The Banff Gondola promises gasp-worthy views of the Canadian Rockies. After an 8-minute ride to Sulphur Mountain’s 7,500-foot (2,286-meter) summit, visitors arrive at a complex with several viewing areas, interactive exhibits, and restaurants. Also here are hiking trailheads and access to an elevated boardwalk leading to Sanson’s Peak.
The Banff Gondola is the quickest and easiest way to get to the top of a Rocky Mountain peak.
You can purchase tickets in advance, choosing between morning, midday, and evening departures. Journey up via the glass-enclosed, 4-person gondola, then explore the summit at your leisure, enjoying the lofty vantage point of the 360-degree deck, walking the 0.66-mile (1-kilometer) Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk to the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station, following the South East Ridge Trail to the mountain’s true summit, and browsing the hands-on exhibits at the Above Banff interpretive center. On select winter nights, stargazing sessions are held at the summit’s station. Adventurous visitors can hike 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) of strenuous trail and switchbacks up Sulphur Mountain to the gondola’s upper terminal and take a one-way gondola ride down. You also can visit the summit as part of a broader sightseeing tour that includes other Banff National Park highlights such as Tunnel Mountain Drive, Two Jack Viewpoint, and Lake Minnewanka.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors who hike one way and ride the gondola the other way still have to pay for a round-trip ticket.
- It can be cold at the summit station, even in summer, so bring extra layers.
- The Banff Gondola is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Banff Gondola lower terminal is located about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) south of Banff town center. To get there, take the Route 1 Roam bus from Banff town, which leaves around every 40 minutes. Driving from Banff via Mountain Avenue takes around 10 minutes; parking is available at the lower terminal.
When to Get There
The Banff Gondola is busiest on summer weekends, so if you’re visiting then, arrive early in the day. During the winter months, the snowy vistas are magical and the summit is generally very peaceful. Summer is prime hiking season in this part of Canada; trails can be slippery in spring and fall, and icy in winter. The gondola closes for around two weeks every January to allow for maintenance work.
What You Can See From the Top
Upon arrival at the top of Sulphur Mountain, you are treated to astonishing views encompassing six different mountain ranges. Directly below is the town of Banff itself, the Bow River, and the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Often you can spot shaggy bighorn sheep grazing on the slopes.