With all the attention on Canada over the last few months, it was natural for us to wonder about Banff, home to the Banff Center for Mountain Culture and originator of one of Bozeman’s all-time favorite events, the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Another mountain town known for incredible skiing, hiking, wildlife, and scenery? Another cool community situated next to its country's first national park? Shyah. We'll kick their butts... right?
Banff National Park has over a thousand glaciers. A thousand glaciers! Our own Glacier National Park has just 27, and some scientists predict they'll melt by 2020. Considering that glaciers store 75% of the earth's freshwater, we Bozemanites will probably be asking Banff for a drink pretty soon.
Coolness of Local River
Banff's Bow River flows 365 miles to the South Sasketchewan River, which stretches 865 miles, and then another 340 miles as the Sasketchewan River flowing into Lake Winnipeg. That's still a mere jaunt compared to the Missouri's 2,341-mile journey as the longest river in North America. Although we love your history, Canada, the Missouri is simply legendary. And we're at the heart of it.
Banff National Park gets 4,000,000 visitors a year and up to 50,000 visitors a day during the high season, making this the largest and busiest urban focus of any national park anywhere in the world. Before you start thinking Holy crap, that's a lotta people, take note: Yellowstone isn't far behind. In 2009 it clocked in at 3.295 million visitors. Sometimes it's good to not be in first place.
In 1976, the International Astronomical Union and Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature officially adopted the name Banff for a crater on Mars. John Bozeman may have been a visionary, but don’t expect to see his surname on a heavenly body anytime soon.
Growth & Development
Banff's population is only 8,352—partly because federal law limits the town's size to five square kilometers and restricts residency. That’s great for the scenery, and it precludes the real-estate crashes that plague other communities; but it also places limitations on all the non-outdoor activities that elevate Bozeman to such exalted mountain-town status: opera, symphony, theatre, dance, live local bands, fine dining, and a more reliable off-season economy, to name a few. We’ll take growing pains over stasis any day.
Results—Bozeman: 3 Banff: 2
It was a battle, but Bozeman comes in with the gold medal again. As much as we love you, Banff (and as much as we wish we there was a Bozeman Crater on Mars), we have just one thing to say: USA! USA! USA!