Banff is a dream ski destination, with easy access to three of Canada’s top resorts: Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. Here are our locals’ top tips to making your ski trip even more epic.
- Visit mid-week
No lift lines. Lots of friendly locals who’ve been here for a season or five and will happily show you their favourite spots. Stroll right in to the bars and restaurants and pick any table you like. At the Juniper, we offer some excellent deals for mid-week ski trips. Book direct for our best rate guaranteed and the latest exclusive packages, plus save time by pre-booking your ski tickets. Mid-week skiing and riding in Banff National Park is just so relaxing, and you can have the slopes almost to yourselves. But we know that not everyone has the luxury of a flexible schedule or tons of unused vacation days, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a weekend warrior. So if you must ski on a Saturday…
- Don’t forget about Mount Norquay
The Big 3’s littlest hill is often overlooked by visitors. It does not have as much terrain as the bigger resorts, butt what it does have makes up for that, in our humble opinion: epic views of Banff from Cascade Chair, a small-town, family-friendly vibe, and some of the best food you’ll find on the slopes. It’s a great hill for learners, with easy access beginner terrain that’s not too lengthy for tired legs. But there’s also plenty for experienced skiers and snowboarders to enjoy, from perfectly groomed pistes to some of the steepest terrain North America has to offer; it’s where you’ll find the seasoned locals on a powder day. Did we mention they also offer snow tubing and night skiing? After your adventures, head up to the Lone Pine Pub in the main lodge – the poutine with scratch made gravy is to die for, but the whole menu is a cut above the usual ski hill fare. Top tip: If you like things spicy, order a side of Chef Ody’s special hot sauce. You’ll wish you could buy a whole bottle of the stuff – it’s a shame the recipe’s top secret…
- Take the ski bus
It’s not just better for the environment and a way to save some gas money – parking space is at a premium at the resorts, especially on busy days, and nobody wants to spend precious ski time searching for a spot and trekking to the lift from the back parking lots. Buses to all three hills run regularly from Banff, are included with your lift ticket, and will drop you off exactly where you want to be. Plus, you can have a few après-ski beverages and still get safely home. The Mount Norquay shuttle will pick you up from outside the Juniper lobby; connect to the Mount Royal stop downtown for services to Sunshine and Lake Louise. Our friendly front desk team are on hand to help you plan your journey.
- Fuel up first
Warming up with a meal on the hill is one of the great pleasures of a ski day. But many of us find that our energy is a lot lower after lunch. The solution is a late lunch – get your best skiing in first, then have a leisurely meal around 2pm and a few relaxed runs before heading home. To make this strategy work, it’s essential to start the day with a good breakfast. The Juniper Bistro was voted ‘Banff’s Best Brunch’ by Bow Valley locals, and our hearty handcrafted menu is available from 7am every day. The panoramic mountain views from our dining room will set the mood perfectly for the day’s adventures. Plus, present a valid ski pass and you get a 25% discount on your breakfast Monday-Saturday.
- Get yourself a guide
If you’re new to the Big 3, or need a push to get beyond your comfort zone, let an expert show you the way. Sunshine Village and Lake Louise both operate a Ski Friends program, where local guides will take you on a tour of the hill free of charge at set times. But if you’re looking to really explore the terrain on offer, and push your skills to the next level, book a Guided Adventure with Ski Big 3. A top-notch CSIA instructor will take your group to all the best spots, and offer tips and coaching to help you conquer it all in style. They might just be the most memorable runs of your skiing and snowboarding life.