Four ski areas in Banff and Jasper national parks draw downhillers from Europe, Japan, and all over North America.
Reliable snow, great scenery, uncrowded slopes, big verticals at relatively low altitudes, a good variety of lodging, and a discounted Canadian dollar all make for an irresistible ski destination.
Banff Mount Norquay
Four miles north of Banff; 1,650-foot vertical; five lifts; 25 runs on 162 acres; new base lodge; the only night skiing in the Canadian Rockies. This vest-pocket resort lures advanced locals and visitors with well-groomed trails, black-diamond runs on Norquay, and new cruising routes on Mystic Ridge.
Ten miles southwest of Banff; 20-minute gondola ride from parking lot to lifts; 3,514-foot vertical; 12 lifts; 89 runs on 2,250 acres; all natural snow. Sunshine gets high North American rankings for scenery, snow quality, and a whopping vertical.
Three miles northeast of Lake Louise Village; 3,250-foot vertical; 11 lifts; 104 runs on 4,000 acres; renovated base lodge; Lake Louise is usually ranked second in Canada behind Whistler-Blackcomb (north of Vancouver).
Twelve miles south of Jasper; 2,950-foot vertical; seven lifts; 52 runs on 1,000 acres. This regional family resort deserves wider recognition, if only for its great scenery.