Make Your Way to the Peaks of Alberta
The Canadian province of Alberta becomes a snow-filled wonderland when winter swings around. Therefore, for an epic, picturesque and action-packed winter break that’s a little more far-flung than the same old haunts in the Alps, a trip out west to Canada is just the tonic for the snow-loving holidaymaker. Whether you live for the pistes, love a taste of après culture or just fancy warming your toes in front of the fire after a day out soaking up mountain air and the dramatic sights of the Canadian Rockies, the province of Alberta is a great place to do this.
Every winter the province’s mountains are covered in metres of light, ready-to-ski powder that’s just as good for beginners as it is for experienced off-piste warriors. And naturally, where there’s top quality snow, there’s a great ski scene, which means the entire region is packed with amazing resorts with every kind of accommodation, from luxe hotels to remote mountainside cabins.
Snow sports lovers will probably already have heard of Banff – one of the world’s best-loved winter sports towns that’s just hour-and-a-half’s drive from Calgary International Airport – as well as the clean-aired resort of Nakiska, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, and continues to wow travellers today.
But beyond those two high-pedigree ski areas, there’s tons more to explore, from Mount Norquay near the town of Banff in the south, to Marmot Basin further north, near the cool mountain town of Jasper. Also, nestled in the world-famous Banff National Park, you’ll find the winter paradises of Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, where there’s both great gastronomy and light, fluffy snow.
Of course, if you’re more about exploring the scenery than bombing it down the slopes back into town, you can head out into the wilderness on miles of well-maintained trails with a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes, where you’ll get the chance to take some perfect holiday photos among Alberta’s famous beautiful blue skies and snow-capped mountains.
By far the best thing about ski season in Alberta, however, is how long it lasts. From November to May each year the region gets coated in seven months of amazing snow, which rises to a dazzling four metre in the resort of Marmot Basin. Meaning you’re guaranteed a good time until the very last days of the season. In fact, the resort makes a habit of it, with hundreds of riders of every ability hitting the ski hill for events each day in April, eking out their carves, jumps and tricks until the last lift stops.
But it’s about way more than just the skiing: Alberta’s many world-class resorts are home to a unique winter culture, and each of the province’s vibrant local scenes is a little different from the next. So whether you fancy ice skating on the frozen water at Lake Louise, taking advantage of Alberta’s famously low sales tax buying gear in the shops of Banff and Jasper or getting your fill of gravy-smothered poutine and other great Canadian delicacies in the restaurants of Banff Sunshine Village, spending time in Alberta during ski season is as much about culture as craving fresh lines in untouched powder. So what are you waiting for?