Tunnel Mountain is a
mountain located in the Bow River Valley of Banff National Park in Alberta,
Canada. The mountain is nearly completely encircled
by the town of
Banff and the Banff Springs Hotel grounds.
The Stoney people
had long called
the mountain "Sleeping Buffalo", as it resembles a sleeping
when viewed from the north and east.
In 1858, James Hector
named the small
peak "The Hill", likely in reference to its status as the smallest
peak adjacent to the Banff townsite.
In 1882, a team of surveyors led by Major A.B. Rogers, of Rogers Pass fame, was surveying for the construction of the
Rogers, likely in a hurry, assumed the easiest
path for the railway to take would be to simply follow the Bow River
. On account of the difficulties that would be
faced with river crossings and the steepness of the cliffs between
the northwestern edge of Mount Rundle and Tunnel Mountain, Rogers' team suggested the
construction of a tunnel through the tiny mountain.
General Manager William
Cornelius Van Horne
was furious at the suggestion, exclaiming
"Are we going to hold up this railway for a year and a half while
they build their damned tunnel? Take it out!" An alternative route
north of the mountain was found, which incidentally shortened the
railway by a mile, and avoided two long hills, saving the CPR
millions of dollars. Surveyor Charles Shaw described the idea as
"the most extraordinary blunder I have ever known in the way of
engineering." The idea of a tunnel was scrapped altogether, but the
mountain is still called Tunnel Mountain to this day.
King George VI
hiked to the
top of the mountain during their 1939 Royal Tour. The fire lookout
on top of the mountain began to be
known as "King's Lookout," though it is not extant.
Tunnel Mountain, likely due to its easy grade and location in the
heart of Banff, is a very popular hike. The trail has a gentle
for most of the way, with a few
mildly steep sections, and is only round-trip. The top offers a
panoramic view of the townsite, the Bow valley and the surrounding
wilderness, and many recommend it as an easy introductory hike to
The mountain has also drawn praise from many famous mountaineers.
James Outram, the first person to
Tunnel in 1900, commenting "the view will never be
forgotten." Arthur O.
, co-founder of the
Alpine Club of Canada
praised the view:
Perhaps the most devout admirer of the mountain was Anne Ness, a
local resident. Anne climbed Tunnel Mountain over 8000 times over a
40-year period, averaging 200 ascents a year. Ness was even known
to climb the mountain twice a day; once during lulls in her job,
and a second in the evening. Famed wildlife artist Carl Rungius
had his ashes
the mountain, loving the view of Banff and the Bow Valley.