Shred the slopes
The Banff and Lake Louise region is a utopia for skiers and snowboarders, offering three easily accessible world-class ski resorts, lightweight powder, a stunningly scenic backdrop, and a serious après scene. It’s a must-visit location for all snow lovers, no matter your level of experience.
Banff National Park is home to Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay ski resorts. The slopes are easily accessible via car or the regularly scheduled bus services. Once you are on the mountain you will find a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Experience some of the lightest, fluffiest snow you will ever have the joy of shredding, and smaller lift lines than most other big ski resorts. Skiing isn't the only activity you can do on the slopes with tubing and snowshoeing also available. The season is a long one around here, starting in mid-November and stretching through to late-May.
Find out more about how to book a ski vacation package. Lift tickets when purchased ahead of time are at a discounted rate.
If you prefer to stay somewhere with charm and unique character, there are several options in Banff and Lake Louise. Fairy-tale castles, boutique hotels, hostels, remote backcountry lodges, charming B&Bs or mountain chalets: there’s something for all preferences and budgets.
Take a look at the Fairmont Banff Springs if you like luxury and the idea of staying in a fairy-tale castle (who wouldn’t?!). You may even catch a glimpse of the famous Bow Falls outside your hotel window. If you want to unwind from a day outside, try the outdoor and indoor mineral pools at the Willow Stream Spa.
For perhaps the most spectacular setting ever (think: right beside a frozen lake surrounded by mountains and glaciers), try the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. With ice skating, winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and outdoor campfires under the stars, you may never want to leave.
If you’re looking for something a little more out there, what about a backcountry lodge? It’s a truly incredible experience to snowshoe or ski into a remote, off-the-grid cabin, and the perfect chance to connect with just yourself, a good book, and the stars. The Sundance Lodge and Brewsters Shadow Lake Lodge are two amazing options.
For a full list of accommodations in Banff and Lake Louise, visit our Places to Stay page.
Banff and Lake Louise have a plethora of winter activities to see and do. We have put together a list of our absolute must-do's and must-see's.
Cross-country skiing is a great way to explore Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies during the winter months. There are plenty of options for skate and classic trails for all fitness levels. To get detailed information about the trails and rentals visit our Cross-Country Skiing page.
A favourite Canadian sport, ice skating on frozen lakes and playing shinny with your friends on an outdoor rink is an incredible way to enjoy fresh mountain air.
There are several indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks open during the winter in Banff and Lake Louise and the best part - 90% are free! For information on the various locations, visit our Ice Skating page.
Learn about the history of dog sledding in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, meet the trainers and sled dogs up close when you experience one of the guided dog sled tours. It will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Winter Hiking & Snowshoeing
Two activities that are enjoyed by locals every day are winter hiking and snowshoeing. All you need is a warm jacket, a toque, mittens, and a pair of winter boots and you're set to experience our winter wonderland. If you're keen to experience something a little different, strap on some snowshoes and play in the freshly fallen snow. For winter boot and snowshoe rentals, visit Snowtips-Bactrax.
Ice Climbing & Backcountry Skiing
For the adrenaline-inspired, Banff National Park boasts some of the best ice and mixed climbing routes in the world. Imagine climbing up frozen waterfalls while you look down at a spectacular frozen creek below. For the best and safest experience hire an Alpine Mountain Guide for the day through Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.
Backcountry skiing is a spectacular way to find your inner mojo. It's an activity that can be both exhilarating and peaceful at the same time. You can fly by helicopter with CMH Heli-Skiing to a remote luxury backcountry lodge where thousands of feet of vertical and fresh tracks await. Get out and explore!
Banff and Lake Louise comes alive during winter with many events taking place throughout the destination. Check out the events calendar to see what's going on while you're here.
Events happening this winter:
- Christmas in Banff and Lake Louise begins in November with the annual Santa Claus Parade kicking off the festivities.
- The Banff Christmas Market brings together the best local artisanal products and provides the perfect place to enjoy holiday shopping.
- Banff is home to the world's most beautiful beer festival with the Banff Craft Beer Festival taking place in November.
- Lake Louise welcomes the world in November with the world's fastest skiers taking part in the Lake Louise Audi FIS Ski World Cup at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
- Fall in love with the snowiest days of the year at SnowDays in January. Featuring an international ice-carving competition, giant snow sculptures, fun winter activities, and a craft spirit tasting event, there are a lot of ways to celebrate the winter season.
Relax and Rejuvenate
Travelling is a great opportunity to nourish your body and soul, especially in a place like Banff and Lake Louise where you are surrounded by such majestic natural beauty - it’s difficult to not feel inspired here.
A full range of health and wellness practices and providers exist to help you find your zen. Some of our favourites are:
Stretch with a view
Take a yoga class at the Rocky Mountain Yoga studio - there are not many studios which offer such stunning mountain views during your upward dog.
Hot water and fresh, cold air
Soak in the outdoor Upper Banff Hot Springs - we especially enjoy going for a soak in the evening when the stars are sparkling and legs are aching from a long day of skiing or snowboarding.
Take a walk around Vermilion Lakes as the sun is setting. Vermilion Lakes is also a great place to hang out and stargaze - and, if you are lucky, take in the Northern Lights. Make sure you wear plenty of warm clothes and take a blanket to snuggle up in.
Après is a way of life in Banff and Lake Louise. Whether you want a cold beer brewed with glacial water at the locals’ hangout, a hot chocolate by a log fire, or cocktails and dancing, you will find what you are looking for guaranteed. Don’t miss a chance to explore the town by night, it may even get a little wild.
There are so many options for food and drinks in the town of Banff and hamlet of Lake Louise, from distilled spirits to microbrews, to delicious juices for breakfast, pizza or picnics for lunch, or Western style steak or vegan meals for dinner. Some of our favourites for food, drink, and nightlife are:
The best espresso
For the best coffee or tea in town to kick off your day, try Whitebark Cafe. And a bonus for getting your caffeine intake - the coffee is fair trade and organic and the teas are sourced locally.
Park Distillery Restaurant & Bar on Banff Ave. is the place to go for campfire-inspired food and spirits distilled in-house. Have a later lunch and join the free Distillery Tour from 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. daily.
Warm from the inside out
Fondue totally makes sense in this snowy town. The Banff Grizzly House has some of the best around. And don't miss calling your friends from one of the many old-school telephones in each booth. It's hilarious.
For a proper Western cowboy/girl experience, Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon offers slow-cooked brisket and line dancing lessons. We dare you to ride the mechanical bull!
Dance with the locals
As for where to party afterwards, perhaps you could ask your friendly ski lifty as to where the locals are headed that night, or check out the full nightlife listings.
How to Get Here
Getting to Banff and Lake Louise is easy. There are direct flights from all the key international flight hubs to Calgary International Airport. From the airport it’s a scenic and straightforward drive or shuttle bus to Banff National Park.
There are direct flights from all the key flight hubs around the world to Calgary International Airport (YYC). Get on the plane, then after a glass of wine, a film or two, and a little nap you will find yourself flying overhead the snow covered peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It's truly stunning.
Getting From the Airport
It takes around 90 minutes to drive from the Calgary International Airport to Banff depending on traffic. If you're heading to Lake Louise add another 40-45 minutes. It’s a very scenic and straightforward trip. You could rent a car from the Calgary airport or city centre or take one of the shuttle buses or scheduled coach services. Find out more information about trip planning.
Getting From Calgary
There are two options to get from downtown and parts of the city of Calgary. Visit our Explore the Park page for more information.