Sulphur Mountain (Alberta)

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Sulphur Mountain
The Gondola on Sulphur Mountain
Highest point
Elevation2,451 m (8,041 ft)[1]
Prominence670 m (2,200 ft)[2]
Coordinates51°07′25″N 115°33′21″W / 51.12361°N 115.55583°W / 51.12361; -115.55583[3]
Sulphur Mountain is located in Alberta
Sulphur Mountain
Sulphur Mountain
Alberta, Canada
Parent rangeSouth Banff Range, Canadian Rockies
Topo mapNTS 82O4 Banff
Easiest routeWalking trail Gondola lift/Hike for Sanson's Peak (2,256 m or 7,402 ft)

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.[1] George Dawson had referred to this landform as Terrace Mountain on his 1886 map of the area. Sanson's Peak was named in 1948 for Norman Bethune Sanson who diligently attended the observatory recording equipment atop Sulphur Mountain for nearly 30 years.[4]


View from the summit of Sulphur Mountain, showing Banff and the surrounding areas
View from along the boardwalk on the top of Sulphur Mountain, showing the mountain top terminal and viewing deck.

Two hot springs have been commercially developed. The lowest is the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and the highest is the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

A gondola on the eastern slope goes to the summit ridge which has an upper terminal containing three restaurants, a gift shop, and multiple observation decks. The summit ridge provides views both westward up and east down the Bow Valley. A boardwalk can be followed on the north side to the top of Sanson's Peak (2,256 m or 7,402 ft).

The original, and more scenic, summit access is along an old fire road (Sanson Road) on the Southwest face of the mountain with a distance of 5.8 km from the Banff Sundance Canyon trail system near the Bow River. Another 5.4 km switchback trail route exists under the gondola with trailhead access from the Banff Hot Springs parking lot near the gondola terminal.

The view from the summit of Sulphur Mountain

Scientific importance[edit]

Meteorological observatory building

The mountain has been the site of two research facilities. In 1903, a meteorological observatory building was completed atop Sanson Peak. This building still exists and visitors can look through a window to see its interior complete with rustic furnishings. In the winter of 1956-57, the National Research Council built a small laboratory on Sanson's Peak in order to study cosmic rays as part of Canada's contribution to the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station remained in operation until 1978 and the building was removed in 1981. A plaque now marks the site's location.[4]

The hot springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain are home to the endangered Banff Springs snail and the now-extinct Banff longnose dace.

Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain as seen from the reeds along the shore of one of the Vermillion Lakes in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.


  1. ^ a b "Sulphur Mountain". Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  2. ^ "Sulphur Mountain". Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  3. ^ "Sulphur Mountain". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
  4. ^ a b "Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada". Parks Canada. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2009-08-15.

External links[edit]