Post Summary: What To Expect From Trip To The Banff Gondola In Winter
Looking for an incredible way to experience Banff in the winter season? A lot of visitors believe that as soon as the snow comes, the town shuts down. In fact, it’s the complete opposite!
Banff comes alive during the colder months, and activities you may have done in the summer in Banff have an entirely new experience just waiting for you!
One of these amazing winter activities is taking the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Seeing the frozen mountain ranges, photographing the alpenglow as the sun goes down, and witnessing the Banff town lights at night are just the start of the incredible things to do here!
We’re breaking down why you should visit the Banff Gondola in the winter right here, as well as sharing tips on how to make the most of your experience.
Grab your cameras and let’s go!
Experience The Banff Gondola In The Winter
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Where is the Banff Gondola?
The Banff Gondola is located in the Banff townsite, in Alberta, Canada. It is positioned in the southernmost part of town and shares a parking lot with other places like the Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Sulphur Mountain Trailhead.
How To Get To The Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola Address: 100 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B2, Canada
From the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1), head south on Banff Avenue through town and across the bridge. Follow signs towards Mountain Avenue and drive up the incline. You can also follow signs to the Banff Upper Hot Springs or Rimrock Hotel. All these locations share the same parking lot.
From the highway, it should take you about 20 minutes to reach the parking lot. If you are staying in town, you should expect to drive about 10-15 minutes.
Don’t have a car? No problem! Roam Public Transit provides public transportation to and from major sites around Banff. Expect to pay around $2 for a one-way trip, and they accept US and Canadian currency. This is an incredibly cost-efficient, easy way to get around Banff without a car! The Roam Transit comes to the Banff Gondola every 40 minutes.
Banff Gondola Pricing
Below is the current Banff Gondola Admission Prices.
- Children 5 and Under – FREE
- Children (6-15 years) – $32 (or $29 if you buy in advance)
- Adult Admission – $64 (Or $58 if you buy in advance)
There are a few more ways to receive discounts on the Banff Gondola.
- If you are an early bird, come before 10:00 am and receive one children’s ticket FREE with a purchase of a regularly priced adult ticket.
- If you’re an Alberta Resident and you come after 5:00 pm, adult tickets are $49 and children tickets are $29.
- If you’d like to hike up to the top, you can purchase a one-way ticket for the way down for half the price. (Note, the ride down is free in the winter, but the trail is likely covered with snow and ice. Be careful!) The hike takes around 2 hours to complete.
Riding the Gondola Up To The Top
The first part of the journey to the Sulphur Mountain Summit is getting in a cable car! These cable cars are secured with glass on all sides, with 360 views from the surrounding windows.
There are two benches on either end of the cable car. Each cable car can fit 4 people. We recommend switching sides halfway up the mountain so you can get another perspective of Banff as you ride up to the top!
If you are a photographer like us you’ll appreciate the little window to open and position your lens from. This way, there won’t be any glass glare, and you can get a clear shot of the Bow Valley scenery ahead of you.
The Banff Gondola ride takes about 8 minutes each way. Along the way, you’ll gain nearly 2,300 feet in elevation, which brings you to 7486ft (2281 meters) above sea level at the summit.
So…What’s At The Top Of The Banff Gondola?
Riding the Banff Gondola in the winter up to the summit of Banff’s Sulphur Mountain is an incredible experience. There’s more to it than just the views! Keep scrolling to see how you can make the most of your ticket!
INDOOR Exhibits At The Sulphur Mountain Summit
Above Banff Interpretive Center
The Above Banff Interpretive Center is a family-friendly experience that tells the story of the people, events, and places that shaped the Bow Valley.
From hands-on displays to interactive features, this exhibit is a fun way to learn about Banff’s history!
The Above Banff Theater
Enjoy a total-body experience in the new Above Banff Theater. Included in your admission ticket is access to watching this short film, shot from the perspective of a bald eagle flying over the beautiful scenery of the park.
From the changing seasons, Banff’s residence wildlife, and amazing features, you’ll see it all from (literally) a bird’s-eye view.
Banff Gondola Sulphur Mountain Restaurants
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience in Banff, consider these options at the Summit House!
- Sky Bistro: An upscale restaurant with amazing scenery at the top of Sulphur Mountain with a focus on regional ingredients and Canadian creations.
- Northern Lights: Market-style casual dining with a buffet of family-friendly meals.
- Castle Mountain Coffee Co: Quick and convenient stop for grab-and-go meals, snacks, and warm drinks.
OUTDOOR Features At The Sulphur Mountain Summit
Summit House Rooftop Observation Deck
This was our favorite feature during our visit to the Banff Gondola. From the rooftop deck of the Sulphur Mountain Summit Building, you are able to get an unobstructed view of the Banff townsite below, with the towering surrounding mountains all around.
Need to warm up? They’ve got fire pits and warming lamps around the deck. Spend some time around the fire and enjoy the alpenglow with friends and family!
Photography Tips: Are you visiting the Banff Gondola in the winter? It can get extremely cold and windy on the Observation deck! We like to keep extra camera batteries in our inside pockets to keep them warm (and working!).
Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk
The Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk is a series of trails that provide endless views and countless ways to see the six surrounding mountain ranges. This is where you’ll want your camera out!
One of the most popular boardwalk trails is from the Gondola Summit to Sanson’s Peak. Sanson’s Peak is a cosmic ray station, named after Norman Sanson who, for 30 years in the mid-1900s, walked up to the summit every week to check the weather.
Now, there are modern amenities in place to do that, but the peak will always be remembered for Norman’s dedication and love for Banff.
Just like at the Johnston Canyon Ice Walk, the boardwalk trail can be slippery in snowy weather. Watch your step, and use the handrails if necessary!
Tips On Visiting The Banff Gondola In Winter
Visiting the Banff Gondola in the winter comes with some incredible experiences, but it also comes with frigid temperatures and icy conditions! Here are some tips to making the most of your time up on the Sulphur Mountain:
Wear A Big Coat And Hat. It’s important to dress like you’ll be outside for a winter walk. Wear proper boots, a cozy parka, and a winter beanie to keep yourself warm on the observation deck and boardwalk.
Protect Yourself From The Wind. This means covering up as much as possible with a buff or scarf, gloves, and wearing lotion! There are very little trees at the top to block the wind and lots of exposed sections.
Watch Your Step! The Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk consists of beautiful views, but they come with winding stairs, steps, and lookouts. These may be slippery, so watch where you’re going at all times to avoid a nasty fall.
Keep Your Phone And Camera In An Inside Pocket. Have you ever been outside in the cold and your phone suddenly shuts off? This is because your phone is registering a dead battery when in fact it may be fully charged! Keep your camera warm in an inside coat pocket so you don’t run into your phone shutting off in the middle of your epic Banff photo.
Consider Coming Early In The Day Or Late In The Evening. During the day, the Sulphur Mountain Summit can get crowded. The best time to visit the Banff Gondola is before 10:00 am and after 6:00 pm for fewer crowds.
Is the Banff Gondola Worth It?
You may be wondering if visiting the Banff Gondola in the winter is worth the hefty price tag. I mean, from the surface is DOES look like just a sightseeing chairlift up to the top to snap a few pictures and head right back down.
In our opinion, we think that the Banff Gondola experience is so much more than just a simple ride. In recent years, they’ve really created an incredible, interactive experience for guests of all ages.
The interpretive signs, short films, restaurants, and learning opportunities make this an incredible place to learn about Banff’s history, geography, and conservation efforts for future enjoyment. If you do your research, we think you can spend an entire half-day up at the summit and get the full-experience!
Have you ever experienced the Banff Gondola in the winter? Let us know your own experience in the comments below!