Ski Big3 provided us with lift passes and rental equipment however we were not obliged to write this post and all opinions are our own.


When it comes to a winter holiday, few destinations rival the breathtaking beauty and thrilling adventures found in Banff National Park. Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, this exquisite winter playground offers an unparalleled experience for ski enthusiasts. With three world-class ski resorts – Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay, skiers and snowboarders are treated to a plethora of unmatched slopes, jaw-dropping landscapes, and a fun atmosphere that shows off the true essence of Canadian hospitality.

If you are visiting Banff National Park in winter and planning to do a lot of skiing whilst you are there, you should consider checking out SkiBig3 which allows you to experience all 3 ski resorts during your trip. On our most recent trip to Banff, this is exactly what we did, trying out the the slopes and après-ski scene in this popular destination.

In this article, we will share our experience of visiting all 3 ski slops and renting ski equipment in Banff.

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Table of Contents

🚗 How to get to Banff from Calgary

The closest airport to Banff is Calgary Airport which is located 1.5 hours along the Trans Canada Highway, a very comfortable and wide road to drive. We rented a car with Dollar Cars for our trip which made it so much easier to travel between the ski resorts with our equipment. In Canada they drive on the right which is important to remember if you are travelling from the UK. On a clear day, the drive to Banff from Calgary is spectacular. You will be lucky enough to have incredible views of the Canadian Rockies as you drive along the highway towards the mountains.

🎟️ Do I need a Park Pass for Banff National Park

As you are driving along the highway you will be met with a row of small brown huts and this is where you will be asked for your park pass. Entry into Banff National Park is priced on a daily rate per adult, however if you are visiting for more than a week, it will be more cost effective for you to get the annual pass which costs $140 and gives you access to over 2000 National Parks in Canada. One pass covered the both of us in one car. When you receive your park pass, this will hang on your reversing mirror for the remainder of your time in the National Park.

🎿 Renting Ski Equipment in Banff

We rented our ski equipment from the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub on Banff Avenue. We were fitted for ski’s, boots, poles and helmets by the friendly team working in the store. If there is anything else you have forgotten or need, you can also purchase it in store here. If you get fitted before 8pm, you can have your rental gear delivered straight to your hotel.

At this point we were also given our lift pass for the next few days which tied onto the outside of our clothing. There is no parking directly outside of the shop so you will need to prepare to walk with your equipment.

Alternatively, if you have booked your lift tickets more than 72 hours in advance, they will be waiting for you at your hotel. If you book tickets within 72 hours of your trip they will be available for your to pick up either at the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub or at the Guest Service Desk on any of the mountains. This is great if you don’t have a vehicle or are short on time on your trip. The Adventure Hub is open from 8am-9pm every day of the week. 


🔒 Don’t forget to book your travel insurance before skiiing in Banff. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. 🌍

As we had rented a car in Calgary, this made it really easy for us to travel between the 3 ski resorts. Alternatively, there are many shuttle bus stops located around Banff and Lake Louise that are free for all SkiBig3 Lift Ticket and season pass holders and run frequently throughout the day.

We recommend checking out the SkiBig3 website before you ski where you can see the snowfall measurements as well as the webcams.

⛷️ Sunshine Village Ski Resort

Sunshine Village is a short 15 minute drive from the town centre of Banff and is  renowned for its prolonged ski season stretching from early November until late May. Our first day on the slopes started at Sunshine on a clear day with truly magical views.

There is a large parking area and restaurant at the bottom of the mountain and then you will need to show your lift pass to get the gondola up to the village. The gondola is a 20 minute trip from the car park up to the ski resort where you will find a selection of bars and restaurants. Sunshine mountain Lodge is also located at the upper base and is the only ski in ski out accommodation in Banff.


There is a small changing area and lockers that take $2 coins. Bear in mind, the lockers will need a new $2 coin each time you open it.

Sunshine has 3,300 acres of a range of ski slopes from gentle slopes for beginners to extreme runs for those who are more experienced. For our level of experience we started off practicing on the magic carpet before taking a chair lift up to try out the green beginner runs. As beginners, we found Sunshine Village a brilliant place to practice skiing. There is so much space that nowhere was too busy and the staff were all really friendly and helpful.

An adventurous morning on the slopes is always welcomed with some après-ski and we had the most delicious burger and beer at Mad Trappers.

⛷️ Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise Ski Resort is located around a 45 minute drive from the town centre of Banff. You can choose to either drive along the highway to get here or the Bow Valley Parkway is a more relaxed and scenic drive. The resort sits a few minutes drive from the small village of Lake Louise and when you reach the top of the gondola you will be able to see the incredible views all the way across to the stunning turquoise lake (which is frozen during the winter).

Lake Louise is one of the largest ski resorts in North America, with over 4200 acres across 4 mountains and 164 runs. We absolutely loved our time 

There is a large parking area outside of Lake Louise and changing rooms and lockers are in the communal level at the base of the mountain. The lockers are $2 and can be paid by cash or card. Alternatively, there is a free storage area for bags and equipment outside.

At the base of the mountain is the magic carpets and a tubing area. There are different levels of magic carpet which is great if you are just starting out and want to build up your confidence going steeper up the slope.

The gondola leaves from the base of the mountain and takes around 15 minutes to reach the top where you will find maps of the different runs and varying abilities. You will also be greeted with the most insane views and it really made me stop for a moment and think, wow am I really skiing here?! I can see why Lake Louise Ski Resort won Canada’s best ski resort at the World Ski Awards in 2023.

For our level of ability, we were trying out the green runs which felt a bit of a step up from Sunshine Village but were brilliant fun! We stopped for lunch on the trail at Temple Market Cafe which had a lovely vibrant atmosphere and outdoor seating area.

There is a lovely atmosphere all round at Lake Louise and the views are some of the most incredible I have ever seen. We absolutely loved our day here.

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⛷️ Mt. Norquay

Our final day of Skiing in Banff and completing the Trifecta Challenge was at Mt. Norquay which sits a 15 minute drive from Banff. Only 190 acres, this is the smallest resort of the 3 and is a popular choice among locals having been used as a training ground of Olympic and World Cup athletes.

When you arrive you will see two parking areas, the one on your left will take you to the tubing area and the one on the right will take you to the slopes. Everything is easily accessible and at the base of the mountain. The lodge area has a restaurant and shelves for storing your belongings. This was our first day on the slopes without our very talented friend Rachel so we were left to our own devices when it came to practicing what we had learned. After some turns nailing the magic carpet, we felt confident enough to go up on the Cascade chair to try out the green run. This is a short run that you can see from the base of the mountain but it does start off quite steep for beginners. We eventually made it down in one piece and felt so accomplished how much we had improved from skiing at three different resorts over the few days.

Whilst you are at Mt Norquay, you might as well give the  tubing a try! Our lift pass gave us access to the tubing which runs in 3 hour blocks, 9-12 and 1-4. This was the best little adrenaline rush to end the day and one of the courses even give you some air!

There are morning and afternoon session available and it was very busy when we were there so we would recommend booking your tickets in advance if there is a specific day that you want to go.

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🎿 Returning Rental Equipment

Returning your rental equipment is really simple. You will be given a return date and all of your equipment will be labeled with your name and a bar code. All you need to do is drop it off in the drop-off zone at the Ski Big3 Adventure Hub and if you have completed a ski or snowboard at all three resorts during your ticket period, you will get a prize and free beer tokens when you buy a meal at one of the selected restaurants. So in our opinion, it is definitely worth experiencing all three, if not for the difference in slopes, for the free beer token!

🚠 Overview of Ski Big3

If you are visiting Banff, we can highly recommend getting your lift passes with Ski Big3 to allow you to try out the best of Banff’s ski resorts. 

The process of renting your equipment and getting to the ski slopes is very simple and the restaurants on site are delicious if you want to stop for lunch throughout the day.

🇨🇦 Before You Leave for Banff

Before you set off on your way to Banff, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip. All of this is discussed in detail below.

How to Get to Banff

Getting to Banff is so easy, with several transportation options available to suit different preferences. If you’re flying in, the closest major airport is Calgary International Airport, located approximately 90 minutes from Banff. From there, you have the option of renting a car to drive to Banff or taking a shuttle bus service. Another popular choice is taking the scenic route with a train journey from Vancouver to Banff on the Rocky Mountaineer, offering breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. If you prefer a more adventurous approach, you can also consider a road trip to Banff, enjoying the picturesque landscapes along the way. With various options at your disposal, getting to Banff is the first step towards an incredible mountain getaway.

Where to Stay in Banff

What to Pack for Your Trip to Canada

When packing for your trip to Canada, it’s important to be prepared for the diverse weather conditions you may encounter. With both hot summers and freezing winters, packing versatile layers is essential. Be sure to include a warm coat, waterproof shoes, and thermal clothing, especially if you’re visiting during the winter months. Don’t forget to pack a good pair of boots for hiking or exploring nature trails, as well as a hat, gloves, and a scarf to protect you from the cold. In summer, pack lighter clothing, sunscreen, and insect repellent for outdoor activities. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have a universal adapter for your electronic devices. And finally, don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning landscapes and memorable moments during your trip to Canada.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around here, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Canada

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, your complete guide to ski resorts & ski rental in Banff with Ski Big3. If you are visiting this incredible city and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! Did you get visit the castle? Did you manage the trip without getting caught in the rain? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience completing this stunning walk.

If you are planning a Canada trip soon then check out our other Canada content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

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