the permanent residents of Banff, there is no other industry, since no other industry is allowed in the National Park.

Weather

Daytime and nighttime temperatures can differ widely, because of the Canadian Rockies's dry air (there is little atmospheric moisture to slow temperature swings) and its mountain elevation.

In the summer, overnight temperatures often drop close to freezing (the Canadian Rockies can get snow in ANY month of the year), yet reach daytime highs of 30° C (90° F) by noon. In the winter time, "chinook" winds can raise the temperatures as much as 50° C (100° F) over a few hours, evaporating snow so fast that the slush stage is skipped.

Dress with multiple layers no matter what the time of year or the weather forecast. Because of the dry air, it's a good idea to use skin moisturizers and lip lubricants.

Here are the average daily temperatures for the Canadian Rockies:

       Hours of  High   Low
    Month  Sunshine  C F  C  F
    January  57  -5.3 23 -14.9 5
    February  99  -0.1 32 -11.3 13
    March  131  3.8 40 -7.9 18
    April  155  9.0 49 -2.8 27
    May   197  14.2 57  1.5 34
    June  197  18.7 66  5.4 42
    July  259  22.1 71  7.4 45
    August  211  21.6 70  6.8 44
    September 167  16.1 60  2.7 38
    October  126  10.1 50 -1.1 31
    November  81  0.5 32 -8.2 18
    December  44  -5.3 23 -13.8 7

An approximate guide to Celsius Temperatures is as follows:

Metric-Imperial temperature conversion chart

Alberta has significant variations in temperature between seasons and between locales. South-eastern Alberta has some very hot, dry summer days has the most hours of sunshine of any province. Because of the dry climate, temperatures rise quickly in the day, and fall quickly at night; temperatures can range as much as 20C (45F) on any given day. In central and northern Alberta (from Red Deer north), rainfall is slightly more frequent during spring and summer, and temperatures are more consistent over a day. The mountains are usually warm in mid-summer, spring and fall, yet cool at night. Winter temperatures are milder in southern Alberta than most people expect, often with the highest temperatures in Canada.

Tipping

Some hotels include tips or gratuities with group programs to simplify bookkeeping. This will usually include gratuities for housekeeping, bell service and food service. In a hotel, bell service should be tipped about $1 per bag, and housekeeping $1 to $5 dollars a day (in proportion to your room rate). Visitors should know that the standard tip in restaurants is 10%-15% (on restaurant bills, an average tip will be 150% of the GST), with 20% (double the GST) for very outstanding service. This is especially important for visitors from countries where tipping on meals is not done: here the waitering staff depend on tips for a significant portion of their incomes. Tip taxis about 10%, and a dollar a bag they carry for you (not just unload), or at the very least round fares up to the nearest dollar.

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