Banff is perched at an altitude of 1463m above sea level in the heart of the enormous Banff National Park. This was Canada's first and the world's third national park and has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its turquoise lakes and miles upon miles of forests, Banff is a tourist hotspot in the winter and the summer. Just going for a walk amongst the gorgeous scenery is sure to take your breath away! And, of course, the skiing isn't too shabby either.
This iconic town in the Canadian Rocky Mountains was established in the 1880's and played an important role as a stop on the emerging Canadian Pacific Railroad, which was built to span all of Canada, from the east to the west coast. Today, Banff lies in close proximity to three ski resorts: Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. All three boast a generous amount of the light, dry powder snow that is characteristic of the Rocky Mountains. The town of Banff has no shortage of cultural activities in addition to the fine skiing on offer. You'll find live music nights as well as several art galleries by artists who are inspired by the beautiful nature around them! Banff is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Calgary Airport.
|Families & Children|
Located just 15 minutes from Banff by car, the Sunshine Village ski area is spread across three mountains: Goat's Eye, Lookout and Mount Standish. This is the highest ski area in Canada, reaching an altitude of 2730m above sea level. Sunshine Village receives an average of 9 metres of powder annually and the ski season stretches from November to May despite there being no glaciers! You may guess this means excellent off-piste terrain, and you would be right. One of the runs, Delirium Dave, has even made it onto lists of the best off-piste runs in the world. Freestylers will be happy as well here in the 12-acre terrain park with more than 50 features. The lift infrastructure is among the most modern in Canada, with mostly high-speed gondolas and chairlifts including one with heated chairs. If you're here, take advantage of the opportunity to ski in Alberta AND British Columbia!
Mt. Norquay is a smaller ski resort located just 6km from the town of Banff. The entire ski area lies below the tree line - if you like being a little adventurous and taking some dips and turns through the trees, then this is the resort for you. Mt. Norquay's ski area is divided into three clearly marked sections for beginners, intermediates and experts, with a section for night skiing. The terrain park is also fully open on evenings when night skiing is available. 85% of the ski area is covered by snow cannons in case there isn't enough natural snow.
See the Lake Louise ski area from the front and it looks like your average North American ski area. Hop over to the other side of the piste map and you might just pass out from desire - the entire back side of the ski area is an enormous bowl with nothing but beautiful steep black-diamond chutes that drop off the cliff edge and fall into the tree-lined valley below. It's an off-piste skier's DREAM, served by the aptly named "Paradise" lift. The front side of the mountain has more of the same, plus some green and blue cruising runs which wind gently through the trees. If you're hankering to try out the chutes and gullies but your group is holding you back, don't worry - every chair has an easy, intermediate and expert option. The icing on the cake is the terrain park, one of the largest in the region. Once again, the season is long here, stretching from November to May.
The Sunshine Mountain Lodge offers its guests a horde of options including tobogganing, snowshoeing, shopping, skiing with Santa and live music on weekends. The hotel also has a large outdoor hot pool and spa facilities. Get your culture hit at the Whyte Museum, and be sure to check the calendar to see if your visit coincides with one of the many special events. A unique, albeit rather expensive, option is the historical snowshoe and fondue tour through the Sunshine Meadows, with spectacular views of Mount Assiniboine.
Canada's après-ski scene doesn't match the raucous debauchery of Austria's umbrella bars where skiers start dancing with their ski boots still on. However, there are several options in Banff if you're looking to grab a few drinks. Check out the Mad Trapper’s Grill & BBQ for après-ski, or visit the Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Charcuterie Snow Bar in the spring to enjoy the views from the outdoor patio. Popular supper options include the cosy Chimney Corner Fireside Dining lounge or the Eagle’s Next. For a unique way to get first tracks in the morning, early birds can grab a bite at the First Tracks Café in the Creekside lodge, which opens at 7:30am.
Banff is a lovely place for a family ski holiday with young or older children, with plenty of fun nature-oriented sights to see. All three ski areas near Banff have easy slopes for getting your ski legs - Mt. Norquay may be the least intimidating, with its specially marked slow skiing zone. Daycare is available at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Eager tots can take ski or snowboard lessons through the Tiny Tiger and Kids Kampus programs.
Apres-ski & entertainment Banff
|Bars & cafes 21||Casino -|
|Nightclubs & discos 3||Concert hall -|
Ski school and ski lessons Banff
|No. of ski schools 2||Private ski lessons Yes, price on request|
|No. of ski instructors -||Ski lessonsYes, price on request|
|Area for beginners||Snowboarding lessonsYes, price on request|
|Ski lessons in -||Cross-country skiing -|
|No. of hotels 39||Supermarkets -|
|Total no. of hotel beds -||Banks|
|Total no. of beds -|
Tourist information for Banff
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism
001 - 0403 - 7628421
Distances from Banff
- by bus
Calgary approx. 128 km by bus
|From the motorway:Near the motorway|
Banff for families and children
|Playground -||Ski lift for children|
Leisure & sports activities Banff
|Fitness centre||Torchlight descent -|
|Public solarium||Indoor ice rink|
|Massage||Outdoor ice rink|
|Spa & wellness -||Curling|
|Indoor swimming pool||Snow rafting|
|Hot air ballooning -||Dog sledding|
|Paragliding -||Snowmobile tours|
|Indoor tennis court -||Toboggan run -|
|Squash court -|
|Green slopes||6 km|
|Blue slopes||10 km|
|Red slopes||8 km|
|Black slopes||4 km|
|17 Dec||Mulled wine, the best drink on the slopes!|
|24 Nov||The infamous Harakiri: Steepest slope adventure in Austria|
|17 Sept||5 tips to get over your fear of skiing|