In early March 2018, I travelled to Canada to test the best of winter in Banff and Jasper national parks on an Alberta Rockies Ski Safari. Both on and off the slopes, I found a lot of fun things to try.
On the Slopes
Fresh Tracks at Sunshine Mountain Lodge
Ski Sunshine Village before everyone else arriving from Banff! Based right at the top of the gondola, Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a great place to stay and provides early access to a number of lifts first thing in the morning.
Hire a guide in Mt Norquay
It’s bigger than it looks! A guide will help you get the very best of this locals’ hill with a good mix of terrain and plenty of links and crisscrossing slopes. Our guide, Gord, was awesome and told lots of cool stories, like when he was chased down a slope by a bear - out of season, don’t worry!
Tree skiing in Lake Louise
Of the three resorts on the Tri-Area Pass, Lake Louise was my favourite, with expansive terrain and fantastic backcountry. There’s ample tree skiing (which I love) and the family-owned resort puts a high emphasis on service, with all their staff going above and beyond when looking after guests.
Tres Hombres in Jasper’s Marmot Basin
We were among the first to ski Marmot Basin's new off-piste bowl. Steep and wide, the area was fun with many different lines to choose from - and only a short hike in! Be careful on the run out though, it’s a tad narrow...
Off the Slopes
The Banff Gondola is a very cool, old-school lift up to a restaurant, viewpoint and interactive museum. There is even a weekend stargazing expert, a unique opportunity to see the beauty of the night sky with very little light pollution.
The views on the way up and at the top of Banff National Park are spectacular. I would definitely suggest going up just before sunset so you get the views in daylight and come down in the dark. Blankets are even provided for the gondola ride in case you get cold.
Banff Hot Springs
Book a Tri-Area Pass for five days or more and you get a free ticket to Banff Hot Springs! They are super easy to get to, on the same bus as the Banff Gondola, and well worth a visit - is there anything better after a day's skiing than soaking in a hot spring surrounded by snow-capped mountains and crisp alpine air?
Johnston Canyon Icewalk
The Icewalk is a series of suspended catwalks built on to the canyon walls. The scenery was beautiful, starting off in the trees before the canyon rises up around you. You can do the walk without a guide, but it was much more interesting with one as they have a lot of information to impart, plus you get ice cleats which make the walk safer and easier.
The Icefields Parkway
The drive to Jasper from Banff takes you along the Icefields Parkway, one of the most beautiful roads anywhere, winter or summer. It’s well worth stopping a few times to explore the frozen lakes and even watch ice climbers on the journey!
Ice Canyon Walk in Jasper
This walk takes you down in the canyon onto the frozen ice itself. You’ll reach some amazing frozen waterfalls and can even go behind some of them.
Standing 600 feet above downtown Calgary, this iconic tower has 360-degree views over Calgary and beyond and a revolving restaurant and bar. It’s definitely best to go at sunset so you can see the city change from day to night. Just amazing. A little tip - if you’re scared of heights don’t stay too long. It’s shaped like a lollipop, heavy on top, so sways a little in the wind!
Experience The Alberta Rockies Yourself
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