One of the most unique ways to explore the beauty of Banff, Alberta, is on a Via Ferrata tour at Mount Norquay. Located just north of downtown Banff, the mountainous area in Banff National Park is highlighted by forests and limestone cliffs.
Via Ferrata is a European route-making method that includes the installation of steel steps, handles, ladder rungs and cables into the mountains at places where the trail gets steeper. Hikers taking part in assisted climbs are outfitted with harnesses that attach to the sequence of cables, making for a safe experience.
At Mount Norquay, guides take groups along one of the routes, where they can hike the rocky paths, climb ladders, walk across suspension bridges and view Banff and the Bow Valley. Guests can choose from the 2.5-hour Explorer route, the 4-hour Ridgewalker experience, the 5-hour Skyline excursion or the 6-hour Summiter tour that reaches the mountain’s 8,050-foot east peak. Necessary equipment such as harnesses, helmets and hiking boots are provided.
Less adventurous types can enjoy a chairlift ride that whisks them above natural grizzly and black bear habitats to a 7,000-foot landing. Overlooks and short hiking trails are available, or visitors can enjoy food and drink at the Cliffhuse Bistro. The café, which has the same June-to-early-October operating season as the Via Ferrata tours, is a good place to relax, grab a bite to eat and take in the sights.
Each winter, Mount Norquay, which is the oldest ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, becomes a popular spot for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing and more.
To learn more, go to banffnorquay.com or contact Banff/Lake Louise Tourism's Ryan Elliott.
Top photo by Pat Henderson