Banff National Park is one of the top ski destinations in North America. Period. If you’ve ever plowed through the white room in Lake Louise’s back bowls, challenged the steeps of Sunshine Village’s Goat’s Eye Mountain or bashed bumps on Mt. Norquay’s Lone Pine, you already know. However, if you’ve never experienced Banff’s expansive terrain—over 8,000 skiable acres across the three resorts—add these Canadian resorts to the top of your to-do list, immediately.
A mere 90-minute drive from Calgary International Airport (YYC) sits the town of Banff—your jumping-off point to Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mt. Norquay. The town exudes a European ski village charm, and not in a prefabricated instant-Tyrol kind of way. On the southern end of town you’ll find the castle-esque Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and downtown is filled with shopping and restaurants ranging from fast food (Tim Hortons, anyone?) to fine dining.
Enough about the town, though; the three world-class resorts are the real selling point of Banff National Park. Located within 40 minutes of one another, they average around 30 feet of light, dry snow each season that’s just itching to be skied. Here’s an insider’s scoop on how to do so like a champ.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
The largest of the three ski areas, Lake Louise boasts 4,200 skiable acres spread across 10 lifts, 145 trails and a handful of bowls. A 37-mile drive from Banff, you can either make the short trek or stay in one of a number of hotels in the town of Lake Louise to ensure first chair freshies.
Start the day crushing corduroy off of the Summit Platter lift. After a few laps, your legs are ready to drop off of the backside into the bowls. You can find wide-open steeps in Boomerang, tight terrain in ER3 or technical descents in ER7—pick your pleasure and rip it up.
From the top of the Larch Express, a short hike will access Lake Louise’s infamous triple black: Elevator Shaft. This face funnels into two steep chutes that then open up into a valley filled with ample boulders and terrain features known as Rock Garden.
Hit the Summit Platter one last time to close out your day. Take in views of the Canadian Rockies before a burner of a top-to-bottom run starting on Outer Limits. Pick your path through glades, bumps or corduroy on the Men’s Downhill before grabbing a cold one at the Kokanee Kabin.
Sunshine Village Ski Resort
About 10 miles down the road from the town of Banff sits Sunshine Village Ski Resort—a playground where technical skiers can always find the goods. Featuring two distinct Freeride Zones (Delirium Dive and Wild West) that require avy beacons, probes and shovels for entry, Sunshine Village delivers in-bounds expert terrain that is usually reserved for the backcountry.
Before grabbing a partner to hit one of the Freeride Zones, get warmed up with laps on the Great Divide Express. Wide-open bowl skiing and panoramic views across two provinces from the top of the continental divide can’t be missed.
The Wawa Chair offers access to two locals’ favorites—Side Door and Back Door. These runs usually provide great snow and abundant natural features.
Now that you’re thoroughly warmed up, it’s time to turn on your beacon and get a taste of the off-piste in Delirium Dive. Drop into this north-facing bowl for steep lines with plenty of rock outcroppings to get the adrenaline pumping.
Close out the day in the resort’s other Freeride Zone—the Wild West. Equally as steep as Delirium Dive, the Wild West features rock-walled couloirs, steep crevices and cliffs galore. Hit the narrow Peytos Gully and you’ll feel like you’re Cody Townsend bombing The Crack.
Mt. Norquay is the closest of the three ski areas to Banff. Don’t be fooled by the mountain’s family-friendly rep—there is plenty of challenging terrain to satisfy the most seasoned rippers.
The Norquay 90 Glades are the resort’s newest offering. Accessed from the Mystic Express high-speed quad, jib-worthy natural features dot the perfectly spaced out trees.
If moguls are your jam, lapping the North American chair will get the thighs burning. Featuring big bumps and serious steeps, this area is a locals’ favorite. After navigating the switchback at the top, hit Lone Pine—the area’s best-known bump run situated on a perfect fall line.
If you’re up for a short hike, head back to the Mystic Express to hit steep lines like Sun Chutes and Sheep Chutes. If the conditions are right, patrol will open the gate to hit another local favorite—FM-2.
Finally, shred the Norquay Terrain Park under the Friday and Saturday night lights. This area offers the only night skiing in the region along with a new fleet of rails, boxes and other features.
There you have it, folks. Not only have we told you where to go shred this winter, but we’ve also filled you in on the exact ways to do it right. Sounds like it’s time to book some flights north, eh?