Is it possible to have it all? The skiing at Banff and Lake Louise’s three resorts certainly comes close. Set in the glorious Banff National Park, “the Big Three” resorts of Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise – all accessible using the tri-area lift pass — offer everything from spectacular powder skiing to gentle learner’s slopes. They also enjoy one of the longest ski seasons in North America and an incredible record of snowfall, so the most difficult decision will be which one of the slopes to ski or snowboard first on Banff ski holidays. Here’s our guide to Banff ski resort.
Just ten minutes from Banff, Mount Norquay is the most accessible of the resorts. Its proximity to town isn’t the only reason it’s the locals’ choice: the terrain park is fully lit, allowing skiing to continue until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
With ten miles of runs and 190 acres of skiable terrain, Mount Norquay is the smallest of the Banff ski resorts, but it sports some of the most diverse terrain in the Rockies. A longtime training ground for Canadian Olympic and World Cup athletes, Norquay’s more athletic runs have played host to some of the world’s best skiers. Try Lone Pine, a double diamond, the equal of any of the great Rocky Mountain runs, which starts at the top of the Big American chair, with an unrestricted view down the valley. Lone Pine also hosts the annual Mountain Burner, where skiers compete to see who can squeeze the most laps of this run into three hours.
Only ten miles from Banff, Sunshine Village gets some of the most consistent powder in Canada. Its season, from early November until late May, is the longest non-glacial ski season in the country, whilst its altitude of 8,954 feet means the snow remains light and dry. Sunshine Village’s immense alpine view over the Canadian Rockies was named the “best view from the best off-piste run” by Ski Canada magazine.
Much larger than Norquay, the three peaks of Sunshine Village have 3,358 acres of terrain and an impressive 115 runs, the most intrepid of which are on Goat’s Eye mountain. Delirium Drive, dubbed one of the scariest runs in the world, plummets from the mountain’s summit at 2,806 feet. Only experienced skiers are allowed on, and you need to take your time at the top as it’s impossible to see what lies below.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
The largest of the Banff ski resorts, and the farthest from Banff but accessible by shuttle, Lake Louise rewards those who reach it with an expansive terrain and incredible views. Take the Top of the World Express chair to enjoy the scenery across the Bow Valley and absorb the sight of the mountain peaks Allen, Fay, Bowlen and Babel stretching out into the distance — a view so famous it once featured on Canada’s $20 note. At Lake Louise nearly every chair has at least one intermediate or beginner run attached to it, allowing skiers of all levels to experience the jaw-dropping views higher up the mountain.
Gently nestled on the lakefront, the elegant Fairmont Château Lake Louise is the obvious choice for luxury après ski entertainment. There’s no better way to toast a long day’s skiing than while soaking up the view from the Fairmont’s Lakeview Lounge, looking out across the frozen lake the crystalline peaks of Banff national park rise up above the ice castle just across the frozen waters of Lake Louise.
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.
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.
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.
|Banff skiing and snowboarding is sure to fill you with wonder and a healthy dose of stoke. Stacked with world famous Rocky Mountain powder and awe-inspiring scenery, the ski resorts of Banff & Lake Louise are something special. With the Tri-Area pass giving you access to all three resorts, there’s an endless amount of fun to be had. Take a trip across the pond to Banff and Lake Louise this winter.|