Alberta is home to Banff and Jasper National Park, filled with mountains spilling with glaciers and wild scenery. Not sure how to put together a ski trip there? Here's how to do it and ski Sunshine Village, Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise, and Marmot Basin.
Plan a minimum of five full days in the parks, not counting travel days to get to Alberta or anything else you might want to do. More days are better; after all, you have three ski areas to hit in Banff National Park and one in Jasper National Park. Plus, you'll need one day to drive the Icefields Parkway in between the two. Those wanting to add on more days to bump up the number of ski days at each area or add visits to hot springs, sightseeing, or other winter activities will need to plan for a longer vacation.
Begin by flying in to Calgary International Airport and renting a car to drive two hours to Banff National Park. Plan to stay at least two nights in the Banff Townsite. Ski one day at Mt. Norquay, located 10 minutes from town, and one day at Sunshine Village, located 30 minutes from town.
Spend your next two nights at Lake Louise, staying either in town or up by the lake, which sit only a five-minute drive apart and 5-10 minutes from the ski area. Ski Lake Louise on the full day in between your overnights.
Simplify arrangements for lodging, lift tickets, rentals, and lessons at Banff and Lake Louise by using Ski Big 3's shopping services. Their tri-area lift ticket, which is valid at Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Area includes transportation to the resorts. Reservations can be made online or by phone.
Rest your ski legs on the day four to drive up scenic Icefields Parkway that links Banff and Jasper National Parks. Stop to watch ice climbers and check out the giant Athabasca Glacier spilling from the Columbia Icefield. Take a lunch for the four-hour drive, as services are minimal in winter, and be prepared for winter mountain driving. Stopping to see sights will extend the tour.
Plan to stay two nights in the town of Jasper, skiing at least one day at Marmot Basin. Find hotels and lodges that offer ski and stay packages on Marmot Basin's website.
Depart Jasper via two routes. You can drive six hours back to Calgary to fly home or head 3.5 hours to Edmonton to catch a flight at Edmonton International Airport.
Those who don't want to rent a car can catch shuttles operated by Sun Dog Transportation and Tours. The company runs shuttles between the airport in Calgary and Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Their shuttles also connect Jasper with the airport in Edmonton. The company does run day tours on the Icefields Parkway, but does not run shuttles that link Banff or Lake Louise with Jasper. Rental car companies are available in Banff and Jasper.
Many runs at Lake Louise yield big views of glacier-covered Mt. Temple and Mt. Victoria in Banff National Park. Photo: Andrew Schwarz