Brimming with majestic mountain views, crisp air and reliable powder, the Canadian Rockies offer some of North America’s most impressive ski resorts. With day passes around the CDN$80 mark, none are cheap. In return you get uncrowded slopes that are decidedly empty outside weekends and holidays for most of the season (mid-December to late-May). March is a prime time to visit as the snow base is reliably deep, fresh snow common and temperatures a little milder.
The resorts of Banff National Park, within easy reach of the town of Banff, offer the best overall experience: the steep and taxing Mount Norquay; the well-rounded but intermediate-friendly, Sunshine Village and the vast, varied and hugely challenging Lake Louise. All three promote themselves with a common lift-ticket system, and visitors can enjoy Banff’s extensive infrastructure and off-season lodging prices.
North of Banff, a three-hour drive along the stunning Icefields Parkway through craggy and glaciated mountain scenery, lies Marmot Basin. This more modest ski area is based near the quiet town of Jasper.
Many thoroughly worthwhile, though marginally less accessible resorts are further west in the British Columbia Rockies. Of these the closest to Banff is Kicking Horse, with its fabulous expert terrain. To the south, near Invermere, Panorama offers a fantastic mountain for cruising and carving, with a scenic setting for its quiet resort village, that’s also a base for heli-skiing.
Further south is family-oriented Kimberley, while to its east lies Fernie, a ski area brimming with bowls and ridges. All four resorts lie less than a couple of hours’ drive from their nearest neighbor, making them perfect for a multi-resort trip tackled as a loop from Calgary – one that could include all the Banff resorts too.
For the ultimate in good conditions and guaranteed fresh tracks see our separate heli- and cat-skiing section.