Banff National Park, AB
I will say right away – Banff is not the way I remember him. I remember that from a year ago I promised to go to Alberta National Parks this year: yes, this year they are free to visit in honor of the 150th anniversary of Canada, but this also means larger than usual crowds of tourists, and, nevertheless, some then I ended up there.
Rocky Mountains – A Brief Geological History
The significance of Banff (and the Canadian Rockies in general) appears in a completely different light when you know the geological history of the area. In a nutshell, at the time of the Paleozoic (240-540 million years ago), the current North American continent (and then part of the Pangea supercontinent) ended somewhere here, maybe a little to the west, but the plate on which Vancouver Island is now located , was far into the sea, about like now Hawaii, thousands of 4-5 km from here.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic (240 million years ago), North America began to move towards the Pacific Plate with all the Juan de Fuci and San Andreas. The plates collided and began to crawl one on top of the other – the Pacific plate went deep into the earth, and the continental plate – colliding on it, gathered in accordion like crumpled paper.
Today, the accordion is our coastal mountains around Vancouver, including the entire volcanic chain from Baker to Garibaldi, as well as the mountains immediately east of Lake Okanagan. But what we see here in the Rocky Mountains, in particular, in Banff, Jasper and Yoho, is the seabed of 500-350 million years ago, rising to a height of more than 2 km!
Pay attention to many photos in this post, at what angle the rock formations are located. The same effect can be observed in the vicinity of Vancouver and, especially in the Pacific Rim National Park, only it is already from the collision of other plates. This is especially evident in Mount Rundle, towering directly above the town of Banff:
This mountain in Yoho-Burges park, for example, is protected by UNESCO and can be accessed only as part of an organized group tour due to the fact that shale rocks 509 million years old with tens of thousands of marine minerals of that period are exposed on its slopes, many from which you can see right on the trail. 509 million years is the beginning of the Paleozoic era (the period known as the “Cambrian explosion” when many new groups of organisms appeared), long before the great Permian extinction 251 million years ago in which 95% of all living species on Earth disappeared.
I will definitely go to Burges next summer (there you need to reserve tours in advance). In the meantime, you need to drive around Banff and Jasper – this is what we will do.
There are two ways to explore National Parks. The first is to drive a car all day, driving into one famous landmark after another.
And the second – to choose one or two routes – and get lost on them away from the fans of the first method (who are brought here in whole buses).
Today we will enjoy the first reception – we will go through the sights of Banff, and in the next two posts – we will go on trails to the Eifel Lake and the waterfall from the Bow glacier. Then we repeat all the same according to Jasper.
But let’s start where all the National Parks in Canada began – in a historic place with the strange name “Cave and Pond” (Cave and Basin).
Cave and basin
A very interesting and unfair story at this historic place.
In 1875, a couple of railway builders found these springs in the forest and descended into the cave through a natural hole in the ceiling.
They, apparently, were guys not a miss, because, having washed themselves from the railway dust, they decided to build a hut and apply for the transfer of this land into their ownership with a view to its further commercialization.
Property rights were disputed by several other “entrepreneurs” and the state entered into a dispute, squeezing 26 km2 around sources in 1885, thus laying the foundation for the Canadian National Parks system.
What good is this state – you say? Do not rush to judge: after 2 years a tunnel was cut into the cave, simultaneously destroying all the fragile formations on the walls, and in 1914 they built a public pool and began to sell bottled water.
And now, get ready to taste the injustices of the time: until 1994 you could come and wash your eggs in the healing water smelling of hydrogen sulfide.
Today, anywhere in the park it is considered unlawful to touch the water – that is, do not “please don’t” (as we will soon see in the post about the Athabasca Glacier), but “punishable by law” and “under constant video surveillance”. In the forest, video cameras are really placed near each puddle.
Canada met the 100th anniversary of National Parks with the realization that it had almost destroyed the place that it wanted to keep for the public.
In these sources, for example, a snail population lives, which was able to adapt to the sulfur environment and is no longer found anywhere in the world, as its name implies – Banff Springs Snail (Banff Springs Snail).