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Is the Banff Gondola Worth it?

Is the Banff Gondola Worth it?

Located at the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Banff Gondola offers stunning views of the Bow Valley, the town of Banff, and the Canadian Rockies. If you are looking for a unique family-friendly attraction while visiting the area, then this experience totally fits the bill. But is the Banff Gondola worth it?

Our #1 Pick

Is the Banff Gondola Worth it?

🚠 YES!! In fact, this attraction has over 1000 stellar reviews. You can purchase your Banff Gondola Admission tickets here.

Is the Banff Gondola Worth it?

Yes! The Banff Gondola is definitely worth visiting for so many reasons. Our post will cover both the pros and cons of visiting the Banff Gondola with family so that you can make an educated decision when it comes time to plan your Banff vacation.

About the Banff Gondola

Built in 1959, the Banff Gondola is the only bi-cable gondola in Canada. Each gondola seats 4 people and takes 8 minutes to reach the top of Sulphur Mountain.

With a total elevation gain of about 700 m, the Banff Gondola takes you to 2281 meters (7486 ft) above sea level, allowing for amazing panoramic views with very little effort.


🚟 You can purchase your Banff Gondola tickets here.

How to Get to the Banff Gondola

Sitting at the foot of Sulphur Mountain, the Banff Gondola base station is just a few minutes away from the town center.

From town, cross the Bow River bridge and turn left onto Mountain Ave. The Gondola Terminal is located at the end of Mountain Avenue.

Across from the terminal, you will also find Banff Hot Springs, which is another great attraction to visit.

Inside the Banff Gondola Terminal, you will find the ticket window, bathrooms, a large gift shop, and even a Starbucks.


Shuttles and Buses

If you are staying in town, be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle service that takes you to the Gondola. The shuttles run hourly and are pretty convenient if you don’t have a vehicle during your stay.

Another option would be to take the ROAM Transit Services bus (Route 1). Check the schedule ahead of time as bus routes and times change according to the season.


For those who do arrive in their own vehicle, there is a large parking lot located at the Gondola base station. But just a heads up, it fills up quickly during the summer.


The Banff Gondola Experience

Once you enter the gondolas, you will have 360-degree views, thanks to the huge windows. The ride up Sulphur Mountain is scenic, quick, and enjoyable.

Is the Banff Gondola worth it? In this regard, definitely! Families travelling with younger children, or people with mobility issues will appreciate the effortless trip to the top of the mountain.

Once you arrive at the top of Sulphur Mountain, you will find the summit building. Much like at the base station, you will find amenities like bathrooms, a gift shop, and several options for grabbing a bite to eat.

You will also find an interpretive centre with some fascinating interactive displays. Learn a little about the geology of the area, the flora and fauna, as well as the local indigenous culture.

Just outside the summit building is where you will find an incredible observation deck. On a clear day, the 360-degree views are jaw-dropping!

Have a seat in the Parks Canada Red Chairs, or in the winter, warm up by a fire pit. And although the Banff Gondola is completely wheelchair accessible, once you reach the top of Sulphur Mountain, the path to Sanson’s peak has numerous steps.

The Banff Skywalk

The Banff Skywalk is a 2 km long elevated boardwalk that will take you to Sanson’s Peak and the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station. This station is actually a National Historic Site of Canada!

It will take you less than half an hour to walk the entire boardwalk at a leisurely pace. Along the way, you will enjoy incredible views of the Bow Valley and the Sundance Range.

The weather station, named after Norman Bethune Sanson, can be found at the end of the boardwalk. This tiny little building was used by the meteorologist in the early 1900s to record weather data.

And for those who love to find the Red Chairs, you will be quite happy to discover that there is a second set, just before reaching Sanson’s Peak!

Have a seat and enjoy the view before continuing to the end of the trail!

Once you arrive at Sanson’s Peak, you will find the views of the Banff townsite to be unbeatable! Is the Banff Gondola worth it? If considering the vistas alone – YES!

Enjoy a Meal with a View

As we mentioned earlier, there are several different options for when you get hungry at the Banff Gondola. Sky Bistro, Peak Patio, and the Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen can all be found at the summit station.

Sky Bistro

Of the three, the Sky Bistro is most notable for its wonderful views and its “farm to summit” premise sourcing as many local ingredients as possible.

Book one of their dining experiences, combining a ride up on the Gondola and a two-course meal, or book your meal separately.

The Sky Bistro can also be booked for special functions and weddings! Is the Banff Gondola worth it? To have a special occasion dinner with a unique and jaw-dropping view as the backdrop – most definitely!

Banff Gondola - Observation Deck - Vista 1

Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen

Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen is a little more casual. The buffet-style restaurant serves fare that ranges from classic ski lodge comfort food to the hearty packed-away meals of early mountain guides.

Also prepared with fresh, local ingredients and served with an incredible view, a meal at Northern Lights is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.


Peak Patio

Peak Patio is the perfect place to sit after a long hike and share a drink or some appetizers with fellow adventurers.

Of course, the patio is also an amazing spot for sipping a cocktail and viewing the incredible Rocky Mountain sunsets.

Hike Up Sulphur Mountain

Of course, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can choose to hike up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain rather than take the Banff Gondola.

The Sulphur Mountain Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park.

Between the easy access from Banff, the well-travelled trail, the perfect vantage point over the Bow Valley, and the amenities offered at the Banff Gondola’s summit station, the trail has everything you need for an awesome adventure.

Trail Facts

  • Length: 10.1 km return
  • Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 698 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Best Time To Go: All Year

The trail begins with a gentle incline through the trees, starting from the base station parking lot. Although there is nothing technical or challenging about this hike, it is a steady incline the entire way. With few flat areas and constant switchbacks, the hike can feel unrelenting at times.


On the plus side, it is impossible to get lost! The trail is so well-travelled, that even in the winter, you won’t need more than some hiking poles and a good pair of microspikes to climb to the summit.

And although the hike is a great way to get your steps in, the views are not that great as you are surrounded by forest. You will, however, get an occasional glimpse of the Goat Valley down below and Mount Rundle’s western face.


Once you reach the top, there is no charge to enjoy the summit station. Feel free to explore the interpretive center, take a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoy the scenery, and maybe have a well-deserved treat from the restaurant.

Of course, if you decide that hiking to the top was more than enough, you can also choose to purchase a Gondola ticket for the ride back down. The cost will be half of the round-trip ticket, at about $35.

Banff Gondola Price

The Banff Gondola does not operate on set pricing, unfortunately. This means that ticket prices will change day to day based on projected visitation.

Generally, there will be two different prices available per day based on the time of your visit. The timed tickets do help with waiting times, as well as helping to reduce crowding during high visitation times, however.

For example, during the summer months, you’ll find that the mid-week tickets are less expensive than tickets sold on weekends.

You will also find that online ticket prices are lower than buying at the ticket window and that buying in advance is less expensive than purchasing for the same day.


Is the Banff Gondola worth it? While there is a lot to love about the Banff Gondola, the price tag can definitely be a deterrent, especially for budget-minded families.

With an average adult ticket price sitting at $65, it is a hefty price for this attraction. Especially if you consider that you may want to experience the restaurant, or buy some trinkets from the gift shop.

On the plus side, the Banff Gondola is close to town, has some incredible amenities, and most importantly, it is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Given that those with limited mobility have limited access to incredible mountaintop views, this alone may make the price of the Banff Gondola worth it for some.


Our family has experienced several of the Gondolas/Lifts from the list below and found the Banff Gondola to be the best one. Is the Banff Gondola worth it? We definitely thought so!

Banff Gondola Price vs. Other Gondola/Lift Prices in the Area

For comparison, here is a list of prices from the other Gondolas and Ski Lifts in the area:

  • Banff Gondola – Adult $65, Child $30
  • Mt. Norquay – Adult $39, Child $25, Family $115
  • Sunshine Village – Adult $44, Youth $40, Child $30
  • Lake Louise – Adult $40, Child $19
  • Kicking Horse – Adult $45, Youth $38
  • Jasper Sky Tram – $52 Adult, Youth $27.50

🚟 You can purchase your Banff Gondola tickets here.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Banff Gondola?

Since the Banff Gondola is open year-round, it is really up to your preference when to visit. And there are pros and cons to visiting during any season.

Most people will agree, that June to September is the best time to visit the Banff Gondola.

Not only are the days longer, but temperatures will be much more comfortable, and you will be able to enjoy the patio and outdoor dining areas. On the downside though, you can expect larger crowds and longer wait times during the summer months.


Visiting between December and March can also be quite nice. In addition to enjoying the Christmas displays and events, the snow-covered landscape is truly magical to experience.

Of course, the downside is preparing yourself for strong winds and sub-zero temperatures!

No matter what time of year you decide to visit the Banff Gondola, you should come prepared for the weather.

Bring extra layers, as the weather and temperatures on the mountain can often fluctuate drastically.

Insider Tip: In the fall, winter and early spring, check the Banff Gondola webcam to see whether the view is clear at the top before venturing out.

Christmas at the Summit

Although a visit to the Banff Gondola at any time of the year would be amazing, heading up at Christmastime would add just a little more magic to the experience.

At this time of the year, the Banff Gondola staff go all out with the festivities.

Don’t be surprised to find the entire summit decorated with lights, festive ornaments, and even a Santa Claus.

Special events like cookie decorating and a toy workshop for the kids also help to create a festive experience for the family.

Is the Banff Gondola worth it? If you are heading up at Christmastime and taking advantage of the festivities, you can definitely justify the price of the ticket.


How Long Do You Need to Visit the Banff Gondola and Sulphur Mountain?

Our recommendation is to put aside a minimum of 2 hours for your visit. If you are planning to hike up the mountain, or are planning to stay for a meal, you should allow for more time.

🚟 You can purchase your Banff Gondola tickets here.

Where to Stay Near the Banff Gondola

There are many amazing places to stay in downtown Banff. And even though the town is not that big, it boasts some incredible resorts, as well as hotels that are both family and budget-friendly.

The Rimrock Resort

The closest Hotel to the Banff Gondola is the Rimrock Resort which is just a short walk or drive down the road.

As one of the best and most luxurious hotels in Banff, it books up early during the peak season, so you will need to plan ahead!

The resort has many different categories of rooms, many suiting larger families. You will also find several on-site restaurants and cafes, a pool, a spa, and a fitness room.

The Rimrock Resort definitely has everything you need for an incredible stay in Banff.


Elk + Avenue Hotel

Located in the heart of downtown Banff, amidst the quaint streets, ample restaurants, and unique shops, the Elk + Avenue Hotel is the perfect place for a family getaway. The hotel is clean, and modern, and has a ton of amenities at your fingertips.

In the lobby, you will find the Good Earth Coffeehouse for your early morning coffee fix, or to grab a quick breakfast before heading out for the day.

Pursuit Adventure Centre is also located in the lobby. There, you can book all your top Canadian Rockies experiences.


After a long day of sightseeing and adventure, head back to the hotel for their in-house restaurant, Farm & Fire for a locally sourced, family-style meal.

We opted for the Loft room during our stay. With a large sitting room, an upper loft with two queen beds, and a desk and work area, the Lofts are ideal for up to four adults and larger families.

Tunnel Mountain Resort

Tunnel Mountain Resort has everything you need for a perfect Banff vacation. The 105-unit resort in Banff National Park has a wide variety of accommodations, from the Tunnel Mountain Condos to Cabins and regular Suites.

We found the accommodations to be great for a perfect family getaway. The rooms were clean, spacious, and filled with some wonderful amenities. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this resort!

The resort is located approximately a 5-minute drive from downtown Banff (or a 20-minute walk). And we noticed a Roam Transit stop right outside the hotel grounds.

Although we found no issues with parking availability, I can imagine this may be different during the peak season.

Mountain Cabins

We opted to stay in the Mountain Cabin. This free-standing unit consists of a master bedroom with a queen bed, a full kitchen, a full bathroom, a living room area with a wood-burning fireplace, and an upstairs loft with two double beds.

The Cabin had just enough room for the kids to spread out while giving Hubby and I a little space of our own. The rear patio faced a forested area in the rear, which is perfect for privacy.

This resort does have an indoor pool. However, just be aware, you will need to walk outside to access it.

Since we stayed in mid-October, we were not crazy about the kids leaving the warm pool to run across a frozen parking lot back to our cabin!

🏨 You can find a complete listing of Banff hotels here.

Final Thoughts – Is the Banff Gondola Worth it?

So is the Banff Gondola worth it? We definitely think it is! Although it is a little more pricey than some of the similar experiences in the area, it definitely has much more to offer.

Coupled with its convenient location and accessibility, we think that the Banff Gondola should be a part of everyone’s itinerary when visiting Alberta.

Our #1 Pick

Is the Banff Gondola Worth it?

🚠 YES!! In fact, this attraction has over 1000 stellar reviews. You can purchase your Banff Gondola Admission tickets here.

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