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Ride the Long Spring Season - Deep Snow and Deals

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

Sunshine, powder and parties. It's springtime in the Rockies, and riding in Alberta during this prime season offers a lot of possibilities for adventure. Brokeback Mountain was filmed in rugged Kananaskis Country near Calgary, where there are two great mountain areas you can check out: Nakiska and Fortress. Check out these mountains and the events and deals, among your options below.


Nakiska Lays It On

Nakiska is only an hour's drive from Calgary and it's minutes from The Kananaskis Village and its lodgings.

Brett Braaten has been snowboarding and skiing at Nakiska for more than five years and spring is his favourite time of the year because of the high afternoon sun and the seasonal snow: "We have a terrain park which we are now calling a fun park and a rail park which in the spring are great for snowboarders and freestylers to hang out."

For riders, the glades on a powder day are the best bet. "They can be awesome when there is fresh snow," says Braaten. "We are an especially great place for beginner snowboarders. The glades are high up on the Gold chair. Those powder days come best in late February, March and early April. It's worth waiting for."

"The late day sun is incredible and the patio that sits out on the front on the upper level is a great way to see everything and everyone," he says. "And there are upslope storms that come in the spring that dump up to 80 cm in February and March especially."

Events include a Smith Optics Grudge Match (amateur snowboard competition) on March 19 and a Feb. 26 Boardercross competition open to everyone.

Nakiska in Kananaskis Country was built by the Alberta government to host the XV Olympic Winter Games. It features excellent snow making facilities with mostly intermediate and cruiser runs, though you can find steeps near the mountain top. The Canadian Alpine ski team trains here.

If you're looking for deals, there are lodging packages available now and deals on the way for spring.

Nakiska's closing date this year is April 16, earlier than some of the other Alberta resorts, which can run through May.


Fortress Mountain's Got the Snow

The other Kananaskis Country ski mountain, Fortress Mountain, opened late this year but has great snow and is readying its ski-in, ski-out on-hill accommodations for spring skiing. The backside double chair just opened with more than 700 acres of fresh snow. Fortress is also just a quick drive away to the Kananaskis Village hotels and amenities. Check Fortress' website for deals as they are added toward spring.


Lake Louise : Ramped Up Events

Lake Louise will host some great spring snowboard events that attract skiers and riders from around the world.

"Spring at Louise is great because we get a lot of sunshine and milder temperatures, but the snow's still great," says Paula Worthington of Louise.

You'll find February and spring packages (some are shown below) on the website.

There's the Slopestyle competition March 4 at Louise for both riders and skiers. "It's a slope style course similar to the Smith Grudge Match, open to everyone and offering prize money – a lot of fun," says Worthington . Online registration is at www.skircr.com/series.

The Lake Louise Spring Episode '06 (April 29-30) is an unforgettable time of terrific spring riding and skiing at Lake Louise . You can enjoy live music, on hill activities and beer gardens, among other activities.

Other choices in the Lake Louise area for accommodations include Deer Lodge, Emerald Lake Lodge, Lake Louise Inn and Lake Louise International Hostel, as well as Baker Creek Chalets and the Post Hotel.


Sunshine Village 's Slush Cup In May

At Sunshine Village, riding goes until almost the last weekend in May. And it's all natural snow. The biggest and best event at Sunshine for spring skiing is the Slush Cup on May 22, which is a big party. There is also the Spring Concert Series that runs every weekend from April 22 to May 21. You can find ticket and accommodation deals for spring as they're added here. While there are on-hill accommodations at Sunshine, the ski area is very near the cosmopolitan mountain town of Banff and is in Banff National Park.


Castle Mountain: Louder Powder

Castle is famous for powder and Warren Miller will be filming there during the spring.

The Boardercross on March 19 is open to everyone and it will include rollers, jumps and banks, along with heats where both riders and skiers compete. "In the final round this year we might even have them going together," says Andrew Rusynyk, Director of Marketing and Snowsports and Development. You'll find registration opportunities and other info at the Castle Mountain website.

Castle Mountainis in southern Alberta near Pincher Creek, just two hours south of Calgary. It has great deals including Ski 'n Sleep packages. On-hill accommodations include Castle Mountain Ski Lodge and Hostel, and Castle Mountain Accommodations.


Marmot Basin: Open Bowls and Steep Chutes

Marmot Basin has opened some serious terrain as it heads toward the spring.

Recent snowfall and diligent work by the Marmot Basin avalanche team have allowed Marmot Basin to open up the extreme terrain of Eagle East. This means that Marmot Basin is now wide open, with only the backside runs of OuterLimits still closed. Characterized by open bowls, steep chutes, cliffs and superb glade skiing Eagle East is the land of black and double black diamond runs. With run names like Poachers, Face Shot and Drop Zone, accomplished skiers and boarders flock to this area to challenge themselves with the great snow and unique variety of terrain. Easily accessed by the Eagle Ridge Quad chair, the remote-feeling of Eagle East, in relation to the rest of the ski area, creates a true sense of wilderness and adventure.

Marmot is near Jasper in the Canadian Rockies, providing good deals along with great ski packages this season. Many skiers and boarders find the best way to access Marmot and Jasper is through Edmonton , which is the international gateway to the North.

Grant Helgeson, Marmot's marketing and sales spokesman, says a good deal for spring is the Jasper family ski card: "It's unique and great for families who ski during spring. At just $46.69 (Cdn) it can get them 20% off lift prices every day and savings at hotels in Jasper."

If you're dealing with a travel agent, it's worth mentioning and they could get you one, he says.

The spring snow season is worth the wait, he says: "Spring is when we have our best snow here. March and April are when the traditional big storms come through. To get some true powder skiing in, Jasper has uncrowded slopes. You can come up here and the only trails you cross are going to be your own. It's a laid back feeling and in the spring there are virtually no lift lines. And with our spectacular vistas and clear days with sunshine, it's absolutely amazing."

For coming events, try this website as well as www.skimarmot.com.

In Jasper, you'll find a wide range of accommodation choices, and ski and snowboard packages are available at all 14 Ski Jasper properties.


Norquay's Ready

Ski Banff @ Norquay in Banff National Park is home to Thomas Grandi, Canada 's World Cup GS two times champion. It offers the only night skiing and riding in Banff . Because this hill is so close to Banff and it is in Banff National Park , it is a great choice for spring skiing, particularly if you enjoy both steep and groomed runs. Check out the website for spring deals as they are added.

Editor's Note: We at Travel Alberta encourage people to check out our listed ski tour operators and other winter activities. Combine a ski holiday with a train trip, a scenic drive, a spectacular meal or a guided nature walk. It's all great and it's all here.


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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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