The Five Best Ski And Snowboard Resorts Closest To Calgary, Canada

Sponsored Content: Who dares, wins. It's time to visit The Rockies

There’s something special about the Canadian Rockies. Hell, you don’t even have to look at a picture, just those words: Canadian Rockies. It’s almost short-hand for the grandest of adventures.

From the wide open pistes, to the vast back-country terrain ready to be explored, it’s the ultimate winter playground for skiers and snowboarders alike. Yes, the Alps may be right next door in Europe, but heading West, like the adventurers before you did, holds a very special reward.

Situated perfectly next to the Canadian Rockies is Calgary, a place many still call Cow Tow, referencing it’s vast grazed grasslands, but also conjuring images of The Great North American West.

If you set your heart on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to The Rockies, then Calgary should be your first port of call. Happily, British Airways flies non-stop to Calgary in just seven hours, meaning it’s never been easier to find adventure among the mountains.

In the heart of Alberta, Calgary is the key to many of the best slopes and back-country you’ll find not just in North America, but anywhere in the world. And these are the best five resorts closest to Calgary.

1) Castle Mountain

Photo: Flickr

At a touch over 100 miles from Calgary Airport is Castle Mountain, regarded by many as the Quiet Giant of Alberta. The resort enjoys some of the steepest descents in the entire Alberta area, which is incredible given it’s not the highest of mountains.

The resort has a homely, relaxed feel to it. Combined with the fact that it’s not uncommon to realise you have several runs entirely to yourself makes for a very unique experience. A wild party town it may not be, but the après is still enjoyable, if rustic and authentic.

2) Kicking Horse

Photo: Kicking Horse

Just a short 20 minutes drive from the arrivals lounge of Calgary airport is Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and with a name like that, you can expect a wild ride. This railroad town is one of the best known in North America, and rightly so. It boasts some of the best back country skiing you’ll find anywhere on the planet included among its 2,750 acres of skiable terrain.

With that much snow to discover, you’re never going to get board, however long you make your stay. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of leg-burning hikes to he had for hidden trails throughout the area. Or, if you fancy something a little more clear-cut, there are the famous Crystal Bowl and Bowl Over if you want to really test your skiing and snowboarding.

Photo: Kicking Horse
Photo: Kicking Horse
Photo: Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse is also home to a Grizzy Bear Refuge that looks after, among others, Boo, a cub orphaned back in 2007. Bear tours operate in the summer, so it you visit is at either end of the season, you may just be in luck.

3) Lake Louise

Photo: Pixbay

Often the first name on many peoples lips when it comes to skiing and snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies, and not without good reason.

Just a two hour drive from the airport and you’ll find yourself in one of the most iconic ski and snowboard locations anywhere on the planet. The phrase “bucket list” could have been invented for the place.

Whatever your age, or level of riding, there’s something for you at Lake Louise. And what a place to ride, overlooking the breath-taking Lake Louise from which the resort takes its name.

4) Fernie Alpine Resort

Photo: Fernie Alpine Resort

At just about a three hour drive from Calgary is an absolute powder playground called Fernie Alpine Resort. With around 875cm of snowfall on average every year, you’re virtually guaranteed fresh tracks at some point during your visit. So if chasing the deep stuff is your thing (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t it be?) then this gem of a resort has to be on your list.

But Fernie isn’t just a powdery one-trick pony. Many Calgary locals regard the resort as also having the best tree runs, the best steeps, and the most testing terrain of all the Canadian Rockies.

Photo: Fernie Alpine Resort
Photo: Fernie Alpine Resort
Photo: Fernie Alpine Resort

Of course, when a resort can claim so many “Best of…” accolades, it’s going to draw a lot of attention, and a decade ago word got out about Fernie Alpine Resort and as a result the slopes filled and the queues lengthened. However, in recent years this powder rush has eased off considerably, making getting up the hill much more relaxed once again. Of course, getting down remains the same blast it always has been.

5) Nakiska Mountain Resort

Photo: Nakiska

If a family-friendly resort is what you’re looking for, the Nakiska Mountain has to be at the top of your agenda. In terms of practicality, it’s just over an hour away from the airport, minimising the amounts of “Are we nearly there yet?” queries you’ll have to field.

Nakiska isn’t the highest of peaks, and isn’t blessed with the incredible powder dumps of Fernie, so the resort arguably isn’t best suited for anybody looking to take on some extreme back country terrain (although, as you’ll have already read, in Calgary, you have an embarrassment of steep riches).

But this serves to make it the ideal resort for beginners or people looking to take a family. There are a handful of black runs to keep the experienced visitor happy, but it’s the wealth of mellower blues and easy green slopes, all of which are always perfectly groomed, that make Nakiska a real winner.

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