Forget your impression of winter as a time to hibernate – Albertans know how to find the joy in this snowy season. From downhill skiing at a world-renowned resort to skating on a natural rink framed by magnificent mountains, there’s a winter adventure to be found everywhere. Follow these five tips for a magical wintertime vacation in the mountains.
Hit the Slopes
The hardest part of skiing and snowboarding in Alberta might be deciding where to go. If you’re staying in Calgary, the closest mountain resort is Nakiska, located about an hour’s drive away. Banff and Lake Louise are home to three world-class ski resorts: Norquay, known for its challenging terrain, Banff Sunshine Village, with a reputation for great snow across its three mountains, and Lake Louise Ski Resort, the biggest of the three. A few hours south of Calgary, in the Crowsnest Pass area, lies Castle Mountain Resort, a delightful place with a friendly atmosphere.
Try a New Activity
The Canmore Nordic Centre, about an hour from Calgary, hosts many international sporting events. With its variety of charming views, extensive trails, day lodge, and on-site rentals, it’s also the perfect place for beginners to give a new winter sport a go. Take a group, private, or semi-private cross-country ski lesson, then explore more than 40 miles of trails. You can also rent snowshoes and fat bikes – bikes with over-sized tires designed for snow or sand – for use on designated trails.
Go with a Guide
For a one-of-a-kind winter adventure, travel through stunning scenery on a guided dogsled tour. Numerous Canmore-based companies offer paw-powered tours, ranging from 1.5 hours to two days, including Howling Dog Tours, Snowy Old Sled Dog Tours, and Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Kingmik Dog Sled Tours, the only operator in Banff National Park, has a team of Alaskan Huskies that will carry you through breathtaking surroundings, on a trip you won’t soon forget.
Skates and Snowshoes
There are plenty of pretty places to skate in Alberta, but Lake Louise is in a league of its own. The snow-covered mountains and massive Victoria Glacier provide an unbelievable backdrop to this natural rink. Or, strap snowshoes onto your boots and go for a walk. Guided snowshoe tours and rentals are available at Lake Louise Ski Resort, including night tours under the stars.
End your exciting day outside with a hot soak. The new Kananaskis Nordic Spa features outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, and rest spots, like winterized hammocks, together creating a hydrotherapy cycle. There’s also massage treatments available if you’re seeking some extra post-slope rejuvenation. Another spot for warming up is the Banff Upper Hot Springs, the highest operating hot spring in Canada. Travelers have come to this famed spot for more than a century, taking in the alpine scenery and relaxing in the soothing, natural hot springs.