Home Après Ride the Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift and dine at Cliffhouse Bistro

Ride the Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift and dine at Cliffhouse Bistro

by Karen Ung

Soar above Banff on the Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift and dine at the Cliffhouse Bistro.

For fantastic dining with a view, ride the Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift to the Cliffhouse Bistro! Perched on the side of Mount Norquay at 2,103 metres / 6,900 feet, Cliffhouse Bistro has one of the best views in Banff.

Partnership Disclosure: This story was written in partnership with Mount Norquay Ski Resort and Banff Lake Louise Tourism, but all words and opinions are my own.

A Summer Afternoon at Mount Norquay

Cars are already backed up at the turnoff to Banff, but there’s no traffic where we’re going. While everyone turns left to go downtown, we turn right for Mount Norquay. Mount Norquay’s Sightseeing Chairlift is one of Banff’s hidden gems, just a short drive from downtown, with picture-perfect views and no crowds.

In between hairpin turns, we’re suddenly brought to a halt as a young grizzly crosses the road. In awe, we watch him wander down the road until he disappears into the forest. It’s a magical moment for us, but just a typical day on Mount Norquay. At lunch later, our server Aidan tells us he sees a bear “every other day” on his commute! Bighorn sheep are often seen on the cliffs near the bistro too.

After a short stop at a scenic lookout, we arrive at Mount Norquay Ski Resort’s North American Lodge. With plenty of parking and no lineups, we board right away. All we have to do now is sit back and enjoy the view! It’s a lovely, 8-minute (945 metre / 3,100 feet), open-air ride to the top of the chairlift. Deer graze in the shade below us, and ravens soar overhead. Mount Rundle dominates the view at left, but skiers will appreciate the expert terrain below. It’s all black and double black runs off the North American Chair!

It’s noticeably cooler as we get higher up the mountain (the temperature drops about 1 degree Celsius for every 100 metres elevation gain), but it’s a welcome change in the 32 degree heat. As we approach the top, we can see mountaineers on the Via Ferrata; a fun adventure for another day! Today, it’s all about dining at Cliffhouse Bistro and enjoying the scenery.

Dining at Cliffhouse Bistro

With gorgeous views and an Alberta-inspired menu, dining at the Cliffhouse Bistro is always a memorable experience. Built in the 1950s, the vintage teahouse seats 50 and serves up alpine classics like the generously-sized charcuterie platter and fusion dishes like the TexiCanadia Salad or Shakshuka (eggs baked in harissa sauce with sumac pork belly, potato bravas, and grilled sourdough). All-day brunch, lunch, and a kids menu are available plus tasty desserts and local craft brews. Savor an elevated dining experience with a picture-perfect view of Mount Rundle.

Fun Fact: Marilyn Munroe dined here in 1953 while filming River of No Return.

Mount Norquay | Cliffhouse Bistro

The Cliffhouse Bistro is open 9:30 am – 6:30 pm (last seating at 5:30 pm) during the summer. First-come, first served seating.

Sightseeing at Mount Norquay

A short walkway (100 metres) takes you from the viewing platform near the chairlift to a second lookout with red Adirondack chairs. From these gorgeous viewpoints, you can see Mount Rundle, Tunnel Mountain, the Bow Valley, several mountain ranges, and the town of Banff!

If you’d like to explore more of the area, two hikes depart from the Mount Norquay parking lot: Stoney Squaw (4.2 km return) and Cascade Amphitheatre (15.4 km return).

Know Before You Go

  • The Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift is an open-air double chairlift. Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Purchase tickets online or at the North American Lodge (next to the main parking lot).
  • The Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift is open 9 am – 6 pm in the summer (last ride down: 6:30 pm).
  • The weather changes quickly in the mountains, so a windproof/waterproof jacket is always a good idea.
  • If you plan on dining at the Cliffhouse Bistro, let Front Desk staff know when you check in for the chairlift so they can save you a table.

Getting Here

The Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift is located at Mount Norquay Ski Resort, 7 kilometres from downtown Banff on Mount Norquay Scenic Drive. The ski hill road has hairpin turns (not suitable for RVs) and lots of wildlife (we saw a bear in June and herd of bighorn sheep in July), so please drive carefully and don’t speed!

Shuttle service is also available. Mount Norquay offers a free shuttle (hourly service) from downtown Banff and the Banff Train Station all summer long. For details, visit Mount Norquay | Shuttle Service.

Where to Stay

Hidden Ridge Resort is your home away from home, on the side of Tunnel Mountain. Spacious, well appointed one and two-bedroom condos (larger units sleep up to 10 people!) with full kitchens and wood-burning fireplaces are available. Hike or mountain bike from your door, barbecue in the garden, and relax in the outdoor pool and hot pool. For more information, read our story 5 Reasons to Stay at Hidden Ridge Resort.

For More Information / Book Tickets Now

For more information, or to book your Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift tickets now, please visit Mount Norquay | Summer Sightseeing.

Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift and Cliffhouse Bistro Banff
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