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Grab Adventure at Resorts - Hot Picks for Winter

Copyright (c) 2007-2021 Travel Alberta, All Rights Reserved
Written by:

There's no better way to know you're alive and kickin' than to experience a great ride on a perfect day. But there are new ways to spice up your ride holiday in the Canadian Rockies. Here's a look at how enjoying a few of them will help you to get the most out of your winter resort experience. And if you're a skier, you can check out more options here.

Calgary to Rockies: Fast Tracks

You can get to Banff National Park in just over an hour's drive from Calgary (120 km or 90 miles). The city is Alberta 's international gateway to the Canadian Rockies and has great bars and restaurants. Top cowboy bars include Cowboy's (826 5 St. S.W.) downtown, the second biggest bar in the city, and Ranchman's (9615 Macleod Tr. S.). Canada Olympic Park in the city offers a revered snowboarding program and easily accessed vertical that you can try pre-mountains. Or for a thrill, try riding a bobsled, luge or a skeleton (you go down on a sled head first) on Olympic caliber tracks.

Banff National Park: Raising the Bar

First things first: nightlife. Get past the giant plaster cowboy and you find yourself in Wild Bill's, downtown home to great live music and one of the sweetest sound systems in Banff . A few other great bets for night fun in Banff include The Rose and Crown (one of the best place to find fellow riders), featuring an upstairs lounge with a fireplace. Another good pub is The Pump and Tap. The Hoodoo Lounge and Nightclub is fueled by disc jockeys and The Aurora features martinis and a cigar lounge. You'll find dancing at the countrified Glacier Saloon in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise as well as cocktail lounges. For more information about activities in Banff and Lake Louise, try here.

Of course, there's the riding. For ride action at resorts near Banff , you can choose from Sunshine Village , Ski Banff @ Norquay and, a little further down the road, Lake Louise Resort.

While Banff provides the hub for most of the shopping and entertainment (including nightlife), you can choose to stay in the mountain town of Canmore , at the edge of the national park. Canmore, like Banff is home to a lot of outfitters and provides access to activities including dog sledding, cave climbing, ice climbing, kite skiing and much more. If you want to take a breather, try soaking in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Finding New Rocky Mountain Highs

Here's a taste of a few emerging winter activities that will get your blood pumping while you're looking for adventure off the slopes.

Dogsledding: Canmore is home to several dog sledding outfitters and tour guides who'll get you on a sled that rides like a rocket behind powerful canines. Well, fast enough, anyway, and it's the thrill of doing something new that counts. Try Howling Dog Tours or Snowy Owl Sled Tours or Maddogs and Englishmen.

Kite Snowboarding: Mix snowboarding (riding), skiing and surfing with kites and you've got an adrenaline fuelled winter sport. Find an open space with snow, strap on your snowboard (or skis) and let the wind take you along with the kite. You can check out Pipelinesurf's Kitesnowboarding web pages among other sites.

Igloo Building: It's a form of wilderness survival but it's also a blast and a few laughs to build an igloo –­ how Canadian! – with friends (under the watchful eye of a master, of course). You can create one with snow that keeps you warm and toasty – for a while. It's temptingly cheap accommodation, though frankly, we don't recommend any over nighters. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has guides that teach you how to build igloos but there are other outfitters at ride and ski resorts throughout Alberta with expertise, especially guides who are well versed in avalanche safety and control.

Sunshine: It Takes a Village

Many people still think you have to stay at Sunshine Inn to bask in a chair on the outdoor deck of the bar called The Chimney Corner. You don't. While you're there, split a humongous platter of the cheesiest nachos – one of the best on this side of the Divide. The other place that locals head to is the Mad Trapper, in the old, dark Sunshine Day Lodge. It's smoky, has a floor full of peanuts and is always packed – one reason they recently expanded it.

Ski Banff @ Norquay: Go Local

Near to Banff and a local hangout, Ski Banff @ Norquay provides challenging steeps with freshly groomed runs. If you want to meet locals, this is the place to discover all the stuff you can do in Banff , Canmore and Lake Louise.

Lake Louise: Backcountry Beckons

If it's a backcountry experience you want, shed the snowboard and you can ski into a rustic heritage property known as Skoki Lodge, from the backside of this resort. It's a charmer and ideal for cross-country and telemark skiers - part of the reason it was voted one of the Top 10 backcountry lodges in all of North America by National Geographic Adventure. Ranked by Ski Magazine as the most scenic resort in North America, the front-side mountain affords spectacular vistas including Lake Louise , Victoria Glacier and Temple Mountain.

Or grab a java and perch yourself in a sun trap at the base of Showtime Terrain Park (an easy walk from the Lodge). Take a skate on the lake or a sleigh ride followed by a steaming mug of cocoa at one of the Chateau's lounges. Many of the area's hotels offer shuttle services to the hill. And between Lake Louise and Banff is Johnston Canyon where you can join a naturalist for a tour called the Ice Walk.

Marmot Basin: Jasper National Park

Marmot Basin is in Jasper National Park, just 370 km or 192 miles west of Edmonton, which is Alberta's international gateway to the North. If you start your trip in Edmonton , visit the West Edmonton Mall, eight city blocks of shopping and entertainment beneath one roof, including a Western shooting range, wave pool, amusement park and bars.

If you want some adventure while in Jasper, you've got great facilities at the town's Aquatic Centre (squash courts, water slide, hot tub etc.); ice climbing (there are plenty of qualified guides to hire); the legendary Maligne Canyon Crawl; snowmobiling (just outside the Park); 300 km of Nordic ski trails (100 are track-set); sleigh rides; ice skating; snowshoeing; heli-snowshoeing and more. Marmot Basin is 20 minutes from Jasper, which is a laid-back, authentic mountain town.

Nakiska: Snowshoeing and More

Nakiska is nearby Kananaskis Village , which offers access to cross country trails, snowshoeing and other resort-friendly activities. Kananaskis Country, less than an hour's drive from Calgary , is where many Calgarians go to play. Dozens of track-set cross-country trails zigzag through the pretty woods between Nakiska and Kananaskis village. There are fantastic snowshoe trails that fan out from the resort and nearby ice fishing on the Kananaskis River and ponds. For a dog sledding adventure, check out the operators between Canmore and Exshaw (a 40-minute drive away).

Fortress Mountain Gets The Cat

Fortress has bounced back this year with a cat shuttle and offers the same near access to amenities and activities in Kananaskis Village as nearby Nakiska.

Castle Mountain: Powder Heaven

Castle Mountain Ski Resort is in the province's southwest, about 2.5 hours southwest of Calgary . You'll find the powder hounds at the base, in the T-bar Pub, scarfing back a thin-crusted pizza. Cross-country skiers will find a web of track-set trails, just down the valley at a place called Syncline. And snowmobilers will find themselves in heaven, surrounded by hundreds of miles of trails between Castle and the Crowsnest Pass.




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Copyright (c) 2006 Travel Alberta, All Rights Reserved

Travel Alberta is the destination marketing organization for the Province of Alberta. Guided by the Strategic Tourism Marketing Council, Travel Alberta is the steward for the effective delivery of tourism marketing programs. For information about our organization, please visit our Travel Alberta industry web site at http://www.travelalberta.com

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