The Banff Gondola – A Mountain With a View
Banff National Park, Alberta
We waited all day for the fog to lift. There wouldn’t be much point being on top of the world with 360 degree views of nothing but stubborn fog. If you are relatively fit, you could walk Sulphur Mountain in less than 2 hours and still enjoy the same views but there is something beautifully lazy about taking the Banff gondola. It is just as much fun keeping your eyes open from the gondola for people struggling up the hill as it is to look for wildlife. You couldn’t help but feel a little apprehensive as we handed in our tickets and stepped into the four person gondola that would swing us 698m (2,292 ft) in eight minutes to the top of Sulphur Mountain.
Banff is the kind of town where amateur photographers are made to look professional. It seems impossible to frame a bad photo with the amount of stunning scenery around. This became even more evident as we began the descent and minute by minute watched the town of Banff become smaller and smaller. Its true size compared to the surrounding mountains and meandering river hit us at once. The gondola rolled gently past every pole as oohs and aahs were shared in the little space. The Bow River and Minnewanka Lake have never looked more impressive and I didn’t think it could get any better – that is until we reached the top.
Though the views are completely unique, not everything is so perfect. The very top viewing point seems strangley outdated. There were massive puddles that soaked everyone’s feet. Surely, a small area at the top of a mountain should be easy enough to drain. There was a slight tackiness to the outside part of the building. However, this could well be because nobody can take their eyes off the 360 degree views while standing 2281m above the world below. Banff town centre looks no more than a toy village from such great heights. Shadows crawled slowly across the mountains from the ominous clouds above but the sun still shone bright and warm on the wet-footed watchers.
There is a restauarant and cafe at the top with decent food but more importantly views that you can’t take your eyes off. After a few hours walking around the summit, it is pure bliss to come in to the cafe and soak up the views in warmth as you fill the belly. The way down on the gondola is equally stunning as Banff and reality comes closer and closer into sight. There is a gift shop at the bottom if that is your cup of tea or if you actually want a cup of tea, the standard Starbucks is waiting for you. At $28 for adults and $13 for children aged 6-15, it’s not going to break the bank. If you truly want to see why so many people choose to visit the Canadian Rockies, this is the perfect place to start.