Winter is considered off-season for Banff National Park but for any alpine enthusiast, this designation is practically unbelievable considering the dramatic craggy peaks, spectacular powdered mountains of lush evergreens and blue skies form a ski scenery which rivals that of the Alps and Chile.
Banff is considered the hub of the Ski Big 3, which includes Sunshine Village, Norquay and the Lake Louise ski resorts, but many people opt to stay in the tiny hamlet of Lake Louise, whose eponymous shimmering turquoise lake one of the most photographed spots in North America. The village is quiet– with only a handful of shops and restaurants along with a smattering of places to stay– not much of an apres-ski scene but some folks appreciate the calm, seizing the chance to hop into bed early, or over-indulge in Fondue.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort has a good variety of runs – 45 trails in total and some back bowls. The terrain varies from sunlit high-altitude slopes that wind down into the gladed forested trails a bit further down. Lookout is a perennial fav for its panoramic views and pretty snow-topped trees. They’ve got a nice area for beginners and it’s one of few resorts in the world where even the biggest newbs get to experience the thrill of riding to the top of the big mountain and skiing down safely.
More experienced skiers will likely be ready to move onto new pastures at the Sunshine Village and Norquay ski areas after a couple of days. If you’re coming for more than just a weekend, it’s worth investing in a tri-area lift pass to enliven your ski experience with a huge variety of landscapes, runs and snow quality. You also get access to some discounts at local retailers, restaurants and tours.