I grew up in the small mountain town of Canmore. Every winter we would see a good portion of the people who had just moved there in the summer inexplicably move out of the town. It took a while to understand, until one day when I was bartending at the Georgetown Inn, and had a chance to talk to one of those winter-quitters. The way he explained it to me was that, if you don’t have any hobbies in the winter, spending the season in a frozen little mountain town was very close to a terrifyingly boring version of a frozen over Hell. This explains why there are there are 5 Ski Resorts within an hour’s drive from there. But, for our guests here in Calgary, which is the best resort to spend a weekend day visiting? Well, for the sake of brevity I’ll only deal with the top 3, but here’s a quick run-down on the pros and cons of , Sunshine, and .
Pros: The ticket prices. You can ski by the hour here, which means that if you only have a handful of hours to get some skiing in, you won’t have to pay almost $100 per person for it.
Also, access. The hill is literally 15 minutes from the Banff town site.
Cons: It’s a small resort, not a ton of terrain, and they don’t get a lot of snow, so they make a lot of it themselves. Bleh. Still, definitely worth the price of admission, though.
Pros: Natural snow (mostly), great terrain, fast lifts. Sunshine is a very well-developed ski resort. When it comes to snow, they usually have the most of what’s around, although they do make a small amount of snow themselves (they claim they don’t, but I’ve been blasted by their snow machines with my own skin more than a few times).
Cons: It costs $86 a day to ski there. There’s usually a pretty big crowd hanging around on the hills, so expect to have to avoid a bunch of dumb-as-hell snowboarders sitting in the middle of the runs.
Just as an aside, why do they do that? I’m a skier personally, and I’m always mystified when I see snowboarders sitting down in the middle of the runs. Do they want me to run over them? ‘Cause I will, if that’s what they’re going for.
Pros: Lake Louise can often rival Sunshine for snow coverage, and they don’t pretend that they make a fair amount of it themselves in the early season. Lake Louise has a huge amount of terrain, and it’s often much more challenging than what you can find at Sunshine.
Cons: It’s a longer drive than what you’d have to make to get to either Sunshine or Norquay, and the ticket cost is often as high as what you can expect to pay at Sunshine. Access is a bit of a hurdle right now, as the construction on the TransCanada has significantly impacted the length of the drive. However, it has lessened the amount of auto accidents somewhat. So, there’s that.
Jonathan Meier is the Online Marketing, Social Media Coordinator, and Two-Plank Locomotion Specialist for Nuvo Hotel Suites, a small boutique hotel in downtown Calgary, Alberta. When he’s not using his Telemarking skills to rip up the backcountry and call people at dinnertime, he’s usually out in the mountains near his hometown of Canmore where he can be seen climbing, skiing, or doing anything at all that doesn’t involve computers.