By Kim Fuller Published in Elevation Outdoors
It’s the season to cross Alberta off of your winter bucket list. The three ski resorts located in Canada’s Banff National Park offer mind-blowing views, not to mention 7,700 acres of varied skiable terrain. Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay all feature beginner slopes and big mountain bowls, as well as very accessible out-of-bounds options. And it’s all just a short flight from Denver.
What makes it so special? As Dan Markham, director of brand and communications for Lake Louise Ski Resort, explained during at Temple Lodge on the mountain this past January, “It’s rare to have a ski resort in a protected national park to begin with,” and it’s true. The three resorts are all located within the park, which means the ski terrain, adjacent towns and surrounding wilderness are not in danger of being overdeveloped.
“Everything is protected, nothing’s gonna change,” said Markham. “I think it’s that very untouched kind of environment, a very protected kind of environment, that makes it such a grand and spectacular place to ski.”
The terrain at each of the three ski areas caters to all skiers and snowboarders—beginner to expert—although each has its own stand-out aspects: Norquay is the closest to the town of Banff and caters well to families, with expansive views from spots like the Cliffhouse Bistro. Lake Louise is the largest with 4,200 skiable acres, boasting long runs, fun glades, remote bowls, steep chutes and breathtaking mountainscapes. Sunshine built new mid-mountain accommodations at Sunshine Mountain Lodge and some extreme in-bounds terrain like Delirium Dive for those seeking an adrenaline.
Educated backcountry skiers and riders can seek out their own lines, accessible from the ski areas and the popular Icefields Parkway, or check out trips available through heli-ski companies like Canadian Mountain Holidays.
The town of Banff and small village of Lake Louise are worth their own visits, and there are two iconic hotels in both. The historic chateau located on Lake Louise is a resort that rivals any mountain property, sitting right on the edge of its big and beautiful namesake—frozen and dreamy in the winter for ice skating under the stars.
After a day on the slopes, plan to soothe muscles with an apres-ski stop at the Fairmont Banff Springs Willow Stream Spa . Spa treatments there seem as royal as the property looks and feels—styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle. Before heading to dinner at Park Distillery downtown, soak in the indoor and outdoor pools that overlook untouched wilderness.
Besides putting you on the lifts at all three resorts, a SkiBig3 lift pass also includes daily ski shuttles from Banff and Lake Louise hotels, along with tubing and night skiing access at Mt Norquay, as well as other perks.
And what makes a trip to this magical place even more ideal? The U.S. dollar to Canada’s is currently in our favor. skibig3.com