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Ski Hills for Every Skier

Calgary is one of Canada’s best metropolitan hubs to the great outdoors. Next to Vancouver, you won’t find any big city in the country that has such proximity to mountain life. We are a mere 45 minutes away from the Rockies, one of the world’s most impressive mountain chains. It only makes sense that we’d have the perfect resort nearby for every type of skier and boarder.

From beginner to expert, chalet seeker to weekend warrior, we’ve found the perfect hill to satisfy your alpine needs.

Budget Rider: Norquay

We can’t even pretend otherwise, skiing has become an expensive sport to keep up. Even once you have all the gear you need, you still have to buy the ticket, and that’s the part that really hurts. Most hills will start at over $90 bucks for a day pass — ouch.

The often forgotten Norquay is the answer to your frugal needs. On a regular day, a ticket will cost you $74. You can also go for an “all-inclusive” ticket for $94 which will let you ski, tube and sightsee for one price. While this isn’t the biggest hill around, it does have a lot going for it, with close to 70 runs and often decent snow, as well as typically short lines, so you can get your money’s worth.

For those of us really pinching pennies, Norquay offers a toonie day every month. You heard that right, $2 for a full day pass. For those of you counting, you’ll pay less money for a full day on the slopes than you would typically pay per run on a very good, ski packed day.

Day pass: $74 + GST
Season end: April 15, 2018
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta. About 6 km west of Banff on Hwy 1, turn right on the Mt. Norquay access road and follow to the Norquay parking lot.

Beginner: Nakiska

Sweet, smooth corduroy. Carving turns on a perfectly groomed trail under deep blue skies is one of the best experiences on our hill. Spend the last few days of your holidays with us on our perfect groomers! #corduroy #smoothride #butterysoft 📸@teleskier ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #skiclose #skicloser #photooftheday #liveforwinter #calgarysmountain #calgaryadventures #mynakiska #nakiska #explorekananaskis #kananaskiscountry #canadianrockies #makeeverydaycount #westisbest #stayfrosty #mountainlife #outdoorlife #canadianrockies #mothernaturerocks #skinakiska #goskialberta #yycmountain #shredseason #skiseason #whereyouwanttobe #holidayshred #holidaysnow #girlswhoshred

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We all have to start somewhere with downhill sports, and it’s definitely not the best call to assume that you’ll be hitting double blacks as soon as you step foot off that lift your very first time. Take it easy with Nakiska, a hill that might as well have been made for learning the ropes. Very first timers will love the bunny hill with its low decline. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, head to the Bronze Chair, which is full of runs meant for those just learning.

Nakiska gives a lot of room to grow with its main lift, the Silver Chair, which has great runs for mid-level skiers, and the Gold Chair, which has runs all the way up to black diamonds. The resort was originally built with Calgary’s Winter Olympics in mind, and if it’s good enough for the world’s top athletes, it’s good enough for us!

Day pass: $84.95 + GST
Season end: April 15, 2018
Location: Kananaskis, Alberta. About 62 km west of Calgary on Hwy 1, take Hwy 40 for 25 km and turn into Kanaskis, follow the road to Nakiska’s parking lot.

Expert: Kicking Horse

If you’re in it for the challenge and the adrenaline, head to Kicking Horse. While it is one of the further hills on the list, it is still doable for a single day trip as long as you can head out early in the morning. Set right in the mountain town of Golden, this hill is best avoided altogether if you pale at the sight of moguls or aren’t sure you know what a “bowl” is. The pickings are very slim if you want green runs, but seasoned riders will love how steep the mountain is and the snow you’ll get in the Feuz and Crystal Bowls. On certain runs you’ll actually have to lower yourself down with the help of a rope, so we’d like to reiterate, the majority of this hill is not for beginners or the faint of heart.

Day pass: $104.95 + GST
Season end: April 15, 2018
Location: Golden, British Columbia. From downtown Golden, take 10th Ave N to Kicking Horse Dr and follow Kicking Horse Trail to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Variety Lover: Sunshine

With over 137 runs on the mountain and 12 chair lifts, there is no shortage of different styles of slopes at Sunshine Village. You’ll actually pretty much get two different mountains to take advantage of. The Goat’s Eye, which is a widely regarded favourite, starts half way up to the main village. You can get off the gondola here, ski for a few hours and once you’re ready for a change, head to the very top.

At Sunshine, you’ll find steep, moguls, cliffs, groomed, easy, and there will be no shortage of any particular style for the entire day. This is an especially great hill if you’re heading up with group made up of completely different levels, like a family with kids of different ages. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that although the hill is awesome, the parking leaves a lot to be desired. Get there early; otherwise, it will fill up quickly and you’ll have to park on the incoming road, which means waiting for a shuttle to take you to the base.

Day pass: $109 + GST
Season end: May 21, 2018
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta. About 8 km west of Banff on Hwy 1, turn off on Range Road 103A and head about 8 km down the road until you reach the parking lot of Sunshine.

Chalet Seeker: Lake Louise

Actually here more for the “après” than the “ski”? Don’t even want to get out on the mountain, but have to tag along with the rest of the family? Lake Louise has a lovely lodge for those who feel like they have no business sliding down a mountain on a board and freezing their butts off. It has a nice little ski shop for wandering around if you get restless, and the main lodge area has a good cafeteria for smaller bites, a coffee shop and even a fireplace. Head upstairs and you’ll get a full-blown restaurant and bar, where you’ll find some cozy couches to settle in on. Here, you can stock up on spiked coffee and hot chocolate to really complete your Après Ski look. The overarching ski hill pro tip applies here just as much as anywhere else, the nachos are outstanding.

Day pass: $104 + GST
Season end: May 6 or later (date not officially set)
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta. About 60 km west of Banff on Hwy 1, turn right on Hwy 1A and follow Whitehorn Dr to Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Weekend Warrior: Revelstoke

Just over 4 hours from the city, you’ll find the hill that prides itself on having the most vertical in North America. In the last two years, Revelstoke Mountain Resort has received titles like Best Ski Resort in Canada by the World Ski Awards, 8th Best Ski Resort in North America by Forbes and the Best Kept Secret Ski Resort in North America by Flight Network. You can easily get a taste of what this hidden gem has to offer in just one weekend. Head out Friday morning if you can, or leave right after work, spend Saturday and Sunday Skiing, and head back Sunday evening. It will be a packed few days, but well worth it considering the quality of the mountain and the snow you’re likely to get — by that we mean it’s usually amazing.

Day pass: $99 + GST
Season end: April 15, 2018
Location: Revelstoke, British Columbia. From downtown Revelstoke take 4th st and turn left at the 4-way intersection on Nichol Road, then turn left onto Camozi and follow to the base of the resort.

All-In Vacationer: Sun Peaks

If you’re ready to get away for more than a day or two, you can drive or fly less than 700 km west to Sun Peaks. The resort holds the title of the second largest skiable area in the country, and it has tons of amenities that make it the perfect winter getaway. Firstly, it’s easy to find ski in/ski out accommodations on the mountain, from hotels to condos. Boasting 135 runs that generally aren’t too busy, it could take weeks for you to get bored on this mountain. With a simple layout, you also won’t spend half that time trying to figure out where the heck you actually are. The European-inspired resort has the cutest village, complete with delicious restaurants and even a skating rink, to tie the whole feel together. To visit, you can drive about 7 hours, or you choose to fly into Kamloops and drive 45 minutes to the resort.

Day pass: $95 + GST
Season end: April 15, 2018
Location: Sun Peaks, British Columbia. From Kamloops, take Highway 5 North, exit at Tod Mountain Road and continue until you reach Sun Peaks Village.

By Michelle Pijanowski