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Castle Mountain

At Castle Mountain Resort you might feel like nobility when you score princely amounts of powder, but you’re unlikely to receive the full royal treatment! At Castle Mountain Ski Resort in Alberta Canada there are no days spas or sleigh rides, and you’re unlikely to spot any fur jackets or anyone strutting about. Castle Ski Resort is delightfully non-commercialised, non-fancy and reasonably low key. The ski area has an old school vibe and it’s ideal for those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding without all the extra frills.

Castle Ski and Snowboard Terrain

On paper, Castle Mountain Resort appears reasonably large with 863 metres of vertical (1,410-2,273 metres), 78 trails, 8 alpine bowls, 3 terrain parks and 3,592 acres (1,450 hectares). However in reality it seems much smaller, particularly for beginners and intermediates. It’s unclear what’s counted in the 3,500+ acres and it’s likely that this include the 800 acre Powder Stagecoach cat skiing area. And if the top lift closes due to the oft-windy conditions, then Castle Mountain becomes rather small.

The Castle ski terrain has plenty of long runs, good fall line skiing, and decent variety. Beginners have 15% of the trails and whilst some naysayers think Castle isn’t particularly good for beginners, there’s more than enough for green-horns to learn to ski or snowboard. Intermediates officially have 40% of the trails, but this naysayer thinks this statistic seems rather off because there aren’t a lot of blue trails in reality.

Castle Mountain’s real strength is its appeal for advanced and expert riders. The ski area has lots of steeps, good glades, moguls, chutes, and cliff bands that have to be sensibly navigated. Some of the wider runs need a long traverse in and out, but the upside is that the freshies last a long time in these areas.

Weekend powder day lift queues can ensue, but generally crowds are not a problem, especially on weekdays and relative to the Banff ski resorts.

Castle Mountain Resort has 7 lifts, 4 of which are old chairs. You’ll have plenty of time on the lifts to contemplate your next run!

Castle Snow and Weather

Castle Mountain receives 9.1 metres of snowfall per season on average, which is pretty good for an Alberta ski resort. Many of the slopes are north facing which aids in maintaining good snow quality.

Castle is renowned for frequent windy conditions, which has its pros and cons. Many locals love riding the wind buff whereby the powder is blown back into the gullies. An obvious disadvantage of the wind is that it can be brutally cold sitting on the slow lifts; that’s of course if the wind hasn’t shut the lift down.

Where is Castle Mountain?

Castle Ski Resort is located 45km southwest of the town of Pincher Creek, a drive that takes approximately 35-40 minutes. Castle is situated in the southwest corner of Alberta Canada, just east of the Continental Divide and 136km southeast of Fernie BC. Castle is 250km south of Calgary (267km from Calgary International Airport). You’ll need a car to get to Castle.

The Castle Mountain Resort shouldn’t be confused with Castle Mountain in the Banff National Park.

Castle Mountain Accommodation

There are definitely no castles to stay at! Castle Lodge is the primary on-mountain accommodation, which features simple lodge rooms as well as a hostel section with budget bunk beds. Or Castle Chalet offers self-contained accommodation with 2, 3 or 5 bedrooms. There are other ski-in ski-out and on-hill accommodation options including condos and cabins.

Otherwise there are hotels and motels in the town of Pincher Creek.

Pincher Creek Accommodation Listings

Ski Resort Facilities

The ski hill has adequate but basic base facilities. This includes a shop with retail and inexpensive rentals including downhill skis, snowboards, cross country equipment, and snowshoes. Ski and snowboard lessons are on offer, as is child care for ages 18 months and up, although capacity is very limited and it’s only available on weekends and holidays.

For food there is a day lodge cafeteria and coffee shop, and the T-Bar Pub and Grill that has plenty of cool vintage décor and a friendly vibe.

Activities

Don’t expect an extensive repertoire of activities for non-skiers to do. Castle is mostly about the skiing and snowboarding.

Castle Mountain cat skiing is available in avalanche-controlled terrain adjacent to the resort. The Powder Stagecoach is lift-assisted snowcat skiing whereby the terrain is accessed by a chair lift and then the snowcat. The cat skiing offers plenty of freshies - get on the powder stagecoach before you turn into a pumpkin!

Castle also has a small cross country trail at the resort and other trails nearby, and snowshoeing is another option.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Castle Mountain Canada

Pros
  • Castle has plenty of challenging terrain for advanced and expert riders.
  • There are lots of decent length fall line runs.
  • It’s rather unique for a Canadian cat skiing operation to be co-located with a ski resort.
  • The lift tickets are reasonably inexpensive. Facilities and services and on-mountain accommodations are also rather affordable.
  • It is not a heavily trafficked ski resort relative to some of the other Alberta ski areas.
  • The mountain generally receives very respectable snowfalls.
Cons
  • The lifts are painfully slow but the upside is that this tends to keep the crowds away.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • The amenities are reasonably low frills and cell service may not be too crash hot.