Established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park. The mountains are between 45 and 120 million years old, with the highest – Mount Forbes – soaring 3,612 metres high. Ski untamed wilderness in the Canadian Rockies, skate across frozen Lake Louise and spend the evening delving into Banff’s culture and cuisine. Our ski experts share their favourite aspects of a skiing in Banff with us.
Covering an expansive 6,641km2 in the majestic Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park encompasses glaciers, dense coniferous forests, ice fields and postcard-perfect glacial lakes. Three railway workers discovered a natural hot spring over 130 years ago, which led to its status as a national park. The park is now one of Canada’s most iconic locations, with stunning glacial lakes and dramatic mountain scenery. As you explore the wild surroundings, keep your eyes peeled for caribou, elk and wolves.
Mount Norquay, Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise make up the ‘SkiBig3’ area that are under the same lift pass and connected by free shuttles. SkiBig3 is comprised of almost 8,000 acres of world-class skiing, before considering the additional area accessible by cat ski, snowmobile, heli-skiing or touring. Over half of the marked terrain is rated blue, making it perfect for intermediates wanting to practise their turns and cruisers who enjoy wide slopes and rollers.
Banff is fortunate to have one the longest ski seasons in North America and offers plenty of opportunities to ski untouched powder in the vast backcountry. Receiving 9m of feather-light, dry snow on average each year, powder hounds love dropping into the chutes and bowls. Lake Louise’s ‘E’ Gully at the top of Summit Platter has some exhilarating powder chutes, while the tree glades provide sheltered snow, which is great for practising fluffy powder runs.
Warm up with campfire-inspired cooking and in-house distilled spirits at Park Distillery. Taste one of the locally brewed craft beers at Banff Ave Brewing Co, made from wheat and barley from Alberta. High Rollers has 48 beers on tap that you can try alongside a game of 10-pin bowling. Restaurants in Banff focus on authentic, sustainable and locally sourced Canadian cuisine from nearby farms, ranches, breweries and wineries.
Unlike most ski resorts, Banff has three fascinating museums and eight art galleries. Delve into the art and culture of the First Nations people, Rocky Mountain-inspired artwork and contemporary art exhibitions. Skate across the scenic frozen Lake Louise, snowshoe under the stars, hike around Johnston Canyon or soothe aching muscles in Banff’s outdoor hot springs that can reach 40°C. A heli-copter ride offers a great perspective of the extent to the Banff National Park from above.
Drive north-west along the incredibly scenic Icefields Parkway to Jasper, following the spine of the Canadian Rockies with turquoise glacial lakes and pine forests at the foot. Pause at the 6km² Athabasca Glacier that is part of the Columbia Icefield. Stargaze in Jasper, the world’s second-largest Dark Sky Preserve due to its lack of light pollution. Explore frozen waterfalls with spear-like icicles and hidden ice caves on the Maligne Canyon ice walk.