Pristine white peaks, ancient glaciers and sweeping valleys; this is the scenery of the Canadian Rockies which awaits skiers and snowboarders in western Canada’s Alberta. Even the drive in from the nearest airport, Calgary, is breath-taking, with your arrival in Banff greeted by its stunning backdrop of Mount Rundle one side and the huge Cascade Mountain on the other.
Don’t just stop there though; take the jaw dropping Icefields Parkway northwest through the Banff National Park, from the beautiful Lake Louise to Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park 146 miles beyond, and you’ll experience an unforgettable scenery of over 100 glaciers, dramatic rocky spires and frozen lakes.
Alberta’s Canadian Rockies powder snow is famously feather-light, plentiful and reliable. Due to its height and that it literally straddles the Continental Divide, the Banff resort of Sunshine Village is one of the snowiest resorts in Canada, receiving up to 30 ft of fresh snow a year. Further north, in Jasper National Park, Marmot Basin enjoys an average 13 ft of superlight, super dry snow every year, and with the highest base elevation of any major ski area in Canada, it keeps it!
Marmot Basin, the only ski area in Jasper National Park’s 11,000 square kilometres of Canadian Rockies wilderness, alone boasts 1,675 acres of skiable terrain, with seven modern lifts on four mountain faces. In Alberta’s southern Banff National Park the total ski terrain is even more expansive: in terms of acreage, the three resorts of Banff’s Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay total 7,748 acres. All of which adds up to a whopping total of 9,423 acres that you could ski in one holiday on a multi-resort self-drive ski safari.
Alberta’s ski resorts offer every kind of terrain going, with hundreds of named runs plus infinite options in-between the runs. Mount Norquay is the nearest to the mountain town, and might be the smallest but has something for everyone, including night skiing and challenging moguls. Sunshine Village has everything from sheltered tree runs to cruisers, and the 12-acre Rogers Terrain Park. Banff’s biggest resort Lake Louise has 130 designated runs with endless chutes, glades, gullies, gentle slopes, cruising runs and remote bowls, as well as beginner, intermediate and expert runs from every chair. Take the 146 mile drive to Marmot Basin and you’ll discover one of the most diverse ski areas in North America for all abilities, with long, groomed trails for beginners, high alpine bowls and steep powder-filled chutes for experts, as well as two terrain parks and a dedicated learning area for beginners.
Off the slopes
If you can tear yourself away from Alberta’s world-famous powder, its range of off-slope activities and adventures would be worth the visit alone. Hike through mesmerising luminous frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon, admire ice sculptures while you enjoy a drink at a frozen bar at Banff’s SnowDays Festival, or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride into the white, icy silence of Lake Louise, or new this year, experience the Banff Gondola Summit which provides access to fine dining, interactive exhibits, a multisensory theatre and a breathtaking 360-degree rooftop observation deck.
Banff’s Big 3 resorts and Jasper’s Marmot Basin offer unbeatable value-for money, with many accommodation options including continental breakfast in the standard room rate. The Tri-Area lift pass, which covers the three ski areas of Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay and Lake Louise, is also excellent value, and the three resorts offer interchangeable rental gear and free shuttle buses for convenience and cost savings. Getting to Alberta’s ski resorts is as affordable and convenient as anywhere in North America, with direct flights to Calgary (1 hr 30min from Banff) from most UK airports.
For more information on Banff and to book your ski holiday there, see skisafari.com
Ski Safari is one of the UK’s leading ski holiday tour operators to Alberta. Marking their 20th anniversary this year, Ski Safari specialise in extraordinary multi-resort ski holidays and city add-ons, offering honest advice, unrivalled service and 100% financial protection. The dedicated team of skiers and snowboarders tailor every package based on their own first-hand experience of skiing every resort and seeing or staying in every property Ski Safari offer.