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Banff/Lake Louise

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Mountain Stats

  • 178 in of annual snowfall
  • 4201 total skiable acres
  • Top elevation 8651 ft, base 5400 ft
  • 25% beginner, 45% intermediate, 19% advanced, 1% expert
  • Projected opening: 11/08/2013
  • Projected closing: 05/11/2014

Things to do in Banff

With three different mountain to explore—a combined 124 miles of terrain—you’re legs are bound to get tired. Don’t hesitate to take a day from the slopes and explore the area, there are limitless things to in Banff Lake Louise. You have an array of options from touring through the frozen winter wonderland to relaxing in hot springs, shopping or dining.

History enthusiasts can check the many Banff Lake Louise museums, including the Canadian Ski Museum, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Buffalo Nations Museum and Banff Park Museum National Historic Site. Banff’s Lux Cinema provides a great evening activity for the whole family. And if you’re really looking to relax and recoup, head to the Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs and soak your soreness away. While you’re in the area don’t miss a ride up the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, which provides epic views and great photo opportunities.

Banff Outdoor Activities

As the gateway to Banff National Park, you’re ensured a host of outdoor activities to experience. You can explore the gorgeous surrounding wilderness via snowshoe, dog sled, sleigh ride, cross-country ski tours or a winter hiking tour. If you’re really looking to get adventurous, and are an experienced climber, consider a Banff ice climbing excursion. And if you want to enjoy the quietness of the area the way Canadians do spend afternoon ice fishing. 
There’s also a host of evening star-lit tours, including a night skiing excursion at Lake Lousie and Banff Alpine Lights at Sulphur Mountain which includes a traditional Canadian meal, local music and a light display under the stars.

To learn more about things to do in Banff call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

 

Banff Budget Ski Vacation

Banff Lake Louise is located just a mere hour and a half from Calgary, making it a popular destination with local Canadian skiers and Calgary weekend warriors. This is good news for the budget-conscious, as they’ll find plenty of affordable lodging and dining options. Plus, the convenient Calgary Internation Airport is under two hours from Banff Lake Louise—which reduces your travel costs. Banff Lake Louise is full of affordable dining options from the Cascade Food Court, which is home to a multitude of cheap, tasty eats, to a host of inexpensive grills and pub joints to choose from in downtown Banff. Don’t forget, staying in a condo allows you the ability to cook your own meals, and with two Banff supermarkets—Nesters Marketplace on Bear Street and Safeway on Elk Street—you’re sure to find plenty of affordable, healthy options.

Banff Budget Hotels

When we say you can find suitable Banff lodging on any budget, we really mean it, and here we’re going to highlight some of the most economical ways to spend the night in Banff National Park:
Experience warm hospitality and exceptional comfort from an ideal location at the base of downtown. The Banff International Hotel is modern, spacious and richly decorated with lots of wood and warmth to blend into the local surroundings. Ski and sightseeing buses offer curbside pickup. Spacious and modern, the hotel’s elegantly decorated and luxuriously appointed guest rooms have been designed with comfort and convenience in mind.
Located in the heart of Banff, the Banff Park Lodge is just steps from the lively social scene that downtown offers and the serene ambiance of the glacier-fed Bow River, the Banff Park Lodge offers the best of both worlds.

Banff Affordable Restaurants

If you’re in the mood for some Asian persuasion, Banff has some great choices, including Pad Thai, at the back of the ClockTower Mall, Chaya, a sushi and noodle joint on Banff Avenue, and Sushi House, which allows you to pick your favorite sushi on a mini train as it rolls through your area. If you’re looking for a place that offers quality food, at a great price, then Paddock Grill will please. This budget-conscious restaurant, in the Mountain Royal Hotel, serves up sandwiches, soups, pizza and paninis. Old Spaghetti Factory is a favorite for simple, good pasta dishes that locals and visitors alike love. 


To learn more about a Banff Budget Ski Vacation call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Dining

As one of the most popular Canadian ski resorts and home to the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival—held in late October—you can expect the Banff dining scene to pack a serious punch. Banff offers diners everything from gourmet and traditional pub food to contemporary Canadian and fine dining to sushi or pizza, you name it. This is great news for just about anyone on a Banff ski vacation.

Banff Restaurants

If you have a penchant for Canadian cuisine, you’ll be pleased with what The Bison Restaurant, on Bear Street offers. The Bison provides a rustic fine dining experience and an exceptional menu consisting of beautiful local steak cuts, fish and lamb.  The Maple Leaf Grille and Lounge, on Banff Avenue, also provides foodies with a rustic Canadian alpine dining experience, with a menu featuring local meat, game and fish. 
International cuisine enthusiasts will also be pleased with Banff’s offerings. French restaurant Le Beaujolais has been a gourmet staple in Banff for more than 30 years. Le Beaujolais’ Lobby Wine Lounge provides wine lovers with an exceptional selection. With fresh fish flown in from Vancouver, Samurai Sushi Bar and Restaurant will please those looking for Japanese fare.

Carlito’s Pizzeria, on Banff Avenue, is a great place for a family, as the menu features both mouth-watering pizza and good burgers. Families or groups who have food sensitivities or dietary requirements should head to Nourish Vegetarian Bistro and Tea House, on Banff Avenue. 


To learn more about Banff dining call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Expert Skiing

While overall Banff Lake Louise may have more intermediate skiing than expert, one look at any of the trail maps will tell a different story. Mt. Norquay is known for its challenging and steep bump runs, while Sunshine’s Goat’s Eye Mountain is double black diamond paradise and also offers gate-accessed sidecountry skiing in the Delirum Dive bowl and the Wild West chutes below Goat’s Eye Mountain. Lake Louise is home of the Winternational World Cup Downhill course, so you can bet there are plenty of steeps to occupy the most seasoned skier.

Banff Expert Terrain

Technically, little Mt. Norquay has the most expert terrain, with 28 percent of the terrain designated as expert. The North American chairlift on looker’s left side of the mountain, and Mystic Express chairlift on looker’s right, both get experts to the most trying goods. North American offers everything from ultra-steep moguls to challenging gulley runs. Mystic gets expert to some world-class glade skiing. Feel the G’s at Lake Louise, and take a run on World Cup Downhill trail, accessed by Top of the World 6-Pack Express. The frontside of the resort offers plenty of steep, challenging black diamonds, but stretch out a little and drop into the backside Powder Bowls. Extreme-seekers will be pleased with all the double-black diamond zones located at the top of the bowls. But Sunshine’s truly an extreme skiers playground with epic sidecountry zones—Delirium Drive and The Wild West—and a handful of double blacks on Goat’s Eye Mountain.

To learn more about Banff expert skiing call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Family Ski Vacation

With three ski resorts to choose from on a Banff family ski vacation, every member of your clan, no matter what age, level or terrain preferences will enjoy themselves. Banff’s close proximity to Calgary ensures that it sees a bit of weekend warrior traffic, not to mention a significant jet set crowd and tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the famed wilderness of Banff National Park. The array of clientele, both local and international ensures there are a range of lodging and dining options to suit every penchant.
Banff Family Lodging
Families looking for convenience will want to stay at Sunshine Village’s Sunshine Mountain Lodge. The Sunshine Mountain Lodge is Banff’s only ski in, ski out hotel which provides a unique experience that is unlike anything else, with West wing rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, cozy fireplaces, private balconies and additional upscale amenities.
For kid-friendly off-mountain activities, like pools, families on a Banff family ski vacation will want to stay at the Inns of Banff, Lake Louise Inn or Banff Rocky Mountain Resort.

Banff Family Restaurants

Banff’s restaurants match it’s varied visitors, which is great for families. The more options the better. The Keg, a favorite Banff steakhouse, provides two locations, one in the downtown area on Banff Avenue and one at the Caribou Lodge. The Caribou Lodge is probably a better option for families as it offers a la carte dining and a buffet breakfast. The menu features a nice mix of salads, seafood, steak barbeque chicken and pub-style appetizers. The Bear Street Tavern also serves up some finger-licking comfort food from pizza to barbeque pork to gourmet grilled cheese and house-made salsa. 

Nourish Vegetarian Bistro and Tea House offers exceptionally tasty gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian fare for family members with food sensitivities or allergies. And in a place like Banff that has a plethora of steakhouses and meat-heavy menus; it’s nice to know that a good, meat-free meal is available during your Banff ski vacation. 

A family trip to a Canadian ski town wouldn’t be complete without at least one dessert or snack at Beaver Tails. The build your own pastry treats will have the whole family coming back for more. Banff’s Beaver Tail is located on Banff avenue.


To learn more about Banff family ski vacations call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Intermediate Skiing

Intermediate skiers will feel like they struck it rich on a Banff Lake Louise ski vacation. The “Big Three” resorts provide more than 45 percent intermediate skiing across their 124 miles of skiing. All three resorts have a lot to offer the intermediate skier, but the best Banff intermediate terrain is found at Sunshine Village, who boasts the most options.

Banff Intermediate Terrain

The Sunshine Village intermediate terrain provides skiers with high alpine views and wide-open unforgettable skiing. Intermediates can ski from the top of 8,900-plus-foot Lookout Mountain or from the top of the 9,000-plus-foot Goat’s Eye Mountain chairlift. Both offer endless groomed runs and a unique opportunity to ski next to black and double black runs. Wolverine Express chairlift, located in the below tree line saddle between Lookout and Goat’s Eye Mountain accesses shorter, winding blue runs that are great when you’re legs have had enough high alpine adventures. And if you’re looking to cruise with the whole family the Wawa Quad Chair at the lower half of Mt. Standish offers wide open groomers. 

Lake Louise also offers intermediates a slew of options and much like Sunshine, provides above tree line blue skiing access. The Summer Platter and Top of the World 6-Pack zoom skiers to the top of the 8,300-foot Saddleback Ridge. The blue runs in this zone flank the Lake Louise Winternational World Cup Downhill Course, and provide intermediates with an idea of what it’s like to race down the area’s steep terrain. For the best bowl skiing, intermediates should drop into the backside of the mountain from the top of the Summer Platter on Mount Whitehorn. Intermediate skiers will love Boomerang Bowl.


To learn more about Banff intermediate skiing call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Lodging

Like it’s varied terrain options and plethora of restaurants, Banff lodging accommodations will meet nearly every partiality. Here’s Ski.com’s best of the best picks for budget, family and luxury lodging preferences.

Located on the ski shuttle route and in the heart of downtown Banff, Banff Park Lodge is an ideal choice for penny-pinchers and it’s just steps from the lively social scene that downtown offers and the serene ambiance of the glacier-fed Bow River. 
Families love the Lake Louise Inn’s indoor pool and kitchens, which make dining in with the kids a cinch. 
Those with a predilection for the finer things in life, will love the timelessness of the Fairmont Chateaux Lake Louise and Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

To learn more about Banff lodging call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Luxury Ski Vacation

This year-round Canadian destination and home of the Banff Film and Book Festival draws a cultured, refined crowd. When the well-heeled come to Banff they have a variety of luxury lodging and fine dining options.

Banff Luxury Lodging

Banff offers a handful of luxury lodging options, but the two stand-outs are Fairmont properties.

Fairmont Chateaux Lake Louise

Nestled on the shores of majestic Lake Louise in the heart of the pristine Canadian Rockies, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise combines luxurious resort living with the spirit of adventure. Since 1890, this has been an adventure destination in a spectacular scenic region of rugged peaks, majestic glaciers and world-renowned skiing. In addition to skiing, a multitude of activities from the serene to the extreme are available to you just outside the doors. From a guided snowshoe excursion to heli skiing, let the Mountain Adventure Concierge customize an itinerary of once-in-lifetime experiences. Enjoy an alluring dining experience at any of the eight restaurants or indulge yourself with a relaxing treatment in our Escape Spa and Salon.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Situated among the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies, The Fairmont Banff Springs stands as a world-renowned symbol of Canadian hospitality. Its blend of opulence and seclusion has been an emblem of Rocky Mountain majesty for more than a hundred years. Operated as a year-round resort since 1969, the Hotel now offers 768 guestrooms and suites, all with impressive valley views or dramatic mountain views. Located in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Fairmont Banff Springs offers its' guests every opportunity to set out and find that perfect moment in time.

Banff Fine Dining

For a beautiful meal of European and Canadian-inspired alpine fare, The Terrace on Lynx Street is a memorable experience. The menu varies from duck confit to elk medallions to ‘AAA’ beef tenderloin to fish, and features an incredible range of gourmet appetizers, and traditional French desserts like crème brulee. You can also opt to enjoy their five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. For more exceptional French cuisine make a reservation at Le Beaujolais, a gourmet Banff staple for 30-plus years. Wine lovers and foodies alike will be pleased with the world-class selection and quality.

The Maple Leaf Grille and Lounge, on Banff Avenue, also provides foodies with a rustic Canadian alpine dining experience, with a menu featuring local meat, game and fish. For laidback food of uncompromised freshness and quality, an evening at Saltlik, on Bear Street, is in high order. This Banff steakhouse, which has another location in Calgary, serves up CAM prime sirloin, which is among the best beef on the market. And despite its rustic vibe, this gourmet steakhouse features a great wine list.

To learn more about Banff luxury ski vacations call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Nightlife

As a year-round hotspot for winter recreating, a mere hour and a half from Calgary, home of the Banff Film and Book Festival and an access point to Banff National Park, the Banff nightlife can be quite lively, but don’t expect anything like St. Anton or Verbier. This isn’t Europe after all. But you will be able to find a watering hole or two to suit your needs.

Banff Apres

If you’re staying in Banff or skiing at Mt. Norquay and looking to crack a couple beers open and share stories from the slopes with locals and enjoy some exceptional live music, head to Wild Bill’s on Banff Avenue.  If you’re staying in Lake Louise (which is about 45 minutes from Banff proper) the majority of the après party scene can be found at hotel bars. But if you’re looking for a unique après-ski experience, old-fashioned in fact, definitely plan on a Brewster’s Winter Sleigh Tours, which is a great après-ski activity for just about everyone. After skiing at Sunshine (which is closest to town) you’ll want to head to the Mad Trapper’s Saloon for a couple draft beers and hearty pub food. It’ll hit the spot after a full day on the slopes.

Banff Bars and Night Clubs

If you’re looking for an after dinner place to enjoy a cocktail, beer or a game or two of pool before you hit the hay, Banff bars offer plenty of options. For locally made craft beers head to Banff Ave. Brewing Company in the Clocktower Mall. If billiards sound up your alley, head to The Rose and Crown or the Buffalo Padlock. If you’re looking for local live music you have several options, but Wild Bills is probably your best bet.
 Have dancing fever? Aurora Nightclub and Lounge features international electronic and house DJs and offers party-goers a huge, two-story dance floor.  Head to the Dancing Sasquatch on Banff Avenue. This new Banff night club has a rustic, cabin décor, is open seven days a week—for your dancing enjoying—and features local and nationally-recognized DJs. On Caribou Street, you’ll find the Hoodoo Lounge, albeit a smaller club than Sasquatch, is an ideal late night place for relaxing. But the party does and will get going on the dance floor.

To learn more about Banff nightlife call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

Banff Beginner Skiing

About 22 percent of all three Banff ski resorts terrain is rated green, so intermediate skiers on a Banff Lake Louise ski vacation are guaranteed plenty of options. Lake Louise, specifically, has a bit more beginner terrain than its sister resorts and is generally renowned as the best choice for beginners and families. However, the other two resorts—Mt. Norquay and Sunshine Village—also have plenty of redeeming qualities making them a great option, too. For example, Mt. Norquay is considered a “locals” mountain and is the smallest, with only 77 acres of skiing, and closest to the town of Banff, so if you’re looking for laidback trails look no further Mt. Norquay. Alternatively, Sunshine has an ideal beginner area in the below tree line saddle between Lookout Mountain and Goat’s Eye Mountain.

Banff Beginner Terrain

If convenience is high on your list, then beginners will be spending the majority of their time at Mt. Norquay. First time skiers will like the easy access of the Sundance surface lift (magic carpet) which is located just steps from the base village lodge. Once you’ve acquired the skills to wedge turn and stop, the Cascade chairlft, which is right next to the Sundance lift, offers comfortable progression to longer, slightly steeper green slopes below the lift. And when you’re ready there are more meandering trails to skier’s right off the chairlift. 

If Norquay seems a little small for your liking, then Lake Louise will impress. The base area offers a small lift and some surface area lifts ideal for first timers. And when you’re ready to explore more of the mountain the Glacier Express Quad accesses a lovely meandering green trail, which drops you back off at the base. One of the best aspects of Mt. Norquay beginner terrain is that it’s literally all over the resort’s expansive 4200 acres.  Beginners can enjoy the upper front side of the resort via Grizzly Express Gondola, which accesses an incredibly long and enjoyable green run. Beginners looking to explore even more have two green runs which access the back side Powder Bowls, and allow for epic, wide-open views. And if that’s not enough beginner skiers can also enjoy Mt. Norquay’s Larch area from the top of Larch Express Quad.

To learn more about Banff Beginner Skiing call, or chat with, one of Ski.com’s knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists.

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