Banff Jasper Collection

HEIGHTEN YOUR SENSES

With six stunning mountain ranges and the sweep of the Bow Valley before you, views from the Sulphur Mountain summit are nothing short of breathtaking. And there’s much more to discover in a state-of-the-art building that will heighten your senses at every turn.

Why not start with a walk along the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk to learn more about Canada’s first national park? Or perhaps go indoors to sample from three delicious restaurant menus. Then get hands-on in our world-class interpretive centre and theatre. And no matter where you go, our knowledgeable, friendly hosts are standing by to make sure you get the most out of your visit.

Explore the all-new Banff Gondola summit

Whether you're inside or out, this mountaintop destination is sure to impress with something for everyone.

ABOVE BANFF INTERPRETIVE CENTRE

The new, state-of-the-art Above Banff interpretive centre takes the unbelievable range of adventures in Banff National Park to a higher level. The centre offers everything from observation to hands-on interactive displays that make for a fun, family-friendly experience.

JUNIOR EXPLORER PROGRAM
The Junior Explorer Program at the Banff Gondola invites parents and children to dig deeper into the world around us with self-guided activities and adventures.

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Above Banff Theatre

Included in your gondola ticket is admission to the new multi-sensory Above Banff Theatre. Soar over the Canadian Rockies from the perspective of a fierce bird of prey: the bald eagle. Experience the true power of Mother Nature as you witness some of Banff’s ever-changing weather systems.
 

Rooftop Observation Deck

Unparalleled views provide a unique opportunity to capture photos of the Banff townsite and six mountain ranges.

BANFF GONDOLA ACCESSIBILITY

The Banff Gondola is fully accessible to people with limited mobility. The main entrance is equipped with automatic doors with interior and exterior sensors. Each of our gondola cars is capable of taking a wheelchair and passenger to the summit.

Mountaintop Dining

Mountaintop Dining



From a quick snack to an unforgettable three-course meal, there’s a wide range of choices if you’re hungry at the top of Sulphur Mountain. Our chef has crafted fresh and locally-sourced menus that will fuel you up for a hike or help you wind down as you watch the sunset behind the Rockies.

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Stories from the Banff Gondola

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Gondola Technical Information

System:   Wallmansberger
Lower terminal elevation:   1,583 m (5,194 feet) above sea level
Upper terminal elevation:   2,281 m (7,486 feet) above sea level
Total elevation gain:   698 m (2,292 feet)
Total number of Gondolas:   40
Gondola capacity:   4 passengers each
Length of track:   1,560 m (5,120 feet)
Horizontal length:   1,370 m (4,498 feet)
Average incline:   51%
Track rope diameter:   34 mm (111/32 inches)
Hauling rope diameter:   28 mm (13/32 inches)
Track rope weight:   21,103 kg (46,587 lbs)
Hauling rope weight:   9,490 kg (21,091 lbs)
Normal lift speed:   3.0 m (10 feet) per second
Maximum lift speed:   4.0 m (13 feet) per second
Length of trip:   8 minutes
Hourly capacity:   650 passengers, each direction
Number of towers:   3
Maximum height above ground:   38 m (125 feet) at Tower #2
Driving unit:   250 H.P. Electric Motor & Diesel stand-by/electric stand-by
Construction period:
 
  Original – September 1958 to July 1959
Reconstruction – November 1997 to February 1998
Manufactured by:
 
  Original – Bell Engineering Works Ltd., Kriens Lucerne, Switzerland
Reconstruction – Garaventa AG, Goldau, Switzerland

Make your visit even more memorable

History of the Banff Gondola

One of the earliest pioneers to ascend the heights of Sulphur Mountain was park meteorologist and museum curator Norman Bethune Sanson. Sanson first climbed the mountain on snowshoes in 1896 in order to record weather observations for the Banff area.

In the summer of 1903, a trail was built from the Banff Upper Hot Springs and a stone observatory was constructed on the summit ridge (still standing today on the peak to the northwest). During the next thirty years of his life, Sanson hiked to the top of the mountain over one thousand times and made one of his last hikes up the steep, three-mile trail in the summer of 1945, at the age of 84!

1940s

Park visitors were also able to make the 3 1/2 mile trek to the summit to enjoy what was quickly becoming the popular viewpoint of Banff and the Bow Valley. The first teahouse on the summit of Sulphur Mountain opened in the summer of 1940 on the site of the present summit complex. It was built and operated by the mountain guide and visionary, John Jaeggi, who immigrated to Banff from Switzerland in 1924. Jaeggi had quickly recognized the need for tourist facilities on this popular mountain. All the building materials, all the supplies, and even the water for the tea had to be carried on horseback up the trail. Hikers were now able to enjoy a light meal at the summit.

Later a halfway station was built by Jaeggi. People could either hike up to this teahouse or take a ride up on a tractor that Jaeggi modified himself. The tractor had a small platform and railing around the machine upon which the passengers would stand. The remainder of the ascent from the halfway station had to be made on foot, but at the summit Jaeggi now also offered the choice of lunch or bed and breakfast.

1950s

In the early 1950's Jaeggi began making plans for an aerial lift. In 1951 and 1953 he visited his native Switzerland to look at lifts. Having found a lift that would be comparable with Sulphur Mountain, Jaeggi returned to Canada to find investors to finance his dream. He also applied to the Federal Government for permission to develop this attraction. Jaeggi succeeded at finding a small group of potential investors in the Banff area, however, it was not enough to set the scheme in motion. What he needed was a major financial player.

In March of 1957 Jaeggi returned to Switzerland hoping to find the support that he so desperately needed. Jaeggi was successful. He was immediately put into contact with some very influential Swiss businessmen who embraced his idea of a gondola lift in the Canadian Rockies. The obstacle of raising the capital had been overcome and in July of 1957 after a long and hard debate, the Federal Government finally passed the proposal. Construction of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola began in the fall of 1958.

After surveying the mountain for the most suitable area, the track was cut followed by the installation of a temporary construction lift. The upper and lower terminals were built and the construction of the towers came after. The cables and the gondolas were the last to be installed. The entire lift from the drive, to cables, to gondolas had to be shipped from Switzerland. It was something of a mega project for its day.

On Saturday, July 18, 1959 the Sulphur Mountain Gondola officially opened. It was the first bi-cable gondola in North America and the first gondola of any kind in Canada. Today it remains the only bi-cable gondola in Canada.

1970s

In the mid-seventies it became apparent that the present facilities on the summit were too small to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors. Consequently the wildlife and the fragile alpine vegetation suffered. In 1976 architectural studies were initiated to find a design that would meet with parks policies. The complex had to blend in with the environment; the observation areas and boardwalks had to be designed to minimize visitor contact with the wildlife and the vegetation; the problem of sewage had to be addressed through the use of pipelines connecting the restaurant at the top of the mountain with the Banff sewage system.

1980s

Construction of a new summit complex began in October of 1980. Its design both suited the aesthetics of the environment and its aerodynamics met well with the harshness of the alpine climate. Though it looked like it simply sat on the top of a major rock outcrop, the complex actually rested on concrete foundation that extended right into the mountain itself. On September 15, 1981 the complex was officially opened.

2010s

Banff Jasper Collection continues its commitment to providing modern facilities at this must-see destination, with the redevelopment of the lower terminal in 2012 and a $26 million renovation of the upper terminal that began in September 2015.

This redevelopment of this new upper terminal was completed on September 23, 2016.  The Banff Gondola now gives visitors more to see, do and learn than ever before with state-of-the-art facilities providing everything from passive observation to hands-on interactive experiences.  Combining an unparalleled rooftop view, expansive interpretive area, a highly-immersive specialty theatre, private event facilities, retail space, and all-new food and beverage offerings, the Banff Gondola remains Banff’s number one must-see attraction and mountaintop experience.

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