Observer Content Studio is a unit of Observer’s branded content department. Observer’s editorial staff is not involved in the creation of this content. Observer and/or sponsor may collect a portion of sales if you purchase products through these links.
Oh, Canada! The true North strong and full of natural beauty. Not only are Canadians some of the friendliest people in the world, their country also has spectacular seasons. The sun is hot in the summer; the leaves turn from green to yellow, orange, and fiery red in the fall; and when the snow falls, Canada’s mountains become a winter wonderland.
From SkiBig3 in Alberta, to the Powder Highway resorts, Fernie and Kicking Horse, to the Laurentians of Quebec, and Blue Mountain in Ontario, there are plenty of slopes to visit in Canada. These mountains boast incredible terrain for all levels of skier, and they’re also home to some of the most charming villages in the country—and some seriously top-notch après-ski (we know you’re about that après-life). With sights to see and activities galore, the great Canadian North is going to be your go-to place to warm up this winter.
All located within Banff National Park in Alberta, SkiBig3 includes two mountain towns, Banff and Lake Louise, and three mountain resorts: Banff Sunshine, Mt. Norquay, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Each resort offers a unique experience, but with one major thing in common—the sights on and around each mountain are absolutely incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Plus, with one lift ticket you can explore all 8,000 acres across all three mountain resorts.
Banff’s vibrant community offers skiing, dining and shopping opportunities galore and is also host to a thriving arts and culture scene. Just 15 minutes west of town is Banff Sunshine, a ski resort sitting on the Continental Divide, with a diversity of runs (145+) suitable for all levels of skiers and riders. After riding the gondola away from the car-park, visitors will find themselves in ski resort like no other. Three sprawling mountains provide breathtaking site lines, uninterrupted by any signs of civilization.
After exploring as much of the mountains as you can in a single day, we recommend heading back to town and listening to some live music at the Banff Rose and Crown or Wild Bill’s Saloon. Alternatively, cozy up with some hot ramen after a big ski at the local favorite, Chaya, specializing in no-frills Asian fare.
Add Banff’s Upper Hot Springs to the top of your list, as it really doesn’t get much better than soaking in spectacular mountain views while soaking those tired muscles in mineral
Also located just outside of town is Mt Norquay, deemed the “best-kept secret in the Canadian Rockies.” Mt. Norquay boasts 190 acres, 74 runs, and a 1,650-feet vertical. With such overall exceptional terrain, it’s no wonder Mt. Norquay is the training ground of Olympic and World Cup athletes. Although the mountain attracts advanced skiers and riders, the conditions are great for all levels and is a great family-friendly destination. Enjoy a day of tubing with the family followed by hot chocolates at the Cliffhouse Bistro. Then, head back out onto the hills for the only night skiing in the area with a fully lit terrain park.
Sidenote—if you make it up north for Christmas, you can participate in Santa Shreds for Free. Dress up in a full Christmas costume to receive a free Norquay full-day lift pass!
Lake Louise Ski Resort has been voted the number one ski resort in Canada three years in a row. With stunning scenery (including glacier-capped peaks, frozen lakes, and flourishing forests) and award-winning ski terrain (4,200 acres), it’s pretty clear why. While you can always stay in the town of Banff and ski at Lake Louise during the day, if you’re seeking quieter retreat, we suggest overnighting in the village of Lake Louse. Book a room at the Chateau Lake Louise to literally stay in a castle, and breathe in the fresh mountain air while you skate on Lake Louise under the stars. No haze or smog up here.
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (Powder Highway, BC)
Be ready for a warm Canadian welcome when you arrive at the resorts located on the Powder Highway. These resorts are not only surrounded by stunning greenery, but they also pride themselves on being the perfect spot to reconnect with family, friends, and nature.
Voted the “Coolest Town in North America” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Fernie, BC is a destination not to be overlooked. It could be because Fernie boasts the highest vertical in the Canadian Rockies (3,550ft), or possibly because the community of this small ski town surpasses its size. With events like Griz Days and Fernival (Fernie Alpine Resort’s annual party in the plaza), there are activities for every skier and tourist alike.
Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
With cozy accommodations, fine après-dining, and ample acreage for playing in the snow (2,800+ acres), both the town of Golden and the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offer something for everyone. The town offers a stunning backdrop of national and provincial parks, mountain ranges, and historic rivers. Those mountain ranges also happen to be the birthplace of heli-skiing in the country—which makes sense considering Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is also known as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada. Warm up next to a wood burning fireplace in a backcountry lodge, hit up a heli ski (so casual), and then walk with wolves at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre. All in one day.
The Laurentians (Québec)
Renowned for its Nordic spas, gourmet dining, fantastic accommodations, and some of the most epic après-ski around, the Laurentians region is a favorite ski destination in Canada’s French-speaking province of Québec.
Sitting at 2870 feet and right in the heart of the Laurentian mountains, Tremblant’s pedestrian village certainly has that “je ne sais quoi.” Beaming with European flair, a walk through Tremblant features picturesque architecture (including bright red and blue capped lodges), delicious bites for every palate, and exciting—and often free—events and concerts to ski right into. Mont Tremblant’s wide range of activities have earned it the ranking of #1 Ski Resort in Eastern North America for 19 years by SKI Magazine readers. You can also rest easy knowing that the resort’s Scandinave Spa is there for you when your muscles are aching after a big ski.
In classic Québec form, Tremblant’s après-ski is unparalleled—Le P’tit Caribou was named best après-ski bar in Eastern North America for over ten years by Ski Canada magazine and ranked fourth après-ski bar in the world by Forbes.
The Saint-Sauveur Valley is rich in Nordic spas, boutiques, as well as tons of restaurants offering menus from around the world. One of these restaurants is the T-Bar 70, located right at the foot of the ski resort. The après-ski atmosphere is a blend of cozy and trendy, with high ceilings, firepits, epic cheese fondue, and a view of the surrounding illuminated trails. The Sommet Saint-Sauveur is one of the largest night skiing areas in the world; almost all slopes have floodlighting. Meaning your après-ski may revert right back into a ski affair!
Mont Blanc is an ideal spot for families to gather, as it features an indoor play park and ski-in ski-out lodging facilities. It also has plenty of beginner areas equipped with magic carpet lifts, a great snow park, and a mountain layout and mountain-base lodge that make a ski outing easy and fun for all skill levels (that means no grumbling from the smaller members of your crew). Mont Blanc has the second highest elevation in the Laurentians region and over 43 trails to ski and board. With this kind of size and diversity, there is a run for everyone!
Blue Mountain (Ontario)
Blue Mountain is the largest mountain resort village in Ontario and the go-to place to ski in the region. A true beauty, Blue Mountain is nestled on the shores of Georgian Bay and stretches across the Niagara Escarpment.
The resort’s 11 lifts will rocket you to the top of 43 ski and snowboard runs, leaving you to explore 365 acres of sparkling snow and mountains in whatever manner you place. The fact that five of these chairlifts are high speed six-person express chairlifts also means that you’ll spend less time waiting in long lines and more time carving your way across the escarpment.
The village and resort ranks among the top family-friendly resorts in Canada, with a welcoming pedestrian village featuring over 50 shops, restaurants and bars, along with a variety of activities for children and adults alike. Outside of skiing Blue Mountain’s epic trails, you and your family try out the new Woodview Mountaintop Skating, tube down the slopes or speed down the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster.
These Canadian mountain resorts feature charming, walkable villages, highly skiable slopes, and some of the most authentic mountain experiences in North America. Be ready to enter a winter wonderland chockful of fresh maple syrup, plaid shirts, and a welcoming embrace—Canadian style.