Last Updated on October 19, 2020
Researching how we should spend our time, I kept coming across this absolutely magnificent view at Sunshine Meadows and I had to see for myself if the photos really lived up to the reality. They certainly did. Sunshine Meadows in Banff, Alberta is Heaven on Earth. It was a bit cloudy when we arrived at the top, but the view was still mind-blowing. It was hard to move on when you have such beauty around you; I could have admired that view all day. The Standish Viewing Deck had mind blowing 360 degree scenery and you could take in the vistas of three high-alpine lakes; Laryx, Grizzly, and Rock Isle.
The last time we passed through Banff, we were spending a long weekend camping in Jasper National Park and wanted to at least see Lake Louise. Checking out Lake Louise was sadly the only time we had for Banff on that trip and I had been itching to return since. Alberta is a true outdoor paradise and I knew that on this trip, Banff had to be made a priority.
On the day we went, they had a bus running up the mountain. They drop you off in the village near the Standish chairlift where you take your ride to the top 360 degree viewing area and trail heads to start your Sunshine Meadows journey. On other days, a gondola will take you for part of the ride. The kids had not been on a chairlift yet and they thought the ride was super exciting. I loved the views during the chairlift rides; more beauty to admire from up high. The chairlift will take you to over 2,400 M (7,875 feet) – the highest lift-accessed sightseeing elevation within the Banff and Lake Louise area. We loved how easily accessible the chairlift made the Sunshine Meadows area, especially since we had three kids under five with us.
Our adventure started at the Interpretive Centre to check-in for our guided tour. We were early, so the kids were able to take advantage of their learning resources in the centre while I took some time to read about the area on their informative posters around the room. The kids loved seeing how their hands compared to bear paws and getting in some colouring time. Our guide Karlee was excellent – she got right down on the girls’ level, showed them some animals that live in the area and got them excited for what was to come at the top. The girls had such a great time that day that they still are raving about the experience two weeks later. Honestly!
During our one hour guided tour, our guide Karlee told us all about the surrounding mountains, wildlife and history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our 1-hour guided walk took us up to the Standish Viewing Deck and back to the Village via the Standish Chairlift. Karlee was absolutely fantastic with the kids — they automatically took a liking to her and had a ton of questions and observations to make. The kids were having such a good time that I just took a step back, listened in and enjoyed watching them have so much fun as they learned about the world around them. A guided tour was a fantastic way to learn about the Sunshine Meadows. There is also a longer 2-hour option, but kids must be at least six years old.
It was also fun to learn that Sunshine Meadows straddles the Continental Divide and the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia. In the photos below, we actually have one foot in each province!
Now added to the list is returning to Sunshine Meadows for some hiking. That little taste of Sunshine Meadows has left us wanting more. It really is near indescribable how incredible it felt standing there. Views like that make you feel like it is a slice of Heaven on earth and really remind you how small we are among the power of nature.
After we had gotten back in the van to continue our journey, we spotted these guys on the side of the road. We love seeing animals in their natural habitat; regardless of how common they are. Living the city life has us extra fascinated with animals in nature.
If you find yourself in Banff, we encourage you to make the time to at least check out the 360 degree views at Sunshine Meadows– we guarantee it will take your breath away.
Disclaimer: Our visit to Sunshine Meadows was sponsored by Sunshine Village, but as always, our opinions are our own.