Banff, a town name that has confused many tourists with its strange sounding pronunciation. It sits at an elevation of 1400m and is located approximately an hour drive away from Calgary, the nearest major city.
Banff also sits in the stunning Rocky Mountains as part of Banff National Park and is surrounding by stunning vistas, amazing ski fields, and a quaint tourist town.
The best way to appreciate the area is to get a good birds-eye view. There is a walking path that departs from the far end of the Banff Upper Hot Springs parking lot. It is a decent 2-3 hour climb to the summit that is possible to do on most winter days. Caution is recommended since the gondola path is also a possible avalanche path, so avoid the trail when the avalanche risk is high.
Of course, if time is short or you don’t feel like walking…take the Sulphur Mountain Gondola up! The ride takes approximately 10 minutes and deposits you at the teahouse and interpretive centre at the top of the mountain.
From the interpretive centre, an easy boardwalk path winds its way to the summit and the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray station. There are some phenomenal views along the way! The path is fairly easy, with many small children making their way along it when we were there.
Of course, if you get too tired, you can just pull up a chair and take a break.
The interpretive centre has some great snack and meal options to warm up after your explorations. The interactive area includes information on the history of the area, geological formations, and local wildlife. There’s lots of activities for kids and adults alike!
On warmer days, there are also some nice firepits with chairs to enjoy the view with your tea. During December, there are also daily activities for the kids, where they can interact with Santa at the North Pole and, on special days, play with the reindeer!
There’s no better way to warm up after a day of exploring Banff than a visit to the Banff Hot Springs. Also located on Sulphur Mountain, it can get a little bit crowded, but the line moves quickly. There is a dedicated shallow children’s area, as well as a deep end for adults to fully immerse and relax.
For those concerned about the sulphur smell of the hot springs (it isn’t called Sulphur Mountain for no reason!), it is usually fairly mild, if it is noticeable at all. The minerals in the natural hot spring water are fantastic for relaxation. If you have a bit more time and a larger budget, splurge for the Hot Springs Spa, which is great for your stress levels.