Banff–Windermere Highway

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Highway 93 shieldHighway 93 shield
Banff-Windermere Highway
Banff-Windermere Parkway
Highway 93
Highway 1B (1941-1959)
Route information
Length105 km[1] (65 mi)
British Columbia: 94 km (58 mi)
Alberta: 11 km (7 mi)
BC 93, AB 93
Major junctions
South end Hwy 95 at Radium Hot Springs, BC
  Hwy 1 (TCH) at Castle Junction, AB
North end Hwy 1A at Castle Junction, AB
ProvincesBritish Columbia, Alberta
DistrictsKootenay National Park
Banff National Park
Highway system
British Columbia provincial highways
Provincial highways in Alberta
BC-91A.svg Hwy 91ABC 93BC-95.svg Hwy 95
Alberta Highway 88.svg Hwy 88AB 93 SPF

The Banff-Windermere Highway, also known as the Banff-Windermere Parkway, is a 105 km (65 mi) highway which runs through the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia and Alberta in Canada. It runs from Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia to Castle Junction, Alberta (midway between Banff and Lake Louise), passing through Kootenay National Park and Banff National Park. It is designated as part of British Columbia Highway 93 and Alberta Highway 93.[1][2]

Route description[edit]

Highway 93 southbound, north of Radium Hot Springs, exit from Kootenay National Park

The Banff-Windermere Highway begins at British Columbia Highway 95 in village of Radium Hot Springs at the north end of the 134 km (83 mi) Highway 93/95 concurrency, approximately 15 km (9 mi) north of Windermere Lake where the highway gains its name. The highway passes through the village, passing numerous tourist services, overlooking Sinclair Creek. Approximately 1.3 km (0.8 mi) northeast of Highway 95, it enters Kootenay National Park, passing through the park gates. It continues through Sinclair Canyon and the Radium Hot Springs pools before passing through a short tunnel. East of the tunnel, the speed limit increases to 90 km/h (56 mph) and begins its climb to Sinclair Pass, reaching an elevation of 1,486 m (4,875 ft). East of the summit, the highway reaches a viewpoint of the Kootenay River valley, where it turns north and descends into the valley. The highway follows the Kootenay River to and area known as Kootenay Crossing, where the highway crosses the river and follows the Vermilion River. The highway follows the valley northeast and climbs up to Vermilion Pass at the Continental Divide, reaching an elevation of 1,680 m (5,510 ft). At the summit, the highway leaves both British Columbia and Kootenay National Park, entering Alberta and Banff National Park. The highway descends into the Bow River valley, with a full view of Castle Mountain, and intersects the Trans-Canada Highway (Alberta Highway 1) at Castle Junction, approximately 31 km (19 mi) west of Banff. From there, Highway 93 follows Highway 1 to Lake Louise, while the roadway (still referred to as part of the Banff-Windermere Highway) continues another 1.1 km (0.7 mi) to the Bow Valley Parkway (Alberta Highway 1A) on the north side of the Bow River.[1][2]


Castle Mountain, in Banff National Park, as seen from Highway 93 near the Alberta border.

The corridor along the Kootenay and Vermilion Rivers had been uses as a first nations travel route for thousands of years. In 1858, Sir James Hector travelled through Vermilion Pass and recommended that it would be the best route for a wagon road.[3] In the early 1900s settlers in the Columbia Valley advocated for improved connections with Banff and Calgary and lobbied the BC provincial government to construct a road. With the overall goal of constructing an all-Canadian road between the Canadian Prairies and Pacific Ocean, the Alberta provincial and federal governments were consulted.[4] Construction began in 1911,[3] and by 1914 the road was opened between Calgary and Vermilion Pass as well as a 19 km (12 mi) western section.[4] The outbreak of World War I resulted in a suspension of construction, and following the conclusion of the war the British Columbia provincial government did not have enough funds to complete the project.[3] The Banff-Windermere Road Agreement was reached whereby the federal government would complete the remaining 85 km (53 mi) of road, and in exchange they would receive a 5 mi (8 km) buffer of land on each side of the highway for conservation purposes; approximately 1,600 km2 (600 sq mi) in total. This resulted in the creation of Kootenay National Park.[3][4] The road opened in 1922 and was first highway to cross the Central Canadian Rockies,[4] with the Kicking Horse Trail across Kicking Horse Pass (the corridor which eventually became part of the Trans-Canada Highway) opening in 1926, connecting Lake Louise and Golden.[5]

Former designations[edit]

BC-1B.svg Alberta Highway 1B (1960s).svg

Highway 1B
LocationKootenay National Park
Banff National Park
Length105 km (65 mi)

The Banff-Windermere Highway took on the designation of Route 'U' in the 1930s until 1941 when British Columbia adopted a numbered highway system, and was designated as Highway 1B.[6][7] In 1953, the highway between Roosville and Elko opened and was designated as Highway 93 as it was a northern extension of U.S. Route 93, and in 1959 the Banff-Windermere Highway and Icefields Parkway were renumbered to be a part of Highway 93.[8][9]

Major intersections[edit]

ProvinceDistrict / Rural MunicipalityLocationkm[1][10]miDestinationsNotes
British ColumbiaEast KootenayRadium Hot Springs0.00.0 Hwy 93 / Hwy 95 south – Golden, Invermere, CranbrookSouthern terminus; Hwy 93 branches south; north end of Hwy 93 / Hwy 95 concurrency
Kootenay National Park1.30.81West gate of Kootenay National Park
12.47.7Sinclair Pass (1,486 m / 4,875 ft)
43.827.2Kootenay Crossing Bridge across the Kootenay River
British Columbia – Alberta border93.958.3Vermilion Pass (1,680 m / 5,510 ft)
AlbertaBanff National Park
(I.D. No. 9)
103.964.6 Hwy 1 (TCH) / Hwy 93 north – Lake Louise, Jasper, Banff, CalgaryInterchange; Hwy 93 branches northwest; south end of Hwy 1 / Hwy 93 concurrency
104.364.8Crosses the Bow River
Castle Junction105.065.2 Hwy 1A (Bow Valley Parkway) – Lake Louise, BanffNorthern terminus; seasonal travel restrictions for Hwy 1A east[11]
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

UK motorway symbol.svg Roads portal


  1. ^ a b c d Google (October 19, 2017). "Banff-Windermere Highway in BC and Alberta" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  2. ^ a b MapArt; Peter Heiler (2007). British Columbia Road Atlas (Map) (2007 ed.). 1:500,000. Oshawa, ON: Peter Heiler Ltd. pp. 50, 62. ISBN 1-55368-018-9.
  3. ^ a b c d "History of the Parkway - Kootenay National Park". Parks Canada. Government of Canada. July 17, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Williams, M.B. (1928). Kootenay National Park & The Banff Windermere Highway (PDF). Ottawa: F.A. Acland. pp. 19–21, 26. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  5. ^ Williams, M.B.; National Parks of Canada (1930). The Kicking Horse Trail: Scenic Highway from Lake Louise, Alberta to Golden, British Columbia (PDF). Ottawa: F.A. Acland. p. 21. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  6. ^ Rand McNally and Company (1939). "Western and Central Canada" (Map). "State Farm Road Atlas: United States, Canada, Mexico". Chicago, IL: State Farm Insurance Companies Travel Bureau. pp. 94–95.
  7. ^ The H.M. Gousha Company (1956). "British Columbia - Alberta" (Map). Shell Map of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Shell Oil Company. §§ E-11 & F-11.
  8. ^ "Order in Council No. 1716". Historical Orders In Council. Victoria, BC: Government of British Columbia. July 27, 1959. p. 2. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  9. ^ "Order in Council No. 3159". Historical Orders In Council. Victoria, BC: Government of British Columbia. October 2, 1969. p. 2. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  10. ^ Landmark Kilometre Inventory (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Report). Cypher Consulting. July 2016. pp. 112, 404–412.
  11. ^ "Bow Valley Parkway Seasonal Travel Restriction - Banff National Park". Parks Canada. Government of Canada. April 1, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Banff-Windermere Highway at Wikimedia Commons