I don’t ski, but I want to get to the top of the mountains to see the gorgeous Banff National Park views – what’s a girl to do? Here’s the perfect non-ski Banff thing to do – ride the Banff Gondola – there’s no skiing required! So if you don’t ski, it doesn’t mean you are doomed to visit the Canadian Rockies only from ground level.
I actually wrote this article a year ago and then as I was ready to publish it I realized the gondola was closed for the winter season for renovations! However this winter it opened back up with some great new additions and improvements at the top. Some of the buildings got a facelift, but the mountains are still the same!
I must admit, when I got to the ticket booth I faltered at the price of the ticket, $49 CA, I nearly decided not to go as it seemed like a hefty price to simply ride a gondola. But I went anyway and I am happy to say that it was worth the $49! I ended up spending the whole day up there taking photos, having lunch, and soaking up the incredible vastness of the Canadian Rockies. If you are waffling on your decision to take a ride on the Banff Gondola, here are a few reasons that might solidify your decision to go!
10 Reasons to take a ride on the Banff Gondola
1. Get a New Perspective on the Forest
The 8 minute ride in the gondola glides over the snow covered tree tops allowing to you get a whole new perspective on the forest. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you ride up and down!
2. See 6 Mountain Peaks At Once
These are some of the best views in the region. Once at the top you’ll be able to take in 6 mountain peaks on a clear day – you can literally see for miles! If you live in a city where you rarely see the horizon, you will appreciate this vast view. I personally think wide open spaces are the best therapy there is – so soak it in!
3. Geek Out and Get Cosmic
Visit the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site. Canada participated in International Geophysical Year in 1957 to 1958 with nine sites established to measure cosmic rays. Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was the most important site due to its high elevation. There used to be an entire lab building here where research was conducted, however now all that remains is the foundation and some superb views!
4. Up On The Boardwalk….
Stay warm by taking a walk on the Sulphur Mountain boardwalk. You might associate boardwalks with the beach, but not this one! Take the 2 km stroll to Sanson’s Peak. For people that want to go further, take the South East Ridge Trail – a hiking trail running along the ridge of the mountain to the south, taking you to Sulphur Mountain’s true summit.
5. Soak up the Sun
Get 7,468 feet closer to the sun! And make sure to put on sunscreen and bring sunglasses!
6. Eat Poutine at Altitude
If you’ve never had poutine, then you are missing out. It’s Canada’s national dish – originating in the province of Québec, made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy. Wash it down with a beer while you stare out the window at the mountains. Mountain-top dining isn’t just for the skiers any longer! With the renovations, they really improved the eating options at the top. There is now a range of upscale options and more snack bar type options (where you’ll find the poutine).
7. See a Spaceship
You have to use your imagination for this one a bit! When I went on the gondola a couple of years ago there was an old observation building at the top that looked just like a giant space ship had landed on top of a mountain! However, that is where most of the renovations happened, but it appears they still kept the circular spaceship type design, which makes me happy! They’ve added a few more levels including interactive exhibits to a multisensory theatre and a breathtaking 360-degree rooftop observation deck.
8. You Don’t Have to Ski Down!
For those who hate downhill skiing like I do – this is the best news yet! You can explore around for however long you want at the top and then just get back in line and take the civilized way down…in the gondola. It only takes 8 minutes and you won’t be sore in the morning! You can even time it for the sunset and get some great views of the sun going down as you go down the mountain. Just make sure you catch the last gondola down else you may find yourself doing some unplanned winter camping!
9. It’s Warm(er) and Dry In The Gondola
No matter what the weather is doing outside, you’ll stay warm and dry inside the gondola! It’s a great way to see the views no matter what the weather!
10. See Banff from Above
You are 2,900 feet above Banff, so you get some spectacular views of the city, and rivers below! Who needs a helicopter when you have a gondola?!
Plus – if you love photography like I do, you get to take oodles of photos like these…
Visit the Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola Hours: This changes seasonally – so be sure to check the Banff Gondola website for hours here
Banff Gondola Price: Adult $49, Kids $25