AUTUMN IN BANFF

by Pam Hobbs

Last August, Banff was so unbearably crowded I literally took to the hills, coming down only for essentials such as money and food. Sidewalks then were jammed with tourists wandering from one shop to the next, restaurants appeared to be filled all the time, and mid-week lineups at the banks rivalled those of big city branches on a Friday evening. Tour busses and camping vehicles clogged the streets. Parking was a nightmare. "How do you stand the pace?" I asked the saleswoman bagging my warm croissants. "Well, this summer beats most" she said, "but two weeks from now I'll start to wind down. September and October is when I catch my breath and really enjoy the park. Unless you ski, I reckon fall is the best time to visit Banff."

I am sure she is right. With the tourist flood reduced to a trickle, or even a steady flow, the townsite would be a delight. Surrounding mountains, dressed in autumn finery, can only be glorious. Off-season rates are in effect for visitor accommodation. And experts tell us that spring and fall are the best seasons for viewing park wildlife.

This is Banff National Park, established in 1885 as the first link in a chain of magnificent nature preserves across Canada.....

Today, modern Banff in a mountain-rimmed valley through which the Bow River so prettily winds, has a year-round population of approximately 6,000. Banff Avenue, stretching from one end of town to the other, is lined with souvenir and specialty shops. Restaurants will satisfy almost every taste. Museums fascinate with regional wildlife and historical exhibits. The Banff Centre, founded in 1933 presents year-round entertainment.

Hot springs may no longer be the area's biggest draw but still they shouldn't be missed. In 1914 an enormous outdoor pool (Canada's largest at the time) was built at the Cave, fed by the hot springs those railroad workers discovered. It fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in 1985 as part of a grand Centennial Centre commemorating the National Park's 100th birthday.... etc,etc, for a total of 980 words, ending with:



GETTING THERE: By air from major North American gateways, o you will fly to Calgary, from where a bus service or rented car will take you on the 60 mile (l00km) journey to Banff. Visitor accommodation offers an unusually wide choice, including modern hotels and motels, rustic cottages, mountain resorts and two of Canadian Pacific's castle-like hotels established in the late 1800s. Some campgrounds remain open all year.

For more information on the park, go to www.parkscanada.ca and follow the links or contact the Superintendent, Banff National Park, P.O. Box 900, Banff, Alberta. TOL OCO. Telephone 403-762-1550, Email banff.vrc@pc.gc.ca