Seeing the photos of the steep, stunning glaciers and peaks in and around Banff and Lake Louise, you might think this is a skiing and snowboarding destination best left to the experts. In fact, SkiBig3 resorts are the best ski resorts for beginners – perfect for beginner skiers and snowboarders hoping to build on their skills, and intermediates ready to leap to the next level.
Not only are the resorts themselves welcoming and easy to navigate, but the destination, terrain, infrastructure and services make Banff and Lake Louise the perfect place to progress on your ski and snowboard journey. Here are just a few reasons why SkiBig3 resorts are the best ski resorts for beginners in Canada.
Breaking news: Canada will lift all COVID-19 travel restrictions/requirements Oct. 1, 2022.
1) It’s easy to get here
Close to an international airport: While it might feel a million miles away when you’re shushing down the slopes, getting to these mountains is easy. Banff and Lake Louise are located just a 1.5-hour (88 miles) drive from Calgary International Airport (YYC) on the Trans-Canada Highway, a major thoroughfare that’s safe, smooth, and boasts little to no traffic. Airport shuttles are available up to 10 times per day, meaning you don’t have to mess with a rental or wait long for a ride.
Canadian travel restrictions lifted: Starting Oct. 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, use of ArriveCAN App, and any testing and quarantine/isolation requirements will end for all travellers entering Canada whether by land, air or sea. Travellers will no longer be required to undergo health checks for travel on air or rail, or wear masks on planes and trains.
2) There’s plenty of “beginner-friendly” terrain
All three SkiBig3 mountains are known for shred-worthy powder pockets and world-class free-ride terrain. Additionally, each resort also features areas with gentle slopes, easy-to-board chairlifts, tailored progression areas, and accessible on-mountain warm-up lodges, making them the best ski resorts for beginners in the Canadian Rockies.
Banff Sunshine: At Banff Sunshine, every run funnels back to the upper village, which is to say “all roads lead to the lodge.” Parents feel secure letting their older kiddos roam a bit as it’s easy to set a meeting point. Banff Sunshine boasts three mountains: Mount Standish is known for its gentle pitches and pod of gentle greens and blues where new – and progressing – skiers can build confidence; Lookout Mountain is famous for unparalleled high alpine skiing and riding, and extraordinary views; and Goat’s Eye Mountain offers both lower angle family-friendly terrain, and steep, challenging thigh-burners. With a third of the resort suitable for beginners and low intermediate skiers and riders, it’s a great place to progress and work on turns, before graduating to the higher slopes (and amazing views) from the top of Lookout Mountain.
Lake Louise Ski Resort: At Lake Louise Ski Resort, you’ll find gentle slopes with a big mountain feel. There’s a blue or green run from top to bottom of all 11 lifts, along with a wide mix of terrain to practice specific skills, including moguls, groomers, steeps, glades, and powder. Long, carefree runs like Eagle Meadows through Wiwaxy give beginners the chance to link turns over and over for the best practice, encouraging progress in a short period of time. In addition, Lake Louise’s new Juniper Express Chair accesses five new introductory blue runs adjacent to the resort’s base area beginner terrain, allowing skiers and riders to easily move from accomplished beginner to new intermediate when ready (more detail below).
Mt. Norquay: Mt. Norquay is known for its incredible grooming program, thanks to a long ski racing history. Here you’ll find groomed corduroy runs that are smooth, wide, and perfect for practicing swooping S-turns. There’s also no shortage of beginner slopes — more than half of the lower front side of the mountain is dedicated to green runs. Cascade Chair and the lower half of Spirit Chair are perfect for beginners to get a mix of gentle groomed runs and even some playful trees, like family-favourite Enchanted Forest. Once you’ve mastered the area, head for Mystic Express, which is full of long, blue runs where you can perfect your turns and take your ski skills up a notch with slightly steeper terrain.
3) The infrastructure is built with beginners in mind
Magic Carpets: Each resort offers dedicated learning areas with magic carpets staffed with lift operators trained to teach and help beginners load the conveyor lifts safely. These areas are also fenced in to keep them separate and safe.
New lift and trails: At Lake Louise Ski Resort, the new high-speed Juniper Express Quad Chair (opened Feb. 2022) allows for quick access to five new introductory blue runs and improved access to two terrain parks offering varying levels of features. The new trails are geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, providing an easy transition between the Sunnyside Learning Area and upper mountain trails. The blue runs are perfect for beginner to low-intermediate skiers, and anyone looking for warm-up laps, as the terrain offers great wind protection allowing for very consistent snow conditions and great visibility. The lift itself has footholds and a bar between each rider’s legs that makes it safer and easy for children to ride.
Gondolas: Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise Ski Resort have 8- and 6-person gondolas, respectively, which offer ideal transport for newbies who are still getting used to heights and want to explore the mountains without riding a chairlift.
- Banff Sunshine: Big tents installed during the pandemic remain at the base of Goat’s Eye, offering an easy spot to warm up. Quick grab-and-go food options at the base of Goat’s Eye, like the tasty BeaverTails stand and Sixty Five South Tacos, make the ideal reward after a day of practice.
- Lake Louise Ski Resort: The famous Temple Lodge has been a refuge for skiers on the backside of the mountain for 90 years. And now its Swayer’s Nook serves up laid-back vibes, hot cocoa and hearty chili to satiate your hunger.
- Mt. Norquay: One of the advantages of skiing or riding a smaller resort is it’s easy to take lots of breaks and slide into Cascade Lodge to sit by the cozy fire. The cafeteria features home-cooked options by Chef Morne, who has been serving up healthy, homey meals for over eight years.
4) The SkiBig3 Adventure Hub has everything you need
Tickets, rentals and transport: SkiBig3 is a one-stop shop for snowsports enthusiasts. Not only can you buy one SkiBig3 Lift Ticket that unlocks access to three world-class resorts, with SkiBig3 Lift Ticket you get access to
- Rentals: Conveniently delivered straight to your hotel and tuned by expert rental techs at the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub.
- Ski shuttle: SkiBig3 ski shuttles run multiple times per day, from the Town of Banff to/from all three mountains.
- Ski/snowboard pick-up: At the end of your vacation, simply leave your skis/board in the hotel’s ski locker for pick-up, a complementary service with your SkiBig3 Lift Ticket.
Ski and Snowboard Lessons: SkiBig3 can help you secure adult and children’s lessons no matter your skill level. Learn with top-level CSIA-certified instructors who know these mountains like the backs of their hands and can efficiently work to improve your on-mountain skills.
SkiBig3 Private Guided Adventures: More than just a private lesson, SkiBig3 Private Guided Adventures are a great option for those with high beginner/intermediate skills that want to explore the mountain but aren’t sure where to start. Your guide will help you and your group find terrain across the mountain within your ability level. You can even ski/ride with the same guide at all three resorts, helping you build a relationship that adds to your experience.
Book now, decide later
If you’re on the fence about booking a ski trip – that’s okay! Our no-questions-asked cancellation policy is designed with beginners in mind who may be still deciding on whether to book a ski trip this season. This policy allows free changes and no cancellation fees on SkiBig3 Lift Tickets, Rentals, and Snow-School services until 14-Days prior to arrival. To book your winter ski vacation or secure your multi-day lift tickets, call 1-844-754-2443 to speak with a reservation specialist or go online to access some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.