It's Time to Plan Your Ski Trip to the Canadian Rockies

Incredible snow, views, and resorts. What more could you want?

Last spring I headed to Banff National Park for a few days of test-driving Ski Big 3's new Guided Adventures program. Ever visited an unfamiliar resort on an awesome day, but wasted half the day trying to figure out where the best spots on the mountain are? The Guided Adventures program is a great way to alleviate that FOMO, giving you an adventure buddy to show you all the best runs and stashes to ensure you make the best of your time. And boy do they deliver.

The jury is still out on how the IKON pass will affect ski tourism in Banff, but I've got to imagine that the new pass is going to bring a lot of new fans to these incredible resorts.

Getting There

Flights to Calgary are pretty reasonable throughout the winter, and short enough from most of the West to make this an easy long weekend trip. It's a short drive from Calgary to downtown Banff, just beeline down the highway and you'll be there in about an hour and twenty minutes.

Day 1: Mt Norquay

Start your first day at Mt. Norquay, Banff's local resort just minutes from downtown (literally, 5 minutes). Don't feel like flying with skis? No problem, the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub in downtown Banff will get you set up in no time at all. Norquay might be on the smaller side, but it's big on charm, friendliness and views. It's quite a site to see the the town of Banff and Mt. Rundle from most of the mountain. Rip some groomers or head over to the North American chair for some steep runs. If you're lucky, at the end of the day your guide will teach you how to make (way too much) delicious maple candy in the snow.

Aprés: Take a walk around downtown Banff, and maybe swing through the Whyte Museum, which has fantastic exhibits about the culture of the Canadian Rockies and the development of skiing and mountaineering in Canada. Bow Falls is a nice spot to check out on the river.

Day 2 : Sunshine Village

Head over to Sunshine Village, the resort with the longest season in North America. We were here in late April, and it felt like the middle of winter. There's something for everyone here, from mellow runs to the spectacular cliffs of Delirium Dive. Deep powder in the trees and steep lines...but not the lift kind. We had no problem finding untracked terrain all day long - especially with Brad scoping out a few even-less-traveled spots. Our favorite haunts ended up being Goats Eye, and skiers right of Tee Pee Town. Be sure to grab a mid-day beverage at Trappers Saloon. The resort straddles the border between Alberta and BC, and on a clear day, you take in views of Mount Assiniboine, one of the most spectacular peaks in Canada.

Aprés: Try Park Distillery for dinner and drinks. They're known for their gin and vodka, but their entire menu of cocktails and food are excellent. Don't miss the Fairmont Hot Springs just up the road from downtown for a good post-ski soak.


Day 3 : Lake Louise

Didn't think the views could get better? Think again. Lake Louise Ski Resort pulls out all the stops on the magnificent scenery and epic terrain. Feeling adventurous? Take the (steeeeep) Glacier Chair poma lift to 'Top of the World' and take your pick from a range of double black chutes, cliffs, and gullies down to the back bowls. Or, cruise the front-side with a sweeping view of Lake Louise and Mount Fairview, Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria, and more. It is truly an unbelievable place to ski, and a worthy contender for the most beautiful ski resort in the world.

Somewhere around the 5th or 6th lift we took without waiting in a line, I turned to our guide Brad and asked: "Where are all the people?" After a terrible snow year in Colorado, I was shocked both by the quality of snow in late April, and the lack of crowds across all the resorts in Banff. He assured me that besides around Christmas/New Years...it was pretty much always like this.

Aprés: Head over to the Chateau Lake Louise to enjoy a cocktail and views of the frozen lake. After heading back to Banff, you're probably pretty exhausted from three days of incredible skiing. Hit up Magpie & Stump for some good vibes and classic Mexican food.

For me, discovering Banff in the winter was a revelation. The views are incredible, the town is fun, the skiing is fantastic, and the travel is easy. We'll be back this season for sure. Just get in there before everyone with an IKON pass realizes how awesome the SkiBig3 resorts are :)

Published: November 5, 2018

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Kyle FrostAdmin

Boulder

Wearer of many hats at The Outbound Collective. I'm @kylefrost pretty much everywhere.