Alberta holds some of the most impressive landscape in Canada. On the spine of the Canadian Rockies, several ski resorts lure skiers from around the globe for the fine powder skiing, world-class lodging, and European-style dining.
The major alpine ski resorts in Alberta are located in over 8,000 square miles of Rocky Mountain preserves and parks. This region generally receives 400 inches of legendary powder snow. And when the snow isn’t falling, the sun shines on charming mountain villages like Banff and Lake Louise.
Lake Louise is the largest ski area in Canada, and a favorite with world travelers. The resort covers 11 square miles spread over four mountain faces. Each direction offers fresh, photogenic backdrops.
With so much to ski, it’s best to take a free tour with the Ski Friends of Lake Louise. Ski Friends can show visitors the best of the 50 runs.
Lake Louise is well known for the annual World Cup races. This year, the Women’s World Cup Downhill and Super G will be contested Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Louise also offers one of the country’s largest snowboard parks near the Summit platter lift.
Several lodging facilities are available locally in the village of Lake Louise, or in nearby Banff. One of the most splendid settings in North America is the Chateau Lake Louise. Surrounded by rugged wilderness, the elegant Chateau gives a vista of jagged, glaciated peaks, a frozen turquoise lake and endless forests.
The Lake Louise/Banff area offers a variety of about 100 different dining experiences, 50 options for lodging, free ski shuttle buses, and interchangeable lift passes for three ski areas (Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mystic Ridge/ Norquay).
Location: From Spokane 356 miles.
Ticket: Adult $45 Canadian (about $33.75 U.S.); $37 ($27.75 U.S.) for youth, student and senior; $15 ($11.25) age 6-12; and under 6, free.
Day care: 18 months and up. Call for rates.
Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); private $65 ($48.75 U.S.) per hour.
Nordic: Nearly 100 km of track-set trails; free.
Phone: (403) 522-3555. Reservations: (800) 258-7669.
Snow phone: (403) 244-6665.
Sunshine Village provides seven months of skiing - 195 days a year. Located within the boundary of Banff National Park and perched atop the continental divide, Sunshine averages 30 feet of snowfall a year.
Sunshine’s most recent addition - the Continental Divide high-speed quad - joins the the Goat’s Eye Express and the Angel Express high-speed quads for above-the-world skiing.
Last season Sunshine unveiled the Goat’s Eye Mountain with a high-speed quad to the top. Goat’s Eye adds more difficult terrain to the primarily intermediate area where the longest run is five miles.
Snowboarders flock to Sunshine’s Kokanee Snowboard Park. Sunshine opened Nov. 8. Location: 7 miles from Banff.
Ticket: Adult $45 Canadian ($33.75); student/senior $37 ($27.75 U.S.); child 6-12 $15 ($11.25 U.S.); five and under free.
Day care: 19 months to 6 years; half-day $15 ($11.25 U.S.); day $23 ($17.25 U.S.).
Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); private $65 ($48.25 U.S.) per hour.
Nordic: back country.
Phone: (403) 762-6500.
Reservations: (800) 661-1676.
Snow phone: (403) 277-7669.
Internet: http://www.ualberta.co/bbolt/ skican/sunsh/sunsh.html
Banff Mount Norquay
A third ski area within the greater Banff area is the oldest of the region. Mount Norquay’s first chair lift was installed in 1948. Today, modern lifts take skiers into the newer Mystic Ridge area, which is 90 percent intermediate terrain.
The snowpark’s half-pipe draws snowboarders from throughout the region. Mount Norquay has its own “Pipe Dragon,” an attachment to the grooming machine to maintain the walls of the half-pipe. The area is open for night skiing only on Fridays. New this year is a winch cat to groom steeper pitches.
Location: 6 miles from Banff.
Tickets: Adult $33 Canadian ($24.75 U.S.); youth/student (13-21) and seniors (55+) $28 ($21 U.S.); Children (6-12) $14 ($10.50 U.S.); under 6 free.
Day care: 19 months to 6 years; $19 ($14.25 U.S.) full day or $10 ($7.50 U.S.) for 2.5 hours.
Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); Private $50 ($37.50 U.S.) per hour.
Nordic: Ungroomed, no charge.
Phone: (403) 762-4421.
Reservations: (403) 762-4421.
Snow phone: (403) 762-4421.
The very European-looking Nakiska was designed and constructed by the Government of Alberta, and is famous for hosting the Olympic Games.
Lifts reflect Olympic fame with names like Bronze, Silver, Gold and Olympic. The base area holds Olympic Square, where skiers find a variety of services.
Nakiska has snow-making coverage over 80 percent of the skiable terrain to complement the average annual snowfall of about 100 inches.
Location: 45 miles west of Calgary.
Tickets: Adult $35 Canadian ($26.25 U.S.); student/youth $30 ($22.50 U.S.); 6-12 $15 ($11.25 U.S.); 5 and under free.
Day care: 19 months to 6 years; $4 ($3 U.S.) per hour, 2 hour minimum.
Lessons: Group $19.80 ($14.85 U.S.); private $40 ($30 U.S.) per hour.
Nordic: Nearby in Kananaskis Park; call (403) 591-7555.
Phone: (403) 591-7777.
Reservations: (800) 258-7669.
Snow phone: (403) 229-3288.
Internet: http://www.softnc.com/ waveworks/guide.html
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Alberta deals The Sunshine Card at Sunshine Village costs $49.95 ($37.50 U.S.), and gets skiers their first day of skiing free. They then receive $15 ($11.25 U.S.) off on weekday lift tickets Monday to Thursday, and $10 ($7.50 U.S.) off weekend skiing Friday to Sunday. The card also gets skiers $10 ($7.50 U.S.) off skiing at Mount Norquay. Ski Louise for three days and stay for three nights at the Chateau Lake Louise for $302 ($226.50 U.S.) per person (plus 7 percent GST tax). The price is based on double occupancy. (800) 258-7669. At Canadian Pacific hotel Kannanaskis Lodge, for $147 ($110.25 U.S.), two people can ski Nakiska two days and stay two nights in the showplace of Kananaskis Village. Banff Mount Norquay offers a two-hour flex-time ticket good Mondays through Fridays for $18 ($13.50 U.S.). Skiers can up grade that ticket to a full-day lift ticket for $15 ($11.25 U.S.). Norquay also offers a morning half-day ticket for $27 ($20.25 U.S.) to ski from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.