Each one of the three resorts within Banff National Forest is packed full of amazing slopes and runs atop an average of 180 inches of heavenly, fluffy, deep, incredible Alberta powder. The Banff area is mostly isolated from the effects of the Chinook snow eater winds. If you've never experienced them before, they are really something to see—the areas south of Calgary might be covered with two feet of snow and then the Chinooks pick up and melt it all in six hours! It is not at all unusual to have breakfast when it's -22 degrees F. outside and then go to dinner in your shirtsleeves.
The Norquay at Banff ski experience is perfectly set up for skiers and riders looking to progress their skills. Their trails are rated 20% for beginners, 36% for intermediates, 28% for advanced and a lip-smacking 16% for experts. The resort’s five lifts take riders up to 28 trails spread over 190 acres, where one can snowboard their longest run of almost 4,000 feet atop 120 inches of powder. Area elevation ranges from 5,500 feet at the base to 8,040 feet up top with a vertical drop of 1,650 feet.
Every discipline level from the youngest child strapping on the skis for the first time, all the way to the champion-level expert looking for peak challenges to refine their skillset will love this ski area. That is what has long made the Banff area resorts some of the most popular and sought-after slopes in all of skidom.
Banff is a very vibrant tourist town and there are lots of restaurants as well as great après and a vibrant nightlife with plenty of bars and things to get into. Soaking in the Banff Upper Hot Springs or any of the many springs is a must-do after a big day on the slopes. You can also top off your evening with good food, live entertainment and a nightly alpine light display from atop Sulphur Mountain. Ice skating on the natural lakes is idyllic in every sense.
The shopping on the main streets is fantastic with hundreds of shops, boutiques, arcades, sporting goods stores and even some fine art galleries. It’s a good place to pick up souvenirs or any trinket that you may need to remember your stay. The town is alive all year long with festivals, events, music and other activities in the valley.
Banff is a magnificent dining town, where you will find a vast selection of any kind of meal you desire at any budget point you wish to spend. Some of the favorites include Bumper's Steakhouse, Coyote's Southwestern Cuisine, Caramba Mediterranean Restaurant, Guido's Italian Specialties, Giorgio's Fresh Market Cuisine, Silver Dragon Cantonese and Peking Kitchen, Typhoon Eclectic Asian Restaurant, and Saltlik. For quicker and less expensive family lunches, check out Coyote's Deli and Grill, Aardvark Pizza and Subs, and Evelyn's Coffee Bar. Or, if you’d rather not leave Norquay, the huge Cascade Lodge downhill is a good place to eat, hangout and watch the sun set behind Mount Norquay.
Norquay at Banff offers a progressive snowboarding and skiing experience geared towards families, which encourages younger children to have a good time learning how to ski the gentle slopes. While there are also more difficult runs to try, it provides an easier experience overall for people to enjoy. The snow tube park is a fun activity that the family can enjoy for hours. It has huge sliding lanes and a magic carpet, and a small sliding and play area for little ones, and it’s open at night!
Snowshoeing is an alternative way to experience Mt. Norquay and the resort provides snowshoes in all sizes, or ride up to the scenic outlook in the North American Chair and take in the legendary views at 8,000 ft. For a self-guided adventure, the National Park has GPS-guided driving tours of the National Park. Or, take the crew on a day trip to the largest mall in North America at West Edmonton, also the world’s second-largest water and indoor amusement park.
The terrain park at Norquay – also known as the Banff Backyard – is set up with features for all ability levels and has a halfpipe, tabletops, rails, jib boxes and gap jumps. For natural features, the local boarders’ favorite is Bruno's Gully.
Go play at Lone Pine and North American, also known as the Banff's backyard. The North American at Mt. Norquay is also full of black and double black. The Sheep Chutes and Sun Chutes are rewarding steep double black runs at that'll have you trailing cold smoke for days.
After, head to Banff across the road from Norquay where you can get into any winter activity you can conceive, along with tons of bars, dining and lots of stuff to do. For Banff après-ski scene, check out Magpie & Stump, The Paddock, Tommy's Neighbourhood Pub, The Rose and Crown, or the St. James Gate Olde Irish Pub, built in Dublin and assembled in Banff. Hot dance action can be found at Barbary Coast and at The Aurora.
During SnowDays in January, free outdoor events take place in Banff’s skating rink, within the square, or in central park. Events are open to the public and include features like an ice playground, Ride and Slide, and a 40-ft ice climbing wall.
Go on a guided snowshoe tour – an activity that the entire family can enjoy, or explore the deep caves within the Canadian Rockies for free with a parks guide and enjoy the many glaciers, waterfalls and other natural wonders, along with the area’s history and legends. Geocaching rounds are available during SnowDays. It’s a fun game of high-tech hide and seek that helps people discover Banff National Park interactively. Check the Banff Visitor Information Center for details about free and affordable activities in the Banff National Forest area.
The Banff Centre of Art hosts many cultural events and shows that are suitable for general audiences. It also houses a recreation center with a climbing wall and swimming pools.