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Family Guide to Resort Skiing in Banff National Park

Published Date
Aug 27, 2018
Ski Snowboard Sunshine Village Noel Hendrickson

Skiing in the Canadian Rockies is sure to create family memories to last your loved ones a lifetime, whether you're learning the fine art of the pizza/french fry technique, or taking a break in the ski lodge, cozied up to a crackling fire with a steaming hot chocolate.

With any family vacation, a few helpful tips and insider info can go a long way in ensuring a fun experience for kids and parents alike. Here’s what you need to know for your next family ski vacation to Banff and Lake Louise.

Before You Arrive

Lift Tickets - Lift Tickets can be arranged pre-arrival, which is highly recommended and means no standing in line while you miss out on valuable slope time. If visiting all three resorts in Banff National Park, SkiBig3 lift tickets are your best bet, which gives access to Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay. If booking at least three days in advance, your tickets will be delivered right to your hotel concierge for pick up. Fasten them to your ski jacket (be sure to keep the ticket stub in a safe place) and you’re good to go!

Gear - Banff and Lake Louise offer several great options for getting the right gear - Snowtips-BactraxUltimate Sports, Chateau Mountain Sports, and Wilson Mountain Sports all carry a wide selection of gear to suit all ages and abilities, as do the resorts themselves. Already know what you need? At the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub, you can reserve your gear ahead of time and have it delivered right to your hotel for your arrival.

Clothing - Snow in Banff National Park is typically a light, natural powder, and this is due to our dry and cold Canadian climate. While you won’t need to worry so much about water-impermeable Gore-Tex (although this doesn’t hurt) you will want to be adequately prepared for cool temperatures.

A girl poses during a day of skiing in Banff and Lake Louise, ABA girl poses during a day of skiing in Banff and Lake Louise, ABA girl poses during a day of skiing in Banff and Lake Louise, AB

Where to Ski

Now we reach the fun part - the best spots to ski with little ones in tow. With so much terrain to navigate (nearly 8,000 skiable acres combined!), it's hard to know where to take the kids, but the SkiBig3 resorts are super family-friendly and will build confidence in no time.

Banff Sunshine Village - There are two drop-off points after boarding the gondola - Goat’s Eye station first, and the Village second. Stay on for the entire ride to get off at the Village, where you’ll find the hub of amenities and family-friendly runs. Strawberry Chair is a great start for those still testing out their ski legs. For kids at a higher level, Wolverine Express and Jack Rabbit chairs offer a nice transition to shorter yet challenging runs.

Lake Louise Ski Resort - For kids who have graduated from magic carpet to chairlift, the Glacier Express Chair is a great first step. It gives access to a designated ‘Slow Zone’ on Wiwaxy run, a specified beginner run with mandatory slow skiing. Looking for something with a mix of terrain for everyone? The Larch area on the back side of the resort is a great spot to spend an afternoon.

Mt. Norquay - A nice, gentle run to get oriented at Mt. Norquay is the Spirit Traverse to Cascade run, which will get you acquainted with two out of four chairlifts. Ski down from the base lodge to load Spirit chair, and cut immediately lookers left from the top. The traverse will open up into a wide-open ski slope beneath Cascade Chair and back to the main lodge.

A mom skis behind her child who is just learning on a small ski slopeA mom skis behind her child who is just learning on a small ski slopeA mom skis behind her child who is just learning on a small ski slope

Learning the Skills

Each ski resort offers the perfect opportunity to sign up for one-on-one time with instructors to set your children up with personalized coaching. Banff Sunshine Village provides options for early starters with private lessons available from the age of two. Mt. Norquay will teach the ropes to kids as young as three in its private lessons and programs this year. At Lake Louise Ski Resort, a certified snow instructor will have the kids enjoy valuable time on the mountain with lessons for ages three and up. Lift passes are free at each of the resorts for children five and under.

Family Ski, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff National ParkFamily Ski, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff National ParkFamily Ski, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff National Park

Where to Dine

Just as important as where to ski is where to refuel throughout the day. Picky eaters will love the Alpine Grill at Banff Sunshine Village, with a wide variety of international foods, and the Sunshine Burger Company is a tried and true favourite. At Lake Louise Ski Resort, the Lodge of Ten Peaks cafe provides ample sitting room and affordable menu items, if you’re after some unbelievable panoramic views and a treat for the family, Whitehorn Bistro is a must-visit. The Lone Pine Pub at Mt. Norquay serves up traditional pub grub sure to please every palate, or for a unique dining experience head up to the Cliffhouse Bistro - just remember to download on the North American chair if you’re with beginner skiers.

A family of four take a break from skiing to enjoy hot chocolates in front of a crackling fire indoorsA family of four take a break from skiing to enjoy hot chocolates in front of a crackling fire indoorsA family of four take a break from skiing to enjoy hot chocolates in front of a crackling fire indoors
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Real Banff is an inside look at the events and activities around the park, brought to you by Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. Our mission is to have a post on pretty much everything that is available for you to do in Banff, Lake Louise and beyond.