- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Ride your bike from Banff through Vermilion Lakes, and then up the Sunshine Ski Hill Road. In summer this road is usually not too busy, and it is a great workout with hills and excellent views. Combine this with a gondola ride to Sunshine Meadows and enjoy an epic day in the Canadian Rockies.
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Route Description for Sunshine Road
This is a great bike ride, taking you on a quiet path along Vermilion Lakes Drive, continuing along the Sunshine Road. Between the two roads, there is a 2.2 km stretch that isn’t the most enjoyable, as you need to ride along the Trans-Canada Highway. Some people don’t like travelling on the highway, in which case they park at the base of the Sunshine Road in the Healy Creek parking lot.
We like to ride our bike directly from Banff for this trip. If you’re just in for the day, park at Fenlands Recreation Centre Parking area, otherwise head out from Banff Avenue on Lynx Street towards Mount Norquay.
From Fenlands, head north towards Mount Norquay and the Trans-Canada Highway. Before you hit the Trans-Canada, take your 2nd left, signed for Vermilion Lakes. Vermilion Lakes Road is a famous sightseeing road, and regularly provides opportunity for wildlife sightings. The road curves around, then roughly parallels the Trans-Canada trail beside you on your right.
The views on Vermilion Lakes Road are spectacular, and get better the farther along it you go. There are plenty of stopping areas and benches to use for photos. If you’re lucky enough to be riding on a calm day, you will catch some incredible reflections in the water that make for great photographs.
Continue along Vermilion Lakes Road, at the end you will merge onto a bike path that passes through the trees. Take this path as it winds up, meeting up with the Trans-Canada Highway at an off-ramp, and the junction with the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A).
Pay attention here, as it will be easy to miss this on the bike ride back.
As you come out of the forest and onto the off-ramp, you have two options for how to navigate the 2.2 km section of the Trans-Canada. Many people go right to join the Trans-Canada and then go left to ride against traffic for 2.2 km on the shoulder, before easily going left at Sunshine Village.
Technically you should go left and cross underneath the highway and then take a right that goes almost 180 degrees to take you onto the Trans-Canada Highway. From here, follow the Trans-Canada on the correct side of the highway until you take the off-ramp for Sunshine Village on your right, which will cross over the highway onto Sunshine Road.
Once on Sunshine Road, the fun riding begins. But first a word of warning – watch out for animals here. We have regularly seen black bears at the start of the bike ride on Sunshine Road. In addition, there are lots of drivers that get captivated by the views along this stretch of road, and may not notice a cyclist.
The Sunshine Road is 8.3 km each way, and you’ll gain 390 m and lose 155 m on the way towards Sunshine Village. You start with a sustained climb, gaining 175 m over 3.3 km. You then have a short break before another punch up and a quick downhill, followed by 80 m of elevation gain over 1.3 km. The rest is largely downhill from here. While there is a water fountain and washroom at your destination, there is no place here to buy food or drink unless you take a trip up the gondola to the base area of Sunshine Village.
For the return trip, you’ll be riding downhill along Sunshine Road back to the Trans-Canada. Here you will ride on the shoulder of the highway in the same direction of traffic.
Keep your eyes open for a sign saying “1A” and take the sharp right-hand turn, which takes you back along the on/off-ramp and you’ll see the bike path on your left.
Take the path through the gate and you’ll eventually hit Vermilion Lakes Road. Don’t be surprised if you end up stopping for more photos here.
Insider Hints for Sunshine Road
- Start this early to avoid crowds and, usually, get better light and less wind for your views over Vermilion Lakes.
- Consider combining this with a trip up to Sunshine Meadows and the epic hikes there. We love all the hikes available from Sunshine Meadows, a good one to tag onto the bike trip would be Twin Cairns and Monarch Viewpoint.
- Bring your own food, there aren’t any stops along the way.
- Both Vermilion Lakes Road and Sunshine Road have a lot of wildlife, definitely make sure you have Bear Spray with you and check the Bear Report before you head out.
Getting to the Sunshine Road Trailhead
You can start anywhere in Banff. We usually start on Banff Ave, however a good option in summer is to park at the Fenlands Recreation Centre parking lot off of Mt Norquay Road.
Sunshine Road Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Sunshine Road Reviews
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