Banff’s Buffalo Street transforms into the picturesque Tunnel Mountain Drive at Surprise Corner. It provides a view most visitors know before they’ve even seen it, as the area looks out on Banff’s most famous landmark, the historic Banff Springs Hotel, which has been featured in countless photos. The rest of the driving loop is equally beautiful with panoramic views of Bow Valley as it winds through pristine fir and pine forests. Even though Tunnel Mountain Drive is on the edge of Banff’s town limits, it’s common to see both elk and deer along the route. It’s also possible (especially in the spring and fall) to spot a black or grizzly bear in the area.
Whether jumping out of the car to explore Banff’s hoodoos (impressive geological formations) or to climb to the summit of Tunnel Mountain, the immense beauty of the Canadian Rockies is never far away. It’s even possible to spend the night in the mountain wilderness while remaining within walking distance of downtown. Hotels, cabin rentals, a youth hostel and several campgrounds lie along Tunnel Mountain Drive and most are only a little over a mile from town.
Beginning on Banff’s Main Street, Tunnel Mountain Drive is a three-mile, easy-to-follow scenic drive.