The easiest way to get high above Banff without breaking a sweat is on the Banff Gondola (Mountain Ave., 403/762-2523, 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. in summer, shorter hours the rest of the year, closed for two weeks in Jan., adult $28, child $13.50). The modern four-person cars rise 700 meters (2,300 feet) in eight minutes to the summit of 2,285-meter (7,500-foot) Sulphur Mountain.
From the observation deck at the upper terminal, the breathtaking view includes the town, Bow Valley, Cascade Mountain, Lake Minnewanka, and the Fairholme Range. Bighorn sheep often hang around below the upper terminal.
The short Vista Trail leads along a ridge to a restored weather observatory; back in the upper terminal there are three restaurants and a gift shop.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition