Good Things Come in Threes at Banff National Park

by Dan Giesin | January 30, 2018

Out on the southwestern edge of Alberta in Canada’s Banff National Park lies a trio of resorts collectively known as SkiBig3.
Individually they are called Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay, and they range from massive (Lake Louise has 4,200 skiable acres with a 3,250-foot vertical) to merely huge (Sunshine: 3,358 acres, 3,510 vertical) to intimate (Norquay: 190 acres, 1,650 vertical). Combined they are serviced by two gondolas (one each at Sunshine and Lake Louise), one high-speed six-pack (Lake Louise), one heated high-speed bubble quad (Sunshine), 9 ordinary high-speed quads (6 at Sunshine, 2 at Lake Louise, one at Norquay), 5 fix-gripped quads (2 each at Sunshine and Norquay and one at Lake Louise), one triple chair (Lake Louise), one double chair (Norquay) and a host of surface lifts, including the famed Summit Platter at Lake Louise, the main portal to the Back Bowls.
But each has its own identity: Sunshine, the region’s snow-catcher with annual average of more than 360 inches of Rocky Mountain fluff, has the trio’s only on-hill lodging; Lake Louise, which annually hosts women’s World Cup speed races (downhill and super-G), is famed for its superlative views of its eponymous lake and the Victoria glacier across the valley and its back bowls, and Norquay, which has snowmaking covering 85 percent of its terrain, is super-steep, with 44 percent of its trails rated black diamond or double-diamond.
Off the hill, lodging, dining and other amusements are generally limited to the town of Banff (10 and 20 minutes away from Norquay and Sunshine, respectively) and Lake Louise Village (35 minutes northwest of Banff).
The following is a quick primer for skiers and snowboarders who would consider sojourn to the Banff area:
Best groomers
Sunshine Coast, Eagle Creek and South Divide at Sunshine; Larch, Cameron’s Way and Ptarmigan at Lake Louise, and hEaD Hunter and the combo of Monroe’s Legacy-Wiegele’s-Knight Flight at Norquay.
Best bump runs
Virgins, Donkey’s Tail and Great Divide lift line at Sunshine; Larch Poma, Old Ptarmigan and Charlie’s Choice at Lake Louise, and Lone Pine at Norquay.
Best glades
Glade Runner, Goat’s Glades and Hell’s Kitchen at Sunshine and Tower 12 and Lookout Chutes at Lake Louise.
Best tree runs
The Shoulder and just about anything off the lower section of the Tee Pee Town lift at Sunshine and Ptarmigan Glades and Pika Trees at Lake Louise.
Best apres
The Mad Trappers in Sunshine Village; the Powder Keg and Kumyama at Lake Louise; Juniper Bistro at Norquay; the Banff Brewing Company, the Elk and Oarsman and the Rose and Crown in Banff, and the Explorers’ Lounge and the Outpost in Lake Louise Village.
Best dining
Eden, Waldhaus and Saltlik Steak House in Banff, and Timberwolf, Alpine Social and Lake Louise Station in Lake Louise Village.

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