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Where to ski in the Canadian rockies

Sunshine Village, Banff

Where to ski in the Canadian rockies

If you're a skier, you don't want to go through life without a trip to the Canadian Rockies. Obviously, the scenery is spectacular -- that's a given. You'll also find some of the world's best skiing and snowboarding, thanks to the mountainous terrain, whether backcountry or groomed trail. There are lots of different resorts to choose from catering to every style and skill level in both the British Columbia and Alberta Rockies. Here are the best.


Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort

If you like a big, attraction-filled resort, Sunshine VillageExternal Link Title delivers. It's just 20 minutes from BanffExternal Link Title and close to Calgary, has fast lifts -- including Canada's first heated chairliftExternal Link Title -- and consistently good powder, plus a long season to boot (November to May). With everything from beginner to extreme, there's a great terrain parkExternal Link Title -- bigger than many resorts -- and an entire mountain for riders. Set just outside Banff National ParkExternal Link Title, it sits on the Continental Divide, so you can ski in Alberta and BC all in one run.


Here are the stats: 10 lifts, 107 trails over three mountains with great vistas, 3,514 feet of vertical, and 33 feet of average annual snowfall. It's also huge: 3,358 skiable acres. Consider a Tri-Area lift ticketExternal Link Title for access to Sunshine, Lake LouiseExternal Link Title, and Mount NorquayExternal Link Title.


You won't want to miss celebrating sunny spring weekend afternoons the cultured way: With French champagne and fresh oystersExternal Link Title on Sunshine Mountain Lodge's deck. Another big plus: BanffExternal Link Title. Banff is a stylish mountain town with celebrated nightlifeExternal Link Title, a hot dining sceneExternal Link Title, and sophisticated shoppingExternal Link Title. Stay in Banff and drive or bus inExternal Link Title in the AM, or take up residence at the ski-in, ski-out hotelExternal Link Title. Make time, too, for a guided snowshoe and fondue tourExternal Link Title through the park, a UNESCO World Heritage SiteExternal Link Title.

Lake Louise Mountain Resort

Arguably one of the most beautiful mountain resorts in North America, Lake LouiseExternal Link Title is about the setting: Zipping down slopes overlooking the iconic glacier-fed, turquoise lake of Banff National ParkExternal Link Title. The 4,200-acre area includes four faces on three mountains, 139 runs, 3,250 feet of vertical -- all bolstered by a huge snowmaking system. It generally gets 12 feet of snow during the six-month season, and consistent temperatures mean perfect, dry snow. Ski alpine, backcountry, or downhill, or try the torchlight dinner and skiExternal Link Title. Add on a horse-drawn sleigh rideExternal Link Title, snowshoe tourExternal Link Title, or ice skateExternal Link Title on 1.5-mile-long Lake Louise. Pure magic.


Sample the ramen and sashimi at Kuma Yama SushiExternal Link Title, the new Japanese eatery at the ski hill's handsomely rustic log Lodge of the Tent Peaks. A must is savoring the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseExternal Link Title -- diningExternal Link Title or relaxing over afternoon teaExternal Link Title in the serenely elegant restaurant overlooking the lake.

Banff Mount Norquay

Close to Calgary, NorquayExternal Link Title overlooks the town of Banff and has been a locals' fave since the 1920s. It's ideal for beginner riders and downhill skiiers, though there are plenty of blues and blacks to keep experts happy too. This place gets 10 feet of snowfall a year and offers 1,650 feet vertical, with a variety of terrain and Alberta's largest tubing park. Take your time for apr?s-R&R in the spacious, beautiful timber-frame day lodge with giant deck. If you're looking for something special, on Valentine's and full-moon nights only the historic Cliffhouse Bistro in upper Norquay off the North American Chair serves romantic meals fireside at 6,890 feet.


In Banff, hit culinary hot spot The BisonExternal Link Title for pristine, locavore meals-to-remember and snack after hours snack on late-night pies at no-frills local hangout Aardvark PizzaExternal Link Title. If you need to soothe tired muscles, pamper yourself at the Fairmont Banff Springs' Willow Stream SpaExternal Link Title or head downtown to Red Earth SpaExternal Link Title.

British Columbia

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Snowboarding Nirvana and champagne powder -- that's Kicking HorseExternal Link Title, the Rockies' newest resort near GoldenExternal Link Title and the Kicking Horse River bordering the Rockies. There's A-class alpine, Telemark, heli-skiing, cross-countryExternal Link Title, and exceptional backcountry -- all best for intermediates and up. Enjoy two bowls and great hidden trails over 2,800+ skiable acres. With a high-speed gondola, four lifts, and 120 runs, Kicking Horse boasts the fourth-highest highest vertical drop in North America -- at 4,133 feet, just behind Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


The resort includes a grizzly bear refugeExternal Link Title and nearby is a wolf conservation centerExternal Link Title. The area is home to numerous hot springsExternal Link Title and in town, hit the climbing gymExternal Link Title for some alternative exercise. A must here is mountaintop dining in the clouds at 7,700-foot-high Eagles Eye RestaurantExternal Link Title, the highest in Canada. Toast your 360-degree view of the Rockies, Selkirk, and Purcell Mountains.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

In the up-and-coming category, RevelstokeExternal Link Title on Mount MackenzieExternal Link Title gets as much as 45 feet of snowfall a year. Powderhounds love the place, which gets better, more consistent snow than most, thanks to the high altitude. Advanced, expert, and extreme skiers do well here, and it's a good value for some of the country's best snow. On the menu are alpine, cat skiing, heli-skiing, a terrain park, and backcountryExternal Link Title over 3,121 skiable acres -- all from one village base. The king of verticalExternal Link Title, Revelstoke takes the crown for North America's most at 5,620 feet. The resort has 69 runs, four lifts, and a gondola.


You're already in snow heaven, so consider dogsledding, winter fat biking, and snowshoeingExternal Link Title. If easygoing is your thing, recline by the outdoor fire pits at the mountain loungeExternal Link Title, or for something more lively, head downtownExternal Link Title. Try the casual Village Idiot Bar and GrillExternal Link Title, upscale Regent Hotel lounge barExternal Link Title, or bowling over drinks at The CabinExternal Link Title.

Fernie Alpine Resort


If it's powder and adventure you're after, you'll want to visit low-key  FernieExternal Link Title -- the place is famous for it. There's no snowmaking, just 30 feet of light, dry white stuff. This smaller resort in the Rockies' Lizard Range (about four hours from Calgary), isn't crowded, and that's the appeal. It's friendly, relaxed, and has a beautiful mountain town. On offer are skiing, snowboarding, and nearby cat skiingExternal Link Title. There are 10 lifts, 112 runs, five large alpine bowls, over 2,500 acres of skiable terrain, and 3,550 feet of vertical. There's a terrain parkExternal Link Title and trails for all levels, plus off-piste for the hardcore. Tack on snowmobiling, ice skating, curling, Nordic skiingExternal Link Title, or a sleigh-ride dinnerExternal Link Title.


Linger over drinks at the mountaintop Lost Boys Caf?External Link Title at the top of the Timber chair, and stay at Fernie HouseExternal Link Title, a luxe ski-in/ski-out chalet at the base. Refuel at the bars and restaurants in the small, but modern mountain villageExternal Link Title, too. If you want more nightlife and dining options, though, try the fun former mining townExternal Link Title about three miles from the resort.


It's not often you can combine extreme, natural grandeur with knee-high powder and superb skiing. Time for a Canadian Rockies ski vacation!

Plan your Rockies ski vacation now at the Travel AlbertaExternal Link Title and Hello BCExternal Link Title websites.