Banff and Lake Louise are known for their ski resorts, but there’s a whole lot more to discover. From five-star restaurants to scenic snowshoe trails, here’s how to make the most of your trip to Banff National Park.
Picture your ideal winter getaway. Are you bundled in a cozy parka, strolling down the snow-dusted streets of an idyllic resort town? Maybe you’re skiing from dawn until dusk, taking breaks to unwind in a soothing natural hot spring or enjoy an epic après with friends and family.
If this sounds like perfection, it’s time to book your complete winter holiday with SkiBig3. Not only will you experience skiing at three unique resorts, but you can find your ideal accommodations and snag some discounts on all sorts of extraordinary activities throughout the welcoming communities nestled inside Banff National Park.
Boasting the longest non-glacial ski season in Canada (that’s seven whole months from early November to late May), Banff Sunshine offers 3,300 acres of award-winning skiable terrain 15 minutes from the cozy-yet-cosmopolitan town of Banff — think exceptional restaurants and shopping, plus that famous Canadian hospitality everywhere you go. Don’t stop at just one ski resort — a SkiBig3 Lift Ticket is valid at all three including Mt Norquay and Lake Louise. Included with your lift ticket are complimentary ski shuttles that regularly travel between the hotels around Banff to all three ski resorts.
A favourite among locals, Mt. Norquay is a family-friendly resort with options for athletes of all abilities. It’s great if you want to practice your downhill skills, but what makes it truly special is the fully lit terrain that allows for all sorts of after-dark activities. Night tubing and night skiing are a must while you’re here, and you can access free tubing with your SkiBig3 lift ticket.
Forty minutes from the town of Banff, near the clear blue body of frozen water that shares its name, lies Lake Louise Ski Resort. With 4,200 acres of versatile terrain spread across four mountain faces, Lake Louise is one of the largest resorts in North America. What sets this resort apart from the rest is the quiet hamlet that it’s located just five minutes away from. With fewer visitors and manmade attractions than Banff, the community of Lake Louise focuses on natural beauty and all that it inspires.
Acting as the gateways to these three exceptional resorts are two uniquely Canadian communities: the town of Banff and village of Lake Louise. Both offer travellers a variety of dining, shopping and après-ski amenities, with Banff being the larger of the two. When deciding where to stay on your ski getaway, consider whether you prefer the more serene, laid-back atmosphere of the village of Lake Louise (perfect for those who want to cozy up in the heart of the Canadian Rockies with a good book) or the vibrant, ski town vibes of the town of Banff. No matter which you choose, you’ll be a short drive away from the lifts at all three resorts.
If a traditional ski lodge is what you seek, try the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa, just minutes from the shops, bars and restaurants in downtown Banff. Some travellers crave an authentic boutique hotel experience, and the Juniper Hotel is exactly that. Spot white elk, coyotes and deer as they wander past the property, and be sure to take advantage of the extensive brunch menu available at the hotel bistro.
When it comes to where you rest your ski-weary bones, there’s nothing quite like the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This hotel is a UNESCO world heritage site that boasts unparalleled views of Lake Louise as well as stand-out dining options and a luxury spa. Need more options for lodging? From castles to condos, your hotel can easily be packaged with your lift tickets and booked through SkiBig3.
A long day of skiing necessitates an even longer soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs, where the bathhouse has been perfectly restored to resemble the original 1932 building. While you’re there, pick up a retro swimsuit to really get into the spirit. Insider tip: if you purchase a SkiBig3 lift ticket for three or more days, access to the Upper Hot Springs is free.
Give your skis a break and strap on a pair of snowshoes for a walk around Marble Canyon. Keep an eye out for snowshoe hare, moose and wolf tracks! Or put your camera down for a few minutes and try skating on Lake Louise. Want to escape the crowds? You can also venture out to the more secluded Mirror or Agnes Lakes tucked behind Lake Louise, where you’re sure to have a peaceful moment away from the hustle and bustle of the main trails.
Before you hit the slopes, though, you need to power up. For breakfast (or lunch, or dinner), there’s no better spot than Coyotes Southwestern Grill in Banff, where locals and visitors alike flock for favourites like the stuffed French toast (available in both savoury and sweet options). If you’re skiing at Mt. Norquay, there’s the Cliffhouse Bistro, perfect for a mid-day break. Built in the 1950s, it offers a vintage feel coupled with delicious soups, chilli and drinks to warm your toes. Accessible only by riding the North American sightseeing chairlift, the views from this chic bistro are definitely worth the trip. And when it comes to Lake Louise eats, nothing beats the historic Station Restaurant, which serves up contemporary dishes inside a heritage railway station.
Banff National Park, with its winter sports, endless dining options and tempting spas and hot springs, is an idyllic winter destination. The warmth of the town of Banff and hamlet of Lake Louise, coupled with the stunning rocky mountain scenery, are what make this area an unforgettable location for a snow-filled getaway. Plus, if you purchase an Ikon Pass or Mountain Collective Pass, you’ll get unlimited access to everything that the area has to offer at a discounted price. Take advantage of all the deals when you book through SkiBig3 and you’ll be glad you planned ahead.