Sulphur Mountain, named for the two sulphurous hot springs found on its lower slopes, will amaze you with awe inspiring, 360-degree views of six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley, and the town of Banff. You can take a scenic gondola ride to the summit at 2,281 metres (7,486 feet) or if you are feeling energetic, hike all the way to the top. Climb a bit farther to the Cosmic Ray Station and the old Weather Station for a glimpse of some local history.
The Banff Gondola is open year round. The eight minute ride climbs 698 metres (2,292 feet) to the summit ridge where there are restaurants, observation decks, interpretive boardwalks and hiking trails.
The mountain has been the site of two research facilities. In 1903, a meteorological observatory building was built on the peak and you can still walk around the building and peer through a window to see its rustic interior. In 1956 - 1957, the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was built to study cosmic rays as part of the “International Geophysical Year”. It is now a National Historic Site of Canada and a plaque marks its location.
The Sulphur Mountain trail is a moderate hike that switchbacks its way to the summit ridge. With jaw dropping views of the Bow Valley, hikers can continue along a one kilometre, interpretive boardwalk to the Cosmic Ray Station and Sanson’s Peak. Take the gondola down for a different perspective and to give your legs a rest.
Banff National Park’s only hot springs pool is an authentic Canadian experience and a favourite among visitors. Located close to the Banff Gondola parking area, it’s convenient to combine the two attractions. Soak in the steamy hot mineral water where travellers have come to ‘take the waters’ for over a hundred years. Consider re-enacting some history, too, in a genuine vintage bathing suit!
Another warm water spring on the side of Sulphur Mountain was discovered by three railway workers in 1883. The Cave and Basin National Historic Site features an artificial tunnel to natural grotto, a replica of the original 1887 bathhouse, restored 1916 swimming pool, as well as interpretive displays, hiking and snowshoe trails. These hot springs are no longer open for public bathing.