Banff Jasper Collection

Sure, it's true that there’s nothing quite like a sunset in the Rocky Mountains. But the Banff Gondola's Sunset Festival takes it to a whole new level—7600 ft to be precise!

I'm Jasmine. I live, work and play right here in Banff. Yes, I know I'm fortunate! Last week, my friend Emma and I celebrated the most beautiful time of day and soaked in the mountain views with local craft beer, live music, delectable snacks and storytelling. It was an evening to remember!

Here are five things I learned at the Sunset Festival this year:

  1. The sun is multicoloured. Up on the rooftop observation deck, the Banff Gondola allows visitors to look through a special solar telescope to observe the sun in detail, making the sunset all the more fascinating. You can actually see solar flares and sunspots through this thing! I learned that the sun is actually made up of every colour mixed together, which appears to our eyes as white.

A person looks through a solar telescope pointed towards the setting sun.

  1. Don’t take a skunk on the train! One of the great things about the Sunset Festival is that they have live interpretive story telling every evening. Tyler, the story teller, told us a tale of how he found an injured skunk one day, and attempted to bring it onto the train home with him. Unfortunately for Tyler, the other passengers were less impressed when the skunk sprayed, and he was kicked off the train! Better luck next time! And besides storytelling, there's some amazing live music up there as well!

A musician sings and plays guitar atop a mountaintop.

  1. Beer is best accompanied by pretzels. What’s better than treating yourself to a cold craft beer while you watch the sunset from a mountaintop? Treating yourself to a cold beer AND a delicious, warm pretzel! Freshly baked pretzels and donuts are served on the rooftop patio of the Banff Gondola for you to snack on while you chill out and listen to the live music. Or if you prefer something savoury, there's amazing, fresh donuts. And if that’s not enough, the Gondola staff also hand out blankets for you to curl up in if it gets chilly—so you can watch the sun set in complete comfort.

Two glasses of beer with snacks glow in the sunlight.

  1. Squirrels are sneaky. Sulphur Mountain is a great place to spot a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, pikas and marmots. On this occasion, we spotted a golden-mantled ground squirrel carefully selecting rocks and pebbles and running off with them. We learned that the squirrel was actually pretending to bury food to fool the other chipmunks and protect his winter stash—it turns out that squirrels are more cunning that we thought!

A golden-mantled ground squirrel looks over a rock.

  1. Sulphur Mountain has the best sunsets. The summit of Sulphur Mountain is truly a spectacular place to watch the sunset. It’s just a short 8 minute ride to the top, where you can watch the sun go down behind the iconic mountain peaks with a 360 degree view of the valley. Definitely bring your camera as this is a sunset you won’t ever want to forget!

A pair of people stand in the glowing light of the sunset wrapped in a blanket.

Sunset Festival is included with Banff Gondola admission and runs every day until September 3 from 7 PM to 10 PM.

Jasmine Homes

About the Author: Jasmine Homes is a Banff local who loves to write about travelling, nature and wildlife. You can often find her kayaking on the Bow River or in the back-country camping.

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