The beautiful mountains, amazing ski resorts, and incredibly friendly people are what come to mind when I think about our time in Banff. I had dreamt about visiting this Canadian paradise for years. The majestic Canadian Rockies surrounded by brightly colored lakes sounded like the perfect vacation for us. And although my initial intent was to visit in the summer, the opportunity never came until the end of winter. On a usual evening where I perused through flights, I came across an unbelievable deal through WestJet: $25 one way from Denver to Calgary. I quickly called Clayton and made an executive decision. There was no time for second thoughts, I was booking this trip.
Everything fell into place after that. For accommodations, I booked the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, another bucket list destination for me. The Fairmont offered a Ski More & Save More deal that provided a free lift ticket for 2 adults for every night you stay (minimum 3 nights), or a $100 activity credit plus a complimentary breakfast buffet, ski valet and shuttle. As I calculated the cost of lift tickets, we had saved significantly by booking through the Fairmont. My dream vacation was turning into a budget vacation and I loved it!
Calgary to Banff
The drive from Calgary to Banff is about an hour and a half. Since our phones did not work in Canada and I forgot to save directions on Google Maps when I had wifi, we ended up using a paper map we found in the glovebox of our rental. We later found out we had taken the scenic route along Highway 1A instead of Highway 1. It was slightly longer, but definitely the better route. We could not stop gawking and taking photos. The Canadian Rockies are something else!
Lake Louise Ski Resort
On our first and second day, we decided to take the shuttle from our hotel to Lake Louise Ski Resort. This resort reminded me of Breckenridge. It was vast and beautiful with restaurants, gift shops, and many tourists. The views were phenomenal, the runs were amazing, and every employee was so friendly. I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was! When we got on the gondola, these young lifties would say, ” Hey, how ya doing buddy? Thanks for coming!” And I will tell you right now that at American resorts, our lifties are not that friendly.
So while Riley and I stayed on blues and greens, Clayton sought out deeper powder on other parts of the mountain. By the time we met up, he looked at me covered in sweat and a big smile and said, “I just had the best run of my life.” He described to me an area where he jumped off something and rode into the softest snow. An experience that goes way over my head, but apparently he had the time of his life.
Sunshine Ski Resort
On our third day, we decided to drive 45 minutes to Sunshine Village. The night before had dumped a few inches and that contributed to the most incredible day I have ever had on the mountain. You know how Clayton had a giant smile and the best time ever at Lake Louise? I swear I experienced snowboard heaven while I was at Sunshine.
The entire resort was gigantic and the runs were so diverse. We took lifts in every single direction, but my absolute favorites were the ones above treeline where we had a bird’s eye view of the mountains and the biggest, widest runs I have ever been on. I literally could not stop smiling. It was the best day ever!!
At the end of this trip, we could not stop talking about it when we got home. We love where we live, but there is something very special about the Canadian Rockies. Last season, I finished with 47 days on the mountain. This season, as I approach day 20 and celebrate the incredible snowfall so far, I have yet to have a day like I did at Sunshine. It will be hard to beat this Canadian ski trip, so the only thing we can do is go back. And I cannot wait!