Alberta is home to some of Canada’s -and the world's- best skiing, making it the perfect destination for winter adventure enthusiasts. As the 2023-2024 season quickly approaches, it’s time to start planning your skiing & snowboarding trips. As a Calgary, Alberta-based company, we wanted to make a comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to know; from the snow conditions to choosing the right resort, and even the apres-ski activities!
The Banff and Jasper National Parks are the two most popular skiing destinations in Alberta. These two iconic parks offer a diverse and captivating range of skiing experiences that cater to all skill levels, making them a great choice for both beginners and experienced athletes.
There are three world-class resorts in Banff, collectively referred to as “The Big 3”: Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Mount Norquay. Known for breathtaking mountain views, they offer an unparalleled skiing and snowboarding experience that captures the essence of the Canadian Rockies.
Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola: With more than 4,000 acres of diverse terrain, this resort has it all; gentle slopes, thrilling chutes, long cruising runs, and designated areas for freestyle tricks. Furthermore, the lift layout offers access to the beginner, intermediate, and expert runs from every chair. Its iconic 6-person express chairlift is a thrill of its own, making your day on the slopes even more exciting. Fun fact, Paradise is named after the Paradise Bowl and Lake Louise.
Sunshine Village Ski Resort: At almost 9000ft, Sunshine Village is the highest elevated ski resort in Canada. It’s famous for its generous snowfall, ensuring excellent powder conditions throughout the season. Sunshine also offers Delirium Dive, an amazing freeride terrain area that very few North American resorts can compete with (if you intend to hit the dive, make sure to bring a beacon, probe, and shovel; you can't enter without them). This unique location, so high up in the Canadian Rockies, opens up to the most incredible panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. Get your cameras ready!
Mount Norquay Ski Resort: Located just minutes from Banff, Mount Norquay provides a convenient and family-friendly skiing experience. While it is the smallest of the three resorts, the trails are perfect for a chill day on the slopes. Furthermore, it's the only resort with night skiing and a fully lit terrain park. The luscious trees also add to the stunning winter wonderland atmosphere. Norquay is also one of the oldest resorts in North America, with the first cabin being built in 1927. The Lone Pine Run is also one of the first North American runs to be given a Black Diamond rating.
Nakiska Ski Area
Just outside of the SkiBig3, we have Nakiska Ski Area, the closest resort to Calgary, located in the beautiful Kananaskis Country region. Nakiska offers 2,412 ft of vertical, 4 chairs, and 79 marked trails with over 1,000 skiable acres. One of the best family resorts, Nakiska has 13% green runs, 59% blue runs and 28% black runs, with the majority of trails being groomed. The perfect place to learn the basics or perfect your techniques!
Nakiska also held many mountain events for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics!
Marmot Basin Resort
The second major attraction of the Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park, has a more relaxed ski scene. Jasper sets itself apart from the very busy tourist hub of Banff by offering a serene atmosphere with its quieter restaurants, shops, and village. Yet, its natural beauty is just as remarkable as other resorts, earning it the status of a hidden gem and a beloved destination among locals!
Marmot Basin Resort is a captivating retreat for riders of all skill levels. With its well-groomed slopes and excellent facilities, this mountain caters to skiers of all levels. The majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains sets the stage for a truly awesome snowy adventure. Marmot Basin has seven ski lifts, around 90 trail runs, and a 3000ft vertical elevation. After a day on the slopes, you can unwind in its charming lodges, sip hot chocolate by the fire, and enjoy the ambiance that defines Jasper in the wintertime. Marmot Mountain is not just a ski destination; it's a gateway to an alpine experience where nature's beauty and winter sports seamlessly come together.
Marmot also just opened some fantastic new freeride terrain with the addition of NINE NEW DOUBLE BLACK DIAMONDS, including steep chutes and alpine bowls.
Castle Mountain Resort
Our last major resort is Castle Mountain Resort. Castle offers the terrain of any major premier ski and snowboard destination with an amazing community atmosphere, where you'll truly feel like part of a family. Located about a 2.5-hour drive from Calgary, Castle Mountain boasts very impressive snowfall statistics, averaging close to 10 metres per year. Combine this with a vertical drop of 2833ft and a diverse range of terrain, and you’ve got yourself the perfect winter paradise (pun intended)! The resort spans two mountains and provides access to 78 trails. It also has 6 chairlifts, 8 alpine bowls, and 3 terrain parks, ensuring there’s something for everyone, regardless of their skill level or preferences. Lastly, Castle Mountain offers some of the longest and steepest chutes in any resort, worldwide.
Alberta's ski resorts are not just renowned for their ski trails, but also the abundance of après-ski entertainment. A multitude of bars and patios conveniently situated around the "Big 3" resorts provide the perfect setting to relax, unwind, and enjoy some delicious food and refreshing drinks. Additionally, many of these places host lively slopeside parties that are guaranteed to make your trip unforgettable. So, grab your best friends, and your favourite drink, and check out this list of restaurants and bars for great views and service:
These restaurants also frequently have live music performances and entertainment events in the evenings. You can enjoy the talents of local musicians or even catch a special après-ski concert or DJ set. If you roll into Banded Peak Base Camp or Trappers at the end of a nice day, odds are you'll find some of the Paradise crew!
For those looking for a quieter evening, the resorts have fabulous spa and wellness facilities that allow you to recharge your energy in peace. These spas provide a perfect escape from the crowds on the slopes. You can indulge in rejuvenating massages, hot tubs, saunas, and various wellness treatments. Something unique about these spas are the indoor/outdoor pools and hot tubs that allow guests to stay warm while enjoying the beautiful snowy landscapes and cool winter breeze. Furthermore, they make for an excellent photoshoot opportunity, guaranteed to make your followers jealous of your relaxing vacation. Whether you've had an adventurous day in the snow or simply want to pamper yourself, these options are a fantastic way to round off your day at the resorts!
Get The Right Gear
Last, but definitely not least on your list… the perfect skis or snowboard for your mountain adventure. Luckily, Paradise has you covered! Find the perfect gear for your trip on our site! Our FLAMINGO Snowboardis the perfect an all-mountain freeride board for the terrain at these resorts. For skis, if you aren't sure which is best for you, try using our Ski Finder.
See you on the slopes!
Here's a video that covers all ski areas including smaller local hills:
Gregory Louie, Doctor of Physical Therapy (aka @the_ski_pt on Insta) discusses some simple ski exercises and workouts you can do to help prevent knee injuries this season! Greg specializes in building ski-specific strength & conditioning programs and helping injured skiers with their rehab. His unique niche has given opportunities for him to work with the U.S. Ski Team as a volunteer medical provider.