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Ageless Skiing: Destination Banff

Nestled among the towering peaks of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade lies a little town called Banff. This gorgeous resort town hosts a unique mix of culture and recreation deep in the Canadian wilderness of Alberta, making it the perfect destination for outdoor lovers. 

One thing I love about Banff is that, whether you’re into extreme sports or leisurely hikes, there’s a variety of activities for every kind of guest. Explore the beauty of Banff National Park, check out the diverse wildlife, and be sure to hit the slopes before relaxing at one of Banff’s luxury hotels and spas.

Arriving in Banff

If you’re coming from the States or elsewhere in Canada, most travelers first fly into Calgary, which is 82 miles to the east of Banff. After that, it’s easy to rent a car and make the scenic 1.5-hour drive to the little town at the heart of Banff National Park. If you don’t want to drive, you could also take a shuttle service from the airport, which typically runs around $70 CAD per person. Either way, you’ll be traveling along the Trans-Canada Highway to the National Park Gates, where you’ll purchase a Park Pass before heading on to the town of Banff about 15 minutes further on.

Standing at 1,383m in elevation and with a population of just under 8,000, the town itself strikes a nice balance of small but not claustrophobic. On the way in, keep an eye out for elk, bighorn sheep, bison, moose, and even wolves. If your schedule permits, definitely set aside a half or whole day to see the shoreline at Lake Louise. As a photographer, I was blown away by its beauty during sunset, despite the freezing temperatures.

The Rockies never fail to impress

The Skiing: Why We’re Really Here

Today, skiing in Banff isn’t just a pastime; it’s the star of the show. There are three major ski resorts to choose from: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Mt. Norquay. Each offers a variety of terrain for skiers of all levels, from beginners to experts.

Lake Louise Ski Resort

Here, the runs spread wide across the mountain. The slopes cater to all: from the ‘I’ve-never-done-this-before’ to the ‘I-was-born-on-skis.’ This means that Lake Louise is a fantastic option for large groups with skiers of various skill levels. We particularly like it for the free tours led by the Ski Friends, a group of volunteers who introduce visitors to some of the lesser-known ski runs.

Sunshine Village’s trail map

Banff Sunshine Village

If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, Sunshine Village has some more moderate terrain as well as a couple of the most death-defying runs available in North America. Check out Delirium Dive, which is only open on occasion–just make sure you drop into that with someone who knows it well!

We have skied here in total whiteouts that rival pretty much anything anywhere. We have also taken a few week-long programs here and really enjoyed them. It is a nice place to go if there are both experts and newcomers in your group. Bonus: it seems less crowded than Lake Louise.

Mt. Norquay

Mt. Norquay is the modest, laid-back cousin of the three, offering good beginner lessons and terrain, sprawling terrain parks, and even night skiing. Yes, for those who think daylight skiing is too mainstream, you can carve under the stars. It’s like disco, but colder and with more appropriate attire. 

Furthermore, Norquay can claim its title as the “original home of Alberta ski racing,” so keep an eye out for future Olympians training gates and whizzing down the hill at light speed. And for the more daring skiers looking to get away from the fray, the backside chairlift “North American” services an array of exclusively black-diamond terrain. Insider tip: Norquay offers a free shuttle service from Banff up the hill.

Ski Equipment Rental: If you don’t have your own ski equipment, you can easily rent everything you need in Banff or at the ski resorts themselves. Be sure to reserve your equipment in advance, especially during busy times. One of our favorite shops in Banff is Bear Street Outfitters.

Ski Lessons: If you’re a beginner or just looking to brush up on your skills, consider taking ski lessons at one of the resorts. They offer lessons for all ages and abilities, taught by experienced instructors.

Safety: Familiarize yourself with the mountain safety guidelines and always ski within your abilities. Be aware of avalanche risks and obey all signage and warnings on the slopes.

Plan for Crowds: Banff can get quite busy during the winter ski season, especially on weekends and holidays. Try to visit mid-week if possible to avoid the largest crowds.

Snow: In Banff, winter snowfall is abundant, often blanketing the region in deep, powdery snow that’s perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Visitors can typically expect consistent snowfall from November through May, providing excellent conditions for a variety of winter sports. 

Weather: Banff can get pretty cold in the winter, with temperatures often dropping well below freezing. Be sure to dress warmly in layers and pack appropriate winter gear like insulated jackets, gloves, hats, and waterproof boots.

Non-Skiing Outdoor Activities

If you’re not a skier or a snowboarder, don’t worry, because Banff has plenty of outdoor activities to fill your time. 

Simply stunning

Go Snowshoeing in Banff National Park: This is a great way to go on one of Banff’s amazing hikes in the winter without worrying about the snow. The park is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. Take some time to explore the park’s trails and lookout points, but remember to respect the environment and wildlife by following park rules and guidelines.

Ice Skating: Strap on a pair of skates and go skating at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre or one of the many outdoor rinks and frozen lakes Banff has to offer.

Curling: Curling is a fun winter sport that you can take part in at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre. Book a spot to go curling with friends and you’ll feel like a real Olympian.

Sleigh Rides: There’s no better way to explore Banff National Park than with a horse-drawn sleigh ride. You can either join a public tour or book your own private ride to experience the sights of Banff on the back of an enchanting sleigh ride.

Tubing: Tubing is a fun way to take in the gorgeous views of Banff at high speed, gliding down the hill while you sit and relax. It’s a great option for those who aren’t big skiers but want the same high-energy thrill.

Après-Ski & Dining

After a day on the slopes, the town of Banff transforms. It’s as if the whole town exhales a warm, inviting aura. The streets are lined with eateries that offer everything from a quick bite to gourmet meals. After a day on the slopes, unwind and relax in Banff’s charming town center. Explore the shops, restaurants, and bars, or indulge in some après-ski activities like ice skating or soaking in natural hot springs.

Shopping: Pick up souvenirs from stores like About Canada or A Bit of Banff, where you’ll find personalized mementos to remember your time in Canada. If you need to pick up extra clothes or accessories while you’re in Banff, Ardene and Avenue Road are great places to find an outfit for the evening or a new handbag. I personally found Banff Sweet Shoppe to be a real treat (no pun intended), with some of the best homemade fudge I’ve tasted.

Dining: If you’re not in the mood for dining at one of the elegant restaurants located in Banff’s various hotels, the downtown core of Banff has plenty of modern restaurants with authentic Canadian food. 1888 Chop House is a great place for meat lovers, while Castello Italiana offers a range of pastas and pizzas that will fill you up after a day full of skiing. There are also a few bars and clubs in Banff, from the dance parties at the Dancing Sasquatch to the more relaxed atmosphere at Grapes Wine Bar.

Luxury: If you’re looking to wind down, Banff hosts plenty of spas and hot springs that will take away all your tension. Get a massage at Banff Wellness Practice or Red Earth Spa, do some yoga at one of Banff’s many yoga centers, and dip into one of the many natural hot mineral springs that Banff has to offer. The steamy hot mineral water of Banff’s Upper Hot Springs is an excellent way to start or end a day of skiing, relaxing your muscles and readying you for another day.

Fairmont Banff Springs

Where to Stay

Banff has a few different options for lodging, from luxury hotels to more budget-friendly options.

Fairmont Banff Springs: Known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” this iconic luxury hotel offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and a range of amenities including spa facilities, multiple restaurants, and indoor and outdoor pools.

Rimrock Resort Hotel: Perched on the side of Sulphur Mountain, the Rimrock Resort Hotel offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies. It features spacious rooms, a luxury spa, and gourmet dining options.

Banff Royal Canadian Lodge: Situated in the heart of downtown Banff, this hotel offers cozy rooms and suites, as well as amenities like a fitness center, indoor pool, and hot tub.

Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa: This boutique hotel offers comfortable accommodations and a range of amenities including a full-service spa, indoor pool, and hot tub. It’s conveniently located close to downtown Banff.

Hidden Ridge Resort: Nestled in the forested slopes of Tunnel Mountain, this resort offers cozy condo-style accommodations with fully equipped kitchens and wood-burning fireplaces. Guests can also enjoy amenities like outdoor hot tubs and complimentary shuttle service to downtown Banff.

Banff Ptarmigan Inn: This mid-range hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites with mountain views, as well as amenities like a sauna, steam room, and indoor pool. It’s located just a short walk from downtown Banff.

Fox Hotel & Suites: This hotel offers a unique Rocky Mountain experience with themed rooms featuring gas fireplaces and jetted tubs. Guests can also enjoy amenities like a hot grotto pool and complimentary continental breakfast.

Mount Royal Hotel: Recently renovated, this historic hotel offers stylish rooms and suites with modern amenities. It’s located right in the heart of downtown Banff, making it convenient for shopping, dining, and exploring.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort: Situated on the outskirts of town, this resort offers spacious condo-style accommodations surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Guests can enjoy amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and tennis courts.

Explore the Wild Beauty of Banff

Banff truly is the star of the Canadian Rockies, offering the timeless beauty of nature to travelers from around the world. From its exhilarating ski slopes to the hustle and bustle of its nightlife, Banff is a great destination for exploring the outdoors. The town brims with possibilities for adventurers of all ages, from the most experienced skiers to more leisure-oriented guests. No matter what you get up to in Banff, the natural beauty of this Canadian gem will be sure to stay with you for years.

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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