March 22, 2023
Winter in Banff is a snow enthusiasts paradise. Multiple wild ice lakes to skate on, snow shoeing for all abilities, ice climbing for the adrenaline junkies and 3 of the worlds best ski hills within 1 hour of the townsite. Banff is the ideal location for winter fanatics. Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Ski Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort are all extremely accessible from Banff with local shuttles going multiple times throughout the day, from November through to May.
With 5 Chair lifts, Mt Norquay may be the smallest of the ski hills surrounding Banff but being the closet to and overlooking the town, Mt. Norquay has a lot to boast about. Their season usually begins around mid November (Snow depending) and ends mid April. They have a total of 60 runs spanning over 16,300 meters in length. The trails at Norquay vary in difficulty from easy to expert.
If you enjoy skiing into the later hours of the evening Norquay is the only hill to offer night skiing in the Banff area. From December to March the hill stays open on Friday and Saturday nights until 9pm. Not all the runs are open, but they do have the skills park ready for you to display your expertise on the rails, jumps and boxes. If shredding the slopes isn’t for you, the hill also offers a fun unique family tubing experience for all ages. The ease and accessibility of Mt. Norquay makes it a popular chose for locals and visitors.
Sunshine is located on the Continental Divide of the Canadian Rockies. Just under 30 mins from the town of Banff, Sunshine Ski Village has 13.5 km2 of skiable terrain and 120 runs. The location and terrain of sunshine leads to one of the longest ski seasons in the Bow Valley often lasting until late may. Nestled in a bowl of mountains Sunshine’s snow lasts longer and takes more time to melt than its Bow Valley counterparts. They even had the opportunity to open on Canada Day, July 1st, 2022.
The runs vary in skill level from a beginner magic carpet to avalanche terrain with beacons necessary to ride. To access the runs you take a gondola up 1650 ft to the village. With 12 chair lifts, Sunshine has the title on first and only ski hill with a heated chairlift. Teepee Town LX is prime on colder winter days, it’s the perfect way to warm up and get the most out of your ski hill experience. The Village is the epicenter of entertainment, boasting live music in spring, multiple dining experiences and even a hotel.
Mad Trappers lodge is the ideal location to sit back, relax and enjoy a crisp refreshing beer mid afternoon. The atmosphere and energy from this on hill bar is radiant and contagious. Trappers Laps, (as locals call it) involve a day at the hill where skiing might not be the primary focus. If you want to experience an après ski atmosphere and all-round unique experience, Sunshine Ski Village is a must stop on your next Banff winter adventure.
You don’t hear of many people who visit Banff and don’t make the journey to Lake Louise. Lake Louise is world renowned for its beauty. The Lake itself is one of the Bow Valleys most popular visitor hotspot’s. Although a short drive from the actual lake, the ski hill has a lot to offer.
It has the most runs out of the 3 ski hill’s mentioned here with 145 marked trails over 17 km2 of terrain. Lake Louise caters to people of all abilities and has beginner, intermediate and advanced runs from every chairlift making it the perfect ski hill for people of all skill levels. You can choose to ride the gondola to the top or take a chairlift to the halfway point, where there is a spectacular viewing platform toward Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains, the perfect spot for selfies.
The ski hill spans over to the back side of the mountain where you will find Temple Lodge which is only accessible to skiers and snowboarders. Temple lodge has many dining options including quick grab and go snacks for when your having too much fun to stop.
The hill hosts many events including shake the lake, a fun filled day of music, snow sports and positive energy to wrap up their winter ski season. If you want to go out for a leisurely day on the hill or spend the day skiing some intense terrain Lake Louise has everything you need for the entire family.
If you are considering doing a winter season in the Rockies, Ski Big 3 offers a season pass that's perfect for you. While more expensive than getting single hill ski pass it is a great option. Having access to all the hill's gives you different terrain and keeps your riding varied. The terrain of each hill is different and gets different amounts of snow. It means you can always be ahead of the game and hitting the slope with the most powder accumulation.
Skiing in the Canadian Rockies is a life long dream of many people. To those of us that call this place home we sometimes forget to stop, take a moment, look around and appreciate our backyard. Some of the worlds best skiing can be had at the drop of hat. If you are just here to visit its not to be missed. If your new to snow sports or you’re a lifer, the Bow Valley is a prime location to settle down or spend you winter vacation.
Check out our Community page to learn more about Banff activities and places to stay.
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