Banff Diary – Day 5: Kayaking Bow River, Tunnel Mountain & Banff Gondola

This is the final installment of my Banff blog series, you can read more about days 1 through 4 below – enjoy!

On our final day in Banff, we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel, which was included in our stay. We had not had a chance to enjoy the hotel breakfast until then because of our busy schedule! On this day, we planned to spend our morning kayaking on the Bow River, followed by a hike up Tunnel Mountain, a drive around Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake, and finish with catching the sunset on Sulphur Mountain (via the Banff Gondola).

Kayaking on Bow River

We headed to Banff Canoe Club early in the morning, hoping to secure a kayak as it’s first come, first servce. However, when we arrived around 10:00 AM, all the single kayaks were already taken! Fortunately, we were able to rent a tandem kayak instead, which turned out to be more fun and cost-effective. The club charges $50 per hour per boat, so renting a tandem kayak for an hour only cost us $50 instead of $100 for two single kayaks.

woman posing while kayaking on the bow river at banff national park

As we paddled on the Bow River, we faced a bit of resistance from the current as there was a nearby waterfall. However, the return journey was smoother as we were propelled along by the current. The river winds its way through the stunning landscape of the Canadian Rockies, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. We even caught a train go by which was cool. I’d definitely recommend checking out the Banff Canoe Club if you don’t fancy spending $145+ at Lake Louise. Whether you want to take a leisurely paddle down the river or challenge yourself with some rapids, the Bow River is an incredible place to explore.

Tunnel Mountain

After kayaking, we walked back to our hotel and drove to Tunnel Mountain Trail, which is located in Banff. It is a small mountain peak that rises just over 1,600 meters above sea level and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the town of Banff. The name “Tunnel Mountain” originated from the proposal to create a tunnel through the mountain for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 20th century. However, the project was never completed, and instead, a winding road was built around the mountain.

woman posing on the top of tunnel mountain with banff town in the background

Parking spaces are limited, so we had to be patient to find a spot at the beginning of the trail. The trail is not too long, spanning about three kilometres, but the view of Banff town from the summit was breathtaking. It’s a relatively easy hike, taking about an hour to reach the top, making it a great option for families or those who want a quick hike with rewarding views.

Lake Minnewanka & Two Jack Lake

After completing the trail, we drove to Lake Minnewanka and then to Two Jack Lake, where we stopped for lunch. Lake Minnewanka is a glacial lake that stretches over 21 kilometers and is one of the largest lakes in Banff National Park. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities here, including boat tours, fishing, hiking, and picnicking.

bridge at lake minnewanka banff national park
man posing in front of lake minnewanka banff national park

Two Jack Lake, on the other hand, is a smaller lake that offers a more tranquil atmosphere. It’s surrounded by towering mountains and is a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and camping. Both lakes offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and are must-visit destinations for anyone exploring Banff National Park.

two jake lake banff national park

Banff Gondola: Sulphur Mountain

That night we had tickets for the Banff Gondola and to go up onto Sulphur Mountain. The gondola takes visitors on a scenic ride up Sulphur Mountain to an elevation of 2,281 meters (7,486 feet) above sea level, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. At the top of the mountain, visitors can explore several observation decks, a boardwalk, a gift shop, and several hiking trails. The Banff Gondola is a great way to experience the beauty of Banff National Park from a unique perspective and is a must-visit attraction for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. If you’re planning to take the Gondola, be sure to book your ticket in advance.

woman posing at the top of sulphur mountain at sunset with mountains in the background

We aimed to be there for the golden hour, so we chose the last gondola ride at 8:00 PM. Although I was a bit scared during the ride up (I have a fear of heights), the experience and the view from the summit were worth it. The boardwalk at Sulphur Mountain was a highlight, and I managed to take some stunning photos during the golden hour. Surprisingly, there were few people there, which made the experience even more special.

sulphur mountain banff national park at sunser

Wrapping up on Banff

On our final day in Banff, we took our time getting ready since our flight back home was later in the day. After breakfast at the hotel, we returned the rental car and headed to the airport. Overall, our trip to Banff was fantastic. It was a bucket list trip for my fiance and me, and we were thrilled with how well our itinerary worked out. We managed to do a lot in the short time we had, but we also had some downtime to relax and enjoy the scenery. If you have any questions about our trip or anything mentioned in this blog, feel free to ask in the comments, and I will do my best to respond.

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One response to “Banff Diary – Day 5: Kayaking Bow River, Tunnel Mountain & Banff Gondola”

  1. […] Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff National Park, and is known for its deep blue water and abundant wildlife. To fully experience the beauty of Lake Minnewanka, we recommend taking a scenic boat tour, going for a bike ride along the lakeshore trail, or hiking the nearby trails. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bighorn sheep, elk, and even grizzly bears. […]

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