The Sunshine Ski Resort gives Lake Louise a good run for its money when it comes to the awe inspiring scenery. And Sunshine Village Banff definitely out-sprints Lake Louise when it comes to a quality skiing experience. It is our favourite of the Banff ski resorts because the terrain is impressive and the snow conditions tend to be superior to its neighbours.
The Sunshine Resort is a mecca for skiers. There’s plenty for everyone from novices to the most extreme skier, with the latter being able to access some nerve-wracking backcountry-type terrain.
Needless to say another major drawcard of Sunshine is the buzz of the nearby town of Banff and the splendour of the Banff National Park. Both Banff and Sunshine Mountain are incredibly popular, and thousands and thousands of skiers and snowboarders flock there during winter. It’s not surprising that sometimes things can get a little crowded!
Sunshine Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The Sunshine skiing
terrain is awesome in many ways and it’s also pretty extensive. The resort has 3,358 acres (1,358 hectares) of skiable terrain with 107 named runs. It has 12 lifts of which 6 are high-speed quad chairs. The ski resort also has a high speed gondola, although this is primarily just for providing access between the parking and the ski area. It is possible to ski down to the parking lot giving the statistic of a vertical drop of a massive 1,070 metres, but this stat is somewhat misleading considering that in reality you only take the home trail down at day’s end.
The “real” ski area is spread out horizontally across three mountains and the runs aren’t particularly long. There can be a lot of traversing, and some of the runs have some flat zones that are snowboarder traps!
The Sunshine Village ski resort terrain has plenty of variety with above and below treeline slopes, groomers, bowls, glades, and drops. The terrain park set up is pretty impressive too.
The terrain breakdown is: 20% beginner; 55% intermediate; and 25% advanced/expert. There is more than ample choice for beginners and intermediates, and for advanced and expert skiers or snowboarders, Goats Eye Mountain is particularly fabulous with steeps, corduroy, bumps and gladed runs. If you’ve got appropriate avalanche gear
, there are also extreme zones such as Delirium Dive and Wild West, although these can often be closed for avalanche control.
Sunshine Snow and Weather
The snow quality at Sunshine Village is very impressive, especially relative to the other Banff ski
resorts. The temps are often very cold, the elevation is high, and often it’s cloudy (who would think to call a ski resort “Sunshine” when the sun doesn’t actually shine that much?!), so the snow stays in great condition long after a storm. When it comes to snow quantity, the resort has some savvy marketing at play when citing the statistic for annual snowfall, which is “up to 9 metres” rather than the actual average. In reality they probably get about 6-7 metres on average per season, which typically comes from small regular storms rather than chest deep dumps.
Where is Sunshine Ski Resort?
Sunshine Village is located within the Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, 15km southwest of the town of Banff Canada. It’s an hour and a half west of Calgary by road. The resort base is in the province of Alberta, but some parts of the resort are in British Columbia.
Banff Ski Resorts
Sunshine is close to the other Banff ski resorts
and Lake Louise ski resort
. You can ride the three resorts on a tri-area lift ticket which includes transportation on shuttle buses from the Banff and Lake Louise area.
One of the distinct disadvantages of the Banff ski resorts is that you can’t stay on-mountain and have to travel each day to the ski resort. However Sunshine Village is the exception whereby there is one accommodation option, the Sunshine Mountain Lodge
, which is conveniently ski-in ski-out.
Otherwise there are lots of off-mountain accommodation options such as Banff hotels
, Lake Louise hotels
and lodgings in Canmore. These range from the upscale Fairmont Banff Springs and Lake Louise Chateau, to budget options such as the fabulous Lake Louise youth hostel. Of course one advantage of staying off-mountain is that you can keep your options open, and have more flexibility to try out all three of the Banff ski resorts.
The ski resort has fairly minimal amenities, but these are more than adequate considering that the majority of visitors are day-trippers. The facilities include a few dining options at the base and on-mountain, ski school, some lovely shops, an equipment rental service, and child care facilities.
If you stay in Banff, there are lots more options for facilities and services, including a vibrant nightlife and a fantastic array of shops to keep you entertained for hours.
More Reasons to Ski Sunshine Village
It’s a bonus that Sunshine Village has at least one accommodation option on-mountain, unlike the other Banff ski resorts. The terrain is diverse, many of the lifts are fast, and it has a very family friendly vibe.
Best of all, the snow quality gets the big “thumbs up” and the snow conditions are such that the resort enjoys a very long season, so you can enjoy schussing from early November all the way through to mid May.
Tours That Include Sunshine Resort