Canadians are spoiled when it comes to skiing options. Especially here in Alberta. Let us help you decide where to hit the slopes for the first time.
Enjoy Alberta’s best ski resorts, no experience required.
The stunning peaks of the Canadian Rockies are breathtaking, but not everyone’s ready to tackle steep and deep powder on the ski slopes. Alberta offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy it. The province’s top ski resorts welcome all levels, whether you’re sticking to the bunny hill or taking on a black diamond. Below are some of the programs offered to new skiers at Alberta’s top resorts.
Bonus: Alberta has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, with excellent skiing conditions through April.
Banff National Park
Canada’s first national park is home to SkiBig3 – Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay – where you can ski or snowboard at all three resorts with one pass. They all provide rental equipment, and you can even have the same ski instructor come with you to each resort. Local hotels and resorts often partner to create vacation packages and handle transportation for guests.
Lake Louise ski resort
The largest of the SkiBig3 ski resorts in Banff National Park, Lake Louise Ski Resort offers 160 runs across 420 acres of skiable terrain. This includes a learning area located just off the resort’s base. It’s a great way to hone your skills and gain confidence before heading up one of the chairlifts to the larger, more challenging runs. Speaking of chairlifts, you won’t find one in the learning area. Surface carpets pull skiers and boarders uphill. Highly qualified, friendly instructors are available for private and group lessons for children and adults, and there are always knowledgeable attendants in the learning area to lend a hand.
The Ski School at Sunshine Village as world-class instructors who will get you on your way in no time. There are lessons for kids, teens and adults, whether you want to learn as a group or get some one-on-one instruction to make the most of the resort’s 120 runs – many of which are beginner or intermediate. Even better? You can maximize your time on the slopes thanks to Sunshine Mountain Lodge. This is the only ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel in the area. Take your pick of cozy guest rooms or family-sized suites and have a comfortable home base for your ski adventures.
The smallest of the SkiBig3 resorts, but equally enjoyable, Mount Norquay is closest to the town of Banff. It’s a convenient, accessible resort that has one of Canada’s largest and longest-running Snow School programs. The Snow School offers lessons to anyone age three and up, whether it’s your first time on skis or you’re ready for a challenge. And you don’t have to stop skiing when the sun goes down. Mount Norquay hosts night skiing on Friday and Saturday evenings, which is a whole new way to enjoy the sport and take in the beautiful scenery.
Jasper National Park
Located in Jasper National Park, Marmot Basin has Canada’s highest base elevation at 1,698 m (5,570 ft), and the resort offers plenty of options for new skiers and boarders – including 90 runs of varying difficulty. Private half-day, full-day, three-hour and two-hour lessons as well as group lessons and kids’ day camps will make sure the whole family is ready to enjoy the slopes.
Castle Mountain Ski Resort
Considered something of a hidden gem, Castle Mountain Resort is often less crowded than the larger resorts in the Canadian Rockies. Castle is located in southeast Alberta, about 245 kilometres (152 miles) from Calgary, and it’s equipped with a beginners’ area and practice lifts near the base of the mountain. Its green runs offer wide, well-groomed terrain, and private and group lessons are available for adults and kids, starting at 18 months old.
Know before you go
The best way to access these ski resorts is to fly into Calgary or Edmonton International Airports. You can then rent a vehicle to drive to each of the ski resorts. The Big 3 are within two hours of Calgary, while Marmot Basin is just over four hours from Edmonton. Castle Mountain Ski Resort is approximately two-and-a-half hours from Calgary. Book your flights now with WestJet.
The weather in the Canadian Rockies can change quickly. Layers are key. Start with good base layers (such as merino wool tops and pants) and build up, including a possible mid-layer like a fleece jacket (depending on the conditions), a windproof and waterproof ski or snowboard jacket, waterproof ski or snowboard pants, warm socks, waterproof gloves or mitts, a neck warmer, goggles, toque and finally a helmet.