The Ultimate Ski Trip to Banff Canada

Brandon
The Ultimate Ski Trip to Banff Canada
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BANFF: Proof that God exists and he skis here.

“Youre going skiing where?”

Banff is a riddle wrapped in an enigma for most Americans. Most have heard of it of those, almost everyone Ive spoken to has a relative who spent at least part of their honeymoon there. But when you mention Banff, the first question people ask is always the same, how do you even get there?

Its not easy, but boy is it worth it

How to get there:

Most (affordable) flights to Calgary (YYC) from the east coast connect in Chicago or Minneapolis, which bring their own winter travel dangers of delays and missed connections. There are a few, yet pricey, direct flights a week offered from Air Canada and Continental.

Once you make it to Calgary you can rent a car or take the Banff Airporter bus service and drive the insanely gorgeous 80 miles west to Banff National Park. Thats right Banff is located in a National park, and allow me to say, Canada is serious about their parks. The wildlife have their own bridges every few miles so that they can cross the highway.

The second major question you will get about Banff is Where do you ski there? You will notice that through a simple Google search the answer is not easy which is why the three major mountains have joined forces to create Ski Big 3, a consortium whose soul mission is to get you skiing as easily as possible. Let me tell you, the views are astounding at each. 360-degree peaks for what seems to be infinity.

1. Lake Louise Canadas Favorite Ski Resort

About a 40 minute drive from Banff, Lake Louise is aptly named for the lake and glacier the mountain surrounds. Some of the best skiing Ive encountered in my life the mountain boasts massive amounts of terrain including a backside bowl where it is possible to find untracked powder even on the busiest of days. One of Canadas only Snowboard-cross courses makes for an amazing test of skills in a slightly more regimented setting.

2. Sunshine Village Canadas Best Snow

Being situated on the east side of the continental divide has a major impact on Banffs snowfall. Averaging well over 360 inches a year, the snow is dry and light compared to Whistlers wet, heavy snow. That fact, combined with frigid temperatures, makes it so that the snow isnt melting and refreezing, so icy conditions are kept to a minimum. Sunshine is only 15 minutes from Banff.

3. Mount Norquay “Banff’s Family Ski Resort”

The smallest but steepest of the Big 3. Norquay fits a very specific niche among adventure seekers. Located the closest to the town of Banff, and thereby Calgary, it’s an easy mountain to get to and offers some challenging terrain. Work on your moguls and tricks in the park night skiing makes for another perfect draw for the locals.

The Town of Banff

Established in 1885, the town of Banff was primarily a mining town in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Its cross streets remind you of a Telluride of Aspen (without the designer stores).

Where to Stay:

Ski in/ski out is considered a novelty here. Banff skiing is hard-core and not to be bothered with such niceties. That is to say that the frill factor is still not 100% evident in the vast array of lodging opportunities.

Juniper Hotel

The Juniper has taken a chic spin on eco and sustainable lodging and utilizes 100% green electricity. With beautifully appointed and spacious rooms the Juniper is a perfect option to base yourself right outside of the town of Banff, as its just off the Trans-Canada highway and easy to access every mountain.

Fairmont Lake Louise:

Lobby to lift in 15 minutes flat

This is one of the most majestic hotels weve ever seen. Situated on the shore of Lake Louise, as if some great ocean liner from the past beached itself on the shores of an ancient glacier, the Fairmont simply has everything you could need. Countless restaurants and bars of every type, a vast indoor city designed to please. Just across the highway from Lake Louise ski resort, the hotel will deliver you and your gear in seamless and orchestrated precision.

Post Hotel:

Where do foreign leaders, celebrities and the royal families of the world (we hear Prince William and Kate Middelton are honeymooning here) stay? This Relais and Chateux accredited hotel was originally constructed in 1942. The Post House boasts a Temple Mountain spa with Roman style indoor pool and fitness center. The 4 star restaurant has won countless awards and been named the best restaurant in the Americas by the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List. Featuring a wine cellar with over 25,500 bottles of the planets finest wines, there is also a cigar and scotch room and fireside bar, perfect for winding down after a hard day on the mountain.

Where to Eat:

The Bison 211 Bear Street, Banff

Widely regarded by many locals as one of THE places to eat in Banff, the Bison features locally sourced ingredients from all over Alberta and British Columbia. The downstairs bar is much more relaxed, serving some insanely good flat bread pizzas and cocktails.

Saltlik 221 Bear Street, Banff

Alberta beef is king at this classic steakhouse. Right in the center of town, Saltlik caters to all palates and appetites. Amazing cocktails and a chic downstairs bar provide something for everyone.

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Its hard not to be awe-struck by the wide open spaces and endless peaks while driving along the Trans-Canada highway from Calgary to Banff. The drive is approx. 2 hours.

Dress warm, skiing the Canadian Rockies is not for the faint of heart.

Sunshine Village
Known for "Canada's Best Snow," they average over 360 inches/year.

Sunshine Village
With only one on-mountain ski in/ski out hotel, Sunshine provides action by day and relaxation by night.

Sunshine Village
With few lift lines and seemingly limitless terrain, you can make any part of the mountain yours and yorus alone.

Sunshine Village
360-degree views and blue skies, unlike anywhere else.

Sunshine Village
With 107 trails and 52 miles of runs, you need not ski the same route for days.

Sunshine Village
The peak elevation is 8954 feet, with a 3500 foot vertical.

Sunshine Village
Tree and creek skiing are two 'perfectly Canadian' experiences. Tree skiing is the perfect way to challenge yourself after a day of groomers.

Sunshine Village
Snowboarders ready to drop-in off piste.

Sunshine Village
A 'dual-sun' optical illustion cased by ice crystals in the air.

Sunshine Village
Apres ski isn't complete without a pitcher of Canadian Beer. Molson anyone?

Sunshine Village
Apres ski perfection...

Sunshine Village
Perfectly situated at the mid-mountain base. Mad Trapper's Saloon is the ultimate apres ski hang out. Great tunes...

Lake Louise
One of our fearless guides.

Lake Louise
Base elevation is 5400 feet. There are 8 lifts and 2 T-bars that take you up 3600 vertical feet.

Lake Louise
It's impossible to escape the views. The perfect place for a breather before hitting the powder.

Lake Louise
Looking up the backside bowls after plowing down nearly a 45-degree drop.

Lake Louise
Beginner terrain can be found at almost every point on the mountain.

Lake Louise
The mountain's namesake. Lake Louise Glacier in the distance.

Lake Louise
A friendly warning...

Lake Louise
Sandy Best, part man, part guide, all legend. For us, he is the mountain's unofficial mascot.

Lake Louise
No where to go but down. Once you try the back bowls you can never go back to groomed runs.

Lake Louise
A skilled powder-hound can find fresh snow on even the busiest day of the year in the back bowls.

Lake Louise
A pensive moment before the drop in on the back side.

Lake Louise
Temple Lodge on the back side is the perfect mid-day lunch break. The Prime rib burgers are to die for...

Lake Louise
The outdoor fire pit at the Temple Lodge

Lake Louise
A Boddingtons apres ski with Sandy Best and our amazing snowboarding guide Gareth.

Lake Louise
A word to the wise: Ski directly into the Kokanee Kabin at the base for a slope to suds apres ski drink.

Lake Louise
His last name says it all...Sandy Best, ladies and gentlemen.

Lake Louise
The Fairmont is set against this gorgeous backdrop. Ice skating on the lake at dusk.

Lake Louise
Take a hike along the glacier with a guide. The Fairmont can arrange the perfect day for you.

Lake Louise
The Post Hotel is rumored to be a potential honeymoon destination for Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Lake Louise
The dining at The Post Hotel is legendary. Definitely a highlist of the trip. A lobster appetizer (pictured)

Lake Louise
The Post Hotel's dining room is Relais and Chateaux accredited.

Lake Louise
Save room for dessert. The Post Hotel's chocolate and whipped cream is legendary.

Lake Louise
25,000 of the world's finest bottles of wine in the Post Hotel's wine cellar.

Mt. Norquay
The view of the town of Banff from the peak of Mt. Norquay. Norquay is the closest mountain to town.

Lake Louise
No words can describe the beauty of the backside bowls.

The Bison Restaurant & Terrace
So popular that when talking to the locals, you'd think this was the only game in town. The food is classic and perfect after a long day on the hill. The downstairs bar is much more relaxed, serving some insanely good flat bread pizzas and cocktails.

The Fairmont Lake Louise
Big enough you could get lost in its hallways, yet amenities that make you feel like you own the place. This palatial hotel is a fresh remnant of a grand era long past.

The Juniper Hotel
With beautifully appointed and spacious rooms the Juniper is a perfect option to base yourself right outside of the town of Banff, as itÂ’s just off the Trans-Canada highway and easy to access every mountain. Not to mention they have one of the best breakfasts you can find, perfect to start the day.

Saltlik Resaturant

Saltlik Restaurant
Local Alberta beef is king at this classic steakhouse. Right in the center of town, they also have amazing cocktails. And a chic downstairs bar provide something for everyone.

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