Home » Alberta Adventure Guide » Ski the Canadian Rockies at the world-famous Sunshine Village
People vacation in the mountains for all kinds of reasons, and the Canadian Rockies are an excellent destination of choice for all of them. But obviously, one of the primary reasons is skiing.
If you’re one of them, then may we suggest you let a little Sunshine into your life.
Sunshine Village is one of the premier ski resorts in North America – and, indeed, the world. It’s not surprising to find top-line skiing in mountains as stunning as the Rockies, but even so, Sunshine Village surpasses expectations.
The resort is known for having what many have called Canada’s best snow: a “Champagne Powder” that is light and dry, perfect for skiing.
Some vital statistics: The village has 3,358 acres of skiing terrain. It tops out at 2,730 meters (8,957 feet), and its lowest elevation is 1,660 meters (5,446 feet). It features 107 named runs over three mountains – Goat’s Eye Mountain, Lookout Mountain and Mount Standish) – and features a gondola, ten chairs (5 high-speed quads, 3 fixed-grip quads, 1 triple and 1 double) and two magic carpets to get the skiers there.
Annual snowfall averages as much as 33 feet (more than nine meters). The season begins in early November and usually runs into late May, ending on the Victoria Day long weekend. Gotta love those long mountain winters! It’s so popular, in fact, that many world class alpine ski and snowboard events are held there.
The resort is easy to reach. It’s only about 11 miles (18 kilometers) southwest of the town of Banff, just a 15-minute drive away. Heck, you can drive there from Calgary’s international airport in just an hour and a half; the exit from the Trans-Canada Highway is clearly marked.
Sunshine Village, like many of the highlights of Banff National Park, actually straddles the Alberta-British Columbia border.
If you want to stay in the village, and we heartily recommend it, the Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a good deal. The 84-room hotel sits in a vehicle-free snow bowl at 7,200 feet. It is Banff National Park’s only ski-in, ski-out hotel. A modern, 8-person gondola provides access to the hotel, as road access to the hotel is impossible in winter. Snow vehicles are on hand to service late-arriving guests.
There are other fine ski resorts in the Rockies – Norquay and Lake Louise Mountain Resort are two excellent sister choices near Sunshine, and a special three-day “tri-area” lift ticket will allow you to ski at all three. Sunshine, though, is the crown jewel, and for anyone who’s never skied the Canadian Rockies and wants to get started, it is the absolute must-visit.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the history of Sunshine Village, a winter destination of choice for a long time now.
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