During our stay in Banff town we spent some time exploring the immediate area.
One of several fantastic views of the area is from the top of Sulphur Mountain on
the southwest side of town. You can hike to the top or take the gondola which we
recommend. How fun is it to hike up a mountain underneath a tourist-laden gondola?
The view is worth it though, this is the Bow river valley stretching off to the north
towards Lake Louise.
And of course the other direction is a stunning vista of the town of Banff.
The 'hill' in the center is Tunnel Mountain which appears much more daunting from within
the town. The Trans-Canada Highway cuts across the far left and Banff Springs Hotel
can be seen in the lower center on the near bank of the Bow River.
Another view of the Banff Springs Hotel, one of the premier resorts anywhere in Canada.
We didn't stay here but it's still an impressive sight. Below it just out of view in this
picture is Bow Falls. Far back in the distance the line of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola
can be seen. Not far from the hotel is the Banff's own hot springs. On our previous trip
to Banff we skipped it and went instead to Radium Hot Springs in British Columbia.
Impressed by Radium, we visited Banff's this time, though it wasn't nearly as nice. The
pool is smaller and was far more crowded (as would be expected). The view was still
impressive but not quite as spectacular as the one from Radium.
One more picture of the hotel from atop Sulphur Mountain at full zoom.
Atop Sulphur Mountain there are several restaurants and another hiking trail along the
ridge. If you're lucky you may also run across an adolescent mountain sheep like this one.
Mountain goats (distinguishable only by reading the detailed signs along the trail which
describe the differences between them), marmots and pika are also common.
On the far side of tunnel mountain are the hoodoos (rock pillars) shown here. Not nearly
as impressive as those in Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta, these seem to be
more popular. Probably due to their proximity to Banff's largest campground and the short
trail to the overlooks.
Mount Norquay on the north side of Banff is also the site of a popular ski resort. There
is supposedly a trail somewhere along it that provides more impressive views of Banff from
yet another direction. We were in search of non-hiking activities after Crypt Lake so we
went horseback riding along the far side of Sulphur Mountain instead.
East of Banff are the ruins of a town once called Bankhead. It boasted the first
residential electric service in Alberta in the early part of the 1900s. Built primarily as
a coal mining town, at its height it was the premier town in the region. Now the larger
buildings and much of the colliery and associated machinery remain. A trail leads through
the ghost town which is where we found this elk (among others) grazing.
On the road to Bankhead we passed literally dozens of elk and mountain sheep along, in and
near the road and parking areas. Here is our representative picture of one sheep family.