When I think of the perfect snowboarding day I think of riding deep in fresh powder on a bluebird day, epic mountain scenery and a vibrant atmosphere. When I think of the perfect ski resort, Banff’s Sunshine Village is the place that automatically comes to my mind. When people ask me where to hit the slopes for their winter vacation, I always tell them to go to Sunshine. With some of the best powder in Canada, stunning mountain landscapes, ridable terrain for all levels, fast chairlifts, a lively village and unbeatable hospitality, it’s easy to see why I always recommend it.
I’ll admit, I have always loved winter sports deep down, but until recently I was never a big fan of going out in colder weather. I was born and raised in sunny California, where anything under 65 degrees is considered freezing, and a little rain scares drivers off the roads. I spent some time in the mild winters riding at Lake Tahoe, but my idea of the ideal vacation back then usually involved a beach in the tropics. After spending some winters in the Canadian Rockies, I learned to really appreciate the endless possibilities and adventures that existed in the winter. I’m now definitely a convert to taking real winter vacations, and actually seek them out over tropical getaways any chance I get.
I recently moved to Calgary, and plan on spending as much time in the mountains as I can, especially riding at Sunshine. Here, I give you five reasons to visit and fall in love with Banff’s Sunshine Village.
THE GUARANTEE OF EPIC SNOW
Two words: FRESH POWDER! Sunshine Village is often considered one of Canada’s best places to go for the guarantee of fresh powder. Due to their altitude and location on the continental divide, they average around 30 feet of snow a year.
THREE MOUNTAINS WITH TERRAIN FOR ALL LEVELS
Not only is Sunshine famous for having constant fresh powder, they are also well-known for having numerous runs for any level. There truly is something for everyone here. Each mountain has something to offer for every level.
Goat’s Eye Mountain: Goat’s Eye is the first stop you make on the Sunshine gondola. This mountain is a favorite for expert terrain riders, as it has deep powder, steep slopes, tree glades and challenging moguls. If you are looking for the most challenging runs, make sure to hit up Goat’s Eye Express. For free-riders, The Wild West is an adrenaline-inducing area with steep and technical terrain. Some of the slopes are upwards of 40 degrees! There are five legendary runs, all named after explorers of the Canadian Rockies. If you are new to The Wild West, it’s recommended you try Wheeler’s Run first.
Goat’s Eye Mountain also has some more intermediate runs, which can be found by taking the Wolverine Express or Jackrabbit lift.
Lookout Mountain: To get to Lookout and Standish, you simply continue to take the gondola all the way up to the village. I can usually be found snowboarding on this mountain, as I love the runs and the unparalleled mountain views. Lookout Mountain is famous for The Great Divide Express, which takes you through the border of Alberta and British Columbia. Some of the other runs I recommend are Angel Express and Teepee Town.
For the seriously insane skiers and snowboarders, Delirium Drive is a legendary option. Located at the top of The Great Divide Express, Delirium Drive is a free-rider’s paradise. Known as one of the world’s more terrifying ski runs, Delirium attracts local and international riders alike. One must need an avalanche transceiver to open the gate, and must also be equipped with a shovel, beacon and riding partner. Avalanche gear is a must, as Delirium is riddled with epic cliffs, chutes, drops and deep levels of snow.
Whatever run you decide to ride, Lookout Mountain is a great choice for terrain, stunning views and above treeline runs suitable for all levels.
Mount Standish: A favorite amongst beginners and intermediate riders, Standish has plenty of runs to build up confidence and skills. If you are a beginner or just want some runs to warm up, try the Strawberry Express. This lift leads to gentle and fun green and easy blue runs that also boast incredible mountain views. For the true beginners, there are also magic carpets to gain skills to ride runs taken from the chairlifts. For the intermediate riders, head to Wawa or Standish Express for some fun runs.
THE LEGENDARY MOUNTAIN VIEWS
Sunshine Village is located on the border of both Alberta and British Columbia, right on the continental divide. This makes for some serious 360-degree mountain views from any mountain you decide to ride.
I recommend staying there all day, not just to maximize your riding time, but to also make sure you get to see the sun setting over the mountains. My absolute favorite spot for that view is on Lookout Mountain, where you can spot legendary peaks such as Assiniboine. You won’t be disappointed!
THE AMENITIES ARE SERIOUSLY AWESOME
Everything is convenient at Sunshine. From the lodge at the base to the village, there is plenty to offer for everyone. There are shops, restaurants and cafeterias for the people looking to get a quick bite. And, if you are looking to stay for a few days, there is a gorgeous mountain lodge right near the village.
As well, they make everything on the mountain efficient and comfortable. They boast a great number of high-speed chair lifts, and I’ve rarely waited in line long enough to think about complaining, even on a weekend. And did I mention there’s a heated chairlift? What’s better than a heated chairlift when the temperatures are well in the negatives? I can’t think of anything. Check out the futuristic Tee Pee Town LX to keep yourself warm on the ride up.
NOTHING BUT GOOD VIBES
Sunshine is also known for its ridiculously friendly atmosphere. The people and their hospitality, whether it be in the ski school, ski patrol, restaurants or gondola and lift operators, always have a smile on their face and are willing to help out in any way they can. It is seriously a place that welcomes everyone.
Check out Sunshine Village: skibanff.com
Founder and main contributor to This Adventure Life, Kirsten Alexis has passion for all things adventure and the outdoors. She is an avid participant in action sports, such as skydiving, paragliding, snowboarding, high-altitude trekking, mountain biking, surfing and more. She is passionate about inspiring others to live their wildest dreams as well as conserving the environment for others to enjoy for years to come.