November 10, 2015
By Meghan J. Ward Photos by Paul Zizka
Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and the Lake Louise Ski Resort have gone down in the history books as some of the best-loved ski terrain in the world. People come from far and wide to carve their turns amongst breathtaking scenery of Banff National Park. But, beyond the skis, boots and boards lies a winter wilderness waiting to be explored. If you’re not savvy on the ski hill – or even just taking a break for the day – these other activities will still earn you the rights to an “après-ski” celebration.
1. Take a Hike
Hiking doesn’t need to end when the snow fills the trails. But instead of post-holing through knee-deep snow, strap on a pair of snowshoes. Explore on your own, or hire a guide, who can show you the way and tell you fascinating stories about the areas you’re hiking in. Snowshoe rentals are available in Banff and Lake Louise.
2. Grab a Donut
This version may not go as well with coffee, but snow tubing on an inflatable donut is the next best thing to do at the ski hill. Think of it as glorified tobogganing with a ride back up to the top. Snow tubing is a great family activity, especially where young children (over 4 years, 42”) are involved. Try it at Banff’s Mount Norquay and the Lake Louise Ski Area.
3. Lace Up
When the majestic lakes and rivers of Banff National Park freeze in winter they create the perfect conditions for ice skating. In addition to these natural wonders, the region maintains a variety of rinks, giving you more than enough options to choose from. Skate rentals are available in both Banff and Lake Louise. Check out these 8 Memorable Places to Skate in Banff National Park.
4. Get Mushy
We’re not talking romance here. Mushing is the term used for driving a team of sled dogs. Dogsledding is a unique activity that has you seated warmly under a blanket zipping through scenic trails. Try your own hand at mushing the team after you’ve observed a seasoned pro. Find a dogsledding activity provider.
5. Go Cross-Country
Carving turns in big mountain terrain may not be calling your name, but there’s something aesthetic and enticing about the kick-and-glide of cross-country skiing. Catering to all levels of experience, the Banff and Lake Louise regions offer world-class, track-set ski trails set amongst mountain lakes and lofty peaks. Learn more about local cross-country ski trails.
6. Get Vertical
Scaling a frozen waterfall might seem nearly impossible…until you’ve tried it. With the help of ice tools and crampons, ice-climbing is a thrilling sport that will certainly earn you a celebratory brew. Better yet, the Canadian Rockies offers some of the best ice-climbing in the world, so you’ve come to the right place. If you’re new to the sport, head out with certified guides and instructors.
Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, and the co-founder and editor at Banff’s mountain culture publishing hub, Crowfoot Media. Catch her adventures on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and on her website at meghanjoyward.com.