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posted on November 4, 2021

What better way to beat the winter blahs than breathing in the fresh mountain air of the Rockies? From popular stops like Jasper and Banff to lesser-known lakes and stunning ski resorts, many of the most beautiful places to visit in Alberta in winter are just a road trip away.

Whether you’re travelling alone or as a family, seeking an adrenaline rush or a romantic holiday, Alberta has a winter experience for you. Let’s kick things off with the best ski hills Alberta has to discover, a short drive away from Calgary or Edmonton.

Disclaimer: Rates, parking information, and other details are subject to change. All information presented below applies to the 2021-22 season. Before hitting the road make sure to refer directly to the service provider for the most up-to-date information on their fees and operation. 

Best ski resorts in Alberta

Perfect powder? Yes, please. Carve your way into winter with these hotspots for skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country fun.

Lake Louise

Skiing in Lake Louise is one of the best experiences in Alberta. As one of the largest ski destinations in North America, Lake Louise Ski Resort boasts 4,200 acres of terrain for all skill levels, plus phenomenal mountain views worthy of a postcard. After a full day on the slopes, the chateau has got you covered with well-deserved après-ski.

Distance from Calgary: 2 hours

Distance from Edmonton: 4.5 hours

Single day admission: $129

Season pass: $1,549

Snow tubing: Yes

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Lake Louise Ski Resort is open from 9am–4pm and offers ski and snowboard classes for all ages, including private lessons. There are 160 runs spanning all levels of difficulty, with equipment available to rent. Dining options can be found at base and on the mountain. Free parking is available as of the date of this post. With a 2021-22 SkiBig3 season pass, visitors can enjoy unlimited access to Lake Louise, Mount Norquay, and Banff Sunshine Village resorts as well as local discounts. 

Banff Sunshine Village

Situated in Canada’s first national park, Banff Sunshine Village is one of the most scenic spots in Alberta to hone your skills on the hills. Expert skiers seeking a heart-pounding new challenge can head to Delirium Dive, one of the best off-piste destinations in the world. 

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour 40 minutes

Distance from Edmonton: 4.5 hours

Single day admission: TBD

Season pass: $1,499

Snow tubing: No

Cross-country skiing trails: No

Other details: Banff Sunshine Village is open from 9am–4pm and offers ski and snowboard lessons for all ages, as well as guided snowshoe tours. Just over half of the resort’s 137 runs are intermediate difficulty. Free parking is available as of the date of this post, with restaurants and cafes in the village and at the base. With a 2021-22 SkiBig3 season pass, visitors can enjoy unlimited access to Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, and Mount Norquay resorts as well as local discounts. 

Mount Norquay

New to the slopes? Don’t settle for your neighbourhood bunny hill. Mount Norquay has a reputation as a hidden gem and is ideal for amateur skiers with one of Canada’s longest-running Snow School programs. After dark, the fun doesn’t stop. You won’t find night skiing anywhere else in the Canadian Rockies, so hit the slopes and the terrain park for fun under the stars.

Distance from Calgary: 4 hours

Distance from Edmonton: 1.5 hours

Single day admission: TBD

Season pass: $919

Snow tubing: Yes

Cross-country skiing trails: No

Other details: Mount Norquay is open from 9am–4pm and offers night skiing from 5pm – 9pm on select days. Lessons are offered for all ages as well as rental equipment. There are several lounges and restaurants on the mountain and free parking is available as of the date of this post. With a 2021-22 SkiBig3 season pass, visitors can enjoy unlimited access to Mount Norquay, Banff Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise resorts as well as local discounts. 

Marmot Basin

Take your ski game to new heights at Marmot Basin. Boasting the highest base elevation of any Canadian ski area, Marmot is a favourite for intermediate skiers seeking a challenging middle ground before braving black runs. Skiing at Marmot is one of the best things to do in Jasper in winter for families thanks to kids’ programming, on-site child care, and affordable pricing. 

Distance from Calgary: 5 hours

Distance from Edmonton: 4 hours

Single day admission: $115

Season pass: $1,299

Snow tubing: No

Cross-country skiing trails: No

Other details: Lifts at Marmot Basin are open from 9amº–4pm and parking is free. Lessons are offered for all ages, with equipment rentals available. The resort’s 91 runs span all ability levels, with about one third of the terrain geared towards beginners. Head to Jasper for plenty of dining and après-ski options, just 25 minutes away.

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain

Craving an authentic ski experience off the beaten trail? Castle Mountain is calling. Considered Alberta’s best kept secret, this resort is one of the largest in the province and is locally loved for its laid-back vibes, live music nights, and staff of passionate powderhounds. 

Distance from Calgary: 2.5 hours

Distance from Edmonton: 5 hours

Single day admission: starting at $99.95

Season pass: $949

Snow tubing: No

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Castle Mountain is open from 9am–4pm, with free parking at the base. Ski and snowboard lessons are offered for all ages, including family group lessons and private instruction, with equipment available to rent. There are over 94 trails, most intermediate and advanced. Head to T-Bar Pub & Grub après-ski and live music.

Nakiska

Day trippers, this one’s for you. As the closest resort to Calgary, Nakiska Ski Area is one of the most accessible in the province. An ideal spot for beginners, Nakiska offers a wide range of lessons, trails for all skill levels, and the “easiest way down” marked on each run.

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour 10 minutes

Distance from Edmonton: 3 hours 45 minutes

Single day admission: TBD

Season pass: $1,099

Snow tubing: No

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Nakiska Ski Area is open from 9am–4pm, with free parking within walking distance of the slopes. Lessons are offered for all ages, including private instruction and multi-week lessons, and rental equipment is available. Most of the 71 marked trails are intermediate difficulty. Dining as well as grab-and-go fare can be found on site.

Best winter activities in Alberta

Not feeling the slopes? No problem. Alberta’s lakes and trails promise boundless winter fun.

Discover winter hikes and snowshoeing in Alberta

Snowshoeing or hiking in the winter is a fantastic way to exercise while appreciating the beauty of nature. Make sure to dress warmly in insulating and waterproof layers, bring hiking poles and ice cleats, and check the weather forecast before you go. Here are just a few of the best winter hikes Alberta locals and visitors can enjoy. 

  • Tunnel Mountain Trail is one of the most popular winter hikes Banff National Park has to offer with a moderate level of difficulty and features signature mountain views of the Bow Valley. The park is a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary and has an entrance fee of $10.
  • Elk Island National Park offers interpretive snowshoeing programs and plenty of quiet and family-friendly scenic trails. The park is a 50-minute drive from Edmonton and has a daily entrance fee of $7.90, with snowshoe rentals available.
  • Maligne Canyon has some of the most brilliant winter hiking Jasper National Park visitors can enjoy, passing frozen waterfalls and dazzling ice formations. The park is a four-hour drive from Edmonton and has an entrance fee of $10.
  • Spray River Trail is some of the prettiest snowshoeing Alberta has, and is an easy hike perfect for day-trippers and families. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary and the trail is free to use.

Skate on a lake in Alberta

What could be more Canadian than gliding across a frozen lake, surrounded by the towering peaks of the Rockies? Dress warmly, grab a pair of skates that fit, and always be mindful of ice conditions before you lace up.

  • A Lake Louise skating experience is a picture-perfect winter treat with its blue glass surface, ice sculptures, and the Victoria Glacier standing by. It’s about a two-hour drive from Calgary and is free to skate, with rentals available.
  • The Vermilion Lakes are a series of lakes known for gorgeous winter sunrises, sunsets, and views of Mount Rundle. They are located 1.5 hours from Calgary in Banff National Park, which has a daily entrance fee of $10.
  • Two Jack Lake is an old favourite for ice skating with a beautiful emerald hue and jaw-dropping photo ops. The lake is located 1.5 hours from Calgary in Banff National Park, which has a daily entrance fee of $10.
  • Minnewanka Lake is the epitome of mountain skating, its massive surface allowing visitors to skate for kilometers under open skies in the heart of the Rockies. It’s located 1.5 hours from Calgary in Banff National Park, which has a daily entrance fee of $10.

Have fun dogsledding in Alberta

Count on Alberta’s hardworking huskies to show you a good time this winter. When it comes to dogsledding, Canmore and Banff are popular tour hubs, so you can leave the equipment and expertise to your guide. Be sure to dress warmly and wear ski goggles for a cozy sledding experience.

  • Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours is the oldest sled dog tour company in the Bow Valley and offers guide-driven, self-driven, and overnight tours departing from Canmore, just one hour and 15 minutes from Calgary. Tours cost $525 for a two person sled.
  • Banff Dogsledding Tours offers guided and self-driven tours through Lake Louise and Spray Vistas, some of the most beautiful scenery dogsledding Banff visitors can enjoy. Located 1.5 hours from Calgary, their most popular 90-minute tour is priced at $250 per person.
  • Howling Dog Tours is an experienced racing kennel with tours through Spray Lakes Provincial Park in gorgeous Kananaskis Country, a one-hour and 15-minute drive from Calgary. Their most popular two-hour tour is priced at $249 per person.

Try ice fishing in Alberta

Ice fishing is a unique and rewarding way to slow down and pass the time while enjoying the beauty of nature. Great for all ages, no experience is required — just patience and basic gear. Local shops offer gear to rent or borrow, just make sure to get your Alberta fishing license and check the weather and local regulations before you go.

  • Calling Lake is surrounded by the enchanting boreal scenery of Athabasca, about 2.5 hours from Edmonton, and is home to northern pike, perch, and walleye. The lake is free to use and guided fishing packages are offered by local businesses.
  • Chain Lakes Provincial Park is heavily stocked with different species of trout and features scenic views of the Livingstone Mountains. The park is a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary and just over two hours from Edmonton. Admission is free for day use.
  • The Kananaskis Lakes are a great spot for trophy fishing, best known for record-sized bull trout. The lakes are a two-hour drive from Calgary and a Kananaskis Conservation Pass is needed to park, starting at $15 per vehicle for day use. 
  • Chestermere Lake is a perfect choice for families and day trippers based in Calgary, just a 30-minute drive outside the city. The lake has a reputation for perch and pike and is free to use, with fishing gear available from shops in Chestermere.

Seek thrills on a snowmobile trip in Alberta

Snowmobiling packs an adrenaline rush that can only be experienced in the dead of winter, and Alberta has some of the best trails around. A map of the area, avalanche training, and a valid driver’s license are needed before you embark on your adventure, as well as the correct clothing and gear. Local sledding clubs offer guided tours for beginners, as well as snowmobile rentals and repairs.

  • Iron Horse Trail is the longest and oldest trail in Alberta, ideal for experienced riders seeking a long haul trip. The route includes plenty of historic stops, provincial parks, accommodations, and staging areas, is free to use, and starts about 2.5 hours from Edmonton.
  • Athabasca has over 300 km of groomed trails suitable for beginners and is home to a thriving snowmobile culture. It’s located one hour and 50 minutes outside of Edmonton and guided tours are available. Trail passes can be purchased from the Athabasca River Runners Snowmobile Club for $70.
  • Bearberry Nordic Centre has 35 km of trails through pine and spruce forests in the foothills along the historic Cowboy trail, and is suited to beginner to intermediate riders. It’s located about a two-hour drive from Calgary, and trail passes can be purchased from the Olds Snowmobile Club.

With so much to do in Alberta this season, it would be a shame to pass up a winter road trip. Don’t have the right wheels for the job? Browse the Turo marketplace to connect with hosts offering AWD and 4×4 vehicles, plus perks like roof racks for all your winter gear. With the perfect car, there’s nothing holding you back from hitting the slopes and conquering those mountain roads.

Venturing into the US over winter break? Check out our guide for destinations to inspire your cross-border adventure.

Browse cars in Alberta

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