If you’d like to get a lay of the land around the town of Banff (and you’re too cheap to ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain), you should take a quick drive up Mt. Norquay Road. On the last big curve, before the end of the road at the ski area, there’s a wide turnout where you can look down the hill towards Banff.
And you really can see everything from up here. On the left is Mount Rundle, and on the right is Sulphur Mountain.
Zoom in a little for a view of downtown Banff. That big intersection you see in the foreground is Trans Canada 1 and Mt. Norquay Road. Just a little above the center of the picture, you can see Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, and above it, to the right, is the Banff Gondola’s lower station.
I was waiting on the weather to get better, before I decided on my activities for the rest of the afternoon. In order to give it some time, I drove down into Banff, and walked around downtown for a while. At the north end of Banff Avenue is Cascade Mountain — this is the big mountain you see on Highway 1 as you come up from Canmore.
Head south from the downtown business district on Banff Avenue, and you’ll cross the Bow River, and get an even better view of Cascade Mountain. Look to the right, and Mount Rundle dominates the view.
On the corner of Banff Avenue and Buffalo Street, right in the middle of all the restaurants and gift shops, there’s a building that reminds you that Banff isn’t just a tourist destination, it’s an actual town, where people live. The Rundle Memorial United Church was built in 1927, and a church has stood on this site since 1886, the first church in Banff. It gets its name from Reverend Robert T. Rundle, the first Christian missionary to arrive in the area. He may have climbed the mountain that now bears his name, when he was in the area between 1840 and 1848.
It soon became clear that the weather wasn’t going to get any better in Banff, so I decided to leave the mountains in search of blue skies. I drove east on Trans Canada 1, and on a whim, ended up in Kananaskis Country.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Mount Norquay, down the hill, through Canmore, then out of the mountains: