Sulphur Mountain lies on the west shore of the Bow River, across the Bridge from the town centre. The mountain is unique for its porous rock, causing hot (and slightly sulphurous) water to rise up and trickle from hot springs. These springs were the basis for early tourism in Banff, and the cause of the area’s declaration as Canada’s first national park. When you cross the Bow River Bridge, the first building you see is the Banff Park Administration Building.
There are two main concentrations of attractions here: when you turn right at the lights toward the Cave & Basin, and left, up the Mountain toward the Upper Hot Springs (and past the Banff Springs Hotel).
Here are some of the attractions in and around Banff (* denotes admission charge may apply). Listed moving away from the town centre:
Banff Park Administration Building
- Southern end of Banff Avenue, across the bridge
- This building was the centre of all political activity and power in the National Park (some may argue it still is). There are great manicured lawns (unusual in the Park) often used for wedding photos, and rock gardens with playful waterfalls.
- 1 Birch Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A8
- This museum, near the Park Administration Building and across the Bow from downtown, features exhibits about the Plains Indians and life before the Europeans. Beside the museum is the Indian Trading Post.
Cave & Basin National Historic Site *
- 311 Cave Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2
- This is the original hot springs found by the first explorers of the Banff area, and the cause of the creation of the national parks in Canada (they precede Yellowstone in the USA by several years). There is a visitor and interpretative centre. You can also rent a 1920’s style bathing suit.
Banff Springs Hotel
- 405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J4
- Even if you’re not staying here, its worth a peek inside. (Either park on the street, or tip one of valets so you can have a quick look inside). This 1928 hotel looks like a castle overlooking the Spray River, Bow Falls, and a stunning golf course. It has since been expanded, and a conference centre added.
- From Banff Springs hotel head back toward town, but take FIRST RIGHT
These falls allow the waters of the Bow River to drop about 30 feet, near the confluence with the Spray River. They’re a short walk from the Banff Springs Hotel or from the Banff Centre off Tunnel Mountain.
Upper Hot Springs *
1 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2
This hot springs is located above the Rimrock Hotel, about a mile uphill from the Banff Springs. This springs and pool is open year round, unlike the Cave & Basin, and is a popular stop for skiers before hitting Banff’s nightlife.
Sulphur Mountain Gondola*
- A summertime ride to the top of the mountain overlooking the Bow Valley and Banff. Be sure to bring a sweater: you’re up high and there are usually strong winds.