Banff Resort Guide
Top 10 reasons to visit Banff:
- Value for money - Winter is low season here so the accommodation is incredibly affordable. Plus with excellent flight sales and charter flight options it is consistently one of the cheapest resorts in North America.
- Snow - With an average of 30 ft of the dry, fluffy stuff, Banff is a sure bet for guaranteed snow starting in November and lasting long into May.
- Terrain - There are over 7,700 acres of winter’s playground to enjoy with everything from excellent beginner areas to chutes and glades that will have your heart in your mouth, not to mention some world-renowned terrain parks.
- Off the slopes - Banff town offers a huge amount besides skiing from ice-climbing to hot springs to shopping. Perfect for groups with non-skiers.
- National Park - Banff National Park offers some of the most stunning scenery in North America plus the opportunity to see its abundant wildlife.
- Three resorts - The lift pass covers three unique ski areas meaning that you can have a totally different adventure for every day of your trip.
- Easy travel - Calgary is a direct flight from London airports and Banff is an easy 90 minute transfer from the airport.
- Nightlife - The bars, pubs and clubs of Banff town go totally against the belief that there is no nightlife in North American ski resorts!
- Ski Safaris - Banff is the gateway to some of the best powder skiing in Canada and can be combined with a whole host of incredible resorts for the ski trip of a lifetime.
- Service - The Canadians are friendly, welcoming and relaxed. They love having the opportunity to show off their resort and will do everything possible to make your holiday the best yet.
Mountain orientation tours - a good way to get to know the mountain, these complimentary tours (approx. 1½ hours) are for intermediate to expert skiers and run daily. Head to Guest Services at each resort for timings.
Take a lesson - Simply put, nothing can improve your ski or snowboard vacation the way a lesson can. It is like having a backstage pass to Banff - not only will you improve your technique but it is also your ticket to the favourite learning grounds on the mountains including some of the best kept secrets. New to powder? Consider taking a powder lesson as it will open up a whole new world of fun.
Expert skiers - there is so much awesome terrain spread over the three mountains. One of our favorites has to be Delirium Dive at Sunshine Mountain. You will need a shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver to get through the gate at the top but the rewards are totally worth it. If you are at Lake Louise then Eagle Ridge on the back-side of the mountain has some of the best steeps, chutes and powder stashes in the Rockies. If a day at Mount Norquay beckons then go with well-tuned skis as you will find some super-fast steep groomed runs, plus awesome views of Banff town.
Chat - people talk on lifts here! It’s not the Tube. The locals are friendly, welcoming and more than happy to point you to the best runs or powder stashes.
Weather & Conditions
Snowphone - this great service gives you regular updates on snow conditions and weather. Dial 403 760-7704 for Mount Norquay. 403 244-6665 for Lake Louise and 403 762 6570 for Sunshine Village.
Don’t queue on a powder day! - Don’t wait for ski patrol to signal the all clear on the alpine areas at the top. There is plenty of powder to be had lower down! Snow accumulates well in the trees, so venture off-piste to find the best powder.
Stay low - if the visibility is poor then Mount Norquay has an abundance of great tree lined runs and is a little more protected from the elements. At Lake Louise utilize the sheltered pistes and powder filled tree runs under the Gondola. At Sunshine Village, Goats Eye has some of the best tree skiing in Canada.
Clear day? - You will be hard pushed to find a more spectacular view than from the Top of the World 6 pack express chair. The views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains take your breath away. Why not also head to Mount Norquay for a view of Banff town at night! Night skiing is available and one session is free with the Tri Area lift pass. Night skiing in powder is an experience you will never forget.
Lake Louise Mountain
Famous for its early season World Cup Downhill, Lake Louise is the third largest ski area in Canada and has a great variety of gladed terrain suitable for all levels on the front side and chutes in the back bowls.
Top runs (weather and conditions permitting)
Intermediate - Home Run followed by Grizzly Gully
Advanced - Flight Chutes, Overshoot
Expert - Eagle Ridge, Paradise Bowl & The Ultimate Steeps
Sunshine Village is probably where you will spend most of your time. It has three mountains that offer everything from easy beginner slopes to some of the most challenging runs in North America - and lots of snow!
Top runs (weather and conditions permitting)
Intermediate - Sunshine Coast, Tincan Alley, World Cup Downhill
Advanced - Goats Eye, Star-Trek, Bushwackers
Expert - Delirium Dive, Outer Limits, The Wild West, Saddledome, Hell’s Kitchen
Regarded affectionately by the locals, Mt Norquay is a small ski area with one mountain and just 31 runs. It is however perfect for the first day to get the legs moving again or as a bad weather option thanks to its tree lined slopes. It also has lovely views back out over Banff.
Top runs (weather and conditions permitting)
Intermediate - Abracadabra, Knight Flight
Advanced - Norquay Gulley, Norquay Meadows
Expert - Gun Run, Sun Chutes, Memorial Bowl
Banff’s locals rave about the nightlife and the array of unique après ski experiences. From live entertainment, to cosy pubs, upbeat Martini lounges, western saloons and modern nightclubs, the town of Banff offers big city amenities in a friendly mountain setting. When the fresh mountain air sharpens the appetite, more than 100 bistros, pubs and fine restaurants will ignite your senses offering a range of ethnicity and fare to satisfy any palate. On Banff’s bustling main avenue, virtually every language from German and Japanese to French and Spanish can be heard. Yet only minutes away from all the action, it is possible to lose yourself in the tranquillity of the forest along the banks of the Bow River.
Romantic and relaxing, the pace in Lake Louise attracts people who want to savour the finer things in life; a good book in front of a fireplace, the stillness of the outdoors, or a quiet walk after dinner. The surrounding mountain peaks and the sight of grazing wildlife roaming the streets remind you that you are standing inside Canada’s most famous National Park and a United Nations World Heritage Site.
Eating and Drinking
With over 125 restaurants, lounges and pubs, there is something for every taste and budget. Visit dininginbanff.com/ for menus and prices, below are some of the highlights...
- Maple Leaf Grille - from Alberta beef and game to seafood. It’s all great!
- Evergreen - true Canadian fine dining in the Delta Banff Royal Canadian Lodge.
- Bison Mountain Bistro - Rocky Mountain comfort food utilizing regional ingredients.
Best for Breakfast
- Melissa’s - the best Eggs Benedict in town. Breakfast served until 4pm.
- Bruno’s - was voted #1 by Ski Magazine. Breakfast served until 5pm
- Jack Pine - excellent breakfast in this cosy, quiet little restaurant.
- Coyotes - very popular - excellent food & service.
- Rose & Crown - large traditional pub with lively music nightly.
- The Buffalo Paddock - a local secret!
- Saltlik - very eclectic atmosphere. Great for steaks with an extensive wine list.
- Elk & Oarsman - nice casual sportsman atmosphere with fireplace and lots of beer.
- Magpie & Stump - visit Hunty, Julien or Stu at the bar for your perfect drink. Excellent Mexican food.
- Muk a Muk - cosy lounge with fireplace. It is possible to ski right to it from Ski Norquay.
- St. James’s Gate - 24 different beers on tap form all over the world.
- Tommy’s - Banff’s neighbourhood pub. Casual with great comfort food.
- Hoodoo Lounge - funky lounge and dance bar.
- The Aurora Night Club - Banff’s ultimate night club. Where all the action is.
Make sure you try these
- The Grizzly House - alligator, buffalo, elk, shark… a very unique place for fondue.
- Fuze Fine Dining - from seafood to rack of lamb. Great ambience.
- Café Soliel - great Mediterranean entrées at this cosy and intimate restaurant.
- Bumper’s Beef House - the best prime rib. If you haven’t been to Bumper’s, you haven’t been to Banff.
- Evelyn’s - locally owned. Great coffees and fresh baked sandwiches and treats.
- Nourish - excellent, healthy vegetarian fare.
- Giorgio’s - hearty, fresh, home-made pasta.
Spas and Hot Springs
Banff Upper Hot Springs - All the amenities of a modern facility are featured in this splendid, historic spa and bathhouse against a backdrop of Banff's spectacular alpine scenery. You will luxuriate in the comfort of soothing hot springs where travelers have come to "take the waters" for more than a century. Banff’s premier attraction features an outdoor source fed pool, children’s area, gift shop, indoor and outdoor cafeteria, spacious change rooms, day spa, and are open year round.
Willow Stream - Located in the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, the Willow Stream brings to life the unique healing powers of the alpine air, the sacred waters and mountain magic. Drawing energy from the mountains, the quiet sanctuary helps balance the rhythms of your body. Reminiscent of the hot springs that beckoned travellers over 100 years ago, the pulsating waterfalls and the mineral pool in the heart of the spa rejuvenate tired muscles and soothe weary senses.
Red Earth Spa - Located within the Banff Caribou Lodge, this new facility provides an experience that inspires, featuring regenerating baths, Vichy hydro wet shower unit as well as a wide variety of massage treatments. Other services include manicures, pedicures, facials and waxing.
Banff and Lake Louise offer many exciting adventures beyond skiing or snowboarding, and many activities are offered in the evenings:
- Snowmobile tours
- Ice fishing
- Sightseeing Gondola
- Hot Springs
- Banff and Lake Louise area tours
- Sleigh Rides
- Ice skating
- Dog Sled tours
- Nature hikes
- Ice climbing
- Art galleries