When envisioning winter in the Canadian Rockies, snow-kissed ski slopes are often the first daydreams that come to mind - from pillow lines nestled amongst snow-capped mountain peaks to crisp corduroy meandering along a gentle groomer run.
This classic winter sport has drawn visitors from around the world to Banff National Park for over a century since Conrad Kain’s first ski jump was built right in the heart of Banff in 1911. (Learn more about this at Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies!)
Today, the national park is home to three unique ski resorts - Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay. Each offers varied terrain and experiences for skiers of all levels, whether a seasoned sender or an absolute beginner. A season stretching from early November to late May offers plentiful opportunities to fine-tune your ski skills on the best mountains (and snow!) around.
Banff Sunshine Village
Banff Sunshine Village is a great place to get oriented on the ins and outs of skiing in Banff National Park. From the top of three main mountains - Goat’s Eye, Lookout, and Standish - you can enjoy unparalleled mountain vistas with no signs of civilization. Two main ‘hubs’ - Goat’s Eye Gardens and the Village itself - are the focal points at which all runs will eventually end up. These can be easily seen from most runs, giving peace of mind for families and beginners.
Most beginner to intermediate terrain can be accessed from the Village, with the easiest of runs reached via Strawberry Chair. For those looking for more of a challenge, advanced skiers can head to Goat’s Eye or try their hand at two freeride zones (condition permitting) - Delirium Dive and Wild West. Cap off your day in the mountains with a night in the mountains at Sunshine Mountain Lodge - the only ski-in ski-out accommodation within the national park.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
Known as the ‘friendly giant’ of ski resorts in Banff National Park, Lake Louise Ski Resort is just a 40-minute drive from the town of Banff or a 10-minute drive from the village of Lake Louise. Although popular with advanced skiers for its backside steeps, the beautiful scenery and accessible terrain make it a great ski destination for families or groups of varying abilities. Over 4,200 acres of skiable terrain span four mountain faces here, with a green run available from the top of every chairlift.
While hopping on the gondola may be enticing for beginners, the Glacier Express Chair (accessible from the base area) is your best bet for terrain to suit your needs. The back bowls are a favourite for advanced skiers, accessed from Summit Platter and Top of the World Express Chair.
For the advanced-intermediate and expert level skiers, get pumped! New to the 20/21 season, Lake Louise ski resort will open 480 acres of new terrain (as mother nature allows), in the West Bowl. With open bowl skiing, chutes, gullies and glades, it's been described as wilderness skiing at its best.
Mt. Norquay is known as the birthplace of resort skiing in Banff National Park, as it was the first of three to open in 1926. Popular with everyone from training ski racers to local families, Mt. Norquay is often the first taste of a lifelong love for skiing in the Rockies. Over 90 years later, the ski experience here holds true to the essence of their rich ski heritage. Live it for yourself with a visit to the Cliffhouse Bistro via the North American chair, a popular on-mountain social hub since it first opened in the 1950s. From there, take in those timeless views of Banff from above by skiing down the advanced Lone Pine run, or try your hand at several other advanced runs accessible from this chair. Aspiring skiers will love a wide selection of beginner runs from Mystic and Cascade chairs. For something a little different, why not experience the mountain by night? Mt. Norquay is the only resort to offer weekly night skiing experiences in peak season.
The town of Banff is only a 90-minute drive from the Calgary International Airport, with Lake Louise being an additional 40-minutes’ drive. There are plenty of transportation options to suit your travel style - from airport shuttle to regional transit, to car rental.
After arriving in Banff or Lake Louise, access to all three ski resorts is made possible by a complimentary shuttle service included with the purchase of a SkiBig3 Lift Ticket. These ski shuttles have multiple drop-offs and pick-up points around town, so chances are you won’t have to go more than a few steps with your equipment.