Ski Expert & Local Tells Us the Best Ski Runs in Banff
To say that Banff National Park is a skier’s paradise is an understatement. With three central ski hills (Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise Ski Resort & Sunshine Village) all within a short drive from the town of Banff – skiing is more than an activity in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a way of life.
With an average of 30 feet of annual snowfall on the trails and offering an unreal 8,000 acres of skiable terrain between them, skiers have been spoiled with an incredible variety of accessible and fun ski runs in Banff National Park.
Home to 334 runs – there is a run for everyone, but we understand the daunting task of choosing the best ones! So we’ve recruited the help of ski aficionado and Bow Valley local Dan Inzinger to help you by outlining the top ski runs in Banff!
Meet Ski Aficionado and Bow Valley Local – Daniel Inzinger
Banff National Park has no shortage of ski lovers – they come out in droves to experience one of the most ideal locales for skiing globally. So what makes Daniel our most trusted ski expert? Well, Daniel was born and raised in Austria and knows a thing or two about true mountain life and culture. It also means by the age of three he was a pro on skis. His passion for skiing diverse mountain terrains has lasted 20 years and counting.
Daniel also knows the best places in Banff National Park to après. As our very own Rundle Bar, General Manager he knows that every epic day on the mountain needs to be followed by an amazing beverage.
Locations skied: Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, the US and of course, Banff.
Located on the Continental Divide of the Canadian Rockies with Banff National Park, Alberta on one side and Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC. Sunshine Village is famous for its long season and Banff’s best snow – you can ski off three mountain terrains at Sunshine Village, ranging from green to double black.
Vertical Elevation: 3154ft/ 1070m
Base Elevation: 5440ft/1685m
Number of Lifts: 10
Terrain: 20% Beginner, 55% Intermediate, 25% Expert
Standish & Strawberry Chair – Beginner Level
This is a great warmup run for any level of skier in Banff National Park. The vistas from Strawberry & Standish are incredible, and on a clear day (aka bluebird day), you’ll have great views of Mt. Assiniboine, also known as the Canadian Matterhorn.
You can watch the perfect sunrise from the top of those chairs during December & January – simply put, it’s a magical experience.
Pro Tip: After a few runs, warm up with a hot chocolate or a Caesar (if you want something with a kick) at the Mad Trappers Saloon. It’s the original ski lodge which locals have famously dubbed “Trappers Lap”.
Sunshine Coast & Goats Eye – All Levels
This is the perfect run to get your carve on! This run encourages skiers to ski quickly and take long, sweeping turns – bring your carving skis for even more fun. This run doesn’t have a huge volume of skiers on it, and even on the busiest of days, it can feel like you’re the only one on it.
Pro Tip: This is a great last lap on your ski day. You’ll have a super long & fun last lap down to the parking lot by keeping your speed.
Delirium Dive – Expert/Pro Level
The ultimate testing ground for any skier and snowboarder! Despite being considered within the resort limit, ‘The Dive’ is regarded by locals as real backcountry & big mountain terrain.
To enter the gates leading to Delirium Dive, you must bring your avalanche gear: beacon, probe & shovel. Before attempting this run, know some facts before you go. Get your AST 1 Certification (Avalanche Safety Training Course 1), learn how to use your equipment and research the dangers of backcountry terrain.
Pro Tip: You can hike up to the ‘The Dive’ entrance and have a peek to see if the terrain is for you. This spot also provides excellent views for pictures from one of the highest sites in the resort.
Banff Mt. Norquay
Mt. Norquay is located just minutes from downtown Banff and has been the local’s ski area since 1926, offering 28 runs spread over 129 acres. Mt Norquay also offers the only night -skiing in the Canadian Rockies.
Vertical Elevation: 1650ft/503m
Base Elevation: 5350ft/1630m
Number of Lifts: 5
Terrain: 20% Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 28% Difficult, 16% Expert
Constellation – Beginner Level
This run is perfect for beginners – with plenty of space for you to perfect your turns.
Pro Tip: This beginner-friendly zone has plenty of green runs available to you.
Lone Pin – Expert Level
This popular run on Mt. Norquay is what makes a legend out of a skier. Known for its incredible views, this slope is steep and labelled perfect by avid local skiers.
Mt. Norquay (in general) – All Levels
Mt. Norquay is a great family resort. The deeper you explore it, and the further ‘back’ you ride on the mountain, the more fun and faster the runs will get. Don’t forget that the North American Chair, also known as Big Chair, is classic. First installed in 1948, which once provided guests access to the steepest and longest terrain in North America.
Pro Tip: Mt. Norquay is the perfect spot for half-day skiing due to its proximity to Banff. Get your skiing done in the morning and hit up Rundle Bar for an early après session. Of course, it’s only considered real après if you keep your ski boots on!
Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise is one of the largest ski areas in North America. With over 4275 skiable acres and 163 named runs to choose from, this alpine terrain offers variety for all abilities.
Vertical Elevation: 3250ft/1000m
Base Elevation: 5400ft/1645m
Number of Lifts: 11
Terrain: 25% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 30% Expert
WiWaxy – Beginner Level
The perfect run for beginners or intermediate skiers who want to have an easy warmup/cooldown run. WiWaxy has something for everyone: wide-open turns & side hits that make it even more fun for experts. It is also considered a family-run, so if you’re showing your little ones the ropes, this is the run for you!
Pro Tip: The run could get icy later on in the season, so be sure to sharpen your edges. Banff Soul offers the best tuning services in the Bow Valley.
Whitehorn 1 – Expert Level
Imagine it snowed 20cm overnight, and you wake up the following day to a bluebird day. You pack your breakfast & eat it while driving to the resort because you want to be the first one in line to get up to Whitehorn 1. With the perfect angle of the mountain & a bit of overnight wind, the 20cm of snow becomes 30cm. You adjust your goggles and mask because you know that this run provides the best face shots. This is the magic of Whitehorn 1. It’s pure heaven.
Pro Tip: On those powder days, you’ll want to make sure you arrive super early as you wait for the rope to drop by the patrollers. The stoke levels and energy are high during this time as you’ll have guaranteed fresh tracks from top to bottom.
Backside Lake Louise & Gullies – Intermediate & Expert Levels
There is more to the Ski Louise backside than just Whitehorn 1. Numerous gullies open later in the season (depending on avalanche conditions) and are meant for real pros. However, for those looking for a more mellow way off the backside, Boomerang is a blue-ish run with beautiful mountain scenery.
Men’s Downhill – Intermediate Level
If you’re not a fan of the chair lift small talk (who is), take the men’s downhill. It is considered one of the longest runs in the resort. Get ready for wide-open turns, steep pitches and great views of Banff National Park.
Pro Tip: This is the perfect first run on a 25cm powder day due to the length and amount of pow turns you get in short periods. In the steep middle section, put the tips up and let er rip.
All days on the hill require a home base! Click here for the best Banff Hotel Offers.
STAY IN TOUCH
From our best resort offers to exclusive events and deals. Sign up for our Fairmont Banff Springs e-newsletter and be the first to receive all the latest news, offers & more.