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World Heritage: Canada

Alberta and British Columbia

Painting of Jasper Lake of a spectacular green. A few ice pieces float on it. A steep bank partially covered with snow far away. Painting by Bernard Pelletier
© Parks Canada, Bernard Pelletier

Some of the best-known mountain scenery on Earth is concentrated in a set of seven parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Indeed, in much of the world, mention of Canada evokes images of snow-capped peaks and chateauesque hotels in parks named Banff or Jasper. More than nine million people annually visit the seven preserves along the Alberta-British Columbia border.

There are four national parks in the ensemble — Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay. They account for most of the preserve’s 22,990 square kilometres. Adjoining them are three British Columbia provincial parks — Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber. Banff, built around the Cave and Basin Hot Springs found by CPR workers building the transcontinental railway in the early 1880s, became Canada’s first park preserve in 1885, and the birthplace of Canada ’s national park system.

In the following half-century, the park was expanded to encompass a wealth of natural wonders: jagged peaks and conifer-clad slopes, silt-laden glacial streams and turquoise lakes, the vast Columbia Icefield and the complex Castleguard Caves. The Burgess Shale, in Yoho, contains one of the world’s most significant finds of soft-bodied, Middle Cambrian-age marine fossils, with about 150 species, including some bearing no resemblance to known animals.

More information

Parks Canada Web sites:
Banff National Park of Canada
Jasper National Park of Canada
Kootenay National Park of Canada
Yoho National Park of Canada
Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada
Canadian Rockies Hot Springs

Province of British Columbia Web sites:
Mount Robson Provincial Park

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Hamber Provincial Park

World Heritage Centre Web site:
World Heritage - Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

The Yoho-Burgess Shale Foundation Web site:
Introduction to the Burgess Shale

More Images

Picture of Jasper Lake, mainly, with two mountains in the background. Jasper Lake
© Parks Canada
Picture of Tangle creek coming down from the mountain very steeply. Trees and forest on each side. Tangle Creek
© Parks Canada, W.Lynch
The majestic mount Robson in the provincial of the same name. At the foreground water and a forest. Mount Robson
© Queen's Printer for British Columbia