Most people think of Banff and Lake Louise, in the province of Alberta in Canada, as summer destinations. They are nestled within a national park and have endless opportunities for outdoor fun – hiking, boating, camping, and biking, just to name a few. When thinking of this region, however, fewer people think of heading north of the border for some outdoor fun in the winter.
Lake Louise Ski Resort has a six-month season, from November until the end of April. The snow rivals their Rocky Mountain neighbors south of the Canadian border but the resort is easier to navigate and less crowded than, say, its Colorado counterparts. It’s a great spot for families, as each lift has access to green, blue, and black runs so skiers of all levels can find a run anywhere on the mountain. Along with their resort partners at Norquay and Sunshine, Lake Louise offers a lift ticket that can be used at any of the three resorts, making it easy to try different mountains on one vacation.
If skiing isn’t your thing, you can try any number of other outdoor experiences. Lake Louise itself is a sight to behold, especially from the rooms at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The lake freezes in the winter and makes a perfect playground for ice skating, hockey, and snowshoeing, or a simple stroll across the frozen pond. Just down the road, you can bundle up in a dog sled for a different kind of journey down the former Trans-Canada highway.
Closer to Banff, snowshoe trails and ice climbing opportunities abound. Johnston Canyon is a frozen wonderland with waterfalls running behind beautiful icicles into partially-frozen ponds. There is a marked trail that is well-maintained but a guided tour gives you a fascinating history and a pair of ice cleats that make the journey a lot more enjoyable.
Banff is a cozy mountain town with a lot of character. It’s a great home base or is easily paired with a stay in Lake Louise. Stay at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fairmont Banff Springs, and be transported to a European castle with all of its old-world charm. The main street is filled with local shops and restaurants to give you a taste of the Canadian palate and leave you with some lovely souvenirs.
At just an easy two-hour drive from Calgary’s international airport, Banff and Lake Louise are a fantastic choice year-round for a Rocky Mountain getaway with the whole family.