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The 4 Best Alberta Ski Resorts | Everything You Need To Know

The 4 Best Alberta Ski Resorts | Everything You Need To Know

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Alberta, Canada is home to the largest and best portion of the Canadian Rockies, including world famous Banff National Park.

With fluffy champagne powder and adorable alpine villages for some post-shred happy hour, skiing in Alberta is the ultimate winter vacation.

Planning a trip to hit the slopes is always fun, especially when you come across some epic snowboarding quotes to get you pumped up.

Whether you ski or snowboard, you’re guaranteed to have a world class experience at these 4 best Alberta ski resorts.

Banff Sunshine Village

This post will help you find which resort is best suited for you. 

Alberta is a landlocked province on the western side of Canada (closer to Vancouver than Toronto). It is located directly above Montana.

Alberta is where you will find the largest mountain ski resorts in Canada. While there are ski resorts in the Laurentian mountain range in Ontario and Quebec, they are nowhere near as high as the Canadian Rockies.

A sunny day at Lake Louise

You’ve likely also heard of Whistler, located next door in British Columbia. While Whistler also offers the largest amount skiable terrain, Sunshine Village in Banff actually offers the highest top elevation. 

Alberta has two major international airports. Fly into Edmonton if you want to visit Marmot Basin in Jasper.

Or fly into Calgary to visit Sunshine Village near Banff or the Lake Louise Ski Resort just a little further. 

While there are so many places to go snowboarding and skiing in Alberta, this post focuses on the major mountain resorts.

And don’t forget that skiing in Banff isn’t the only mountain national park, there’s also Jasper National Park which is just as good.

Here’s a Quick Breakdown of the Ski Resorts near Banff, Canada:

Sunshine Village is the closest and most popular and probably the most famous ski resort in Canada.

Lake Louise Ski Resort is the largest but located a little further.

Mt. Norquay is the closest to Banff but smaller and perfect for families or beginners. 

Here’s the Ski Resort Closest to Jasper, Canada:

Marmot Basin is located about 25 minutes out of town and is the only ski resort in this national park. 

a small alpine town in the winter
The adorable Town of Jasper | Photo Credit: Tourism Jasper

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You Might Also Like: 26 Incredible Things to Do in Alberta That Are Bucket List Worthy

Why Alberta is the Perfect Ski Resort Destination

As a born and raised Albertan, I’ve grown to love winter and heading out to the mountains for some snowboarding is the best way to cure the winter blues.

I live within 4 hours or less of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, so I’ve had my fair share of weekend mountain getaways over the years. Alberta also offers some of the best accessibility to get to these mountain resorts.

You will only find large and wide highways and no sketchy winding roads!

The ski season in Alberta is longer than most places in the world.

Most resorts open in mid-November and stay open until at least the last weekend in April (but usually into May).

This is much longer than even many British Columbia ski resorts, a lot of them don’t open until early or mid-December. 

Let’s dive into my insider tips and everything you need to know about the 4 best Alberta ski resorts (in my opinion)! 

Photo Credit: Banff Sunshine Village

Sunshine Village Ski Resort | Banff, Alberta 

This is probably the most popular and well known Alberta Ski Resort. And rightfully so. Sunshine Village is the largest ski resort near Calgary at only 1.5 hours drive on a wide 4 lane highway.

It’s located inside Banff National Park and is about a 20 minute drive to the Banff townsite (where you will likely be staying).

There are shuttles from most of the main hotels in Banff to get you to the mountain if you don’t want to drive. 

Banff skiing rivals that of the Alps. Sunshine Village is famous for its 3 mountain faces that you can ride, and includes some of the steepest and most rugged front country terrain in North America.

Photo credit: Banff Sunshine Village

A 20 minute gondola ride gets you to the base of the village and it’s here where you’re greeted with incredible views of the jagged rocky mountains. This makes the resort’s village one of the highest bases in North America. 

The best part about Sunshine Village is that it’s home to the only ski-in/ski-out accommodation in Banff National Park – the Sunshine Mountain Lodge.

Not only is it just steps for several chair lifts, it’s perfectly nestled between the mountain faces making for some stunning sunrise views before the crowds arrive.

Photo credit: Banff Sunshine Village

For a true quaint Canadian alpine village experience, this is the place to be.

You won’t find a more stunning lodge on top of a mountain peak anywhere in Banff National Park. 

Snow and Weather Conditions

Alberta ski resorts receive plenty of champagne powder each season and Sunshine Village is no exception.

The dry mountain air creates fluffy and floatable snow without becoming wet and sticky, until the end of the season that is.

Due to the altitude it can get cold and windy here, but fear not, this ski resort is home to Canada’s first heated chairlift.

Skiing in Banff has largely improved over the last few years with the addition of the bubble chair lift to protect you from the wind!

TRAVEL TIP: Don’t forget to pack some hand warmers and foot warmers for when it does get cold. Buy them in advance because they are often double or triple the price at the gear shops on the hill!

The runs at Banff Sunshine Village are better suited for skiers, as there are many connecting spots that become quite flat. As a snowboarder myself I tend to get a little frustrated at times because of this.

But, this can be mitigated by keeping up your speed so you don’t get caught. 

With an average of 30 feet of snow each year, you are pretty much guaranteed to find pockets of powder anytime you visit.

Plus, Sunshine Village boasts the longest ski season in Canada, which usually opens mid-November until the end of May!

Closing weekend here is known as the Slush Cup Festival with live music and many guests ripping down the mountain in shorts and t-shirts.

And yes, the main event of the same name sees skiers and boarders hit a jump and try to clear the massive pool-sized puddle. 

Slush Cup – Photo credit: Dan Evans + Banff Sunshine Village

No matter what time of the season you visit, you will definitely have a great time on the Banff ski slopes!

Travel Planning Help: When is the Best Time to Visit Banff? Here are the Pros and Cons of Each Season

Is it Worth it To Visit Sunshine Village Even If You Don’t Ski?

Even if you don’t ski or snowboard you can still head up the Gondola for epic views and a beverage or a meal at one of the nine restaurants.

Purchase a sightseeing ticket which gives you access to 2 of the 12 chairlifts for mountain top views.

You can also take a guided snowshoe tour in one of the most scenic mountain vistas in the area.

Then, relax at the day spa at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge and finish with happy hour at the bar!

Not into skiing? Try this guided ice walk through a canyon leading you to a frozen waterfall! Or try snowshoeing through deep fluffy mountain meadows!

Where to Stay When Skiing in Banff

Stay at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge if you want to be on the hill with ski-in, ski-out accommodations.

Remember that you will need to leave your car in the parking lot and bring your bags and equipment in the gondola to get up to the base. 

Your other options are to stay in the town of Banff. 

My first choice is always the Fox Hotel & Suites because it’s very centrally located to the best restaurants, pubs and shopping. But the best part is the underground hot tub which was designed to replicate a cave!

And the included breakfast is honestly one of the best hotel continental breakfasts I’ve ever had at a hotel.

There’s a waffle station, a huge fresh fruit buffet (with piles of mixed berries) and a great selection of pastries and yogurts. 

I also recommend the Mount Royal Hotel because the rooftop hot tub has the most epic views! It’s located in the heart of downtown Banff and is an older quaint hotel but with modern renovations. 

If you’re on a budget, your best choice is the Inns of Banff. This hotel is older and a little dated, but it’s clean, has an indoor hot tub and will be one of the lowest priced hotel rooms that you will come across.

It will be a 20 minute walk to get to the downtown, but there are taxis and buses always available!

One of the rooms at the Inns of Banff Hotel

And if you want to go all out for your winter ski trip vacation, stay at the luxurious Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Nicknamed the ‘Banff Castle,’ it’s a truly magical place to stay, especially in the winter. 

Photo credit: Fairmont Resort Hotels

P.S. – Thinking about Summer? Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Things to Do in Banff in the Summer

Lake Louise Ski Resort | Banff National Park

Lake Louise is located about 40 minutes north of Banff, and this one is my favorite.

In my opinion, Lake Louise has the best skiing in Banff National Park. 

It’s huge, the lifts are well laid out and the parking is very convenient. Lake Louise has terrain for absolutely everyone. There’s a great mix of runs for beginners to the most advanced skiers and riders.

There are some killer backside bowls, fun glades, adventurous  chutes and gentle groomers. 

Vertical drop is 3250 feet and the longest run here is about 5 miles long. So you know you will be spending more time on the hill than on the lifts.

With beginner and intermediate runs off of every chair or gondola, Lake Louise is a great ski resort for families.

Interested in something a little more challenging? Every year this resort hosts the FIS Alpine World Cup of Skiing along with many big air and freestyle events, so they’ve got the terrain to push your limits! 

What I love about Lake Louise is that even on the busiest days it never seems congested as there is so much space, everyone spreads out well.

The million dollar views can’t be beat and on a sunny day you can see the iconic Lake Louise from about halfway up the Gondola.

I can’t stress the jaw-dropping scenery enough here.

Lake Louise main lodge

With 4 mountain faces to shred, you’ll have a hard time deciding whether the skiing or the endless views are the best part of this ski resort.

There are no on-hill accommodations at Lake Louise, so you will have to stay in ‘town’ or at a hotel in Banff.

It’s important to know there isn’t much of a town in Lake Louise. Just a few hotels, a couple fuel stations, restaurants and a liquor store.

That being said, all the hotels are about a 5 minute drive up to the mountain, so you’re nice and close. 

Weather and Snow

Lake Louise Ski resort gets dumps of the dry champagne powder every season, while also being well-known for many blue sky and sunshine days.

Plus, just second to Sunshine Village, the Lake Louise ski season is long and usually runs until the first weekend in May.

So if you want to find snow in Banff National park in May, head up to Lake Louise!

For unspoiled, rugged and wide open terrain, Lake Louise is the Alberta ski resort you want to visit. 

photo credit: Reuben Krabbe / SkiBig3

Want to take your ski trip to the next level? Try a guided introduction to backcountry skiing or riding

Non Ski Activities 

There are enough things to do at Lake Louise to keep you busy if you don’t ski. You can head up the gondola for 360 degree views of the mountain peaks.

Or have some fun snow tubing or snowshoeing. And in the ‘warmer’ months of April and May, there’s usually a live DJ at the outdoor patio called the Kokanee Cabin where you can enjoy a BBQ lunch, a beverage and live music.

There’s always great Après-Ski happy hours, too. 

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

The Deer Lodge has the best hot tub and is on the higher end of mid-range pricing. For rustic upscale mountain character in the middle of the mountains, this is your best choice.

Plus, you’re less than 10 minutes from the Lake Louise Ski Resort. 

Deer Lodge Lake Louise courtesy of

For a more budget-friendly option, try the Mountaineer Lodge which is also located just a few minutes from the resort.

The included breakfast is nice and hearty before a day of skiing. 

If your sole purpose is to get a couple long days of skiing and snowboarding in, I would suggest staying in Lake Louise instead of Banff.

This way, you’re 5 minutes from the hill and you don’t have to waste any time on the potentially snowy and icy roads. It’s a 40 minute drive from Lake Louise to Banff. 

Read Next: Travel Tips for Visiting Banff in the Winter (like how to navigate the roads and stay warm)!

On the other hand, if you’re interested in taking a day off from skiing for a day or two, staying in Banff would be a better idea.

Or, if you’re traveling with folks who don’t ski or snowboard, there would be plenty more for them to do in Banff for the day while you’re on the hill. 

What’s Better, Sunshine Village or Lake Louise? 

My friends often ask me which is the better resort between Sunshine and Lake Louise, and I always vote for Lake Louise.

It’s big enough and has enough varied terrain to challenge even the most advanced skiers. While at the same time it’s spread out enough to give beginner riders the room they need.

Lake Louise

I find Sunshine Village can get a little congested with all the base chairlifts closer together. 

However, if you visit on a weekday other than during the holiday season or the March break, you will have most of the mountain to yourself.

Mt. Norquay | Closest to Banff

Ski runs at Mt. Norquay

Mt. Norquay is the third ski resort that is within Banff National Park and is included in the ‘Ski Big 3’ lift tickets.

This is the closest ski resort to the town of Banff and is perfect for beginners or families looking for low-key or introductory skiing experiences. 

It is located less than 15 minutes from the townsite and is also a perfect option for travelers who don’t ski. There is an awesome snow-tube run for all ages!

And you can even take one of the chairlifts for some winter sightseeing. 

Mt. Norquay Viewpoint

This is actually one of the best hidden gems in Banff, not many people know about this viewpoint! And while you’re up there, you might as well grab lunch or a beverage at Cliffhouse Bistro which is a charming tea house lodge built in the 1950s!

And if you’re planning to stay in Banff for several days, Mt. Norquay is the perfect option for half-day skiing if you only feel like getting some turns in for a couple hours at a time.

In addition, this is the only Banff ski resort that offers night skiing (Friday and Saturdays only).

Marmot Basin | Jasper National Park

Marmot Basin is my favorite choice of all the Alberta Ski Resorts. It’s big, has all kinds of terrain with wide open runs and is less busy than the ski resorts close to Banff.

USA Today even named Jasper the best ski town for 2018 and HomeToGo ranked it as the most affordable ski resort destination in North America for 2020.

Marmot Basin is located 20 minutes from the Jasper townsite, but there are shuttles that will pick you up from almost any hotel.

This ski resort never seems busy because it’s so well laid out. At the base, there’s an express chairlift that brings you to the top in about 7 minutes, so you never waste time waiting in line.

Photo credit: Tourism Jasper

The parking lot design allows riders to ski-in and ski-out at the beginning and end of the day.

And if it’s a nice sunny day, many people have tailgate lunches in the parking lots!

Related Reading: Banff vs. Jasper – Which Ones is Best For You? (Tips from a Local)

Snow and Weather

I’ve experienced an equal amount of powder days and sunny bluebird days, so it’s always a good time skiing here.

With a high base elevation, it can get chilly here, especially when it’s windy. But the mid-mountain chalet is a perfect warm up spot.

The terrain is varied, but largely focused on beginner and intermediate with some decent areas for advanced and expert riders.

Marmot Basin is the perfect hill to learn how to ski as they have separated ‘slow’ areas and every run ends up at the base, so no one gets lost!

And if you’re looking for more advanced terrain, take the 2-person chairlift called ‘the knob’ to the summit. You’ll find epic untouched bowls up here.

And if you’re up for it, from here you can hike up even further for some fresh gnarly lines.

Photo credit: Tourism Jasper

Where to Stay in Jasper

My first choice is usually the Lobstick Lodge which is on the lower end of mid-range pricing. It’s basic, but clean and there’s both an outdoor hot tub, indoor hot tub and pool and dry sauna.

Perfect for families!

Photo credit: Tourism Jasper

You best budget option is the Tonquin Inn. It’s a motel-style but if you’re just looking for basic accommodations with 2 large outdoor hot tubs, you will be happy with this choice.

It’s a 20 minute walk into the downtown but there is a restaurant on site or Jasper Pizza Place delivers!

I also love the Crimson Hotel which is centrally located in downtown Jasper and recently renovated. 

Crimson Hotel | Photo Credit: Tourism Jasper

And for a luxurious winter mountain retreat, stay in one of the log cabins at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

This hotel is located 5 minutes outside of town, but the hotel has a shuttle that will take you to Marmot Basin and into town for dinner.

The outdoor hot tub views can’t be beat!

Read More: The Best Place to Stay in Jasper for the Perfect Mountain Getaway (all budgets)

But Which is the Best Alberta Ski Resort? 

Now that you have the info, it begs the question: where is the best place to go skiing in Alberta? 

If you want the closest place to ski near Banff, choose Mt. Norquay. It’s great for beginners and families, nice and close to town and is the cheapest when compared to Sunshine Village and Lake Louise ski resorts. 

Sunshine Village is the world renowned famous Banff ski resort, and has the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Banff National Park. This hill offers the most stunning views of all the ski resorts.

There are runs for every type skier or rider, even steep backcountry style areas, like the famous Delirium Drive. See if you can make it to the Standish Viewing Deck for jaw dropping views.

Lake Louise Ski Resort is a 40 minute drive from Banff, but offers vast and wide open terrain.

The snow here is always great, and the views of Lake Louise itself from the Gondola can’t be beat.

The main ski lodge at the base of the mountain is built in a log cabin style, giving this ski resort all the alpine vibes. From groomers, to lose pack, untouched powder, never-ending chutes and deep bowls, you get it all here. 

In the northern part of the Canadian Rockies, you will find yourself in Jasper National Park to go skiing at Marmot Basin.

Jasper is about 3 hours north of Banff when you travel along highway 93, which is known as the Icefields Parkway (the most scenic drive in Canada).

If you want a world class ski mountain resort that’s much less busy and a little less expensive, head to Marmot Basin.

With runs for all ski levels, it’s great for the whole family. Stick to the Eagle Express chair for beginners or those who want to take it easy.

Choose Tres Hombres or Eagle East for steep and deep turns. Plus I love the way the runs filter everyone to the same spot at the bottom so you really can’t get lost. 

Photo credit: Tourism Jasper

Choosing a ski resort might be hard, but no matter where you end up, skiing in Alberta is second to none and will greet you with plenty of powder, a variety of terrain and great Apres Ski options in each alpine style mountain town. 

Interest in More Mountain Towns? Discover Radium Hot Springs, My Favorite Canadian Hidden Gem

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