Sulphur Mountain – Alberta, Canada


Mountain Range


Hike Miles

Elevation Gain

Hike Days

Canadian Rockies
8,041 ft

“Be brave enough to break your own heart.” Cheryl Strayed

Why This Mountain?

Tami has never been to Canada and when an open window came available on the schedule she decided it was time to visit and cross this off her bucket list. Over the last few months, numerous people have mentioned Banff as a place to go. Sulphur Mountain overlooks the town and was suggested as a good one-day hike with beautiful views.

Mountain & Route Facts

Sulphur Mountain is a mountain in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains overlooking the town of Banff, Alberta, Canada. The mountain was named in 1916 for the hot springs on its lower slopes. A gondola on the eastern slope goes to the summit ridge which has an upper terminal containing two restaurants, a gift shop, and multiple observation decks. The summit ridge provides views both westward up and east down the Bow Valley.

The route starts at the Upper Hot Springs  parking lot and follows the fire road (Sanson Road). Switchbacks lead up to the upper terminal of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola (3.4 miles) then it’s about another third of a mile to the Cosmic Ray Station which is the true summit (Sanson Peak). The peak was named for Norman Sanson in 1948. He made over 1,000 trips up the mountain over 30 years to attend to the observatory recording equipment atop the mountain. The observatory, built in 1903, still exists at the top of Sanson Peak and visitors can look inside the windows to see the rustic furnishings still intact. The round trip is about 7.7 miles with 2,400′ of gain to reach the summit at 8,041′.  The path terrain is good with the same incline for most of the route.  When you reach the Sulphur Mountain gondola station there are restaurants and a gift store. There is a wooden boardwalk with steps from the Gondola up the last .3 miles to the summit.

Historical and Cultural Information

Alberta is a western province of Canada. It is Canada’s fourth-most populous province with an area of 250,000 sq mi. Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier has been Rachel Notley since May 2015. Alberta is one of three Canadian provinces and territories to border only a single U.S. state and one of only two landlocked provinces.  The capital is Edmonton. The largest city is Calgary. Banff is a large tourist destination.

Paleo-Indians arrived in Alberta at least 10,000 years ago, toward the end of the last ice age. They are thought to have migrated from Siberia to Alaska on a land bridge across the Bering Strait and then possibly moved down the east side of the Rocky Mountains through Alberta to settle the Americas.

After the British arrival in Canada, approximately half of the province of Alberta, south of the Athabasca River drainage, became part of Rupert’s Land which consisted of all land drained by rivers flowing into Hudson Bay. This area was granted by Charles II of England to the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1670, and rival fur trading companies were not allowed to trade in it. After the arrival of French Canadians in the west around 1731, they settled near fur trading posts, establishing communities such as Lac La Biche and Bonnyville. Fort La Jonquière was established near what is now Calgary in 1752. The extreme southernmost portion of Alberta was part of the French (and Spanish) territory of Louisiana, sold to the United States in 1803; in 1818, the portion of Louisiana north of the Forty-Ninth Parallel was ceded to Great Britain.

In 1870, the newly formed Canadian Government purchased Rupert’s Land. The District of Alberta was created as part of the North-West Territories in 1882. As settlement increased, local representatives to the North-West Legislative. Assembly were added. After a long campaign for autonomy, in 1905 the District of Alberta was enlarged and given provincial status, with the election of Alexander Cameron Rutherford as the first premier.

Summit: Sept 17th, 2016

Book Club Read

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Buy on Amazon!