The weather was turning from 40’s to the 70’s and we were looking forward to getting to take our rain jackets off. The day looked clear as well which meant good views. Our plan for the day was to ride the Banff Gondola and then explore the city of Banff a bit more.
Banff Gondola up Sulfur Mountain
Even though it was a bit pricy for what it was, we bought tickets for a gondola ride up Sulfur Mountain just out of Banff’s downtown. The ride definitely got our hearts pumping! It was fairly fast and straight up the mountain rather than a more gradual uphill ride. The views from inside were stunning.
At the top there was a lookout center which was huge! I can’t imagine how they got all the supplies up the mountain for the construction. I’m sure most had to be airlifted there! The building on top had a museum, a gift shop, restaurant, cafe and a rooftop lookout and restaurant on it. The museum was really well done with stamps for kids to collect at different points throughout. We learned that the reason why the lakes look so blue is due to “rock flour” or tiny grains of rocks ground up by moving glaciers. The rock flour interacts with light rays and reflects what we see as the blue-green-teal color.
We also got to see what a tracking collar looked like up close and look at the information gathered by the tracking data. There was a display showing the paths various animals have taken. Many of the animals followed the man made roads with the exception of the moose who followed the rivers.
From the lookout center there was a boardwalk that went along the rim of the mountain up to a weather station. It doesn’t appear to house rangers in this day and age but when peering inside the weather hut we could see bunks, a wood stove and an old phone. Can you imagine staying up on that mountain peak during a storm or on a windy day?? Frightening!
The views were amazing and we got to see bighorn sheep up close again. The horns on the males are just incredible!
The gondola was so close to downtown Banff that we decided to check out the shops. Even though it was a really neat town, it was still shocking to me that the town was allowed to be within National Park boundaries. We found a cowgirl store and the girls had fun trying on cowgirl boots. They looked so cute!! If the boots hadn’t been so expensive I would have bought them each a pair. I now know to keep my eyes out at thrift stores.
At the end of the downtown strip of fun shops lies the Cascade of Time Garden. It was an immaculately landscaped garden filled with perfect rows of flowers, meandering pathways and lovely wooden bridges over a little flowing river. The time and effort those gardeners must put into that garden was very apparent! We got to thank one of the gardeners we saw.
Back at camp we had some housekeeping things to do. We were in desperate need of some clean laundry. Laundry at a laundry mat ends up taking up the better part of an afternoon and since there was just so much to see in Banff we didn’t want to waste that time. So, I washed everything by hand! It was a full load of laundry so it took some time but the girls got to play while I was washing and Justin busied himself cracking open and cutting up a coconut the girls had picked out in a grocery store. It worked out just fine.
That night the girls got to wear their new nighties and socks we got them up on top of Sulfur Mountain at the gift store. They were very cozy and had a blast being matching.