Are you on the fence about riding the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain? Located just five minutes from downtown, the gondola is one of those tourist activities that is commonly associated with a Banff National Park vacation. It can be pricey, and it may not seem like there’s much to do, except ride up to the top of the mountain. Then what? Here’s why you should take a chance on the gondola (fear of heights notwithstanding).
From 7,486 feet, the city of Banff looks like a painting. It’s best to go on a non-cloudy day to get the most of this photo opportunity. Stationary binoculars are available to get a closer view of the happenings below. The viewing balcony is a nice place to just stand and reflect. A little inside cafe allows you to have a refreshment and a snack while you admire the view. Even just following the boardwalk, leaving the Summit building, will allow you to see more of the six mountain peak views.
Just a short walk on the boardwalk, is a national historic site called Sanson’s Peak. A man named Norman Sanson walked to the top of the mountain almost weekly for 30 years to check the weather. This short walk is completely doable even if you aren’t an active person and the boardwalk is well maintained.
The South East Ridge Trail runs south along the ridge of the mountain, and will take you to Sulphur Mountain’s true summit. It’s possible to hike to the top, but not recommended unless you’re in fantastic shape. If you choose the hard, strenuous path, it’s about a 2.5 to 3 hour hike. Bikes aren’t permitted.
You’re more likely to see golden-mantled squirrels than anything else but it’s not out of the question to spot an American pine marten, elk, or bighorn sheep. Remember, don’t feed or approach the wildlife!