Each February, skiers pack their bags and head for the mountains of the American West with a long weekend on their minds. The groomers are cold and the prospect for powder is usually pretty good.
It’s Presidents Day, a time to celebrate our right to slide down mountains on two sticks (or one), most likely way too fast. But with this revered holiday comes holiday crowds that have the potential to be as burdensome as King George III himself.
So instead, why not exercise your right to travel to Canada and ski the mythic slopes of Banff – Lake Louise while our Canadian counterparts are stuck at work? Ikon Pass holders will find their seven days of skiing are well worth the journey as the three ski areas that surround Banff all have something to offer.
Banff By The Numbers:
- 3 ski areas
- 360” of average annual snowfall @SunshineVillage
- 2 Fairmont Hotels
- 7,748 acres of skiable terrain
- 70 on-mountain Grizzly Bears (they hibernate)
- 1 national park
- 11 unique craft beers courtesy of Banff Ave. Brewing
Getting To Banff:
Flying to Calgary is typically a cinch, as the Calgary International Airport (YYC) currently hosts some 83 direct flights to various destinations across North America. These include hubs such as Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles (just to name a few).
From the Calgary International Airport, visitors can get to Banff in approximately an hour and a half by shuttle or rental car. Adults not from Canada must have a valid passport on hand upon entering the country. Those traveling with children under the age of 15 have the option to use a birth certificate in place of a passport for those who qualify.
Thanks to an efficient customs system, getting the bags and getting on your way doesn’t take as long as the standard international trip. Once you’ve got your things together, enjoy a breathtaking drive up the Trans-Canada highway as you go from suburban Calgary into the majestic Canadian Rockies in less than forty minutes. Be careful, as this road can be subject to strong up-slope snowstorms, which can be hazardous for those not familiar with winter driving.
It’s hard to decide which is better in Banff: the skiing or the classic lodging options.
From the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to the Fairmont Banff Springs and the numerous affordable options in between, it’s hard to go wrong inside or outside of Banff proper. The town has long been a destination for everyone from movie stars to railway men and that one-of-a-kind mountain culture still exists today.
Top 3 Banff Lodging Accommodations:
Photo Credit: Fairmont Banff Springs
Photo Credit: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Photo Credit: Lake Louise Inn
The crown jewel of Banff’s SkiBig3, Lake Louise is the oldest and most renowned of the three ski areas. Founded in 1954, this classically constructed mountain resort caters to every ability. From downtown Banff, it’s a 40 minute drive to the base area, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Whether it’s the steeps under the Paradise Chair or the smooth groomers beneath old-growth Larch trees, Lake Louise hosts some of the best skiing in North America, all within sight of the Canadian Rockies’ most picturesque peaks. Nearby Mt Richardson, Mt Aberdeen, and Mt Victoria are all comparable to the anything in alps, both in the relief and stature.
While smaller in terms of skiable acreage than both Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, Mt. Norquay is the closest to the town of Banff and offers spectacular fall line skiing and world-class grooming. If conditions don’t warrant the long drive to Lake Louise, Norquay can be a great option to switch things up while staying close to town.
Find information on all three: SkiBig3
Last of the three, Sunshine Village is the snowfall king of Alberta. Averaging 360″ of light snow each ski season, this ski area is a powder mecca. Those looking for an adrenaline rush need only point their skis down Delirium Dive, whose slope averages 50 degrees, making it one of the steepest in-bounds runs in the world.
About The Town Of Banff:
Banff hosts a diverse nightlife and dining scene that is known far and wide for a good time. Spots like the classically charming Grizzly House to the new school, gondola-accessed Sky Bistro, diverse options for off-hill dining are everywhere. Those looking to relax will find nirvana just outside of town at the Banff Upper Hotspring.
“The water in the Banff Upper Hot Springs is heated geothermally, bubbling up to the surface from three kilometres (1.8 miles) [beneath] the earth’s crust. The water that reaches the surface has not seen daylight for hundreds of years.” – Banff Lake Louise
Those looking for some culture during their vacation to Banff should check out the event schedule at the Banff Center For Arts and Creativity, which hosts world-class musicians and entertainment throughout the winter months.
If you need help booking your President’s day vacation to Banff, or any ski vacation for that matter, contact one of our Mountain Travel Experts at 866-265-7490 or if you’re an Ikon Pass Holder, an Ikon Pass Concierge at 844-880-0140