ULTIMATE Banff Gondola Comparison Guide: Which is Best?

Banff National Park is a renowned national park in Alberta. It is visited by many from year to year for its beauty and wide options of fun activities to choose from. One of the best ways to soak in the benefits of your trip to Alberta is by taking a gondola/ chairlift ride.

Check out our ultimate Banff gondola comparison guide to help you choose the best fit for you!

There is no shortage of options when it comes to gondolas in this region. This includes Banff Gondola, Sunshine Village Gondola, Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola, Norquay Chairlift and the Jasper SkyTram/ Gondola (located in Jasper, but included to assist you).

Each of these gondolas offers a unique experience and incredible views and would be a great addition to your travels!

*cover image courtesy of Pursuit

View from the Banff Gondola

The Ultimate Banff Gondola Comparison Chart

Lake LouiseSunshine Village Jasper
Is it super busy in the summer?YesNoNoNoNo
Should you bring bear spray?NoYesYesYesYes
Are there hikes available from the top?YesYesYesYesNo
Are there dining options?YesYesYesYesYes
Is it open in winter for sightseeing purposes?YesYesYesNoNo
Should you dress in layers?YesYesYesYesYes
Do you need a Park Pass?YesYesYesYesYes
Is it costly compared to the others?YesYesYesYesNo
Is it dog-friendly?NoNoNoYes Yes

The Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is this region’s most renowned gondola and we can totally understand why. The Banff Gondola is located in Banff National Park and takes you up Sulphur Mountain, one of the most popular Rockies in this region.

This gondola ride takes you up 2,292 ft of elevation. The trip is 8 minutes long. Sometimes, you are able to enjoy a few extra minutes in your gondola cabin when it stops to accommodate guests. On your journey up, you will get to experience breathtaking views of the surrounding Banff beauty and build anticipation for what is yet to come.

Where is the Banff Gondola?

Banff Gondola in the winter

The Banff Gondola is located at 100 Mountain Ave in Banff. It is accessible by car at a 10-minute drive from Downtown Banff. We find that the parking lot fills up quickly in the summer, so keep that in mind when planning your trip!

The most strategic, cost-effective and environmentally friendly option is to take the bus. Route 1 on the Roam Transit Bus will take you from Downtown Banff up to the Banff Gondola. The bus schedule changes depending on the season and the time of day, so be sure to plan your schedule in advance!

Because of the incline and the hills that there are on the way to the base of the Banff Gondola, we don’t recommend biking or walking.

Restaurants at the Peak

Sky Bistro at the top of the Banff Gondola

Are you feeling hungry? If so, you have many options to choose from.

The Sky Bistro is a “sanctuary in the sky”. They have curated a Canadian menu, using local ingredients. We loved coming up the gondola and heading to the Bistro for dinner time as a romantic date.

We highly recommend booking a table as spots fill up quick, especially in the summer months. They also offer different dining and experience packages, depending on what you’re looking for.

Banff-Gondola in winter
Ice sculpture at the top of the Banff Gondola

The Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen is a buffet-style restaurant that offers a range of food from hearty options to alpine cuisine. This is our favourite spot for lunch as they have quick and easy options. We believe that it is the best option for families with kids that need a quick bite.

Though booking a table isn’t always necessary, it wouldn’t be a bad idea in the summer months, as the Banff Gondola does get very busy.

Enjoying a fire at the top of the Banff Gondola on a winter day

The Peak Patio is an excellent summer experience. It is a great spot to grab some light bites and enjoy a patio drink. We love this spot because you are in a super relaxing atmosphere, surrounded by Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The patio is closed during the winter season but will reopen in the summer.

Things to do While You’re On Top of the World

Appreciating the views of the Town of Banff from the top of the Banff Gondola

Once you’ve reached the top of the gondola, you’ve arrived in a Rocky Mountain “paradise”. You will be overlooking six different mountain ranges.

As you walk along the boardwalk, you will get the chance to stop at different informative displays on a self-guided tour.

banff gondola
credit: Brewster

Continue up the boardwalk to reach Sanson’s Peak. This peak is named after a man named Norman Sanson. Sanson hiked up Sulphur Mountain every day for approximately 30 years to check the weather. He did this until 1945, when he was 84 years old!

banff gondola information
Heading to the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station

Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll get to enjoy the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station. This station is a National Historic Site in Canada.

Otherwise, walk through the building at the gondola summit to enjoy interpretive exhibits, a multi-sensory theatre and an observation deck that offers breathtaking views.

Before leaving, be sure to check out their gift shop and grab a coffee on your way out at the on-site Starbucks.

The main building at the Banff Gondola base

Pricing & Hours of Operation

Banff-Gondola Christmas
Banff Gondola at Christmastime

The prices and hours of operation for the Banff Gondola fluctuate based on the time of the year. Tickets are more expensive in the summer months and on the weekends.

Tickets are also more expensive when you buy them on-site as opposed to buying them online in advance. Though you would save a few bucks to buy them in advance, we always found that buying them the day of is worth it, seeing as the weather is so unpredictable in Banff.

Another option to consider would be purchasing Pursuit’s Ultimate Explorer Combo Ticket, which gives you a ticket to the Banff GondolaLake Minnewanka Cruise, and Columbia Icefield Adventure which includes the Columbia Skywalk.

Here is what you can expect when it comes to pricing:

AdultApproximately $50-$70
Youth (6-17)$25 and up
5 and underFree (must carry a ticket)
HOT TIP: If you want to enjoy the amenities at the top of the Banff Gondola, but don't want to pay the ticket price, consider hiking Sulphur Mountain. Once you're at the top, you're able to enjoy all that the facilities have to offer. The hike is 10.1 kilometers, gaining 698 m of elevation. We consider it a moderate hike in Banff.

Winter on the Banff Gondola

Nightrise on the Banff Gondola

If you are visiting Banff in the winter, the Banff Gondola provides the best winter experience out of all the gondolas. This is especially true around Christmas time when they transform the whole area for their Mountaintop Christmas events.

While you can still go up the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola and Sunshine Gondola in the winter, we consider the Banff Gondola to have the best activities and attractions, including Nightrise. The Sulphur Mountain hike is also a fun winter hike in Banff, and a free option for enjoying those looking to save some money.

Banff Gondola Tips

Enjoying the views out the window of the Banff Gondola

Here are our top tips and tricks to make for an incredible day:

  • Consider visiting in the off-season to save on tickets.
  • Visit the gondola in the morning or evening to avoid crowds.
  • Dress in layers as the temperature will be lower at the top.
  • Group rates are available for 15 people or more.
  • Arrive early as parking fills up quickly in the summer months.
  • Strollers are not permitted.
  • Once you have reached the top, you have unlimited time up there.
  • Expect approximately 2 hours for the full experience.
  • Be sure to buy your Banff Park Pass before arriving.

Lake Louise Gondola

Lake Louise Gondola
Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola and Wildlife Interpretive Centre

Lake Louise is a gorgeous destination in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, which is made up of beautiful views and countless activities for those that love the outdoors.

One of the top activities is to take a ride on the Lake Louise Sightseeing gondola. This scenic ride brings guests up 2102 m or Mount Whitehorn, offering stunning views along the way. The ride is 14 minutes long, giving you ample time to snap photos to your heart’s desire and soak in the beauty that surrounds you.

The Lake Louise Gondola is open year-round. In the winter, it is a ski lift, bringing skiers and snowboarders up to enjoy one of SkiBig3’s pristine hills. Offering over 4,200 acres of skiable terrain and 145 runs, It is one of the top ski hills in the region.

Where is the Lake Louise Gondola?

lake louise gondola
Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola and Wildlife Interpretive Centre / TravelAlberta

The Lake Louise Gondola is located in Banff National Park, more specifically, in Lake Louise.

The address is 1 Whitehorn Rd in Lake Louise, Alberta. It is a 45-minute drive from Banff, 57 minutes from Canmore and approximately 2 hours from Calgary.

There is also the option to take the Roam Transit bus from Banff to the Lake Louise Gondola. The schedule varies, so be sure to take a look at their website to plan your trip.

Dining at the Lake Louise Gondola

Whitehorn Bistro Patio

There are a few options to choose from when visiting the Lake Louise Gondola. The Whitehorn Bistro, located at the top of the gondola is known for its local and seasonal ingredients and for having one of the best restaurant views in Banff. It is accessible in the summer with your gondola ticket or in the winter with your ski pass.

If you’re looking for more of a grab-and-go option, we recommend stopping into the Lodge of Ten Peaks Cafeteria at the base.

Accessibility at the Lake Louise Gondola

Lake Louise Gondola

The Lake Louise Gondola mentions that its venue is suitable for visitors of all ages and abilities. The large cabins make for a space that is accessible to some. The gondola cabins have an accessible loading area.

That being said, mobility aids must be folded up as you enter the gondola. This can make for a difficult experience for some and we recommend calling ahead of time to ensure that your aid will fit.

If your mobility aid does fit, there are also accessible washrooms at the base and the top as well as a variety of options such as restaurants, cafes, exhibits and displays.

Things to do at the Top of the Lake Louise Gondola

lake louise shuttle
The iconic Lake Louise herself

In the winter, the Lake Louise gondola is used to transport skiers and snowboarders up the Lake Louise ski hill, one of the iconic SkiBig3 hills. In the summer, the gondola is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise.

There are many options to choose from once you’ve gone up the Lake Louise Gondola, including grabbing a bite to eat, checking out the Wildlife Interpretive Centre, joining a guided tour, or doing a hike.

Hikes at the Top of the Gondola

Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

Once you’ve reached the top of the gondola, you can choose between three hikes. Whichever you choose, it is imperative to stay bear safe by packing your bear spray and staying aware of your surroundings!

  • Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint – 1.7 km round trip
  • Pika Trail – 2.5 km round trip
  • Ptarmigan Valley viewpoint – 3.4 km round trip (extension to the Pika Trail)

Prices & Hours of Operation

Adult (18-64)$60
Senior (65+)$49
Youth (13-17)$25
Child (6-12)$13
5 and underFree
Family (2 adults and 2 kids)$140
Lake Louise gondola pricing

The Lake Louise Gondola will be open from May 19 to October 9, 2023. At the time of writing their hours of operation haven’t yet been released. Keep your eye on their website to stay up to date!

Lake Louise Gondola Tips

Enjoying the wild flours at the top of the Lake Louise Gondola

We want you to have a stress-free and enjoyable time a the Lake Louise Gondola! Here are some tips to help you achieve just that.

  • You don’t need to book your tickets in advance. This means you can keep your eye on the weather.
  • There is ample parking.
  • This gondola isn’t as known by tourists as the Banff Gondola. It’s a great way to try and avoid the big crowds.
  • Lake Louise is part of Banff National Park. Be sure to get your park pass before arriving.
  • Extend your trip at the top of the gondola by enjoying one of the hikes. Always stay bear-safe.
  • Dress in layers as the temperature will be lower at the top.

Sunshine Village Gondola

sunshine gondola
credit: Sunshine Village / Travel Alberta

Sunshine Village Gondola is located in Banff National Park and is another great option as a year-round activity. This gondola is known for its beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies and its access to outdoor enthusiasts.

Sunshine Village is mainly known for its winter activities. In the winter, it is a ski hill. It is part of the SkiBig3, one of the three world-class ski resorts in the region. That said, their gondola is a great option for visitors in any season.

The gondola base starts you off at an impressive elevation of 1,659 m. Once you go up the gondola, you are taken to 2,159 m, arriving to the Village terminal. Once there, you have the option to continue up the Standish Chairlift, taking you to an elevation 2,385 m. We highly recommend doing the extra leg, as you will be immersed in breathtaking 360-degree views. You’ll definitely want to add this to your summer bucket list!

The Sunshine Village Gondola is Banff National Park’s biggest one, holding up to an impressive 8 people per cabin! We appreciate visiting the Sunshine Village Gondola in the summer, where we can spot an assortment of wildlife, go for a hike, take in the incredible views and appreciate the fresh air.

Where is the Sunshine Village Gondola Located?

Sunshine Village Gondola
credit: Sunshine Village / Travel Alberta

The Sunshine Village Gondola is located in Banff National Park at 1 Sunshine access Rd. It is a 21-minute drive from downtown Banff (18.3 km), 35 minutes from Canmore (40.7 km) and 1 hour and 45 minutes from Calgary (144 km).

There is ample parking available. It is a beautiful drive up to Sunshine Village. There is also the option of renting a car if you do not have access to your own. Rental car services are very popular in the town of Banff in the summer months. Try and book ahead when you can!

Are You Hungry?

There are various food options to choose from at Sunshine Village.

Summer Hours Type of Cuisine
Mad Trappers Grill11am – 11pmPub & BBQ
Chimney Corner Fireside Dining7am – 5pmFull-service breakfast and dinner
Eagle’s Nest Canadian Bistro5pm – 11pmUpscale Canadian flare
Java Lift Alpine Patisserie7am – 5pmFresh fare & Starbucks coffee
First Tracks Café8am – 6pmQuick bites & coffee

Sunshine Gondola Hours of Operation and Pricing

The summer 2023 prices for the Sunshine Gondola & Chairlift are listed below. The ticket prices include both the Sunshine Gondola and Standish Sightseeing Chairlift. Tickets can be purchased online in advance from the Banff Sunshine Meadows website or at Guest Services on the second floor of the Sunshine Gondola base building.

Adult (16+)$65.00
Senior (65+)$55.00
Youth/Child (6-15)$32.00
Toddler (0-5)FREE
Family (2 Adults & 6 Youth/Children)$145.00+

What to Do Once You’ve Reached the Top

Sunshine Village Gondola
Travel Alberta / John Price

Once you’ve ridden up the iconic summer gondola ride, you are surrounded by beauty everywhere you look. This is a great opportunity to enjoy nature, immersed in the tall trees, wildflowers and wildlife.

Starting your ride at 1,659 m and getting up to over 2,159 m of elevation, this is the highest lift in the Banff and Lake Louise area!

Once you’ve reached the top of the Standish Chairlift, it’s time to enjoy the Standish Viewing Deck. It offers 360-degree views of the majestic peaks, the vibrant wildflowers and the fresh mountain air. One of the main reasons people enjoy the Sunshine gondola is to get some lift-assisted hiking in.

Sunshine Meadows Hike

Sunshine Meadows Hike

The Sunshine Meadows hike is a great option for those that are looking to explore further by hiking. Once you’ve ridden the gondola, head up the Standish Chair lift.

Once at the top, find the Standish Viewing Deck and down the stairs that are found to the right. There will oftentimes be Sunshine Village employees around to help answer any questions you may have.

Distance7.6 km
Elevation175 m
sunshine meadows hike

From the Sunshine Meadows hike, you can branch off to enjoy the view of various other lakes. This includes Rock Isle Lake, Grizzly Lake and Larix Lake.

Sunshine Village Gondola Tips

Here are some of our top takeaways from our time at the Sunshine Village Gondola.

  • Make the most of the trip by allocating time for the Sunshine Meadows hike.
  • Bring bear spray and stay bear-safe.
  • It’s worth heading all the way up to the Standish viewing deck.
  • Dress in layers as the temperature will drop.
  • Expect fewer people than at the Banff Gondola.
  • Sunshine Village is part of Banff National Park. Don’t forget to buy your park pass!

Norquay Chairlift

Heading up the Norquay Chairlift

The Norquay Chairlift is definitely a hidden gem in Banff National Park. Though it is a chairlift, not a gondola ride, however, we still wanted to bring it to your attention in this Banff gondolas comparison guide. The Mount Norquay chairlift still has a lot to offer at a lower price point, when compared to the other gondola options.

What to do Once You’re at the Top

Once you’ve reached the top, enjoy dining at the Cliffhouse Bistro, taking photos of the “Instagram-worthy” views, or try the Via Ferrata.


Adults (16+ years) - $57.30
Youth (6-15 years) - $30.35
Child (Under 6 years) - Free
Dog Ticket - $6
Family Package (2 Adult + 2 Youth) - $131.50
June 11th – October 9th9:00am MST – 7:00pm MST
*The last chair goes down at 7:30pm
September 12th – October 9th9:30am MST – 6:00pm MST
*The last chair goes down at 6:30pm

We have always enjoyed our time spent on the Norquay Chairlift. It offers the best prices of all competing options, has a great restaurant at the top and isn’t as busy as the most popular option, the Banff Gondola.

Norquay Chairlift Tips For Visiting

Norquay Chairlift Tips For Visiting

Here is what we feel is noteworthy about the Norquay Chairlift.

  • The lowest price point of all options mentioned.
  • The Cliffhouse Bistro is a great restaurant just at the top of the lift.
  • The Via Ferrata is a unique and thrill-seeking experience, easily one of the best things to do in Banff in the summer for those looking to get their adrenaline pumping.
  • It is a less busy option when compared to the other experiences.
  • It is dog-friendly.

Jasper Skytram/ Gondola

Ascending the Jasper Skytram/ Gondola

If you’re looking to explore Jasper National Park, stopping at the Jasper Skytram/ Gondola is a must-do. The Jasper Skytram/Gondola takes you up Whistlers Mountain at an astonishing elevation of 2,277 m. What’s impressive about the Jasper Skytram/ Gondola is that it is both the highest and the longest tram in Canada!

It offers fantastic views and offers the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the Jasper area. Though the Jasper Skytram/ Gondola is outside of Banff National Park, it is a great option for someone that was looking to add the Icefields Parkway drive to their Banff itinerary.

Once at the top, you will find a small gift shop and restaurant.

Jasper Skytram

Looking to Hike?

The Jasper Skytram/ Gondola is a great option for those who are looking to do a bit of Jasper hiking. From the top of the Skytram, you can access Whistlers Peak or continue on to a scramble of Indian Ridge.

From the peak, you will get astonishing views of the glacier-clad Mt. Robson to the North, the tallest mountain in the Rockies, and Mount Edith Cavell to the South.


Adults (16+ years) — $57.30
Youth (6-15 years) — $30.35
Child (Under 6 years) — Free
Dog Ticket – $6 (Yes, you can bring your furry friends!)
Family Package (2 Adult + 2 Youth) — $131.50

Hours of Operation

March 25 – May 1910:00am – 5:00pm
May 20 – June 23 9:00am – 8:00pm
June 24 – Sept 58:00am – 9:00pm
Sept 6 – Oct 3010:00am – 5:00pm

Overall, the Jasper Skytram/ Gondola is a good option for those that were already planning on heading out to the Jasper area. That said, for the price you will be paying, you will get more bang for your buck at some of the other options, like the Banff Gondola.

Jasper Skytram Tips

Jasper Skytram Hike To Whistlers Peak
About to hike to Whistler Summit from the top of the skytram

Here are some of our top takeaways:

  • The gondola is dog-friendly.
  • Besides hiking to Whistler summit, there aren’t as many other activities at the top compared to the other gondolas, though the views are still amazing.
  • You will need to buy a National Park Pass for the Jasper area.
  • Be sure to dress in layers.
  • Plan for 2 hours for the whole experience to enjoy the views and boardwalk.

So, Which Alberta Gondola Should You Choose After All?

sulphur mountain hike
Hikers hiking up Sulphur Mountain rather than taking the Banff gondola/ credit: Brewster

There is really no right or wrong answer when visiting one of the gorgeous gondolas in Banff. We recommend making your decision based on your personal needs.

Banff Gondolas Best Option
Cheapest optionNorquay Chairlift
Dog-friendly optionsJasper Skytram & Norquay Chairlift
Most popularBanff Gondola
Highest elevationSunshine Village Gondola

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About Michelle Brown

Hi! My name is Michelle and I have been living in the iconic Canadian Rockies for the past 7 years. Over the years, I have had the chance to explore countless gems in Alberta and British Columbia. I am stoked to be sharing them with you to help you build an unforgettable adventure itinerary. When I'm not blogging, I am out paddleboarding, golfing, disc golfing, checking out farmer's markets, and trying out new cafes. Happy reading!

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