Home » Up, Up, and Away! A Ride on the Banff Gondola

Up, Up, and Away! A Ride on the Banff Gondola

by Kelly Smith

The Banff Gondola is the perfect way to see the Canadian Rockies from a whole new angle. Not only will a gondola ride brighten your day, it will give you incredible views of the surrounding landscape. There are also chances to sight some some of its native wildlife. The gondola takes the strain out of hiking. It is ideal particularly for families and those who want the views without the strain of a lengthy walk at an incline. The gondola is the perfect solution, and will of course, brighten your day. 

The Banff Gondola: A Brief Overview

The Banff Gondola is a great way to see the town of Banff from above. The ride also opens up incredible view across the National Park and the Rockies.

Banff Gondola is a convenient way to explore the National Park without a traditional hike. The gondola is a 5 minute walk from downtown Banff and opens up a world of natural beauty.

The Banff Gondola in action

The gondola ride climbs 2,292ft (698m) with ease, allowing you to focus on your surroundings and capturing the perfect shot from the windows. 

The end of the gondola ride isn’t the end off your Banff adventure however. Once at the top there are many things to see and do, and of course places to eat and drink.

Why the Gondola is the Perfect Pick-Me-Up

Taking a ride on the Banff Gondola opens up some of the most spectacular natural views in the world. Whilst hiking, the views across the National Park and the Rockies are stunning, however there is something really special about seeing them from a new angle and new heights.

The Banff Gondola takes just 8 minutes to ascend Sulphur Mountain, a relaxing alternative to the traditional  2-hour hike to the viewing platform. Each gondola seats 4 people allowing for a more private and immersive experience surrounded by the spectacular natural world of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies.

The sunset and a beer are a perfect end to the day

From the viewing balcony at the top of the gondola ride, simply gaze in awe at your surroundings in a refreshing and relaxing environment. From the viewing platform you can see Banff town, the Fairmont Banff Springs and its golf course. Views across the miles and miles of thick forest and mountain peaks are however, the biggest draw to the gondola. 

At the top of the gondola ride there are two gift shops, two restaurants, a Starbucks coffee shop, snack bar, interpretive hiking trails and an interactive giant compass which is sure to get the attention of children. 

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Gondola Ride

At the top of the gondola is a viewing balcony with spectacular 360-degree views across the National Park. Once you have drunk your fill of the view, head into the cafe for a snack and drink. The cafe also has views stretching out across the National Park allowing you to make the most of your visit. 

Dining area at the Banff Gondola

A newly built, state-of-the-art visitor centre named Above Banff is an interpretive centre that shares the adventurous nature of Banff to visitors. Within the centre are many fun family-oriented activities to take part in. Aiding in your children’s experience is the Agents of Discovery App. This app brings the Rocky Mountains to life from Sulphur Mountain’s summit. Explore the history of the app and the geology of the area in a child-friendly format that is bound to leave your little ones wanting to learn more.

Following the boardwalk around from the Summit building, views of the 6 mountain peaks can be seen more clearly. 

The Banff Gondola is a Great Place to Start your Hike or Walk

Whilst at the top of the gondola, make the most of the short walks available. Short walks from the top of the gondola are on boardwalks allowing an easier passage to new heights. Be sure to explore the Banff Skywalk. The skywalk is a 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) boardwalk that leads to the Cosmic Day Station National Historic Site and Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station. Sanson’s Peak is named after Norman Sanson, a local who climbed the mountain on a weekly basis to check the weather

Hikers going up Sulphur mountain with Banff Gondola’s in the background

Further hiking trails include the South East Ridge Trail that runs along the southern ridge of the mountain. This trail will take you to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. The hike to the very top can be difficult and is not recommended unless you are a confident hiker. On the trickier path, the hike can take between 2.5 and 3 hours. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the diverse native wildlife that live in the forests and mountains surrounding the gondola. Golden-mantled squirrels, big horn sheep and American pine Martens have all been sighted in the area. 

Big Horn Sheep on a side of a hill in Banff National Park

As the gondola reaches new heights, be sure to pack warm clothing. Even during the summer months the weather can change quickly at altitude. Warm clothes that you can lager are best. 

Soar to New Heights with the Banff Gondola!

The gondola reaches a height of 7486ft (2281m) making the town of Banff below look like a painting.

It is best to travel on the gondola on a clear day to make the most of the views stretching for miles and miles. Stationary binoculars are available enabling closer views of the city and the surrounding landscape.

Views of six mountain ranges and the Bow Valley can be seen from your gondola, as well as views over Sulphur Mountain as you make your ascent. 

For more unique experience at new heights, visit the Above Banff Theatre. The theatre is a multi-sensory experience sharing the true power of Mother Nature through film and more. 

Couple enjoying the light show at Pursuit’s Nightrise experience

One thing not to be missed when travelling on Banff Gondola is the sunset. The gondola is open in summer from 8am-10pm, with the last ride up Sulphur Mountain at 8:30pm. In winter, the gondola closes between 8 and 10pm depending on the month. Make the most of the gondola’s late openings and take a ride up either at sunset or just before, to see the National Park bathed in a warm orange glow. This truly is a magical experience. Why not time your visit with dinner? Sit outside and dine whilst you watch the sun set. 

The gondola is also suitable for people with limited mobility as it is fully accessible. The main entrance features automatic doors, and gondola cars are capable of accommodating both wheelchairs and passengers inside. 

Questions People Have About the Banff Gondola

How much does the gondola ride cost in Banff?

Tickets for the Banff Gondola follow a dynamic pricing structure, meaning prices can vary daily. Price changes can depend on season and how busy the gondola is predicted to be. On busy days such as holidays and weekends, expect a higher ticket price.

The best price tickets come from booking directly through Banff Gondola on their website

Tickets in summer start at $51 for those above the age of 5 (under 5’s go free, but still need a ticket. In winter tickets can be frequently found between $43 and $50. 

Father and son enjoying the Banff Gondola ride

Which gondola ride is better in Banff?

There are several incredible gondola rides to try out in Banff!

For those looking for a gondola ride in close proximity to Banff town, the Banff Sightseeing Gondola is best. The gondola takes a short trip lasting just eight minutes to reach the summit of Sulphur Mountain and offers a wealth of services at the top.

The Lake Louise Gondola

The Lake Louise Gondola opens up the spectacular sight of Lake Louise from above. There are views stretching across Victoria Glacier, and interactive tours from the summit. During the tours, which are award winning, you will learn about the natural history of the area and its wildlife. Grizzly bears can often be seen grazing below the gondola. 

Banff Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift

Banff Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift is an unique alternative way to reach new heights. As a chairlift rather than enclosed gondola you are open to the elements, which can be both scary and refreshing. Unique views of Bow Valley can be seen from the chairlift as you ascent to the summit of Mount Norquay. This is definitely one for more adventurous souls, as once you dismount from the chairlift, further heights can be reached by taking on the Via Ferrata adventure; ascending higher up the mountain on a series of metal rungs and ladders! For fans of film, the Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift was taken by Marilyn Monroe during the summer of 1953 whilst filming ‘A River of No Return’. 

Banff Sunshine Sightseeing Gondola

The final gondola ride in Banff is the Banff Sunshine Sightseeing Gondola. This gondola ride ascends Mount Standish and takes you to the sightseeing chairlift and Sunshine meadows. As with all gondola or chairlift rides in Banff the 360-degree views are unlike anything else in the world. At the top observe the scenery from Standish viewpoint platform, or head out on one of the Sunshine Meadow hiking trails which lead to three high-alpine lakes. 

Whichever gondola ride you choose, there is definitely something for everyone. Offering the most variety from the top of the gondola ride is the Banff Sightseeing Gondola, however for more adventurous travelers Sunshine Sightseeing Gondola or Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift may be more suitable.

Couple enjoying the view on the Banff Gondola

Is the gondola in Banff worth it?

Definitely! During the summer months, a free shuttle bus is available to take you to and from the gondola from the centre of Banff, making access incredibly easy.

Many hotels in Banff offer packages that include meals, gondola admission and tours as part of a day trip, which can make booking easier for tourists.

The gondola is open year round, with snow stretching for miles during winter, and glistening clear lakes and warm blue skies in summer. 

There is more to Banff Gondola than just the ride. At the top make the most of your surroundings and the nature you are in. After you have explored to your hearts content, why not have a meal at one of the cafes or restaurants? Sky Bistro shares the unique flavours of Canada through seasonal ingredients and locally sourced produce. Castle Mountain Coffee is perfect for quick snacks and of course hot drinks. Peak Patio is the go-to destination for the best views accompanied by light bites and seasonally inspired drinks. Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen serves cosy and hearty dishes with breathtaking mountaintop views.

Couple enjoying the view on the Banff Gondola Nightrise experience

How long is the gondola ride in Banff?

The Banff Sightseeing Gondola ride takes just 8 minutes to ascend to the viewing platform, saving nearly 2 hours of hiking time! Once at the top of the gondola there is plenty to keep you entertained all day!


Exploring Banff is something that cannot be missed, but to explore it from thousands of feet above is something truly special. Banff Sightseeing Gondola opens up a new world of sights and surroundings not just for tourists, but for those who cannot easily climb the mountains within the National Park or the Rockies. Not only does the gondola offer incredible sights across the surrounding landscape, but its visitor centre offers a wealth of information on the natural history of the area, leaving visitors more knowledgeable, and with an awe-inspiring experience. 

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