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banff tips?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well my ski group, all upper intermediate/lower expert skiiers have selected Banff as this years adventure. Been all over the Rockies, but this'll be the first visit to Banff. 
Wondering if anyone can help suggest ..


Good place to eat lunch in Calgary, microbrewery's especially?
Is staying in Canmore a good option? (cheaper lodging there)

Day off things to do?
Temperature's in early febuary?

Discount lift tix?

Best snowmobiling option?


Edited by Furball - 9/17/09 at 12:58pm
post #2 of 9
My girlfriend and I went to Banff early january 2007
Amazing place!

Can't say a lot about Calgary, stayed there just one day/night ( it was 0º F during the afternoon and -11ºF overnight)
There is a town between Calgary and Banff called Canmore, close to the entrance of the national park.

Lots of things to do when you are not skiing such as cave tours, ice walking, snowshoe, ice climbing, snowmobile...

take a look:

We did the ice walking and the winter survival (you go with snowshoes to frozen Vista lake)

You may get temperatures in the low 30's during the day and in the single digits during the night... but that is only average for this time of year, cold snaps are not uncommon...

We enjoyed a lot!
post #3 of 9
For historical temperature records, go to this page on the Environment Canada website, type Banff into the location search box, and you'll get the info you need. It indicates the daily high in February averages, almost exactly, freezing point (0 C or 32 F). http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html

As far as a brew pub for lunch in Calgary, try Brewsters on 11th Ave SW and about 8th St. SW.  It's just south of down town http://www.brewsters.ca.  If you stop in Canmore, try the Grizzly Paw http://www.thegrizzlypaw.com/grizzly-paw-restaurant

As far as lodging goes, since you're out on a holiday and want to have a good time, stay in Banff.  There are more restaurants, bars, etc. there, and you'll have more fun.  If you were planning on spending a lot of time in the region, then my recommendation would be the opposite.  Hotel prices are probably comparable, but the selection is much better in Banff.  Winter is considered low season in the region and hotel prices will be at their lowest, so don't be concerned about price.  If you were to visit in the summer when tourist traffic goes up about 500%, you would find hotel prices would be about double what they are in the winter.  There are definitely good winter deals to be had.

The only place I've ever seen discounted lift tickets are at Costco, where they sell discounted multi-packs of tickets for Sunshine Village and Lake Louise.  If you were a local (Albertan) you would be able to purchase a Louise or Sunshine card which would give you a couple of free days of skiing during your time here as well as discounts on the other days, but they don't sell them to vacationers on the ski area websites.  Early in the season you can buy them at many sports shops, so you might be able to find them for sale and get them that way.

As far as snowmobiling goes, I believe you would need to leave the national park and find somewhere else where you could rent snowmobiles.  I don't know of any place that does, and if you could, it would be a travel hassle.
post #4 of 9
We went to Banff in April 08 and had a blast.  We stayed at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort.  It wasn't exactly the Fairmount, but it was a good, economical choice for our group since we could get 4-6 people comfortably in 1 of the units - 2 bedrooms + sleeper.  It was only a short drive to the town area and a short drive to Sunshine.  I would recommend it.

We spent one afternoon in Canmore and went to the Grizzly Paw.  Food was great and they had a decent beer selection. 

Have a great time!



post #5 of 9

Good place to eat lunch in Calgary, microbrewery's especially?

Calgary isn't really much of a town for beer geeks. Brewsters is a good recommendation. The service is good and the food is alright. The beer is a little pedestrian though (it's a big western canadian chain). The best place to grab a pint, in my opinion is the hop and brew (the yellow house on 12th ave and 2nd street southwest). They serve a number of Western Canada's best craft beers paired with excellent pizza. Unfortunately it doesn't open until the evening. All considered, the grizzly paw might be your best bet. Canmore is a short drive from calgary.

Is staying in Canmore a good option? (cheaper lodging there)

Canmore is more of a working town than Banff, and some people like it for this reason. Tourism is still the major industry though, and what it lacks in hotels it makes up for with condos. Personally, I love Banff. It has better nightlife, restruants, etc., and you are likely to meet up with interesting workers/tourists from all over the world (or at least australia).

I don't know if the savings will be that great, because as exracer said, there are some really great deals on hotels in banff during the winter season.

Day off things to do?

There is a lot to see and explore in the national parks, even during the winter. The drive up the icefields parkway is stunning.

You can ski by the hour at Norquay, so if you want to ski a few runs on your "off day". consider checking it out. The North American Chair is the best area in the region for bump skiing.

Temperature's in early febuary?

Could be very cold, but is more likely to be reasonable. We get two or three really biting cold snaps each winter, and february is not immune to these swings. Be prepared for cold, but you just as easily be skiing in temps near the freezing level. My best guess would be the -5 to -15 c range.

Also, the Alberta air is really dry, so you don't feel the cold as much as you would in a maritime climate.
But remember that you will be skiing up to 4000 feet above Banff. Some lifts, particularily angel and tee pee town at sunshine can be windy, so be prepared. A warm hat/helmet and goggles are a must.

Discount lift tix?

Not much. Check through big3.com and your hotel.

Best snowmobiling option?

British Columbia. Most of the alberta rockies are protected and recreational use of snowmobiles may be prohibited. Golden BC is a snowmobile mecca, though.

Banff is an incredably beautiful region with diverse skiing terrain and well preserved snow. I think you will have a great time, even if snowmobiling is off the table!

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks one and all for the excellent advice and insight.

Any opinion on driving to some of the 'outer' ski area's from Banff,  like Kicking Horse or Revelstoke?
Appears to be about a 2 hour drive, I'm guessing after 4 days of skiing we''ll have absorbed all that Sunshine and Lake Louise offers and be looking for a bit of adventure for day.
post #7 of 9
Originally Posted by Furball View Post

Any opinion on driving to some of the 'outer' ski area's from Banff,  like Kicking Horse or Revelstoke?
Appears to be about a 2 hour drive, I'm guessing after 4 days of skiing we''ll have absorbed all that Sunshine and Lake Louise offers and be looking for a bit of adventure for day.

I've done the drive to Panorama and Kicking Horse from the Banff area and both were worth while.  Both drives involve going over passes in the winter, so pick your days.  Panorama doesn't get as much snow and we lucked out the day we visited with a fresh foot of snow.  Kicking Horse was an easier drive and had some great terrain.  Coming from an eastern time zone makes it easier to get up and on the road early.
post #8 of 9
I wouldn't want to day trip from banff to revelstoke. If you are thinking of an overnight stay, it might be worth it. (I haven't made it to revelstoke yet, but it is up there on my to ski list).

Kicking Horse is a great hill for strong skiers. It will take about 1 hour, 45 minutes to get there from Banff.  If you have the time, it is worth it IMO.

I am not a big fan of panorama, but others seem to like it. The front side is great for groomed runs and taynton bowl has some challenge, but the snow isn't all that good and taynton laps are a a bit of a pain.
post #9 of 9
We enjoyed Banff two years ago! Girlfriends trip. We flew to Calgary and then went downtown to Stephen Avenue (lots of good dining and bar options here) as we got in late and stayed in Hotel nearby. Believe it was the Hyatt. We stayed at the Banff Springs and really enjoyed the experience. Some good restaurants on main street in Banff- like the relaxed atmosphere of the Elk and Oarsmen. We skied Sunshine two days and also went to Nakiska Ski Area- as we enjoyed the incredible grooming and no crowds here.

But our best trips to the Canadian Rockies have been for chasing powder! only 3hrs from Calgary is Fernie Alpine Resort- the town of Fernie is a real mountain town and has as good of scenery as Banff. The skiing is epic- over 29ft of snow on average. The week we were there it snowed over 4ft. Unlike Banff we were able to go cat skiing and snowmobiling here! what a hoot! the snowmobile guide service is really good! try Island Lake for cat-skiing. we found some good info on a local blog- http://www.skircr.com/matts-blog
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