When I tell people that one of my favorite destinations is Banff, they often ask me where it is and why do I like it so much. One of the ways to explain it is to talk about Banff's location and history. Banff is not really that old as far as history goes. It was founded in the early 1880s when the Canadian Pacific Railway was built through the Bow Valley. The name Banff was given to it by the president of the railroad, who was born in Banff, Scotland.
Banff is situated in the Canadian Rockies and is at the second highest elevation in Alberta. It is surrounded by mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs and all of the other beauty that nature provides. Banff became a municipality, and is the first Canadian municipality to be located in a Canadian national park (Banff National Park was formed in 1885). The town is surrounded by mountains (Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain). There are two rivers that flow through it (Spray and Bow); one waterfall (Bow Falls) and numerous lakes (most notably the Vermilion Lakes). For these reasons, Banff has become a huge resort destination, and the people visiting this small town have grown greatly since I first visited it in the mid-1990s.
One of the best compositions that gives an idea of what surrounds the town is this one, shot from Mount Norquay. It shows the town (not very large by town standards), with Mount Rundle towering over it on the left. The clouds were great in this early evening shot and hopefully it conveys why this is one of my favorite destinations.