Jan. 7, 2016
By Where Staff
For Banff National Park ski resorts, read our previous feature.
Alberta’s Olympic Mountain: Nakiska Ski Area
Between Banff and Calgary, south of Hwy 1 via Hwy 40, this resort was built to host the 1988 Olympics. Beautiful Kananaskis Valley views abound, and Kananaskis Village is only minutes away.
Nakiska has a 779-m/2,556-ft vertical rise and the largest snowmaking system in western Canada. Long runs and nightly grooming make it a carving favourite, while beginner zones are self-contained. This season there’s an expanded ticket area and an additional parking lot. Adult tickets are $77.
- Watch Tricksters: Ride the Silver quad for rail park views.
- Best Powder: The Monster Glades are improved thanks to summer 2015 grooming.
- Long Run: Take Gold Road to Lower Homesteader for a relaxing, scenic 3.3-km ride.
- Tube Park Family Fun: Wanido Tube Park ($19, ch $15) is newly expanded.
- Fast & Fun Races: International racers compete on the four-lane course with jumps and turns during the Skicross World Cup, Jan 22-23.
- Slopeside Parties: On April weekends, attend Spring Fiesta with music.
Marmot Basin: Lift Lines are Almost Non-Existent
To reach the town of Jasper and Marmot Basin ski area from Lake Louise, drive the 237-km/147-mi Icefields Parkway where wildlife resides and 100 glaciers adorn the eastern flank of the Continental Divide (call 511 for road conditions).
Mountain Connector (1-888-786-3641) offers a bus to Jasper from Calgary, Banff and Edmonton, while Marmot’s ski bus serves the Jasper townsite. From Jasper, the ski area is 20 minutes south of town via the Icefields Parkway.
Marmot Basin is big, uncrowded and sports sublime Athabasca Valley views. This 1,675-acre resort has a 914-m/3,000-ft vertical rise. Eighty-six runs, glades and high alpine bowls are framed by pinnacles and ridges. Seven lifts include the Canadian Rockies Express, the region’s longest high-speed quad. The lower mountain has snowmaking, two terrain parks and learning areas.
- Powder Stashes: On the upper mountain, ride the Knob chair. From Eagle Ridge chair, cross gates to Eagle East glades; hike 10 minutes to Cornice Run; or take Keefer’s Dream to the ‘hidden’ gate on skier’s left. Join a Marmot Snow Host (free) to access more secret slopes.
- Best Tan: Sunshine saturates Kokanee Glacier Deck off Caribou Lounge with bonus views.
- Expert Runs for Intermediates: Try black rated Showoff and Highway 16 if they’re groomed.
- 10% Off Lift Passes: Get a My Marmot card at skimarmot.com with direct-to-lift access.
- Marmot Sales Centre: Maximize slope time. Get lift passes, and reserve lessons and rentals days before you ski in downtown Jasper.
- Ladies’ Day: Grab a friend and call the ski school (1-866-952-3816) for two-for-the-price-of-one lessons and girls-only fun.
- Best Bet for a Decent Lunch: Mid mountain, Eagle Dining Room and Charlie’s Lounge offer historic ski memorabilia and new menu items made from fresh local ingredients. Lower chalet Caribou Lounge has stunning views and table service.
- Slopeside Parties: Live music is a weekend staple during Jasper in January, Jan 16-31. On April weekends, attend Aloha Cup and Kokanee Freeride.
>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.