Wanting to do something as a family, but not sure what to do, my husband suggested going to the Banff hot springs. I had never been to those particular hot springs before so we packed up and headed out. Banff is only a short drive and all the parks are free for Canada’s 150th.
It was busy, but we expected that being a gorgeous weekend. The smoke from the forest fires was nowhere to be seen either. We headed to the upper Banff hot springs first. Gunnar called it bath time, and he wasn’t far off as the water was the temperature of bath time, or maybe just a bit warmer 😉. Both of us waded Gunnar through the deeper water, and let him splash about in the kiddie pool. He was having so much fun, he didn’t want to leave, but we convinced him to go quietly by telling him we were going up the mountain. “Want to go up the mountain, mommy?”, was all he would say after that, it was too cute!
The gondola starts just below the hot springs so we had talked about checking out the price to go up on it. The price shocked us a bit, $62 per adult, but Gunnar was so excited that we decided to do it anyway. The line up was long and Gunnar was impatient, but everyone around us were understanding and said it was so cute that he was that excited to ride the gondola.
He said “weeee” pretty much all the way to the top of the gondola. It was a bit unnerving for me because of the height, but I didn’t want my bit of fear to affect Gunnar. It was a pretty steep ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain.
Once we made it to the top, Gunnar was so upset that he didn’t want to get off. He just wanted to keep riding the gondola until he decided to get off! So we went to the cafe as it was supper time and he settled down after a quick bite. Afterward, we went on the easy hike to the top of the summit, with a small side trip to a look out. Gunnar was happy as long as we were moving, and didn’t like if we stopped for photos for too long. The look out spot had a great view of the valley.
Back up to the summit trail, Derek’s legs were starting to get tired, but he kept going regardless. At the summit, there was an old cosmic ray station. Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station House National Historic Site of Canada plaque states:
Located at the top of Sulphur Mountain, the cosmic ray station was completed by the National Research Council in 1956, in preparation for the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) an undertaking involving 66 countries and a dozen scientific disciplines. The study of cosmic rays held a prominent place, with 99 cosmic ray stations (nine in Canada) in operation world-wide during IGY. Due to its high elevation Sulphur Mountain was the most important Canadian station. In 1960 the University of Alberta at Calgary took over the station, which was closed in 1978. The building itself was dismantled in 1981.
There is a re-creation of the station at the top. There is plexiglass to allow you to look in, but causes reflections to appear in photos.
The view of the Bow Valley was stunning. We got to the top just in time as a storm was rolling in as well.
We got about half way back to the gondola before it started to lightly rain. Once we got inside the terminal, it started pouring, so we had good timing! Again, Gunnar didn’t like waiting in line, but was happy once we got back in the gondola. The trip down was even more unnerving because of the wind blowing us side to side, but we got a great view of the rainbow in the valley. Gunnar must have picked up on us talking about the gondola because on the way down he kept saying “ride in the gondowa”. Needless to say, he had a lot of fun!
We had a lot of fun in Banff, and we will be heading back to do another hike sometime in the near future. There is so much to do there that we could probably go there every weekend for the next year!