Winter & Ski

Winter Picnics in the Park

Who says picnics are just for warm sunny weather? Banff has a ton of great places to enjoy snowy sips and snacks, and the journey of getting there is just as fun as the reward. Whether you’re fat biking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, these activities will give you a new perspective on a favourite summer pastime. Be sure to bundle up and go on a day that’s not too chilly, and remember to be friendly to the National Park - pack out what you pack in.

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  • The Spray River Loop trail is a great, cruisey cross-country ski area. About 6 kilometres down the trail, you’ll come to the Spray River Bridge and a picnic area to get settled in and soak in your surroundings. Cross-country skiing is best for this trail, with the trail head just beyond the Banff Springs Hotel at the end of Spray Ave.
  • No work is required for this sweet spot - simply take Mt. Norquay Scenic Drive out of town and up a few switchbacks, until you hit the short stone wall. From here, you can see a large clearing in the trees with great views of Banff and the valley below. A few red lounge chairs are placed there, courtesy of Parks Canada, but there is no shortage of space to take in the views.
  • Tunnel Mountain is a local favourite for obvious reasons - it’s proximity and pay-off are well worth the travel time to summit. Depending on weather conditions, snowshoes or crampons can make these great views available in the winter, too. The trailhead is easily accessible from the parking lot on St Julien Road, heading up Tunnel Mountain. 

What to pack:

  • Equipment rentals are available at various locations in Banff.
  • A few thermoses of something warm to eat and drink – hot chocolate, tea, soup, you name it.
  • Hand and toe warmers, and moisture-wicking layers so you don’t get chilly while enjoying your meal.
  • If you have room to pack it, a few mini fold-up tripod chairs will come in handy!

Banff's Family-Friendly Sledding Spots!

Banff’s lesser-known hills are a great place to spend time and have fun with family, and are easily accessible for a setback-free day. Necessities can be purchased in town, from your sled to your snow boots. And don’t forget to pick up a few extra treats to make the day memorable - a thermos of hot chocolate, marshmallows for roasting, and extra warm gloves will do quite nicely! A pair of ice skates might come in handy too!

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  • A favourite spot for speeding down a snowy hill the old-fashioned way is Spray Meadows Hill, behind the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Just make your way to the Spray Falls parking lot and trek on over.  A fire pit is close by to warm frosty toes, before testing out the ice skating rink right nearby.
  • The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has a hill perfect for toddlers and young ones, very close to the hotel. Although it’s on the smaller scale, taking a skate on the majestic lake is sure to please and fill afternoons with big smiles. Why not visit during the Ice Magic Festival to get that true winter wonderland experience! 
  • Trade your toboggan for a tube, and kick up the sliding speed a notch with Mt. Norquay’s snow tube park. This activity is great for the whole family, as a kids play and small sliding area is new to the park this year.

Banff’s Still Got It: Skiing & Snowboarding

When our famous “champagne powder” starts to fall, the ski and snowboard scene comes alive in Banff National Park like no other place in the country. With a total of 7,700 acres of skiable terrain between Banff’s Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort, and runs that range from easy slopes for beginners to big mountain bowls, there is truly something for everyone. Just outside of the park, you can add major loft to your experience with world-class heli-skiing and snowboarding.

Bring this story to life:

  • Find out more about each ski area, ski rentals and heli-skiing on banfflakelouise.com.
  • Learn more about the beginnings of skiing in the Rockies, a rich heritage that is full of fascinating stories and characters.
  • Find out what Clifford White did to advance the skiing industry in the Rockies.
  • Enjoy a premier alpine ski event at Lake Louise Ski Resort with WinterStart.
  • Challenge yourself to explore the ski areas in a unique way like Mark Zanetti did in March 2012, when he skied ski every lift at each ski area in one day.

Après Ski to Suit Your Style

Banff’s vibrant après-ski scene offers a variety of experiences that will help anyone unwind after a long day skiing or snowboarding at the hill or touring in the backcountry. Visitors and locals alike can choose from regionally inspired appetizers at a hotel lounge, a pint of locally made beer at the pub or a Swiss fondue next to a crackling fire. Banff is a ski town to the core – all it takes is walking the street to find an après-ski experience that’ll fit you like a custom boot.

Bring this story to life:

  • Have us arrange an après-ski dine around to give you a sampling of some of the best options in Banff National Park.
  • Join a local ski guide on his or her après-ski ritual.
  • Prepare an après-ski guide based on a visitor’s preferred style, from cozy to chic, romantic or festive.
  • Check out our Night Life member listings for additional ideas. 
  • Check out our Events Calendar for additional Après Ski activities

 

Winter’s Gift: Cross-Country Skiing

Each year, the high elevations of Banff and Lake Louise make it an early contender for winter's gift of fresh snow. As the terrain is smoothed under the falling snow, perfect conditions are created for one of Banff National Park's best kept secrets: premier cross-country-skiing in a beautiful mountain landscape. Whether you're looking for a leisurely ski or a rigorous workout, access is made easy with an extensive network of trails that are groomed and track-set for world-class cross-country skiing. 

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  • Explore the network of trails and trail conditions in advance on banfflakelouise.com.
  • Enjoy a backcountry experience and ski to an authentic mountain lodge.
  • Join a local operator for a guided ski or cross-country ski lesson.

Ice Skating in Banff National Park

When the mountain lakes freeze in Banff National Park they offer the perfect opportunity for some of the most scenic ice skating in the world. For over a century, locals and visitors have enjoyed the tradition and look forward to those special days gliding amongst stunning peaks, playing a game of shinny, or taking a try at some turns.

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  • Both indoor and outdoor rinks are open for skating in Banff National Park, including rinks at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, at the Banff Gondola, downtown Banff at the local high school, The Fenlands (Banff Recreation Centre), on the Bow River and on Lake Louise.
  • Skate rentals are available in both Banff and Lake Louise.
  • Don’t miss the annual Lake Louise Pond Hockey Classic or the chance to enjoy the skating rink during the Ice Magic Festival.

Not a Skier? Not a Problem!

Banff National Park may boast three area ski hills, but if the slopes aren’t calling your name there are plenty of other winter activities to keep you busy! Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice-climbing, sleigh-riding, dog-sledding and ice skating will get you to fall in love with winter, while a visit to local museums and galleries will help you appreciate the arts and culture scene of Banff. Finish off a busy day with a soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs and you’ll be glad you came!

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Christmas in Banff

Softly falling snow, beautifully decorated streets and storefronts, world-class skiing and cozy accommodations… Banff really is a special place around Christmastime. Some couples and families plan a special Banff holiday at Christmas and celebrate the holiday season on the slopes of the local ski areas and by the warmth of a crackling fireplace. Visitors and locals alike gather to celebrate the season with a series of festive events.

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  • Holiday celebrations start early with the WinterStart Festival – don’t miss it!
  • Attend the Santa Claus Parade of Lights in early December.
  • Enjoy special festive events and offers from our members.