Powder hounds across the planet are all clamoring to experience the bucket-list destinations and leg-burning verticals of Western Canada. This iconic terrain is a short road trip or quick direct flight away for most Canadians and Pacific Northwesterners.
The Bigger The Better – SkiBig3. Ikon Pass photo.
STOP 1: SKIBIG3 - MT. NORQUAY
Arrive at the Calgary airport and drive an hour and a half west to experience the powder-dry snow at SkiBig3. With its three serene mountain resorts—Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay—SkiBig3 is the perfect blend of raw wilderness and pure luxury. First stop on the trip: Mt. Norquay, a local gem with outstanding terrain for all skill levels. Ease into your day with a mellow ride down Constellation, a wide open green perfect for practicing turns and warming up your legs. Or spend the morning doing laps on the Mystic Express, serving a range of challenging blues and tree-packed blacks.
When you’re ready for a break, head up North American Chair to Cliffhouse Bistro, an historic building carved into the rocks and offering stunning views of Mt. Rundle and the town of Banff. Snag a selfie on the lookout patio before diving into a comforting meal big enough to fuel you the rest of the day. Then head down the steep slopes of Lone Pine, Norquay Gully, or Boundary Bowl for a leg-burning ride to the bottom.
After a day on the mountain, quench your thirst with a pint of the spicy, fruity Norquay 92 Cranberry-Orange Saison, a French-Belgian style tribute tap created especially by Banff Ave. Brewing Co. for Mt. Norquay skiers and riders. If you still have energy, head back on the hill after the sun goes down. Mt. Norquay offers the only night skiing in Banff-Lake Louise, including a fully lit terrain park.
STOP 2 SKIBIG3 - BANFF SUNSHINE
Perched high on the Continental Divide, Banff-Sunshine boasts over 3,300 acres of skiable terrain spread across three mountains. Power up for the day with a quick, hearty breakfast at Creekside Bar & Grill in Sunshine Village, then head up Strawberry Express to hit a few calm greens and blues. If it’s snowing, be sure to head down Dell Valley for a fun, rolling green that’s ideal for practicing powder turns.
With a few runs under your belt, head to Mad Tapper’s Smokehouse in the Old Sunshine Lodge to warm your toes and fill your belly with pulled pork sandwiches, deep fried pickles, and poutine. Experts looking for a challenge should head to Goat’s Eye Mountain at Banff Sunshine to try out the South Side Chutes, which start well above tree line and boast a ridiculously steep line before twisting into the trees.
Toast your day with a glass of wine or pint of beer at the Lookout Lounge & Bar, located on the third floor of the Daylodge in Sunshine Village. Then take in the gorgeous mountain views as you soak your sore muscles in the steamy mineral water at Banff Upper Hot Springs, where travelers have come to “take the waters” for over 100 years.
STOP 3 SKIBIG3 - LAKE LOUISE MOUNTAIN RESORT
One of the largest ski resorts in North America, Lake Louise features over 4,200 acres across four peaks. Before hitting the mountain, perk up with a mug of coffee and a filling muffin from The Slopeside Coffee Bar. If it’s your first time here, you must try the iconic Saddleback. Accessed via the “Top of the World,” this sweeping blue run offers skiers and riders an unblemished mountain landscape. Feel free to stick to the greens and blues or peel off into the steeper chutes and wide-open powder bowls.
Take a break on the backside of the mountain at Temple Lodge. There’s a cafeteria for those seeking a quick refuel or take a seat at the Rustic Sawyer’s Nook serving gourmet sandwiches and a variety of pizzas. If the flakes are flying, head over to the Rock Garden. This hidden powder bowl is surrounded by trees and offers playfully soft pillows to jump and carve around.
End the day with a pint at Kokanee Kabin. Located at the base of the mountain, this bar offers an upbeat, beer-fueled après scene perfect for skiers and riders looking to kick back. Or lace up your skates for a romantic spin under the stars on the planet’s most iconic outdoor rink, Lake Louise.
Tomorrow, head back to Calgary for your flight home. Or, if you want to keep the ski action going, choose from one of the recommended options below:
Revelstoke Brings That Stoke. Ikon Pass photo.
OPTION 1 - REVELSTOKE MOUNTAIN RESORT
Make your way three and a half hours east to end up at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, home to some of Canada’s most extreme terrain and North America’s longest vertical drop: a heart-pumping 5,620 feet. Sign up for Revelstoke’s First Tracks program the night prior to skip the morning lift line and get prime access to perfect powder and untouched corduroy.
Whether it’s a clear day or dumping snow, make sure to hit the Stoke Chair for access to both world-renowned powder glades and legendary selfie opportunities—for the best views of the Columbia River, and the Selkirk and Monashee Mountain ranges, hike to the top of Sub Peak. Jump on Revelstoke’s iconic Kill the Banker run for a continuous pillow field of steep fall line skiing, and finish in North Bowl for endless fresh line alpine skiing.
Curious about the next day’s snow report? Be sure to check the Revelstoke webcam to watch freshies fall on Gnorm the Powder Gnome—best enjoyed over a pint at Mt. Begbie Brewery. Named after one of the most iconic glacial peaks that dominates the Revelstoke skyline, Mr. Begbie Brewery is located in the heart of the Columbia mountain range and specializes in brewing both seasonal and classic local beers.
Create Your Own Story with CMH. Ikon Pass photo.
OPTION 2 - CMH HELI-SKIING & SUMMER ADVENTURES
If you’ve used the Ikon Pass’s early booking benefits to secure your heli-skiing spot with CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, end your Canadian Rockies adventure by skiing or riding the most intense, bucket-list worthy terrain in the world. CMH offers a variety of trips for all skill levels and group sizes ranging from three days to more than a week. Make your way to the Bugaboos Helipad. From there, you’ll be whisked away to the Bugaboos Lodge via helicopter.
After lunch at the lodge, gear up and get ready to take the first turns of your trip—we’re talking acres upon acres of bold backcountry and untouched terrain for this once-in-a-lifetime, off-the-grid journey. Bag big lines from alpine to valley and right back up again. With more than three million acres of terrain available at CMH’s 12 luxury lodges, the variety is sure to surprise and delight.
After what’s sure to be an unforgettable day, join your partner, family, or friends back at the log-hewn lodge to soak up one of the best mountain views on the planet—all from the steamy comfort of Bugaboos’ rooftop hot tub. Post jacuzzi bliss, let your day’s yard sales melt away while indulging in the steam room or dry sauna, and then treat yourself a nightcap near the cozy fireplace with a deep glass of red in hand as you prepare for even more iconic experiences.
Randall Jacobs was a self-described Arizona desert rat, Telluride ski bum, and connoisseur of the better things in life. Legacy.com photo. We never knew Randall Jacobs, but we sure wish that we did. Randall Jacobs, a self-described Arizona desert rat, Telluride ski bum, and connoisseur of the better things in life known as “Uncle Bunky” passed away earlier this month. According to his legendary obituary, crafted by his nephew, pays homage to the hang-loose lifestyle Jacobs seemed to
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