A Information to Snowboarding Banff: An Inside Have a look at the SkiBig3 Resorts

Seeking to my proper, I see a ski patroller’s gloved hand reaching for a rope. A jolt of electrical energy shoots via my backbone because the rope drops. The recent, untouched strains in Boomerang Bowl are open for enterprise. My ski mates and I be part of the mad sprint for the recent snow that solely comes with a rope drop. The power is palpable as whoops and screams of pleasure fill the excessive alpine air. 

Moments later I’m floating via untouched Canadian powder that billows previous my knees and shoots previous my waist with every flip down the mountain. The clear blue skies are pierced by the jagged snowcapped peaks that encompass the Lake Louise Ski Resort. 

We cruise out of the bowl with big grins plastered throughout our faces after which head again to the raise to do it once more. It’s a type of waking dream moments that I skilled plenty of whereas snowboarding Banff Nationwide Park’s three resorts, dubbed the SkiBig3

The SkiBig3

Inside a pair hour’s drive of Calgary, Alberta, lie three world-class ski resorts: Mt. Norquay, Banff Sunshine, and Lake Louise. Every provides a unique form of terrain with unparalleled views of the huge mountains, glaciers, and lakes that fill the horizon so far as you’ll be able to see. 

Mixed, these three Canadian mountains provide greater than 7,700 acres of skiable terrain serviced by 29 lifts that feed into 362 runs of all ranges. We spent the week snowboarding all three of the resorts, exploring all the pieces from crisp groomers to steep chutes and powder-filled bowls. The toughest half was holding our eyes on the snowboarding and never getting distracted by the jaw-dropping views that Banff provides. 

The three resorts reside in Banff Nationwide Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. Individuals could have a tendency to consider Banff as a summer time vacation spot with its turquoise blue lakes and picturesque trails, however winter offers a panorama that could be a paradise for snowsport fans.

With out additional ado, right here’s a fast information to the SkiBig3.

1. Mt. Norquay

Mount Norquay
(Picture/David Younger)

If you wish to ski like an area, then Mt. Norquay is your spot. Positioned simply exterior of Banff, the excessive alpine mountain overlooks the city. Whereas it’s the smallest of the three resorts, it has served as a coaching spot for World Cup and Olympic athletes since opening in 1926.  

Don’t let its dimension idiot you: Norquay provides each newbie and superior terrain. Forty-four % of the mountain is black runs, together with the one night time snowboarding choice within the nationwide park. With a large tube park, it is a family-friendly ski space and is usually the place the locals study to ski or snowboard. 

I spent the morning ripping down some steep groomers and ingesting within the views of Mt. Rundle earlier than traversing over to the North American Elevate and snowboarding the delicate corn snow within the chute. I additionally examined my legs on Lone Pine, which is an extended mogul run with one lone pine tree in the course of the run. And when you’d like, you’ll be able to cap off the day with a pint and a chunk to eat on the equally named Lone Pine pub

Mount Norquay skiing
(Picture/David Younger)

Whereas Norquay shouldn’t be the most important ski space within the nationwide park, it provides all ranges of snowboarding only a few miles exterior of Banff. The historical past and views within the space are second to none.

Quick raise strains and lengthy ski runs make Mt. Norquay an awesome winter or spring ski vacation spot. 

2. Banff Sunshine

Banff Sunshine village
(Picture/David Younger)

Banff Sunshine is a few 15-minute drive from Banff and is serviced by a virtually 3-mile, eight-person gondola that transports skiers and snowboarders to the village space. The resort is made up of three main mountains — Goat’s Eye, Lookout, and Mt. Standish. The ski resort sits atop the Continental Divide and also you float between Alberta and British Columbia at occasions. 

The views from listed here are unreal. On a transparent day, you’ll be able to see Mt. Assiniboine, which stands at 11,870 ft and is dubbed the “Matterhorn of the Rockies.” A novel function of Banff Sunshine is areas like Delirium Dive the place individuals who have backcountry gear and coaching can entry an space often called a Freeride Zone.

After snowboarding just a few laps off of Lookout Mountain and making an attempt to get a glimpse of Assiniboine peeking via the clouds, we headed off towards Mt. Standish, which provides a panoramic view of Monarch Mountain at 9,528 ft. We skied down and dropped into the Virgin Chutes, which is a spicy little run that retains you in your toes.

Banff Sunshine village skiing
(Picture/David Younger)

Formally warmed up, it was time for Goat’s Eye Mountain for more difficult terrain. We skirted across the mountain towards the towering Eagles peaks that loomed giant in entrance of us. Across the Farside chute, we turned our skis downhill and reduce via the delicate snow. It appeared like a scene out of a Warren Miller movie, as we skied down the huge face right into a glade of bushes. Rumor has it which you can see Goat’s Eye runs from an airplane when flying into Calgary from Vancouver.

As a reward for our laborious turns, we retired to the historic Mad Trapper’s Public Home, inbuilt 1928, for some genuine poutine. 

3. Lake Louise 

Lake Louise
(Picture/David Younger)

Of the three resorts, Lake Louise Ski Resort is the biggest in Canada with greater than 4,000 acres. The resort overlooks Lake Louise and the famed Fairmont Chateau, which is a storybook view within the winter. 

The resort has lately added the brand new West Bowl with 420 acres accessible by the brand new Summit Chair. This raise grants entry to terrain off of the saddle of Whitethorn Mountain at 8,552 ft. Additionally for the 2022/2023 season, the Juniper Categorical Chair opened providing entry to simpler terrain for learners off of this high-speed quad.

With recent snow and the rope drop for the again bowls on this mountain, we spent our subsequent morning snowboarding recent powder laps in Boomerang Bowl and Paradise Bowl. 

After refueling at Kuma Yama, an in-lodge sushi bar that delivers a singular expertise with ramen bowls and sushi, we explored the remainder of the mountain, trying out the terrain off of the Juniper Categorical Chair and the Grizzly Categorical Gondola.  

The lower-angle terrain at Lake Louise is equally fulfilling, and there are ample tree and glade runs which you can dart out and in of to seek out little powder pockets holding you in your toes. 

Easy methods to Get There

In comparison with snowboarding in another nations, Canada is fairly straightforward to get to from the US. The closest airport to Banff is in Calgary, positioned within the province of Alberta. Flying from Denver took me simply over 2 hours, which is faster than driving to some ski resorts in Colorado on the I-70.

Whilst you can hire a automotive to drive the remaining hour or so to Banff, there are additionally a variety of shuttle buses that may take you straight from the airport to Banff and drop you off at your lodge. I rode the Brewster Categorical from Calgary to Banff every method, which was straightforward and freed me up from driving to benefit from the surroundings.

As soon as you’re on the town, the SkiBig3 has a free shuttle service that may take skiers and boarders to every resort and again to city day by day. 

Lodging in Banff

Banff Sunshine Adventure Hub
(Picture/David Younger)

After getting arrived, there are some nice lodging choices. Banff is the primary city within the nationwide park that gives each service you want, together with gear leases and retailers. 

There are inns all through Banff to select from. I stayed on the Banff Ptarmigan Inn. The ski shuttle picked me up every day trip entrance, and the lodge is centrally positioned in Banff. I used to be in a position to stroll wherever within the downtown space simply. The mountain lodge additionally has ski lockers, eating places, and a sizzling tub.

Canmore and Kananaskis additionally provide inns and lodging a bit additional away from the ski resorts. If you wish to keep on the mountain, Banff Sunshine provides the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Positioned within the ski space village, it’s the solely ski-in/ski-out lodge in Banff. 


Banff is aware of how one can après-ski in type. With breweries, distilleries, and a few world-class eating choices, there’s no lack of nightlife to take a look at in Banff.

3 Bears Brewery and Restaurant
(Picture/David Younger)

If good beer is your go-to after a ski day, take a look at 3 Bears Brewery and Restaurant, which provides beer and pizza. There’s additionally Banff Ave. Brewing Co., which is the unique brewery on the town. The brewery provides a pub, lodge, and taproom full of fine meals and beers. 

If a maple rye quaint is extra your pace, take a look at Park Distillery. The distillery within the coronary heart of Banff provides free excursions and paid tastings of its spirits, which embrace vodka, gin, and a maple rye. The distillery additionally has a powerful menu that pairs nicely with its drinks. 

Extra Than Simply Snowboarding

(Picture/David Younger)

If you wish to take a time off from snowboarding, there are many enjoyable actions to discover in Banff.

Snowshoeing is a enjoyable winter exercise that will get you out on a number of the space’s majestic snow-covered trails. I spent a day exploring the Lake Minnewanka space of the park with a information from Radventures.

Or discover frozen waterfalls on the Johnson Canyon Icewalk. The scenic stroll follows an elevated railed path via the canyon to a collection of partially frozen waterfalls. Think about becoming a member of Uncover Banff Tour on an evening stroll via the canyon for a particular expertise.  

If strolling even seems like an excessive amount of effort, then there’s the Banff Gondola that runs via the Canadian Rockies to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. The summit constructing has eating places, interactive displays, and a 360-degree view of Banff from the commentary deck. (You’ll be able to see close by peaks like Mt. Norquay and Mt. Bourgeau from right here.) The gondola additionally operates at night time with a Nightrise expertise.

No matter what you determine to do in Banff, the views alone are well worth the go to. The Canadian Rockies, whereas not as excessive because the U.S. and Colorado Rockies, nonetheless have dramatic and breathtaking views. 

SkiBig3 Mountain Stats

Mt. Norquay

  • Complete acreage: 190 acres
  • Annual common snowfall: 120″
  • Vertical drop: 1,650′
  • Base space elevation: 5,500′
  • Variety of lifts: 5

Banff Sunshine 

  • Complete acreage: 3,358 acres
  • Annual common snowfall: 364″
  • Vertical drop: 3,514′
  • Base space elevation: 5,440′
  • Variety of lifts: 12

Lake Louise 

  • Complete acreage: 4,200 acres
  • Annual common snowfall: 180″
  • Vertical drop: 3,250′
  • Base space elevation: 5,400′
  • Variety of lifts: 11