When people think of skiing in Alberta, Canada, they think Banff. Millions of tourists visit Banff for the love of all things winter. The idyllic town sits in the Canadian Rockies surrounded by tree-laden mountains, glaciers, lakes, caves and waterfalls throughout the area. While there isn’t actually skiing in Banff (the town), the Banff National Park offers superb skiing in three distinct ski areas known as “The Big 3”– Mount Norquay, The Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Sunshine Village.
So where’s the best place to stay if you’re skiing the Big 3?
Mt. Norquay is a little ski resort that is the closest to Banff. Less than four miles and only a ten minute drive up the road, Norquay’s 190 acres of skiable terrain is family-oriented and provides great value for multiple skiers in a group. There aren’t any lodging accommodations on mountain, so the best option is to stay in the nearby town of Banff.
Sunshine Village is a 20 minute drive southwest of Banff. Sunshine has 3,400 acres of skiable terrain with slopes progressing from gentle beginner to extreme drops and bowls for expert skiers and riders. Since it sits at the highest elevation in the area, it gets the most and the driest snow in the northern Rockies. Sunshine offers on mountain lodging and the only ski-in/ski-out experience in the area. What’s nice is there’s a gondola ride up to the ski area from the car lot so driving in from another area is also convenient. Stay at Sunshine if you’d like the ski-in/ski-out experience, otherwise Banff is close and offers plenty of lodging choices.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort is bit further northwest; about a 45-minute drive from Banff. Lake Louise is among—if not the—largest in North America, a whopping 4200 acres of superb terrain spread out on four mountain faces. The trails cover beginner cruisers to the expert’s expert drops and glades, and runs of every ability level can be accessed from every chair. If you’re skiing there you may want to stay in Lake Louise as there are a few lodging options and lots of terrain to cover at this resort. Guests looking for a relaxing après typically stay at the resort. For a livelier après, travel a bit further down the road to Banff, which offers lots of lodging and after-hours.
The town of Banff is world-famous for its terrain variety and breathtaking scenery offers lots of accommodations that range in price and amenities, along with plenty of activities. The town comes alive at night with lots of bars, restaurants, shopping, lodging and a hopping night scene. The Hot Springs and the National Forest are fun diversions. It’s not critical to have a car once you’re in Banff, since you can catch shuttle buses from the hotels to the lifts, complimentary with a tri-area lift pass.
Depending on the vacation experience you are expecting, you can stay at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village or in Banff if you’re skiing the Big 3. All three offer unique options and amenities to cater to your group or how long you’re staying in Alberta. Whichever you choose, have fun skiing all the terrain you can handle at “the Big 3”!