Leading up to that moment, we were collectively yet separately feeling pretty blissed out.
It'd been one of those beautiful early fall days in the Canadian Rockies - sunny, crisp. Not too hot, not too cool. No matter what we'd been doing (hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing, even working), for just about everybody in Banff that day, it'd been one to remember. And to top it all off, this particular group of people had the fine fortune of bringing this day to a close at Sky Bistro high atop Sulphur Mountain, in the Banff Gondola's upper terminal.
Nowhere else in Banff offers this kind of a sunset. Lifted so far up above the Bow Valley, the sun shines brighter and longer here. The mountain tops stretch further. Dusk lingers and the moment is celebrated.
On the plate, an Alberta strip loin in a Merlot glaze. Or a seafood medley featuring PEI mussels. A couple across was digging into an impressive local charcuterie board.
Most had a glass of wine at hand, although the gal at the table a little to the right was sipping sangria. People were talking quietly with their table mate, feeling relaxed and serene. Dining in such a place with someone you care about is, after all, an intimate experience.
Many were taking photos of the view out the window, the light softening as the sun drifted over the high peaks towards the west.
And then it was time.
The sun tucked in behind Mt Bourgeau. Sunset. On queue, the hostess raised the sun blinds. We stood up from our tables with our cameras (okay, most of us had our phones) ready to capture this moment.
We smiled to one another, offered to take pictures of one another, collectively marveling at the beauty. Table neighbours chatted about their unforgettable day. Some wandered around the stunning Sky Bistro to find the perfect shot. From the entrance way, from the far corner, from the middle of the room. From outside on the viewing deck. Some simply sat still, watching the sun disappear behind the high mountains along the Alberta-British Columbia border, along the Continental Divide. The hard-to-see Pharoah Peak came into view behind Bourgeau's shadow. Layers upon layers of mountains.
And then the darkness began to drift in. And we all sat back down and soaked it up.
Later, as we rode down on the Banff Gondola after a Callebaut chocolate mousse cake and an espresso, the lights of the Town of Banff shimmered far below under the indigo evening. The Bow River was still reflecting a teal-coloured glow. The night was cool now. We put on our puffy jackets. And drifted into nighttime.
Is there a better way—a better place—to end an amazing day in Banff?
The Sky Experience Package includes Banff Gondola admission and your choice of an appetizer and entree from the dinner menu. To time your reservation at Sky Bistro with the sunset, keep in mind that the days are getting shorter. For a reference, the sun disappears behind the peaks about 10 to 15 minutes before the time advertised on timeanddate.com.