Getting To Banff National Park
Banff National Park is located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on the Trans-Canada Highway.
The major gateway to Banff is the Calgary International Airport (YYC). There are numerous connections and direct flights available from Europe, North America and other international points. From the airport, there are several transportation choices. Buses and vans operate from the airport directly to Banff and to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. As well, all major rental car companies are available. Advance reservations for rental cars are strongly recommended.
Passport, Visa, and Insurance Requirements
All people visiting Canada require at a minimum a valid passport to enter the country: one that does not expire within six months of your travel dates. You may also require a travel visa of some kind. Since visa requirements may differ for each country, please visit the FAQ on the Government of Canada's Web site to see what the requirements are for your country. Further information or clarification about travel documents can be obtained from the Canadian Embassy in your country or from the nearest Canadian Consulate.
Authors, speakers, or registered conference attendees who require an official "Letter of Invitation" for travel visa purposes should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org any time between February 1, 2007 and March 31, 2007. Your request will be handled as quickly as possible.
Note that Canada does not pay for hospital or medical services for visitors. Please ensure you have the appropriate health/travel insurance in case of an emergency.
Air Transportation to Calgary
In addition to charter airlines, both Air Canada and British Airways have direct flights to Calgary from London-Heathrow, and Air Canada and Lufthansa from Frankfurt. Several US airlines fly to Calgary including: Alaska/Horizon, American Airlines/Harmony, Continental, Delta, Frontier, North West Airlines/Sky Service, United Airlines, US Airways/America West, and WestJet. Domestic air carriers include Air Canada, Air Canada/Jazz, Air North, Allegro, and WestJet.
There are also numerous international airlines that fly into both Toronto and Vancouver with direct connections to Calgary (Toronto-Calgary: approx. 3 hrs 50 min, Vancouver-Calgary: approx. 1 hr).
Rail Transportation to Calgary
For a spectacular experience through the Rocky Mountains between Vancouver and Calgary, try a Rocky Mountaineer train trip.
Bus Transportation to Banff
Bus service is available from Calgary International Airport, with Brewster Transportation or the Banff Airporter. There are several daily departures to and from Banff. Some buses provide door-to-door service to your hotel, while others operate to/from the bus depot in Banff. A short walk or local taxi will then get you to your destination hotel.
The bus is an economical option if you are planning to stay within the Banff townsite throughout your visit. Fares are approximately $45 CDN each way, or $85 CDN round trip. Travel time (one way) is approximately 2 hours.
Please check the following sites to coordinate bus schedules with your incoming and/or outgoing flights: Banff Airporter and Brewster Transportation. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
The total driving distance from Calgary to Banff is approximately 130 km/80 miles. From the airport, you should plan for a driving time of at least 90 minutes (perhaps up to 2 hours if you are driving through Calgary during rush hour). The Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy #1) is the main route, taking you directly into the Rockies. It is a scenic four-lane divided highway. If possible, try to plan your driving time for daylight hours so that you can appreciate the full splendor of the Rockies. And watch out for wildlife!
If you do not already have a National Park Pass, you will have to stop at the Park Entrance Gates (located on the highway just after the town of Canmore) to buy one. Prices range from about $10 CDN per day to $85 CDN per year. Payment can be made using cash, credit cards, or Interac. Park permits can also be purchased in the Banff townsite if you later decide to extend your visit.
- When leaving Calgary International Airport, take Barlow Trail South for about 5 km (3 miles). Approximately 4 traffic lights.
- At the 16th Avenue intersection, turn right (west) toward Banff. The exit is on the right hand side. Note that 16th Avenue is also known as the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway #1).
- Follow 16th Avenue West slowly through the city of Calgary.
- At the west edge of Calgary, 16th Avenue speeds up and becomes Highway 1 West. Follow Highway 1 West for about 1 hour until you have passed the town of Canmore.
- You must stop at the Banff National Park gates and obtain a valid park pass if you do not have one already. It is illegal to stay overnight in the national park without a valid permit. Prices range from $10 CDN to $100 CDN depending on the number and age of the people in your vehicle, and the planned length of your stay. Credit cards are accepted.
- After the Park Gates keep following Highway 1 west.
- There are two Banff exits on the Trans-Canada Highway. The first exit, called Banff/Lake Minnewanka, is the one to use when traveling west to Banff from Calgary. The exit is on the right hand side of the highway. After taking the exit ramp, turn left to head toward the town of Banff. Follow this forested road for several minutes as it leads you onto Banff Avenue in the heart of the town of Banff. (The second exit, called Banff/Mount Norquay, is the one to use when returning to Banff from the Lake Louise area, or if you missed the first exit. Head into Banff, find Banff Avenue, and turn right toward the river.)
- Watch out for construction on Banff Avenue starting in Summer 2007.
- Continue along Banff Avenue until you are on a bridge crossing the Bow River. At the end of the bridge, turn left at the traffic lights, staying in the left lane to follow the curving road of Spray Avenue for about 1 km. The castle-like hotel will loom ahead on your left.
- Valet parking ($26 CDN per day) is available at the main hotel entrance. Self-parking ($19 CDN per day) is available in the parkade just past the hotel, after the statue and roundabout (traffic circle). Feel free to drop off your luggage at the main hotel entrance prior to parking. No tipping of hotel staff is required. Really!
Printable text version of these driving directions
Taxi or Limo
Another option for getting to Banff is via taxi or limo. However, these are expensive: about $170 CAN for a taxi one-way, and about $250 for limo service one-way. These options make more sense if you are sharing transportation with several other conference delegates. You might even meet other WWW2007 or PIASS attendees right at the taxi queue.
Some W3C members have started a helpful Wiki to facilitate some ride sharing between Calgary and Banff. Feel free to try this out too.
Additional background information about Banff is available here.