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Canada is a fantastic choice to experience the open road. With incredible scenery and wide open roads, it's a far cry from crowded UK streets. With so many amazing things to do in Canada, choosing even a handful can be tricky. However, if you are on one of our brilliant Canadian motorhome holidays near Banff, you won't want to miss the Banff Gondola experience, particularly in the winter.

Riding to the summit of Sulphur Mountain rewards you with panoramic views of six mountain ranges and the quaint town of Banff nestled below. Up top, you can take scenic hiking trails or try delicious cuisine at the Sky Bistro. And once the sun sets, keep your eyes peeled for dazzling stargazing opportunities. Whether planning a winter adventure getaway or a summer road trip escape, the Banff Gondola should top your Rocky Mountain sightseeing list.

Why Visit the Banff Gondola in Winter?

In the winter, Banff really comes to life. The snow-capped peaks of the Sulphur mountain and ice-covered lakes create a magical setting for many activities. The mountain top offers a winter wonderland to explore, with scenic trails, the Sky Bistro's hearty food, and potential for dazzling stargazing on clear nights.

Gondola at Banff National Park with snow-topped mountains in background

How to Get There

The Banff Gondola is conveniently situated in the Banff townsite in Alberta. From the Trans-Canada Highway, it's about a 20-minute drive. Parking is shared with other attractions like the Banff Upper Hot Springs, so it can be a squeeze, but you can use the live parking site to check how busy the car parks are in advance.

If you fancy leaving the motorhome behind for a day, Roam Public Transit offers a cost-efficient way to get there, with fares around $2 one-way.

We offer five motorhome holidays, all of which include Banff as a location. They are:

Each holiday has a different focus, but of course, you can amend any of these - or create your own bespoke Canadian motorhome holiday - as you see fit. Our expert team is on hand to help you build your itinerary.


Pricing changes, but there are often deals. Adult tickets cost around $64, but you can save by booking in advance. Children aged 6-15 get in for $32. Early birds can snag a free child ticket with an adult ticket before 10am. If you're up for a hike, you can even buy a one-way ticket for the descent at half the price.

The Journey Up

The gondola cabins are glass-encased, offering 360-degree views. Each cabin accommodates four people, perfect for a family or a small group. Photographers will appreciate the small windows that can be opened to avoid glass glare, ensuring you capture the perfect shot of the Bow Valley below. The ride is short, taking just 8 minutes, covering 700 metres in elevation.

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What Awaits at the Summit?

Once you reach the summit, the experience is far from over. The Above Banff Interpretive Center offers interactive displays that delve into the history and geography of the area. For a cinematic experience, the Above Banff Theater showcases a short film shot from a bird's-eye view, covering the changing seasons and local wildlife.

Hungry? The Summit House offers a range of dining options:

  • Sky Bistro An upscale dining experience with a focus on Canadian cuisine
  • Northern Lights A market-style casual dining area
  • Castle Mountain Coffee Co For quick bites and warm drinks

Take a look at a live webcam that shows mountain ranges, Bow River and more.

Cosmic Ray Station

One of the intriguing landmarks encountered when reaching the top of Sulphur Mountain is Sanson's Peak, home to a disused Cosmic Ray Station. Cosmic rays refer to highly energetic particles originating in outer space that continually bombard the Earth's atmosphere. Analysis of these particles gives valuable insights into astrophysical phenomena, helping to further scientific understanding of the universe.

The station atop Sanson's Peak was part of a broader network established during the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year to gather cosmic ray data. Its high altitude location was selected to minimise interference from the Earth's atmosphere and obtain more precise readings.

The station is named as a tribute to Norman Sanson, a dedicated meteorological observer who trekked up Sulphur Mountain weekly for 30 years to record weather information. His steadfast commitment to scientific observation is a legacy the Cosmic Ray Station continued despite its divergent field of study. Although no longer operational, the station endures as a historical monument to Canada's contribution to global scientific research initiatives.

Tips for a Winter Visit

  • Dress for cold weather and wear proper boots.
  • Protect yourself from the wind with scarves and buffs.
  • Be cautious on the boardwalk; it can get slippery.
  • Keep your camera and phone in an inside pocket to prevent them from shutting off in the cold.

The Banff Gondola is more than just a ride; it's an immersive experience that educates and entertains. You can easily spend half a day at the summit, making it a worthwhile addition to your Canadian motorhome adventure.