View from the Top: A Trip to the Top of the Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies with its awe inspiring snow-capped mountains and glaciers hanging on precipitous cliffs make for a trip of a lifetime and the untouched beauty of the Rockies is best enjoyed through views from up above. 

You can of course go on Helicopter tours, but not all of us can afford them. The next best option is a trip to the top on the gondolas/chairlifts in the Rockies to appreciate the raw beauty of shimmering lakes hugging deep valleys and rugged landscapes. Once you are at the top, you can take as long as you like, to enjoy the view.




In and around Banff Town

1. Mt Norquay

North American Chairlift & Sightseeing, Mt. Norquay

North American Chairlift & Sightseeing, Mt. Norquay

 Ride up the North American chairlift (2 person open air chair lift), to enjoy the stunning scenery and view of the mountain vistas. Once on top, stroll the viewing pathway to the lookout point, and take in the amazing view of Bow Valley, Sundance Range, Mount Rundle, Tunnel Mountain, and Banff. Watch wildlife like Mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk and grizzly bears.

viaferrata-suspension

For more excitement, make your way up the cliffs above the ski area assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables, ladders and a suspension bridge. Enjoy the spectacular views and Big Horn Sheep grazing the sweet greenery en-route!

Open:  Mid June to ~ Canadian Thanksgiving.

Approximate Cost: 

Chairlift: Adult (18+)  $29; Youth (13-17)  $25; Student/Senior  $25; Child (4-12)  $19

Via Ferratta:  $149 –  $299 (depending on duration, and route)

2. Sunshine Meadows

sunshine-meadows




Situated at an elevation of 2200 m in  Banff National Park, Sunshine meadows straddle the Continental Divide and the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia. Sunshine Meadows better known as home to Sunshine Village, is famous for its beautiful setting with alpine meadows covered with carpet of fire weed and glacier lilies with the snow-capped Canadian Rockies as backdrop.  Ride the Standish quad chairlift to over 2,400 m – the highest Gondola / Chairlift access sightseeing elevation in the Banff and Lake Louise area – and experience 360 degree views of the Rocky Mountains that surround you. From there, catch even more breathtaking scenery from the Standish viewpoint platform and take in the view of the three high-alpine lakes; Larynx, Grizzly and Rock Isle.

Open: Early Summer to Mid Fall.

Approximate Cost: Hiking via Road- Free,

Gondola: Adult round trip (16+): $41 Child (5+) $21

Bus: Adult : $35.00 & Child (3-12) : $19.00

3. Banff Gondola

banff-gondola

Photo Credit: Canadian Tourism Commission

Soar up  an of elevation of 2,281metres to reach Sulphur Mountain and experience the views of Banff Town backdropped by six incredible mountain ranges.  Stroll the short boardwalk that leads to the weather observatory (National Historic Site) on the Sanson’s Peak and get rewarded with another breathtaking view.

Open: Year Round.

Approximate Cost:

Adults (age 16+): $49.00;
Child (age 6-15): $25.00;
Infant (age 0-5): Free

Lake Louise

4. Lake Louise Gondola

Just kickin' at Kicking Horse Viewpoint #Banff #LakeLouiseGondola #standingbowpose #yoga #yogaeverywhere

A photo posted by Andrea Gunn (@andreagunn02) on

Cruise for fourteen glorious minutes, in an open chair or a fully enclosed gondola to Mount Whitehorn and see Lake Louise  at a distance nestled like a jewel amongst the soaring mountain peaks. Lake Louise Gondola connects the southern slope of the Merlin Ridge of the Slate Range to Whitehorn lodge on the Mount Whitehorn, through the ski lifts of Lake Louise Ski Resort.

This is one of the best spots to see Grizzly Bears in the Canadian Rockies. Take leisurely strolls around, appreciating nature or take the strenous hike to the summit of Mount Whitehorn, if you are upto it. (Unescorted hikes are permitted on the upper mountains and take care to hike in groups of 4 or more during bear activity months.)

Open:

Mid May to Thanksgiving

Approximate Cost:

Adults – $31.95
Child (6-15) – $15.95
5 and under – Free

Icefields Parkway

5. Jasper Tramway

Travels to an elevation of  2,277 m on Canada’s the highest and longest aerial tramway to reach Whistler Mountain. From there,   Try to spot hoary marmots, the namesake of Whistler mountain, Big Horn sheep, Ground Squirrels, Moose, Pikas, and White-tailed Ptarmigan as you explore the ~ 1.4 km treeless mountain trail to the Whistlers Summit.

Open: ~ Easter Weekend to Labour Day Weekend.

Approximate Cost: 

Adult (16+) : $39.95

Child (6-15) :$19.95

Family (2 + 2) : $99.85




6. Glacier SkyWalk

glacier-skywalk

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

Explore a cliff-edge walkway that leads to a glass-floored observation platform 280 m (918 ft) above the Sunwapta Valley surrounded by stunning alpine and glacial vistas in Icefields Parkway.

Open:

Mid April to Late October

Approximate Cost:

Adult: $32; Ages (6-15): $16; Ages 5 -: Free

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Edmonton – Jasper Road Trip

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