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Calgary commutable to Big 3?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Am fortunate enough to have three free days when in Calgary on work trip at end of January. Planning to drive each day to the Big 3 (lake Louise, Banff and Mount Norquay) one day in each in that order but driving back to Calgary each evening and up early and back for first lift.

Questions essentially are:

1. Are these the best ski areas drivable from Calgary
2. What will the road / travel conditions be like? Google maps indicates they’re commutable from Calgary

Thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
TCH 1 is the main artery across and so kept clear as possible, Lake Louise is a bit of a distance, but with an early start doable. If doing that I'd leave early and grab breakfast en route or when there Smile

You could also look at driving south to Castle if they have good conditions - great little ski area, without any of the resort feel at all. Its a very easy drive too, and less chance of poor road conditions. Obviously dependant on where in Calgary you are based.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
+1 to Castle
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Will google Castle, thank you. An early start is never a problem due to the time difference!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Snowsartre,

I would certainly endorse the view that Castle Mountain is worth a trip. We loved it there last year.

However, as you are having a "free" (I assume, flights paid) trip to Canada why commute 90 minutes each way for 3 days skiing? Why not book accommodation for 2 nights and save yourself the hassle and have a more relaxing trip? There are hotels in Banff on Booking.com for £50 a night, or a decent looking hostel for half that price.

You could look at it as 3 nights skiing in Canada for £150, plus the cost of fuel - a bargain me thinks! wink

There is also a Super 8 hotel at Pincher Creek, near Castle, which is also good value.

Good luck with whatever you decide. Very Happy
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Haven't been to Castle, but would go for LL and Sunshine plus castle. I though Norquay was pretty diassapointing. Small, samey runs but it has to be said the views back towards Banff were pretty spectacular.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Bergmeister wrote:
Snowsartre,

I would certainly endorse the view that Castle Mountain is worth a trip. We loved it there last year.

However, as you are having a "free" (I assume, flights paid) trip to Canada why commute 90 minutes each way for 3 days skiing? Why not book accommodation for 2 nights and save yourself the hassle and have a more relaxing trip? There are hotels in Banff on Booking.com for £50 a night, or a decent looking hostel for half that price.

You could look at it as 3 nights skiing in Canada for £150, plus the cost of fuel - a bargain me thinks! wink

There is also a Super 8 hotel at Pincher Creek, near Castle, which is also good value.

Good luck with whatever you decide. Very Happy


Echo the stay part but I'd do Castle and Fernie instead of Lake Louise and Sunshine.

Unless of course Lake Louise and Sunshine are getting the goods and Castle and Fernie aren't.

Castle and Fernie skiing much better IMHO. And a whole lot warmer.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Another thumbs down for Mt Norquay. Give it a miss and have 2 days at SV or LL. Really don't know how they have the nerve to call it the Big 3. More like the medium size 2 and tiny Norquay.
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Kicking Horse.
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Whitegold wrote:
Kicking Horse.


If he's staying overnight.

Day tripping, forget it.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Norquay has one of thw steepwst Pistes in North America
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Clearly lots of locals commute from Calgary to the Big3 resorts for the day. The RCMP know this and the section of Highway 1 through the National Park is full of police speed traps! I think our record was counting 15 between Lake Louise and Banff! The Parks Canada guys are also on the lookout for anyone without a Park Permit!

The road itself will be fine, its a 2 lane highway, and pretty straight, not your typical Alpine hairpin switchbacks, and as its the main E-W route is kept pretty clear, even in heavy snowfalls. It also depends where in Calgary you are, from the airport its straight onto the Highway and pretty easy drive, but traffic through downtown Calgary can be very busy,

But like others if I was going all that way I'd find a little more cash to stay in Banff for two nights. Got to be more relaxing than driving both ways each day.
Having been to Norquay for the first time this year after several Banff trips I think its a rather hidden gem. Of course its much smaller than the others but its perfect for a day, and its got a very friendly low key vibe. If the visibility isn't great then its ideal as its all entirely below the tree line
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
I'd definitely stay in banff unless your under curfew ?.
If you have a car with snow tyres and chains then you can do what you want. But a lift pass to the Big 3 will give you option to get the Ski Bus to any resort you choose for the time your there.
Also at Lake louise, you can meet up with 'ski Friends ' https://www.skifriends.ca/ and have people to ski with.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Others will no doubt disagree but:

- Loved Norquay on our two visits. Great snow both times; quiet slopes; and - as has been mentioned - challenging steeps

- Have also enjoyed two trips to Nakiska - the closest ski area to Calgary.

- Loved the novelty of Canada Olympic Park on the outskirts of Calgary. We've been twice. Proper skiing on proper snow - so beats a UK snow dome hands down.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I agree with @mountainaddict, about Norquay. We loved it. Very quiet area, great snow and some of the steepest bump runs we've encountered anywhere.

And Banff is one of our favourite ski towns. It would be a shame not to stay there after travelling half way round the world...
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm assuming the reason for coming back to Calgary is because the hotel is paid for by work?

If so, look into ski bus that goes from Calgary to various ski areas. I can't help with specifics but most cities in the snow belt tend to have those.

Driving in the morning will be ok as you're fresh. Driving back after skiing can be tiring. And after 2 consecutive days, you may not be so motivated to get up on day 3...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I think Norquay is worth a visit, I like the runs there and its so handy from Banff.

Recommend Caribou Lodge ... Nice warm underground parking.

The only thing to watch out for is the road conditions if you get a dump of snow when you want to come home.

Kicking Horse is a bit too far for a day trip from Banff.

Enjoy your skive Smile
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
DrLawn wrote:
Recommend Caribou Lodge ... Nice warm underground parking.

Enjoy your skive Smile


^+1. (If you can get a room on the frontage it's more pleasant too).
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Not been there myself but have friends who live in Calgary and they go to Panorama. Other friends who went to visit said the skiing there was really good - also challenging steeps - he's a really good skier so must be pretty good.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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Daily commute from Calgary to Panorama? You’ve got to be kidding! Shocked
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Daily commute to all Big 3 is easily doable. Highway is good and pretty well kept in winter. We do it the whole time.

I would wait and see what snow conditions are like. Nakiska may be worth a trip and its a shorter commute.

Ditto Castle. I have been there only three times, because I have pretty much always had bad luck there. Too windy on the days I went so the top lift was shut 2.5 days out of 3 separate visits. On hill accommodation at Castle is very expensive. The drive to Castle can be tricky in winter, the wind can be very bad at the bottom of the 22. Its better now they have wind warning signs, live, but the first time I went there, there were great big semis blown over in the ditch. Pretty scarey as they blew over the other carriageway too. the highways down there aren't quite as well kept. But of course they could be fine. First time we went to Castle we stayed in Pincher Creek and couldn't get out of our hotel car park door in the morning due to drifts!!

I think the amount of driving you will be up for depends on how long you have been in Calgary before and so how acclimatised you will be.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Snowsartre to the white courtesy phone
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Thanks for replies. @DrLawn, have decided to splash the cash on non-expensed trip to Bannf wink
@Mike Pow, not a clue what that means, sorry!
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@Mike Pow, just had a google - I was never an athlete in the first place? And staying in Banff not Bannf!
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You'd gone all quiet on us, so was paging you
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