Tunnel Mountain Drive
The Tunnel Mountain Drive is popular with sightseers, hikers, and cyclists. A stop at Surprise Corner is included in most Banff sightseeing tours along with other popular attractions—like a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain and a cruise on Lake Minnewanka.
Along Tunnel Mountain Drive, you’ll find the trailheads to popular hikes such as the Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos, the Tunnel Mountain summit, and Bow Falls. Several campgrounds, lodges, and a youth hostel are also found just off Tunnel Mountain Drive.
Things to know before you go
- The viewpoints along Tunnel Mountain Drive are a must-see for first-time visitors to Banff.
- Morning and midday are the best times to capture photos at Surprise Corner.
- A short set of stairs are required to get to the main Surprise Corner viewpoint, but the view can still be enjoyed from the paved parking area.
How to get there
The Tunnel Mountain Drive scenic route begins right in the town of Banff at the intersection of Banff Avenue and Buffalo Street. You can also get to Tunnel Mountain Drive via Tunnel Mountain Road near the Tunnel Mountain Campground. The Surprise Corner Viewpoint is only a 1.2-mile (1.9-kilometer) drive via Banff Avenue from the Banff Visitor Center.
When to get there
Banff is a very busy tourist destination so visit during the shoulder season in spring and late-fall to avoid the crowds. Tunnel Mountain Drive is closed to cars during the winter months, but is used as a cross-country ski and snowshoe trail during this time.
The Tunnel Mountain Hike
Tunnel Mountain—also known as Sleeping Buffalo—is a great introductory hike that begins right in downtown Banff. The 2.7-mile (4.3-kilometer) round-trip hike from the lower trailhead on St. Julien Road takes you 948 feet (300 meters) up to the top of Tunnel Mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the town and surrounding peaks. You can shorten the hike by starting from the upper trailhead located on Tunnel Mountain Drive.