Ski Alberta Enthusiasts From All Over The World Enjoy Resorts, Powder
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 their 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 opens in early November.
When the snow isn’t falling, the sun shines on charming mountain villages like Banff and Lake Louise. One of Banff’s most elegant and its only Four-Diamond-rated resort is the new Rimrock Resort Hotel and Rimrock Health Club located across the street from the famous Seltzer Hot Pool natural hot springs.
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 outstanding views. New this year is the expanded base lodge.
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 105 named runs, some of which are over five miles long!
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, and free ski shuttle buses.
Information: From Spokane 356 miles. Tickets: adult $45 (all prices Canadian); student (13-17) and senior (65+) $37; youth (6-12) $15; under 5 free. Day care: 19 months to 6 years; call (403) 522-3555 for rates. Lessons: group $25; private $65 per hour. Nordic: nearly 100k of track-set trails free. Phone: (403) 522-3555. Reservations: (800) 258-7669. Snow phone: (403) 244-6665. Internet: skibanfflakelouise.com.
Sunshine Village opened earlier this month with four new expert runs down the 9,200-foot massive Rocky Mountain, part of the Goat’s Eye Mountain area. Recent improvements at Sunshine total $9 million and include advanced and expert runs like Goatchicken, Goatsucker Glade, Wild Side and Farside.
Other improvements for Sunshine’s 70th anniversary season include renovations at the day lodge and the new Western Saloon.
Sun lovers bask in the seven months of skiing - 195 days a year. Located within the boundary of Banff National Park, Sunshine averages 30 feet of snowfall a year, and is situated on top the Continental Divide. Sunshine is now a three-mountain, 2,200-acre complex.
Information: 7 miles from Banff. Tickets: adult $46 (Canadian); student/senior $38; child (6-12) $15; 5 and under free. Day care: 19 months to 6 years; (403) 762-6563. Lessons: group $25; private $65 per hour. Nordic: back country. Phone: (403) 762-6500. Reservations: (800) 661-1676. Snow phone: (403) 277-7669. Internet: skibanff.com
Banff Mount Norquay
A third ski area within the greater Banff area is Mount Norquay, due to open Dec. 5. Barely 10 minutes from downtown Banff, Norquay has a great overlook of the town.
Norquay offers high-speed lifts to impeccably groomed runs. Intermediate favorites are runs in the Mystic Ridge area, which is 90 percent intermediate terrain.
The snowpark’s half-pipe draws snowboarders from the region to the terrain challenges. Mount Norquay has its own “Pipe Dragon,” an attachment to the grooming machine to maintain the walls of the half-pipe.
Information: 6 miles from Banff. Tickets: adult $33 (Canadian); youth/student (13-17) and senior (55+) $28; child (6-12) $14; under 6 free. Day care: 19 months to 6 years; (403) 762-4421. Lessons: group $25; private $50 per hour. Nordic: ungroomed, no charge. Phone: (403) 762-4421. Reservations: (403) 762-4421. Snow phone: (403) 762-4421. Internet: skibanfflakelouise.com
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Nakiska opens with 28 runs over the 250 acres. Anniversary celebrations run Feb. 13-15, and will include relighting the Olympic torch. The European-looking village at Nakiska was designed and constructed by the provincial government, and is famous for hosting the Olympic Games in 1988.
Lift names reflect that heritage, 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 for 85 percent of the skiable terrain to complement the average annual snowfall of about 100 inches.
Information: 55 miles southwest of Calgary. Tickets: adult $36 (Canadian); student/youth $29; child (6-12) $15; under 6 free. Day care: 19 months to 6 years; $5 per hour, 2 hour minimum. Lessons: group $25; private $40 per hour. Nordic: Nearby 40k free in Kananaskis Park; call (403) 591-7555. Phone: (403) 591-7777. Reservations: (800) 258-7669. Snow phone: (403) 229-3288. Internet: goski.com.