We took our kids to Banff last weekend to enjoy the last few weeks together with a nice family hike. I want to be up front with this. I did not pick the hike. Ian likes to go through instagram pictures, select which view he likes and which one he wants to snap a pic of himself in, and that's how he picks the destination. I do not support this method of family hike selecting. There was no research on reviews, no look at what the trail looked like, no read up on Government hiking trail websites to see how the terrain is holding up from all the rain we had previous weeks before. No. His way of selecting a hiking destination is "will this look good on instagram when I get to the top, or not."
Needless to say, the kids complained the entire time. Mainly Liam, the eldest. Normally the kids don't care. I mean, they like the adventure. They like finding their own pathway (but you know someone's already taken that shortcut) they like pretending a bear is chasing them (knock on wood this never ever ever happens) and they like just sitting down at the summit and appreciating the feat that they just went through to get there, have a snack and then head back down. So why, do you ask, were they a pain in the butt on this hike?
Because they can see the Banff Gondola go up the mountain the entire time. If you have children who aren't so keen on on being on the hike, then I recommend taking the Gondola to avoid questions like, "Why are we hiking, when we could have just take the Gondola to the very top?" or comments like, "I hope we're riding that thing going down."
The Gondola Ride is $49/adult, and $25 for kids ages 6-15. Babies under 6 are free. For only $150, you can ride the gondola and skip the complaining. The ride to the top where you will find the Sulphur Mountain boardwalk and the new Banff Gondola Centre from Brewster Travel, is only 8 minutes away. It took us cheap-scapes, 3 hours.
The view from the summit is stunning. You see the entire town of Banff, the valleys, the neighbouring mountains, and with plenty of places to sit along the boardwalk, you have the opportunity to sit, relax and eat your snack. For those who want more than just a snack, the new centre at the top of the mountain, which is newly renovated for a more interactive experience for families and visitors, has everything you need. A quick grab-and-go cafe, a dine-in restaurant, exhibits and conference rooms.
You also have the option to purchase tickets for half the cost to ride back down in the Gondola at half price.
Now that we've gone up the mountain as a family and have pictures to prove it, we probably won't be doing it again anytime soon. It was a moderate hike, so it wasn't a challenge my kids couldn't take, but because they could see the convenience of the Gondola for most of the way up, I think they felt like they shouldn't have had to be on foot if there was the option to ride.
After seeing the summit, stay in Banff for the night. There's so much to do and so much nature to explore. Here are a few of my fave places to stay the night using bookings.com. Click on the images below to book: