While there are no ski slopes in the town of Banff itself, there are three outstanding options in the area and others a bit further away. The top picks for those who plan to stay in or close to Banff National Park offer a diverse array of terrain to suit all levels from beginners to experts: Mount Torquay, Lake Louise, and Banff Sunshine.
For those who buy a vacation home or a year-round residence among the Banff houses for sale and don’t know how to ski yet, the proximity to such outstanding slopes means you’ll really have to learn. Whether you move here or plan to visit, here’s what you need to know to figure out the best place to start.
Banff Sunshine is a 20-minute drive from town (followed by a 15-minute gondola ride) and is best known for offering some of the highest above-the-treeline terrain, as the country’s highest elevation resort. Most of the runs are intermediate and advanced, and for extreme skiers, it’s hard to beat, famous for its heart-pounding thrills like Delirium Dive, ranked among the world’s most extreme runs. Fodor’s called it one of the most terrifying runs on the planet.
If you’re looking to tackle your first double blacks, head to Goats Eye Mountain or Southside Chutes. The nearly 3,360 acres of terrain not only cover Alberta but cross into British Columbia, and from the gondola, you’ll enjoy some of the most jaw-dropping scenery on Earth, including Vermillion Lakes where elk herds are often spotted.
The locals’ resort, Mount Norquay was established nearly a century ago, in 1926, and while it covers just under 200 acres, it offers an excellent mix of runs from slopes for beginners to a wide range of intermediate and advanced terrain, just 10 minutes from Banff Town. Experts will appreciate the mogul fields, one of the most famous of which is Lone Pine. Memorial Bowl offers one of the resort’s most challenging routes, accessed via Mystic Express and the North American chair. This is also the only one of the three that offers night skiing. – in fact, not only can you take in breathtaking views across the Bow River Valley and the dramatic Rocky Mountain peaks, but after dark, you’ll have the chance to glimpse colorful northern lights while you glide down the slopes.
Lake Louise, a regular stop on the World Cup Downhill racing itinerary, is the most popular and the largest ski area near Banff, about a 45-minute drive away. It’s been named the No. 1 ski resort in Canada with more than 4,200 acres of terrain and 145 varied trails, including expert runs in the back bowls. Its unique layout delivers beginner, intermediate and expert runs from every chair, making it ideal for groups or families with varying abilities. Plus, from the Top of the World Express chair, you’ll get amazing views across the Bow Valley, including the soaring peaks of Mount Babel, Fay, Allen, and Bowlen along with hanging glaciers.