Where to Ski This Winter
Calgarians are fortunate to live within driving distance of top-notch alpine resorts. Here’s what’s going down this season at our favourite hills.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Photograph by Ian Houghton
Driving distance from Calgary: 83 km
This Kananaskis resort’s proximity to Calgary means more time on the slopes and less behind the wheel. Women who want to hone their technique in a supportive environment can sign up for Ladies Days, which provides bus transportation, lift pass, lesson and lunch.
Driving distance from Calgary: 112 km
Located just up the road from the town of Banff, Norquay caters to those who want to squeeze a run or two into their day by offering hourly lift tickets.
Driving distance from Calgary: 135 km
The big news at Sunshine is the refurbished Teepee Town LX chairlift, which has been transformed into a quad with heated seats and retractable “bubbles” to shield riders from the elements. For those who passed on riding the rickety old double chair, which was installed in 1979, this new development broadens the terrain options considerably.
Driving distance from Calgary: 184 km
The biggest news from the biggest resort in Alberta is that it could get much bigger in the future. This past August, Parks Canada approved draft guidelines enabling further development that could double the current capacity, allowing the Lake Louise Ski Resort to host more than 11,500 visitors each day. As for the season at hand, the biggest developments are food-related, starting with the hiring of new executive chef Scott Green, whose resum includes stints as executive chef at the Wynn and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. There are also plans for a new sushi bar within the Lodge of the Ten Peaks.
Driving distance from Calgary: 255 km
Last season was tough for Castle Mountain, which ceased operations in February due to insufficient snowfall and warm, wet weather. But this hidden gem in the Crowsnest Pass will be back at it this season, hopefully bearing a new load of the whisper-light “blower” powder that keeps the regulars returning.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
photograph courtesy of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Driving distance from Calgary: 270 km
Serious skiers and snowboarders love this resort and will argue that it’s well worth the extra miles past Lake Louise. This past summer, Kicking Horse expanded its non-expert terrain, modifying two existing runs to make them more beginner-friendly, widening two alpine traverses and creating two new groomed runs off the Stairway to Heaven chairlift.
Driving distance from Calgary: 298 km
As far as terrain goes, Fairmont can’t compete with its neighbour resorts of Fernie, Kimberley and Panorama, but, for those seeking easy-riding groomers and a world-class hot springs in the same destination, this resort delivers.
Fernie Alpine Resort
photograph by Henry Georgi
Driving distance from Calgary: 303 km
Fernie’s average annual snowfall tops the 10-metre mark, making it a go-to resort for skiers and snowboarders who can ride with the best of ’em. This season, expert riders with ski-patroller ambitions can take an 11-week training course at the resort covering everything from avalanche control to first aid. Fernie is also bringing in fat biking this winter. The specialized bikes equipped with monster-sized tires will be available for rent and can be ridden on designated trails.
Panorama Mountain Village
Photograph by Kari Medig
Driving distance from Calgary: 311 km
Families flock to Panorama for the wide range of on-hill accommodations. The resort’s 1000 Peaks Lodge is re-opening this winter after being destroyed in a 2013 fire. The 37-unit lodge has been completely re-built from the car park up.
Driving distance from Calgary: 412 km
With great ski-in/ski-out accommodations and varied terrain offerings, Kimberley has a reputation as a family-friendly ski area (it’s so family-friendly, the New Year’s Eve fireworks show starts at 9 p.m.). The resort also features a lighted skating rink at the base area, with skates available for rent. Like its neighbour, Fernie, Kimberley will also be renting out fat bikes this season.
Driving distance from Calgary: 413 km
Calgary skiers and snowboarders wouldn’t brave the gnarly winter driving conditions over Rogers Pass if the snow in Revelstoke wasn’t so amazing. The resort caters to adventurous types, offering heli-skiing, cat-skiing and backcountry ski touring, in addition to the regular lift-serviced experience.
Driving distance from Calgary: 418 km
While Marmot is the go-to resort for Edmonton skiers and snowboarders, it’s a bit off the radar for Calgarians, but the gorgeous Jasper National Park setting makes it well worth the extra driving – especially this season, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Icefields Parkway, the stunning stretch of highway that links Jasper with Lake Louise.
Driving distance from Calgary: 423 km
It’s more than just cheaper beer that draws Calgary skiers and snowboarders across the U.S. border. This Montana resort near Glacier National Park is a great all-round ski destination, with five different terrain parks, plus a skiercross/boardercross track as well as regular night skiing.
Driving distance from Calgary: 917 km
Driving distance from Vancouver airport: 135 km
It’s a long drive to Whistler from Calgary, but the majestic resort at the end of that drive is something every skier should experience. Since this year marks the resort’s 50th anniversary, there’s going to be a celebratory feeling in the air.