Tuesday, August 1

Friendly locals of the Banff Sunshine Meadows

Friendly locals of the Banff Sunshine Meadows Hero thumbnail
See Full Conditions
Aug 1, 2023

Friendly locals of the Banff Sunshine Meadows

The Canadian Rockies are home to such a wide array of captivating wildlife that come in all different shapes and sizes. Our alpine lakes and surrounding area create a serene environment for animals to inhabit. The Sunshine Meadows can be the perfect place to see all these wonderful creatures in their natural habitats—It is in fact the place they call home sweet home. 


Why do bears have fur coats? Because they would look funny in ski jackets! 


This summer, discover the wildlife of the Sunshine Meadows. Our gondola runs daily from 8:00AM – 6:00PM until September 10, 2023. While there are no guarantees, here are some of our furry friends you might find on your next trip to Banff Sunshine Meadows: 


Black Bears 


The smaller of the bears that call Banff Sunshine Meadows and the Canadian Rockies home—black bears range in color from black to light brown. To identify a black bear, take a look at their ears and snouts, their ears are taller and more prominent, and their snouts are elongated.  


There are around 20-40 black bears that call Banff National Park home. 


Grizzly Bears 


Grizzly Bears are the larger of the bears that can be found at the Sunshine Meadows. Have you ever heard of “The Boss”? He’s a Grizzly, and he’s been nicknamed The Boss for good reason—he is known to be the largest bear in the Banff area. Not sure if you have spotted a grizzly? Grizzlies have large heads with smaller, rounder ears. 

While you are at the Standish Viewpoint see if you can spot a grizzly in one of our alpine lakes, they have been known to splash around. 


There are an estimated 65 grizzly bears that live in Banff National Park, spanning over 6641 KM². 


Rocky Mountain Marmots 


The Marmot is classified as one of the largest rodents in the Rocky Mountains (don’t let the rodent title deter you, these little friends are so cute they will make your heart melt). 

You can find this furry creature in the parking lot as you pull up to Sunshine, as well as up in the alpine meadows. Marmots prefer to live in rocky terrain so if you see a mound of rocks while exploring the Sunshine Meadows, there may be some Marmots poking around! 


Pine Marten 


The Pine Marten is part of the weasel family, commonly seen throughout the heavily forested areas of Banff Sunshine Meadows. A group of Pine Martens are called a ‘Richness’ but you’ll usually only see one climbing the tall pine trees, so keep your eyes up to spot the cute critter above. 


Columbian Ground Squirrel 


The first thing you’ll hear as you enter the Banff Sunshine Meadows, this larger and chunkier member of the squirrel family of rodents chirp when frightened or startled. Burrowed everywhere around the Sunshine Meadows you’re bound to see a little head poke out as you walk our trails. 


The Red Fox 


Red, (our friendly Sunshine Village nickname for the red fox,) is the most common fox in Canada. Unlike cats, foxes are not picky eaters, they are flexible omnivores, they eat: small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, eggs, fruit, acorns, and carrion. 


The Bald Eagle 


Look up next time you’re exploring the meadows, you might be able to spot the “king of the skies,” soaring at great heights. The indigenous word for eagle is Migizi and represents spirituality. Bald Eagles nest beside lakes during the months of April to May for nesting season. The Bald Eagle is home to Banff National Park amongst over 260 other species of birds soaring through the park.




“Hoot-hoot,” the Banff owl says hello! Not all owls hoot; some hiss or whine to communicate with each other. Cartoons may have taught us otherwise, but owls can rotate their necks 270 degrees due to having 14 vertebrae in their neck. 


We are so lucky to be able to share such an incredible place with all these wonderful animals. Don’t forget that it is against the law to feed the animals. Please remember that we are entering their home, so please be mindful and always pack out what you pack in. 


“Wilderness without wildlife is just scenery.” – Lois Crisler