Do you love mountains? What about insanely beautiful natural scenery? Does feather-light powder snow make your heart skip a beat?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above, first of all, who are you and why do you hate fun? Second of all, you better head for the door now because Banff in winter is all about amazing views, jaw-dropping mountains, and A LOT of snow.
Here’s a couple of reasons why you should check out this little gem in the heart of the Canadian Rockies (as if you needed any convincing).
Banff is straight up like walking around inside a postcard – especially when it’s all dusted with snow. As you stroll through this pretty little town, you’re bound to see at least 5 people standing dumbstruck in the middle of the road, jaw dropped in awe over the grand sight of Cascade Mountain, towering above the main street – you know what, you’ll probably BE one of those people. Aside from being beautiful in every direction, Banff is also home to some incredible food! Restaurants, cafes and bars line the main street so you’ll never be short of delicious options.
So, what do you do when you’re in a place that lays claim to the best snow in Canada? You get up that mountain, jump on your skis or board, and send it!
Banff is home to three main ski areas, Sunshine Village, Mt. Norquay and Lake Louise, but it’s Sunshine Village that arguably takes the cake for best terrain and best conditions. We’re talking three big mountains, 3,300 acres of terrain, champagne powder days, fun natural kickers and cliffs, a bunch of awesome terrain parks, and two infamous free-ride zones – Delirium Dive and Wild West – to challenge even the most expert riders. No matter what your ability level or time of the season, Sunshine Village is a great place to ride.
If you happen to stick around until the end of the season (i.e. once you’re there you may never want to leave), be sure to check out the huge annual Slush Cup event – you could even enter the comp yourself if you’re game!
For a little taste of what it’s really like to shred at Sunshine, check out this video:
If there’s one thing I know to be true about Banff National Park, it’s that nature is CRAZY out here! You’ll definitely need to pinch yourself at least once or twice as you explore all the unbelievable natural sights this place has to offer. Here’s a few to add to your Must-See List:
Johnston Canyon (you can try out ice-climbing here!)
Lake Minnewanka (a stellar spot for viewing the Northern Lights)
Vermillion Lakes (perfect for frozen lake ice skating)
Peyto Lake (spectacular views all year round)
Icefields Parkway (quite possibly the most stunning drive you’ll ever do)
Morraine Lake (get here early in the season before the road closes!)
Sulphur Mountain (great for snowy hike)
Don’t believe me about the ‘pinch-yourself’ scenery? Just check out this film from Ski Big 3 and Sherpas Cinemas and you’ll see what I mean…
If that clip gave you all of the feels for Banff, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Banff Mountain Film Festival which runs every year in November, another great reason to be in town for the winter season!
You can’t visit Banff without making the 45-minute trip down the road to one of the most famous and dramatically beautiful sights in the world. Whether you go early enough in the season to catch its emerald green waters surrounded by a dusting of snow, or after the winter freeze hits when you can ice-skate across its surface, Lake Louise is stunning all year round.
After a big day of riding or exploring, there’s nothing quite like sinking into the Banff Hot Springs to rest those aching muscles and relax. Treat yourself to a little R&R while letting the healing properties of the mineral-rich geothermal springs work their magic on your bod.
Hot tip: Try to go when it’s snowing – there’s something really special about soaking in steaming hot water while snowflakes fall all around you.
For those who prefer to work out their drinking arm more so than their legs, Banff is home to an awesome Craft Beer Festival every year at the start of the winter season. The event is touted as “The Most Beautiful Beer Festival in the World” – and rightly so, as it takes place at Banff’s stunning Cave and Basin Historic Site. Sip on some tasty beers from Alberta’s best breweries, and chow down on food from some of Banff’s best restaurants and pubs.
This year, the festival runs from 23 to 25 November, and you can snap up your tickets here.
In terms of ski resorts in Banff, Norquay is like the baby brother to Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. BUT, little Norquay has something that its big brothers do not – night skiing! If you didn’t quite get your fill of the slopes during the day, Norquay is your night-time playground for moonlit downhill and terrain park riding.
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