November 19, 1995

Alberta Canadian Rockies Offer Skiers A Lot Of Powder, Incredible Scenery And An Abundance Of Wildlife

Larry W. Earl Correspondent
 

Alberta’s ski resorts are nestled within the Canadian Rocky Mountains, where they catch lots of snow each winter.

Some hills were already offering limited operations earlier this month, and all will be open for full service by early December.

The Canadian Rockies are home to a half-dozen ski resorts, several of which are located in Banff National Park.

Skiing at Alberta’s snow playgrounds is a noteworthy experience for several reasons. The typical resort gets up to 30 feet of soft, dry powder, and the current currency exchange rate makes lodging and ski packages a bargain.

One bonus of skiing at Alberta’s ski resorts is seeing lots of wildlife along roadways as you drive. Elk, deer and mountain sheep are the most frequently seen animals.

Most lodging facilities near resorts offer lift and lodging packages and provide free shuttle service to the mountains.

Visitors to the Banff-Lake Louise region often select a lodging and ski package that offers a day of skiing at Banff Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. These three resorts use the same locking system on their ski racks, so skiers need use only one lock.

Here is a brief review of five ski resorts in southwest Alberta. The listed prices are in approximate U.S. dollars and include the Canadian Goods and Services tax.

Ski Nakiska

Located on Mount Allen near Kananaskis Village, this mid-sized, family-oriented ski area was originally designed for the 1988 Winter Olympics. The slopes were laid out by a computer to maximize the potential for easy lift access from all runs.

Eight-five per cent of the mountain is covered by snowmaking. The mountain has 250 skiable acres and a good fall line. There is a good mixture of powder chutes and gladed terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers and some wide, sweeping runs for beginner and intermediate cruising. There is a half-pipe for snowboarders.

Kananaskis Village is one-half mile from the ski hill and offers three choices of lodgings, several restaurants and retail shops. Guest services include sleigh rides, nordic trails, helicopter sightseeing and an indoor fitness center.

Information: Geographic location: Kananaskis Village, 15 miles south of Canmore. Tentative opening date: Dec. 2.

Lift tickets: Full-day rates are $26 for adults ($22 for half days) and $22 for youths 13-17 and students up to age 25 with ID ($19 for half days). A full-day ticket for a child (6-12) is $12 ($9 for half days). Seniors (65 and older) pay $19 for a full-day ticket and $15 for a half-day ticket. Disabled skiers receive full-day tickets for $19. Children 5 and under ski free.

Day care: Day care is available for children ages 19 months to 6 years.

Ski instruction: Lessons are available for skiers of all ability levels and ages. Daily workshops are available for ages 13 and up.

Nordic skiing: There are many miles of groomed and ungroomed cross-country ski trails in the Kananaskis Village area.

Snow line: (403) 235-9191.

Mountain office: (403) 591-7777.

Tourism information: Kananaskis Country, (403) 297-3362; Banff Information Center, (403) 762-1550.

Lake Louise Ski Area

The ski area is spread out over two mountains and four mountain faces. The 4,000 skiable acres make it the largest ski area in Canada.

I would recommend first-time visitors take advantage of the resort’s “Ski Friends” program to learn your way around the mountain runs and lift system. Three tours are offered each day.

While the front side (south face) of the mountain can appear crowded on busy weekends, the lifts quickly move skiers to the back bowls and Larch area, where the lift lines are short and the slopes are uncrowded. Whitehorn Lodge and Temple Lodge let you remain on the mountain throughout the day, so you don’t need to return to the Whiskyjack Lodge at base until closing.

Snowboarders can enjoy a snow park with a half-pipe. The Back Bowl area is popular with snowboarders because of its terrain features.

The mountain will host four women’s World Cup races this season. The slalom and giant slalom will be held on Nov. 25-26, and the downhill and super G event will be held on Dec. 2-3.

Information: Geographic location: Banff National Park, 30 miles northwest of Banff. Opening date: already open.

Lift tickets: Full-day tickets for adults are $32. Youths (13-17), students (17-25 with ID) and seniors (65 and older) are $27.

The half-day rate for adults is $27. Youths, students and seniors pay $24; children cost $12.

Day care: Day care is available for children 18 days to 6 years old. Children 18 days to 18 months old require prior reservations.

Ski instruction: Ski instruction is readily available for all abilities, with group or private lessons. Beginners will feel at ease on the wide, easy slopes.

Nordic skiing: There are about 50 kilometers of free groomed nordic ski trails at Lake Louise.

Snow line: (403) 244-6665.

Mountain office: (403) 522-3555.

Central reservations: (800) 258-7669.

Tourism information: Lake Louise Visitor Information Center, (403) 522-3833.

Banff Mount Norquay

Mount Norquay is the oldest ski area in the park and just minutes from downtown Banff. Skiers are attracted by its intermediate and advance ski terrain. Mystic Ridge is mostly intermediate terrain, serviced by two quads. The area was added to Norquay for the 1989-90 season, and it continues to be “discovered” by skiers who have not visited the mountain in recent years.

The ski area has a snowpark with a half-pipe for snowboarders.

There is no on-mountain lodging. A large selection of accommodations is available in Banff.

Information: Geographic location: Banff National Park, 10 minutes from downtown Banff. Tentative opening date: Dec. 1.

Lift tickets: Full-day lift tickets for adults (ages 18-54) are $24. Youths (13-17), students with ID and seniors (55 and older) are $21. Children 12 and under are $9. Disabled skiers get the same rates as seniors.

Half-day tickets are available. The morning session (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.) ticket is $21 for an adult, $17 for a youth, student or senior, and $11 for a child. The afternoon session (12-4 p.m.) ticket is $19 for an adult, $15 for a youth, student or senior, and $11 for a child.

A Flex-Time 2-hour ticket is $14 for an adult, $12 for a youth, student or senior, and $8 for a child. The special ticket is only available Monday through Friday.

The resort is the only area in southern Alberta offering night skiing, available on on Wednesday evenings. Six runs are lighted and accessed by two lifts. Tickets are $12 for adults, youths, students, and seniors and $8 for children. A Wednesday day lift ticket allows the holder to ski until closing. Night skiing will be available nightly during Christmas week, Dec. 26-30.

Day care: The Kids’ Place Daycare will take children ages 19 months to 6 years. Reservations are recommended. Full-day child care is $16; $21 with ski lesson. Packages are available that can include lunch, lessons and rental equipment for about $33.

Ski instruction: Lessons are available for all ages and skiing ability, including snowboarders.

Nordic skiing: none.

Snow line, mountain office: (403) 762-4421.

Tourism information: Banff Information Center, (403) 762-1550.

Fortress Mountain

The mountain is noted as a family, intermediate-level ski hill. It is the training site for Canadian free-style teams. The public will have access to free-style, ballet and aerial sites this season.

Snowboarders will find several natural half-pipe areas on the mountain.

Information: Geographic location: Kananaskis Country, 21 miles south of Canmore. Tentative opening date: already open.

Lift tickets: Full-day lift tickets for adults are $22 ($17 for half days). Youths (ages 13-17) and students with ID are $19 ($15 for half days), children (6-12) are $9 for full or half days, and seniors (ages 65 and older) are $15 ($12 for half days). Children 5 and under ski free.

Day care: Day care services are available for children ages 6 months to 6 years.

Ski instruction: Lessons are available for all ages and skiing ability, including snowboarders.

Nordic skiing: none.

Snow line: (403) 245-4909.

Mountain office: (403) 591-7108.

Tourism information: Kananaskis Country, (403) 297-3362; Banff Information Center, (403) 762-1550.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: GOOD DEALS Lake Louise A three-night/three-day Mini Ski Week costs $144 per person, based on double occupancy. The Village of Lake Louise accommodations are less than 2 miles from the ski area. The promotional package can be extended. The package includes the option to ski at Sunshine Village and Banff Mount Norquay. Call (800) 258-7669.

This sidebar appeared with the story: GOOD DEALS Lake Louise A three-night/three-day Mini Ski Week costs $144 per person, based on double occupancy. The Village of Lake Louise accommodations are less than 2 miles from the ski area. The promotional package can be extended. The package includes the option to ski at Sunshine Village and Banff Mount Norquay. Call (800) 258-7669.


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