Most people travel to Canada in the winter to ski the famous big resorts like Whistler and Lake Louise. But 20 minutes from downtown Banff is a little "hill"—as the Canadians like to call their mountains—called Sunshine Village. The resort, located on the continental divide of the Canadian Rockies, spans more than 3,300 acres and has three mountains to explore. I visited in mid-March (locals say March conditions are often best) and we had perfect powder. The resort stays open through late May for those looking to extend their ski season.
The ski-in, ski-out Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a perfect base for those who want to get first chair in the morning. Rooms have great views of the surrounding mountains and loft-style rooms with Murphy beds are perfect for couples or families. I liked the lodge's unique offerings such as hot tub bingo night and new yoga and ski retreats.
The mountain has terrain for all levels. Serious skiers and riders will want to go off-piste and experience Delirium Dive. A check-in gate ensures skiers and riders are equipped with a beacon and safety gear before they tackle the Dive. On Lookout Mountain, you're likely to find powder stashes on some of the steep tree runs such as Little Angel, and Horot's Revenge. And don't miss the frozen waterfall on the way down the Waterfall run off the Wawa chair.
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Take Your Pick of Where to Ski
Not only does Banff National Park have three world-class ski areas, but the region, just 90 minutes west of Calgary, features one of the longest ski seasons in North America—lasting from mid November through late May. Sunshine Village receives about 30 feet of snow annually across its three mountains and 3,300 acres of terrain. At Lake Louise Ski Resort, experts love the chutes, bumps, and bowls, and beginners play on gentle slopes and long runs. Just 15 minutes from the town of Banff, Mt. Norquay offers night skiing and the exciting Banff’s Backyard terrain park.
Sunshine Village ski area is the local’s favorite among Banff residents and the reasons why are quite obvious. The ski area lies just 20 minutes from Banff, and with 3300 acres, it’s nearly as big as regional rival Lake Louise.
The ski terrain is unrivaled within the province. It’s expert terrain, like the Wild West and Delirium Dive, is often rated in the World’s top-10 extreme skiing venues, but Sunshine Village is spread out across three mountains, and two are ideally suited for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Sunshine Village ski area sits upon the Continental Divide, which is the provincial border between Alberta and British Columbia. Skiers riding the Great Divide Chairlift will cross The provincial border on the ride up and on the ski back down.
For visitors, Sunshine Village has another unique feature missing from most Canadian Rockies ski resorts. The Sunshine Mountain Lodge, located at mid mountain (7200 feet above sea level), is the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Banff National Park. Staying high in the Canadian Rockies means guests have front-row seats to some of the clearest star gazing in North America, but don’t forget to get some rest. Guests at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge also gain a 20-minute head start on the ski area each morning.
Day tickets from $85.00. Rooms from $200.00. Contact 1-877-542-2633.