Location: Located in the picturesque National Park, Banff is in Alberta, Canada. Named by the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884, he named it after Banffshire in Scotland, his hometown. With one of the longest ski seasons in North America, Banff accesses over 8,000 acres of ski terrain. With the Tri Area ski pass, you can ski Mount Norquay,Sunshine Village and Lake Louise which is 30 minutes drive but offers 139 runs suiting beginner to expert skiers.
Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, Banff offers an endless vista into the outdoors surrounded by mountains and lakes – they even engineered the first street they built here to give the best possible view of Cascade Mountain.
Getting there: Daily flights depart to Calgary from London Heathrow with Air Canada and British Airways. In the winter, Canadian Affair operates twice weekly charter flights from London Gatwick.
Banff is 2 hours drive from Calgary Airport. Drive yourself, hop in a taxi or on one of the regular shuttle buses.
Where to stay: It is worth staying centrally in Banff if you don’t have a car. Accommodation options are a little dated but perfectly acceptable – Banff Park Lodge is one of our favourites with the ski bus stopping right outside but it’s the indoor swimming pool that sells it for us. For those wanting all the bells and whistles, head to Fairmont’s Banff Springs (they have 5 restaurants under one roof so options are endless). If you have a car, head to CRMR’s Buffalo Mountain Lodge – a traditional, charming rustic hotel with a great outdoor Jacuzzi.
Highlights: Banff looks and feels like a film set and personifies mountain culture – don’t expect to find anyone in town who doesn’t love skiing and the outdoors. Its town culture almost outweighs the snowy peaks but when the snow is good it’s fantastic.
Downsides: When the conditions aren’t great, be prepared to head 30 minutes to the Lake Louise ski area where conditions can be more consistent. You can stay on the hill at Sunshine’s Ski Lodge but the lifts close at 5pm so you won’t be eating in town at night if you’re staying here!
Best piste run: Enjoy the Strawberry Express, the high speed quad, and you’ll find some great snow on Star Trek or Donkey’s Tail.
Best off piste skiing run: If there are good conditions at Sunshine, get yourself some safety kit and a guide and head off to Delirium Dive via the Mount Standish Express.
Best mountain restaurant: We like the atmosphere of Sunshine’s Day Lodge. Great burgers accompanied by an Irish coffee is a highlight. Relax on a sofa by the fire in the Alpine Grill.
Best guide: Jorg Wilz is a CMH guide who also guides his hometown via On Top Mountaineering. There’s not a huge amount of off piste skiing to find in Banff so they’d prefer you to ski tour around Rogers Pass to find the powder.