Set against the impressive Rocky Mountains in Canada’s oldest National Park, the town of Banff enjoys breathtaking natural scenery as far as the eye can see. It isn't a single ski resort, instead, the town acts as a base camp and links to the 3 nearby ski areas, each offering immaculately groomed slopes, impressive powder, and stunning terrain. You may even spot some of the local wildlife driving between the three mountains.
Transfers are only one hour and forty-five minutes from Calgary airport so no hassle there. You'll be on the mountains in no time. Of the 3 resorts available, it’s easy to disregard the local ski ‘hill’ Mount Norquay and you may be inclined to breeze over the much larger Sunshine Village in order to sink your teeth straight into the more famous Lake Louise slopes and those views you've seen in all the pictures. We'd recommend you give each area ample time, you’d be missing out on an awful lot of fun if you don't.
A lively destination all year round, you’ll never be short of things to do both on and off the slopes - skiing is just the start. The town itself offers the perfect combination of modern amenities, vibrant heritage and awe-inspiring surroundings. Plus there are more winter activities to try out than you could shake a stick out. Husky sledding is always popular but there's also winter walking or the hot springs to enjoy.
Skiing in the resort
There is a vast amount of terrain to discover on your ski holiday in Banff. The 3 nearby ski areas of Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise offer over 7700 acres combined. All 3 areas can be accessed by free shuttle buses when purchasing the Tri-Area lift pass. To give you an idea of the buses, it's less like the European buses we're used to, where you get crammed in and end up standing, slowing becoming a sweaty mess. Skis go underneath and everyone gets a seat on the coach, plus, they run like clockwork.
Mount Norquay is just 10 minutes away and Sunshine Village is a 20-minute drive, however, it’s likely you’ll spend most time at Sunshine Village, the larger of the 2. Over half the runs in Sunshine Village are suitable for intermediates, ranging from cruisey blues to steeper and more challenging runs. There is a nursery area at the base of the slopes with some long greens for beginners to progress to. Experts are also well catered for with double black diamond trails and even a frozen waterfall run to ski over in good conditions.
Mount Norquay offers tree-lined skiing with good nursery slopes for beginners, challenging blues for intermediates and a few black runs (including double diamonds) for advanced skiers – short and steep. It also opens the slopes in the evening for those who want to go night skiing.
There are complimentary guides if you want to be shown around the mountain for a couple of hours. It's a great way to get to know the ski area. Ski guides operate twice a day, they meet at/around the ski school meeting point. The service is operated by locals with fantastic knowledge of not only the ski area but the local area as well. We'd definitely recommend trying it, you can always bail out if you find it's not for you - just let your guide know.
The Lake Louise ski area is around 45 minutes away and offers over 4000 acres of terrain here alone. Due to the 7 month season in Banff and Lake Louise (the longest non-glacial season in Canada), the area attracts some of the best instructors around with a whole host of different languages available to be taught in.
Because the town is a drive away from the slopes, the après-ski generally starts later on, although the bar at the top of the Sunshine Gondola gets busy as the lifts are closing.
The nightlife in the town is lively with a generous choice of laid-back pubs, lively bars and nightclubs. There are also numerous restaurants catering to all budgets, from fast food restaurants to fine dining. Wild Bills gets pretty lively and you can join in with the line dancing if you fancy it. High Rollers is a trendy bowling place come pizzeria, great for an evening or entertaining little ones or if you're looking for something a little more grown up the try Park. It's a distillery who make their own Gin, Vodka and Whisky and they serve food that has the feel of a glorified camp out - very good fun.
Why not extend your stay and spend a few extra nights enjoying a city break somewhere? Our Ski Specialists will be happy to give you their recommendations.