The town of Banff is in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, nestled amongst pristine majestic mountain peaks a mere 90 minutes from Calgary International Airport.
With jaw dropping views of the Rocky Mountains from the historic Main Street, this world famous ski town in Alberta is the access point for Banff Sunshine ski resort and Mt Norquay that, together with Lake Louise Ski Resort, make up the SkiBig3 lift pass. The tri-area ski pass gives you unfettered access to some of the world’s most panoramic and spectacular scenic skiing and snowboarding.
Coupled with a reliable 29.5 ft (9m) annual accumulation of dry light snow, staying in the town of Banff is really the perfect home-away-from home to access all three resorts. Though, Lake Louise has its own quaint and intimate town 45 minutes down the road.
Expect over 7748 acres (3100 hectares) of combined terrain available on one ski pass across three resorts in the Banff National Park, a thriving après scene in the town of Banff and a myriad of adventures nearby including Johnston Canyon ice waterfalls.
No trip to the Canadian Rockies is complete without at least a look-see, drink or meal at the iconic and historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Affectionately known as the “Castle in the Rockies” – this imposing hotel is everything you imagine a castle to be.
about banff sunshine
Banff Sunshine ski resort receives about 19.5 – 23 ft. (6-7 m) on average per season, which typically comes from small regular storms. Sunshine’s seven-month season stretches from early November until late May — the longest non-glacial ski season in Canada. Banff Sunshine’s altitude of 7,200 feet (2,195 m) ensures the snow stays light and dry. If cold temperatures are a concern, spring skiing from March – May is a great option.
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THE VILLAGE & THE TOWN
The town of Banff itself is a year-round resort town. First settled in the 1880s after the transcontinental railway was built through the Bow Valley. Banff is flanked on all sides by towering mountains, including Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain. The early settlers, even oriented the town’s first street so that it offered the best possible view of Cascade Mountain. On Banff Avenue, the main thoroughfare, boutiques and restaurants mix with château-style hotels and souvenir shops. There’s more than 130 bars, restaurants and cafes to keep the discerning gourmands happy and a ton of nightlife for après. Add three local museums, eight contemporary art galleries and world-famous hot springs.
At an elevation of 1,383 metres (4,537 feet), Banff is the highest town in Canada. Keep an eye out for deer. Nature abounds, and even in winter it is not uncommon to happen across a deer or two in the main street of Banff.
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WHERE TO STAY
With more than 50 accommodation options, there’s bound to be a style and budget for you from the fairytale castle that is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to the ski-in, ski-out Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Whether you prefer self contained, lodge style, downtown or remote wilderness, Banff delivers on the lodging front including the Fox Hotel and Suites with hot pool and the Rimrock Resort with jaw dropping views.
TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT BANFF
#1. 90 minutes from an International Airport. Fly into Calgary International Airport and jump in a rental car, resort shuttle or private transfer and be in downtown Banff in under two hours.
#2. The Banff National Park — Canada’s oldest national park, established in 1885 is known for soaring peaks, turquoise lakes, glaciers and ice fields and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#3. SkiBig3 — three Alberta ski resorts on one lift pass means almost 8000 acres (3237 ha) of skiable terrain to choose from, and all accessed by complimentary shuttles.
#4. The iconic “Castle in the Rockies”. The historic and majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel sits in the forest overlooking town with castle like features and fairytale legends.
#5. Après — Banff is a year round resort town with some of the best gourmand offerings in Canada from bistros to pubs to fine dining and beyond. Try the bison, one of Alberta’s seven signature foods.
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|Hours of Operation||9:00am – 4:00pm|
|Gondola Hours||8:00am – 5:30pm Mon-Thurs (weekends extended)|
|Opening Date||Early November|
|Closing Date||May 20, 2019|
|Vertical||3,514 feet / 1,070 meters|
|Base Elevation||5,440 feet / 1,658 meters|
|Peak Elevation||8,954 feet / 2,730 meters|
|Acreage||3,358 acres / 1359 ha|
|Annual Snowfall||Up to 30 feet / 9 metres|
|Terrain||20% Beginner 55% Intermediate 25% Advanced|
|Longest Run||5 miles / 8 kms|
|Cumulative Length of Runs||Approximately 82 kms (52 miles)|
|Lifts||12 — 1 High speed 8 Passenger Gondola, 6 High Speed Quad Chairlifts,1 Bubble Heated High Speed Quad, 2 Quad Chairlifts, 2 Carpet Lifts|
|Lift Capacity||Approximately 20,000 people/hour|
Banff’s ski season is one of the longest in North America, running mid-November through May each year.
Take advantage of this winter wonderland. Glide silently through wide open spaces, on freshly-made tracks alongside snow laden fir trees, glistening in the sunshine, their branches bowing under its weight. Hear the stillness, and immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscape of a frozen lake and snow covered peaks. Cross-country skiing offers a special combination of pure, serene wilderness, and energizing outdoor discovery.
Scenic trackset and skate skiing options are available in the Banff, Lake Louise, and Castle Junction areas. Early and late season conditions are best in Lake Louise, with optimal skiing throughout the park from late-December to early April. Wax up your skis and enjoy one of many cross-country ski trails.
Family friendly Mt. Norquay offers the only night skiing in Banff National Park, including a fully lit terrain park, and expert snowmaking on 85% of the terrain. This is the go to ski resort, always offering outstanding conditions especially for beginners and intermediate skiers and riders. Take time out to hit Tube Town – 8 lanes of tubing fun for all the family.
The closest international airport to Banff is the Calgary International Airport (YYC), located just 78 miles (126 km) from Banff National Park. Frequent direct flights connect Calgary International Airport (YYC) to many cities across Canada, US, UK, and the rest of the world.
Banff is an easy 90 minute drive along the all-weather, four-lane Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy #1). This divided highway is a direct and easy commute from Calgary with no mountain passes or twisting curves. 1. Take an airport shuttle – Frequent airport transfer services are available between Calgary International Airport and Banff and Lake Louise hotels. 2. Hire a car – Calgary International Airport has many car rental services available so you can explore the destination on your own terms. Enjoy free parking throughout Banff and Lake Louise, but don’t forget to purchase your Park Pass when entering Banff National Park.
Included in every SkiBig3 Lift Ticket is complimentary ski shuttle service that runs regularly to all three ski resorts. The Roam bus service, Canada’s first all-hybrid electric community bus service, can get you around town. Taxis are also easily found throughout town.
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things to do at banff sunshine
Banff Sunshine boasts four separate terrain parks to allow riders to progress their freestyle skills and to become more confident both in the park and around the mountain. The Strawberry Jim Park features 17 different boxes and rails allowing skiers and snowboarders to work on their tricks. The Great Divide Park is home to the resort’s big jump line as well as a medium box and rail line. The Grizzly Park is home to big jibs, and medium jumps. Spring Hill Park in 2020 is inspired by Holy Bowly with natural all snow features to get playful on. The Wolverine Kids Play Park features beginner boxes, rails, and jumps. It’s the perfect intro to freestyle park.
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Expect innovative beginner programs for those new to the sport. For the more experienced skier or snowboarder, the Banff Sunshine snow school offer small group workshops and private sessions to help fine tune your skills. With a lesson, you’ll learn new skills which will allow you to ski all the terrain that Banff Sunshine has to offer. If you don’t think the school has been successful in achieving this goal, you can go to any resort sales desks and let them know as soon as your lesson is finished. They will arrange for another lesson free of charge; that’s their snow guarantee.
Both group and private lessons, full day and half day are offered at Banff Sunshine with excellent ski instructors from around the globe.
KIDS SNOW SCHOOL
Tiny Tigers Daycare
19 Months – 6 Years – The Tiny Tigers Daycare will provide your kids with a fun-filled day of indoor and outdoor activities, nutritional snacks and an optional lunch. Please note that the daycare is a nut-free zone.
Tiny Tigers Ski & Play
Ages: 3 – 6 | Skiers Only – Tiny Tigers Ski & Play (Age 3-6, skiers only) Lessons are a maximum size of three, perfect for children of all ski abilities. Filled with indoor and outdoor activities geared to the age group, your child will take away lasting memories. The daycare is a nut-free zone. Includes lift ticket and rentals for the duration of the lesson.
Kids Kampus First Timer Package
Ages: 6 – 12 – Small group size for personal attention and a specialized learning zone with gentle terrain and easy lifts to help build confidence on the snow so you can discover a new sport in a positive and fun way.
Kids Kampus Lessons
Ages: 6 – 12 – Learning has never been so fun! Your kids are going to laugh and play while they learn to be better skiers and riders in a safe and well organized environment. There is an optional lunch add-on so your child can spend the whole day with their group and instructor.
COVID-19 Policy: The resorts’ products, programs and prices may change or vary for the upcoming 2020/21 season as they continue to act in accordance with the instructions of the Alberta Health Services and other Government officials.
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You should consider renting gear if you flying to Calgary, want to ski powder and save money. Hauling skis through airports is no fun, not to mention those excess baggage fees you get slugged with. Did someone say powder? Yes, that’s right. In Banff, you are in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, were powder skiing dreams are made. Having the right gear makes a mega difference to how you ski or ride the powder. Plus you’ll be riding high on the latest technology. Even better. There are a number of equipment rental stores in downtown Banff. We can definitely help get the best deals in town.
From big brand outerwear to local artisans, fashion, cowboy boots, gifts, souvenirs and more, you’ll find it within Banff’s sheets. The Christmas store is Canada’s largest, so be warned you could lose hours within these walls. Bear Street in Banff town features an eclectic mix of art galleries, bike shops, and health and wellness stores. A selection of grocery, liquor, and convenience stores in Banff and Lake Louise carry everything you need to fully stock your hotel room or condo.
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THINGS TO DO
SnowHosts provide FREE tours of the mountain helping intermediate skiers or riders new to the mountain to find their way to the best terrain and information on the resort and area. Meet them at 11:45 AM each day in front of the Old Sunshine Lodge for a three hour blue or blue/black tour. SkiBig3 offer Intro to Backcountry tours for first timers wanting to experience a safe guided ski or split board tour into the off piste terrain of Banff National Park.
Take an Ice Walk through Johnston Canyon through steel catwalks built into the canyon walls, a guided snowshoe tour to Marble Canyon or jump on a snowmobile for a tour of majestic peaks and sunset views. Try ice climbing with an instructor, go on a dog sled ride from Banff National Park to Yoho National Park through the Kicking Horse Pass at the Continental Divide or a horse drawn sleigh ride through the Bow Valley. Ice hockey? Take in an NHL game at Saddledome Stadium in Calgary. The annual SnowDays celebration is a highlight of the winter season every January. A free 12-day long event centred around massive snow sculptures in downtown Banff and the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise. Grab your togs/swimmers/bathers and head to Banff Upper Hot Springs for a soak in mineral waters.
In 1883, three rail workers stumbled across hot water and steam flowing out of a cave on the lower slopes of what is now known as Sulphur Mountain. In the late 19th century the craze for the “water cure” was strong and people flocked to Banff to “take the waters” and enjoy the healing properties of the mineral-rich springs.
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Looking for anything from mellow chilled après to dancing on tables live music? You’ve come to the right place. There are over 130 pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in Banff so you’ll be spoiled for choice. The Waldhaus Pub next to the ice rink at Fairmont Banff Springs serves German fare, for local brews head to Banff Ave Brew Co, the Park Distillery distills with glacier waters from the region, Rose and Crown has live music every night of the week and High Rollers has 48 beers on tap. Treat yourself with fine dining at Le Beaujolais for impeccable cuisine and service, the 17,000 bottle wine cellar at Eden restaurant or farm to table at Sleeping Buffalo Dining Room.
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Contact us for all your Banff Sunshine vacation needs.