What To Know About the Mount Norquay Summer Chairlift

We consider the Mt. Norquay Summer Chairlift to be one of Banff’s hidden gems. It is one of the best things to add to your Banff itinerary when visiting in the summer.

With great views of the Town of Banff and Mount Rundle, you can point out your favorite restaurants, hotels, and shops from a whole new perspective. The top of the Mt. Norquay Chairlift allows you to enjoy time outside in nature while appreciating the views of your favorite peaks from a fresh perspective.

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Heading up the Mount Norquay Chairlift

Gaining 7000 ft of elevation during a 10-minute ride, you will enjoy the fresh mountain air, the iconic views, and maybe even spot some wildlife below. At the top, you can enjoy a delicious lunch at the Cliffhouse Bistro, one of the most scenic restaurants in Banff!


The History of Mt. Norquay

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A look at Mount Rundle from the chairlift

Mt. Norquay is a ski resort in Banff and is part of the SkiBig3 Collection. Mount Norquay plays a big part in Canadian ski culture, rooted in the Swiss mountain guides who arrived in the early 1900s, bringing with them a deep passion for skiing.

Gus Johnson sought out Mt. Norquay because of its elevation of one thousand feet above the Town of Banff. From there, the first ski runs were prepared in 1926. After Johnsons’ death, Cliff White and Cyril Paris led the Banff Ski Club, building the first ski cabin in 1928 and their first rope tow, installed in 1941.

In 1948, George Encil, the owner of Norquay at the time, installed what locals referred to as the “Big Chair.” This lift was iconic, being the second chair in Canada and leading up to the steepest and longest terrain in North America at that time. Over time, 26 runs stemmed from the “Big Chair.” Renovations were underway in 1966 when the original chair was removed.

Since then, Mt. Norquay has welcomed anyone from beginners to ski racers in the winter months. In the summertime, it is the ideal opportunity to enjoy the only summer sightseeing chairlift in Banff.


Where is the Mt. Norquay Chairlift Located?

Looking out at the Town of Banff from the top of the chairlift
Looking out at the Town of Banff from the top of the chairlift

The Mt. Norquay Chairlift can be found at 2 Mt Norquay Rd in Banff. To get there, simply follow Mt. Norquay’s scenic drive up its windy curves. Be sure to make a slight right when you’ve reached Mt. Norquay Road. Once you approach the ski hill, ample signage leads you in the right direction.

Once you have arrived and parked, enter the building at the entrance of the parking lot to purchase your tickets, or purchase them online beforehand. With your tickets in hand, follow the clearly marked path. You will be greeted by one of their friendly staff members, who will instruct you on how to get on the chairlift safely.


Distance Between the Town of Banff and Mt. Norquay Chairlift

Banff Downtown in October
Iconic look at Cascade Mountain from Banff Avenue

From the center of downtown Banff to Mt. Norquay, it should take you approximately 12 minutes by car. The distance between these two locations is 7.4km. From Canmore, expect the drive to take just under 30 minutes.

Even if you don’t plan on riding the Norquay summer sightseeing lift, the drive is still worthwhile. With its stunning views of the Rockies, glimpses of the Town of Banff from above as you turn the corners, and the chance of seeing some wildlife along the way, it’s a great way to spend a morning.


Transportation Options

Town-of-Banff
Roam Transit Bus on Banff Avenue

There are many transportation options to get to Mt. Norquay. The most convenient option is to use your car or rent a car. This allows you to build your own Banff itinerary and make any necessary stops along the way. Here are the Google Maps directions. If accessing a car isn’t a possibility, not to worry, there are other cost-effective and convenient ways to get you there!

If you are an avid biker, some enjoy the challenge of biking up to the hill. Be sure to bring lots of water, snacks, and bear spray. Staying bear-safe is essential in Banff National Park. If you are looking for bike rentals, check out Banff Adventures, Banff Cycle and Sport, or Snowtips Bactrax.

There is also a free Mt. Norquay Shuttle that runs daily in the summer. It has multiple pickup points in Downtown Banff and regular departures. This is the ideal way to get to Mt. Norquay and the Via Ferrata.


When Does the Chairlift Operate?

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Heading up the Mt. Norquay Summer Chairlift
  • June 8 to Sept 8: 9 am to 7:00 pm. Last ride down at 7:30 pm
  • Sept 9th to Oct 13th: 10 am to 6 pm. Last ride down at 6:30 pm

If you require additional information, the staff at Mt. Norquay can be reached by phone at (+1) 403-762-4421 or by email ([email protected]). They also have a strong presence on social media. Find out their latest updates by checking out their accounts:

  • Instagram: @mtnorquay
  • Facebook: Mt. Norquay Banff

Pricing

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Looking out at the Town of Banff from the top of Mt. Norquay

The Mt. Norquay Chairlift has the “best bang for your buck” compared to other gondola experiences in the area. It offers a reasonable price for the experience, isn’t overcrowded and has different pricing for adults and children, making it a good family option.

2024 Pricing (Canadian Dollars)

  • Adults (16+) – $46.20
  • Child (6-15) – $28.35
  • Infant (2-5) – $0.00

A Hidden Gem in a Busy Mountain Town

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Looking out from the observation deck at Mt. Norquay

The Mt. Norquay Chairlift is one that’s often overlooked in comparison to the Banff Gondola and Sunshine Gondola. With many of Banff’s tourist attractions often busy and costly, this chairlift experience offers the best of both worlds.

We have gotten the opportunity to experience this wonderful lift on a few occasions, and the pleasant things that have remained consistent are:

  • No big lineups
  • Reasonable prices
  • Friendly staff
  • Available parking

Parking at Mt. Norquay

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Enjoying the fresh air and blue skies on the chairlift

Parking can be a stressful experience when traveling to new destinations, especially around Banff where there is very little parking downtown. At Mount Norquay, we found this component very simple and stress-free. Upon arrival to the hill, you’ll notice there is ample parking. The spots are close to the main lodge, and parking is free.


Do You Need a Park Pass?

mt norquay summer chairlift
Credit: Banff Norquay / Travel Alberta

Before heading up to the Norquay Chairlift, be sure to grab your park pass! Banff National Park requires all visitors to hold a pass to enjoy all that the park has to offer.

Why do they charge a fee to all visitors? The fee goes towards the upkeep and the improvement of the National Parks, Canada-wide. Thanks to your contribution, these Parks can be maintained and enjoyed for future generations as the years pass. Here is everything you need to know about purchasing a Banff Park Pass.


Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Brown-bear
Curious brown bear

Ok, so maybe we’re exaggerating with the “lions and tigers” part, but let’s talk about bear and wildlife safety in the Rockies.

You might be lucky enough to spot a bear from the safety of your chairlift. Then again, you might encounter one before or after your ride. Banff National Park is rich in wildlife, and it is essential to stay bear-safe.

Though bears and most other wildlife prefer to avoid human contact, as they increase interaction with humans, they become more curious.

It’s best to always carry bear spray if you plan to do any hiking in Banff. Informing yourself is key to helping you feel prepared and stay safe around any wildlife you may encounter on your adventures at Norquay.


Layers, Layers, Layers

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Enjoying a sunny day on the chairlift

If you speak to a local, they will tell you that dressing in layers is the key to enjoying your time in Banff. The Mt. Norquay Chairlift is no different. Gaining 7000 ft in altitude typically means a shift in the temperature. From our experience, we have noticed a lowering in temperature at the top of the mountain, even on a warm and sunny day.

What does dressing in layers look like for us? We found that wearing comfortable shoes, light pants or shorts (weather dependant), a short sleeve t-shirt and pack a sweater or light jacket made for the perfect combination.

To add, in an area like Banff National Park, it is not uncommon for us to see three seasons in one day. It is always helpful to pack layers to make the most of your experience from start to finish.


Restaurants Nearby

cliffhouse bistro
credit: Travel Alberta / MIke Seehagel

The Cliffhouse Bistro is situated at the top of the Mt. Norquay Chairlift and is one of the most scenic restaurants in Banff. It started out as a meeting place for skiers who would brave some of the steepest slopes. Since then, this 1950s tearoom has been restored and transformed into a modern bistro. The decor offers cozy cabin vibes while keeping its rich history.


The Mount Norquay Via Ferrata

Travel Alberta - mt norquay via ferrata
Via Ferrata / Travel Alberta

The Via Ferrata is a great option for thrill seekers. This guided and assisted climbing experience takes you along the cliffs above Mt. Norquay. Four different routes offer climbing ladders, crossing suspension bridges, and breathing in the fresh mountain air.

They offer different experiences, depending on the length of time you can commit to and the level of difficulty you are ready to take on.

Explorer Route

  • 2-2.5 hours
  • Shortest time
  • Intro to Via Ferrata

Ridgewalker Route

  • 3.5-4 hours
  • Half day experience
  • Full Via Ferrata experience

Skyline Route

  • 4.5-5 hours
  • High traverse on a sheer rock wall
  • 55m suspension bridge
  • Scenic ridge-crest descent

Alpinist Route

  • 4-5 hours
  • Longer than the Ridgewalker but done in same amount of time
  • Brisk pace with fewer stops
  • Continuous moderate to strong exertion

Summiteer Route

  • 6 hours
  • Longest adventure
  • Traverse the alpine ridge
  • Additional 3-wire suspension bridge
  • 360-degree views of the Rocky Mountains

Comparable Experiences in the Area

The Canadian Rocky Mountains have so much to offer. The Rockies can be appreciated both from the ground looking up, or on top of peaks, thanks to the provided chairlift and gondola experiences. There are multiple gondolas in the Rockies, each offer unique experiences, with new peaks to see, restaurants to try, and activities to enjoy while you are there.

Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola Hike

The closest gondola to Mt. Norquay is the Banff Gondola. Located on the opposite side of the Town of Banff, this experience brings you up Sulphur Mountain and is known for its panoramic views, year-long accessibility, and variety of food options. The Banff Gondola is wheelchair and stroller accessible throughout the main building, but not on the boardwalk. There is accessible parking found 30 meters from the front entrance.

It is recommended to book this one in advance, as the Banff Gondola is one of the top attractions in Banff and tickets do sell out fairly quickly in the summer months. The pricing of the gondola tickets varies based on the season. The typical ranges are:

  • Adult: $50-70
  • Ages 6-17: $25 and up
  • Children under 5: Free

Banff Sunshine Gondola

Sunshine Meadows

The Sunshine Gondola is an eight-passenger gondola (the largest in Banff National Park) that takes you from the base elevation of 1659m to the Sunshine Village terminal at 2159m. The gondola ride takes approximately 25 minutes and offers beautiful mountain views (and possible wildlife sightings) the entire way. Out of all the gondola experiences, the Sunshine Gondola provides the best time for those who want to hike!

  • Adult: $65
  • Senior: $55
  • Youth: $32
  • Children under 5: Free

Lake Louise Gondola/Chairlift

lake louise summer gondola
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

The Lake Louise Gondola is another great option summer option. This lift brings you up Whitehorn Mountain, allowing you to enjoy a new perspective of the area and of the beautiful Lake Louise. Gaining 2101 m of elevation, you can enjoy the tranquility of the mountain top, grab a bite to eat and have a stroll along the mountainside. These are various pricing options based on age and the number of people attending.

  • Adult (14-64): $60
  • Senior (65+): $49
  • Youth (13-17): $25
  • Child (6-12): $13
  • 5 & Under: Free
  • Family (2 adults and 2 kids): $140

Read More: Banff Gondola vs Lake Louise Gondola


Jasper Gondola/Skytram

jasper skytram

The Jasper Gondola is among the best things to do in Jasper. It is a great option during the summer months, as it has some of Jasper’s most iconic views. Once at the top, there is a small gift shop and a restaurant to enjoy. Though it isn’t as elaborate as your other gondola options, the views make this experience worthwhile. Skytram visitors also have the option of hiking to Whistlers Summit, one of the best hikes in Jasper.

The prices for the Jasper Gondola are quite comparable to those at the Lake Louse Gondola, with the delightful possibility of bringing your furry friends along by purchasing a dog ticket.

  • Adults (16+ years): $67
  • Youth (6-15 years): $38
  • Child (Under 6 years): Free
  • Dog Ticket: $10

Read More: Our Full Banff Gondola Comparison Guide


Mt. Norquay in the Winter

Mt Norquay Ski Resort

Mt. Norquay is not only a fun experience in the summer with its chairlift, restaurant, and Via Ferrata experience, but it has a lot to offer in the winter. It is amongst the top ranked ski resorts in Canada and is known for being a family-friendly resort. We find this ski hill to be best suited for beginners, while more expert skiers may want to head to Banff Sunshine or Lake Louise.

tubing at mount norquay
Travel Alberta / Chris Amat

In addition to offering a family-friendly ski hill, Mt. Norquay offers snow tubing. Their snow park has the longest snow tube lanes in Alberta, which makes for a fun experience for people of all ages. The best part? There is a magic carpet surface lift that will carry you back up the hill! Enjoy a fun experience with family and friends without even breaking a sweat.


Is Mt. Norquay Summer Chairlift Worth It?

mount norquay summer chairlift
Credit: Banff Norquay

Hopping on the Mt. Norquay summer Chairlift is one of our all-time favorite summer activities in Banff. It offers the most reasonable pricing of all lifts/ gondolas in the area, a scenic restaurant that combines rich local history with modern cuisine, and a Via Ferrata experience to feed the adventurous side. It’s also not far from Downtown Banff, making it a great activity if you don’t want to spend all day in the car driving!


The Mt Norquay Lookout

mt norquay viewpoint
Photo by Celestine Aerden @celestineaerden

On your way up to Mount Norquay, keep an eye out for the Mt Norquay Viewpoint, as it gives exceptional views over Mount Rundle. You know it’s exceptional because Parks Canada has put a few of its iconic red chairs there for visitors to sit and marvel at the view.

To reach this destination, you’ll need to drive to Mt. Norquay for about 4.8 km till you reach a pull-off point on your right-hand side. The best time to photograph the Mt. Norquay Viewpoint is at sunrise or sunset as the light hits Mount Rundle.

Our Favorite Photo Spots in Banff

**Cover photo courtesy of Paul Zizka


Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
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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