Winter Mountain Adventures
If you enjoy winter sports, you’ll love traveling to the Canadian Rockies between December and April. Winter travel and the focus of your vacation will be very different than a summer trip. Instead of hiking and canoeing and barbecuing, you’ll be skiing and snowshoeing in a magical mountain setting purified by snow, then retreating to relax around a roaring fire each evening.
Banff National Park holds three major ski resorts — Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Ski Norquay. Kananaskis Country’s Nakiska was developed for the downhill events of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Today, it serves mainly a regional market, offering runs for all levels of skill. Meanwhile, to the north in Jasper National Park, Marmot Basin is renowned for its uncrowded slopes and sweeping views.
Summer hiking trails are perfect for cross-country skiing in winter; many of those around the towns of Banff and Jasper are groomed. The Canmore Nordic Centre is laced with cross-country trails — and hosts world-class competitions through the winter months.
Snowshoeing is a traditional form of northern transportation but is still a popular recreation. Many sports stores have rentals and will lead you in the right direction. If you would like to try dogsledding, head to Canmore or Lake Louise, where commercial operators offer trips.
Finally, after a long day of winter sports, there’s no better way to soothe sore muscles than soaking in one of the region’s many hot springs. Try Upper Hot Springs (Banff) or Miette Hot Springs (Jasper).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition