Picture yourself at the top of a mountain, staring at blue-white peaks poking out of the clouds as you prepare to tear through over 30 feet of light, sparkling snow.
No, it’s not a fairytale or a VR experience—it’s just Canada.
This is one of many incredible views that await those who visit the country’s SkiBig3 resorts: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Mt. Norquay.
Just a three-hour flight from Chicago followed by a short drive from Canada’s Calgary International Airport to Banff National Park, these three picturesque resorts encompass nearly 8,000 acres of prime skiing terrain, complete with castles, chateaus, and innovative restaurants where travelers can enjoy a Canadian inspired cocktail after a long day on the slopes. And to make your visit even easier, skiers and snowboarders only need one SkiBig3 lift ticket to access it all.
For those interested in getting the “local” experience, SkiBig3 Guided Adventures offers visitors a chance to experience the area’s hidden gems, secret snow stashes, pro tips on how to get the most out of each resort, and the lowdown on quirky Canadian ski culture.
Don’t forget to pack an appetite and your dancing shoes along with your ski gear, because the area boasts some of Canada’s finest dining and late-night après adventures. Being in the park also means you might spot some elk, deer, or big-horn sheep wandering past your hotel window or outdoor hot tub. And speaking of hot tubs, a three-day SkiBig3 lift ticket includes a soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Let’s explore the experiences that await visitors at Canada’s SkiBig3.
It’s not hard to see why the Lake Louise Ski Resort was voted the best in Canada three years in a row. Nestled along the frozen shores of the picturesque Lake Louise is the majestic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a historically grand train hotel built in the late nineteenth century. Across the valley is the sprawling ski resort offering 4,200 acres of slopes, chutes, runs, glades, and bowls that offer a full experience for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
Once off the hill, visitors can enjoy restaurants such as Kuma Yama, known for using AAA Alberta beef in its sushi and ramen, Alpine Social, a mountain-chic joint serving hearty comfort food and an extensive selection of bourbons and whiskeys, and the Lake Louise Station, a historic train station that also happens to dish up a mean mac and cheese. For a supremely unique experience, order a cocktail from a bar literally carved out of the ice during Ice Magic Festival, an enchantingly artistic event happening in January 2018. With its wild scenery, Lake Louise is a refuge with endless wilderness just outside your hotel room.
Next on ski list is Banff Sunshine, located just 15 minutes away from the town of Banff and 25 minutes from Lake Louise. Banff Sunshine’s mountains can be blanketed with as much as 30 feet of light, powdery snow in a season. Visitors leave the valley floor by gondola, rising up to the actual ski resort. Here skiers and riders can choose from endless runs across four different mountain faces all funneling back to the center of the resort. The resort’s own Delirium Dive has been named one of the top off-piste, or backcountry, sites in the world.
The town of Banff itself is as much a ski resort town as it is a hub for food and culture, its streets lined with boutique shops and world-class restaurants. Selected dining experiences include the Sleeping Buffalo, a signature Rocky Mountain eatery located in the rustic Buffalo Mountain Lodge, and the Fairmont Banff Springs Grapes Wine Bar, which slings charcuterie boards complete with house-cured meats and artisan cheeses. Winter is definitely the best time to visit, as the region is host to all sorts of culinary and cultural events, such as the Craft Beer Festival and Christmas Market or Snowdays – Snow Sculpture Festival – a must-attend winter event that runs from January 18 to 28.
Though it may be the smallest of the three resorts, Mt. Norquay is known for being the mountain where Olympic and World Cup athletes go to train, and it’s just 10 minutes from the town of Banff. This family-friendly destination provides excellent terrain for beginners as well as ski bums, and offers the only night-skiing in Banff and Lake Louise. If you prefer to take the path less-travelled, Norquay offers a web of snowshoeing trails that provide a breathtaking view of the mountainside.
Way at the peak of the mountain is the Cliffhouse Bistro, a 50s retro restaurant that can only be reached by chairlift. The venue allows diners to enjoy a hot drink and a bite to eat while taking in a panoramic mountain skyline from an elevation of 7,000 feet. Talk about a room with a view, eh?
From their awe-inspiring natural scenery to their unique dining, shopping and accommodations, SkiBig3 knows how to give visitors a welcome warm enough to beat the winter chill.
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