If you have ever been to Banff, Alberta, then you know how perfect the sweeping slopes of the Rocky Mountains are for ski trips.
In Banff, you will find a wide variety of different ski resorts to choose from, with two of the most well-renowned being Lake Louise Ski Resort and Banff Sunshine Village. Both of these resorts have a lot to offer, both in terms of terrain and amenities.
To help you decide which resort is best for your next trip to Banff, we have created this guide comparing the two resorts to each other. From slope and snow conditions to ski pass prices and accommodations, this guide has everything you need to know about Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village.
Keep reading to learn all about these wonderful resorts and all they have to offer!
Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise Ski Resort is found within the hamlet of the same name, located in the Banff National Park.
There are a few different ways you can get to Lake Louise Ski Resort from the town of Banff, including:
- By Car: If you would prefer to drive your own vehicle to Lake Louise Ski Resort, you reach the resort by car. The drive itself offers incredible mountain scenery and is approximately 60 km to the west of Banff’s town centre.
- By Shuttle: To take the stress out of driving, you can instead opt for the convenience of the resort’s daily shuttle service. The shuttles run for most of the day, with the shuttles going on back-to-back runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To view the full Lake Louise Ski Resort shuttle schedule, visit their website.
- By Private Shuttle: If you are traveling from Calgary to Lake Louise Ski Resort, you can rent or reserve one of the resort’s private shuttles. This is a great option for large groups or gatherings, such as bridal parties or family reunions.
- By Bus: Another travel option if you are arriving to Lake Louise from Calgary is to take one of the many bus services available in Calgary. The buses also run from a variety of other nearby locations, including Banff and Canmore.
If you are coming from another province or country, the nearest airport to Lake Louise Ski Resort is the Calgary International Airport, located roughly 2 hours from the resort. As it is located in Calgary, you can then take a private shuttle or bus to the resort if you do not wish to rent a car.
Number of Slopes
Lake Louise spans across a massive piece of land comprised of more than 4,200 acres and four mountain faces. On these four mountain faces, there are a total of 164 different runs and 11 total lifts.
At Lake Louise, the slopes are divided into two main areas:
- Front Side + Larch + West Bowl: Front side, larch, and west bowl all refer to the frontmost runs in the ski park. These runs are designed to have something for everyone and offer a full range of difficulty levels. You can view the map of these routes here.
- Back Bowls: For more experienced skiers and snowboarders looking for a more challenging and exciting run, the back bowls are the place for you. Along with being more technically challenging, the back bowls also receive more snow than other areas of the resort park. View the map of the back bowls here.
Terrain & Trail Difficulty
Lake Louise offers a full range of both terrain and trail difficulty levels to suit skiers of all proficiencies.
The trails at Lake Louise Ski Resort are divided into the standard 4 difficulty levels used to describe ski slopes: Easy (marked with a green circle), More Difficult (marked with a blue square), Advanced (marked with one black diamond), and Expert (marked with two black diamonds).
The layout of the ski park offers a balanced blend of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails. According to Lake Louise’s official mountain stats, the ratio of these three levels is 25% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 30% advanced (advanced and expert).
Lake Louise also offers Terrain Parks for the truly adventurous that include a full range of different jump sizes and styles, as well as rails, boxes, and other great features.
Lake Louise Elevation
Lake Louise stands tall, with its top elevation point measured at 2,637 metres (8,650 feet). As for the vertical rise (the vertical distance from the bottom of a slope to the top) of the ski resort, it is 991 metres (3,250 feet).
Banff Sunshine Village Ski Resort
Located a mere 8 km (5 miles) west of the town of Banff is Banff Sunshine Village, one of the most well-known ski resorts in all of Canada.
To reach Banff Sunshine Village, your main options for travel are:
- By Car: The easiest way to navigate to Sunshine Village is simply to drive there yourself. Once you are in the town of Banff, you will head west on the Trans Canada Highway and follow signs for the Sunshine Village exit. You will travel on the Sunshine Village access road for roughly 8.3 km.
- By Shuttle: Banff Sunshine Village runs a shuttle service from the town of Banff up to the resort. This shuttle service runs daily and is free to use. You can view the shuttle schedule here. For more information on how to arrive at Sunshine Village via shuttle, check out the resort’s official webpage.
You can also arrive in Banff via Roam Transit or another bus system, though keep in mind that the buses do not take you directly to the resort. Once you get off the bus, you will need to locate one of Sunshine Village’s shuttle services.
Keep in mind that Sunshine Village is located directly within Banff National Park, so you will need either sufficient daily passes or a Discovery Pass to enter the park. You can purchase your park passes online.
Number of Slopes
At Banff Sunshine Village, skiers have more than 3,500 acres to explore across 3 distinct mountains. These mountains are called:
- Goat’s Eye Mountain: Goat’s Eye Mountain offers the most challenging lift in the ski park, Goat’s Eye Express. However, this mountain also has plenty of family-friendly activity as well via the Wolverine Express. Check out the map of Goat’s Eye Mountain here.
- Lookout Mountain: On Lookout Mountain is where skiers can access some of the wildest alpine terrain in the park — as well as some of the most killer views. One of the lifts found on this mountain, the Great Divide Express, carries riders up high above, even crossing into British Columbia! View the Lookout Mountain map here.
- Mount Standish: Mount Standish has a little bit of something for everyone. Comprised of Strawberry Express for beginners, Wawa Bowl for intermediate skiers, and Standish Express for intermediate to advanced, Mount Standish is also the home to magic carpets for ski school participants. Take a look at the Mount Standish map here.
Terrain & Trail Difficulty
Like Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff Sunshine Village follows the standard difficulty labeling system for skiing that goes as follows:
- Easy (marked with a green circle)
- More Difficult (marked with a blue square)
- Advanced (marked with one black diamond)
- Expert (marked with two black diamonds)
Sunshine Village offers a good balance of all four difficulty levels, with a special emphasis on ensuring there is always something family-friendly available.
Check out this official Banff Sunshine Village guide on the best runs in the park for all difficulty levels.
Sunshine Village Elevation
Banff Sunshine Village is located at an elevation of approximately 2,194 metres (7,200 feet). From the peak point of this ski park, you are blessed with a 360-degree view of all the surrounding mountains and scenery.
Lake Louise vs. Sunshine Village: General Weather Conditions
One of the most important considerations when planning your ski trip in Banff is the potential weather conditions — after all, it is awfully difficult to ski without a good balance of snow and sunshine.
In Alberta, the period between December to March is generally considered to have the best overall weather conditions for skiing. Additionally, many factors can affect skiing conditions, such as:
- Snow Type: Different types of snow can affect your skiing experience, including wet and dry snow. In Canada, wet snow is more common than dry snow, characterized by its quick melting and freezing cycles. Dry snow often occurs when artificial snow is produced and has a more powdery feel and look to it.
- Snow Pack: Snow pack refers to how packed down the snow on a slope has become. The level of snow pack on a slope can be greatly impacted by adverse weather conditions, as this may cause crud, slush, or crust to form on the snow.
- Outside Temperature: Typically, the ideal temperature range for skiing is between 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range will keep the snow intact while not being so cold as to not be dangerous for skiers sitting still as they travel up the mountain on a lift.
Remember these important factors as we discuss the differences between snow conditions at Lake Louise Ski Resort and Banff Sunshine Village.
Lake Louise Snow Conditions
One of the best ways to examine the potential snow conditions of a ski resort while the resort is out of season or when planning a trip ahead of time is to look at years past.
According to Snow Forecast, the average snowfall during peak ski season (December to late March or Early April) is between 4 to 5 days of snow per week. The full breakdown of expected snowfall is as follows:
- December: An average of 5.9 inches per week and snowfall on 4.2 days per week.
- January: An average of 4.7 inches per week and snowfall on 4.3 days per week.
- February: An average of 5.5 inches per week and snowfall on 4.5 days per week.
- March: An average of 7.1 inches per week and snowfall on 5.1 days per week.
- April: An average of 7.1 inches per week and snowfall on 5 days per week.
As you can see, the peak time for snowfall is in March and April, though the Lake Louise area certainly receives its fair share of snow throughout the entire season.
Sunshine Village Snow Conditions
Compared to Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village sees a similar amount of average snowfall each year. Like Lake Louise, Sunshine Village also sees its peak snowfall between March and April, with its snowiest week falling in the first week of March generally.
Here is a breakdown of the average snowfall at Banff Sunshine Village, according to Snow Forecast:
- December: An average of 5.9 inches per week and snowfall on 4.1 days per week.
- January: An average of 4.7 inches per week and snowfall on 4.0 days per week.
- February: An average of 5.9 inches per week and snowfall on 4.4 days per week.
- March: An average of 7.9 inches per week and snowfall on 4.9 days per week.
- April: An average of 7.1 inches per week and snowfall on 4.7 days per week.
Additionally, Snow Forecast graded Sunshine Village as having mostly “Bluebird Days” during ski season, meaning the resort received average snowfall with mostly sunny weather and light wind.
Lake Lousie vs. Sunshine Village: Ski Pass Prices
As you consider whether your time would be best spent at Lake Louise Ski Resort or Banff Sunshine Village, it is important to keep your budget in mind as well.
Ski pass prices can vary according to several different factors, including:
- Age: Most ski resorts will offer discounted entry rates for visitors who are under the age of 17 and over the age of 65. These are important distinctions, as you can save a lot of money by making use of all your possible discounts.
- Length of Visit: Not everyone wants to ski all-day and many resorts recognize this. Thus, most resorts will offer varying pass prices depending on how long you wish to ski on a given day. The most common types of tickets seen are full-day and half-day passes, though some resorts may also offer special passes for after a certain time of day or on slower business days.
- Time of Year: Obviously, the time of year will greatly affect the price of your passes to enter the ski park. If you do wish to visit a resort during the warmer times of the year, a summer pass can give you access to ski lifts, gondolas, hiking trails, and more.
- Season Passes: If you plan on staying for an extended period of time, you may want to consider purchasing a season pass that gives you unlimited access to the ski slopes. These can be quite expensive, so only opt for this choice if you plan on skiing with large groups over a long trip.
You can also purchase a pass called the SkiBig3 which provides you with access to Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village, and Mt. Norquay. With this pass, you also receive:
- 4 “buddy tickets” for friends
- 50% of lift tickets at all Mountain Collective Destinations
- 4 additional “buddy tickets” available at a discounted price
- Pass perks and extra discounts at all 3 resorts
With all of those details out of the way, let’s look at the ski pass options at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village.
Lake Louise Ski Pass
At Lake Louise Ski Resort, there are many different types of passes you can choose between.
These passes include:
- Single-Day Lift Tickets: The single-day lift tickets come in 3 varieties: full-day tickets (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), half-day tickets (12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.), and after 2 p.m. tickets (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Prices for single-day lift tickets are further divided according to age and include adult (18 to 64), senior (65+), youth (13 to 17), child (6 to 12), and tiger (0 to 5).
- Season Passes: At Lake Louise Ski Resort, you can choose between 3 types of season passes — full season, spring season, and grade 2. The grade 2 pass offers a greatly discounted rate for any skiers in the second grade. Additionally, Lake Louise offers pass charging, in which you can charge all purchases to your season pass account.
- Lake Louise Plus Card: The Lake Louise Plus Card provides you with 3 free lift tickets on your 1st, 4th, and 7th visits that can be redeemed at 4 top resorts. Additionally, you can save 30% on lift tickets from April 18th until the end of the season. This card also provides you with free direct-to-life upgrades and special pass discounts and benefits.
Lake Louise does not sell winter passes year-round, so the prices for the 2022/2023 season are not yet available and will go on sale later this year.
Sunshine Village Ski Pass
At Sunshine Village, you can purchase both single and multi-day passes. Like Lake Louise, these passes are divided according to age and are available as follows:
- Single-Day Passes: Single-day passes give you access to the slopes of Sunshine Village for the entire day. The tickets are divided into 5 age categories — adult (18 to 64), senior (65+), youth (13 to 17), child (6 to 12), and tiger (0 to 2).
- Multi-Day Passes: The multi-day passes are grouped slightly differently than the single-day passes. In addition to categorizing these passes into the 5 age groups above, the prices will also vary according to the length of your stay and the number of people in your party.
- Season Passes: Sunshine Village offers a wide range of season passes for both all-day and afternoon visits. Like the single and multi-day passes, the season passes are divided up according to the age of the pass holder.
Like Lake Louise, Sunshine Village has not yet announced its pricing for the 2022/2023 season. Make sure to keep an eye on their ticket sales webpage for more information.
Lake Louise vs. Sunshine Village: Accommodations
What’s a ski resort without a cozy bed to sleep in and a warm dining area to get your next meal?
Both Lake Louise Ski Resort and Banff Sunshine Village have a wide array of accommodations to offer to their guests. Depending on your budget and needs, there are many different lodges and hotels for you to stay in at Lake Louise, while Banff Sunshine Village has its own dedicated lodge.
Let’s take a look at the accommodation options at these two resorts.
Lake Louise Accommodations
Surrounding Lake Louise are several wonderful lodges, inns, and hotels ready with welcome arms to accept snow-loving visitors.
These accommodations include:
- Fairmont Chateau Lake House
- Deer Lodge
- The Lake Louise Inn
- Mountaineer Lodge
- Hi-Lake Louise Alpine Center
- The Post Hotel
- Emerald Lake Lodge
- Castle Mountain Chalets
- Baker Creek Mountain Resort
- Skoki Lodge
To learn more about the lodging and hotels available near Lake Louise Ski Resort, check out the resort’s official webpage today.
Sunshine Ski Resort Accommodations
At Sunshine Village, this ski resort has its own dedicated lodge for visitors.
The Sunshine Mountain Lodge offers a truly unique experience, allowing visitors to ski-in and ski-out of the lodge. There are many types of rooms available at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge, including:
- West Wing Lofts: The West Wing Lofts are 600 square feet in size, divided into two stories with 3 beds — a king bed upstairs, a queen bed downstairs, and a pull-out queen bed. The lofts also include in-floor heating, fireplaces, flatscreen television, and private jet hot tubs.
- West Wing Premiere Guest Rooms: Slightly smaller than the West Wing Lofts, the premiere guest rooms are one-story with one queen bed and an additional pull-out bed. These rooms include in-floor heating, a private fireplace, and a private balcony.
- Main Lodge Suites: The main lodge suites are a bit larger than the lofts and guest rooms, featuring unique and spacious floorplans that include a king bed and a double pull-out sofa. These suites include a private fireplace.
- Deluxe View with Balcony: For anyone hoping to watch skiers as they make their way down the slopes, the deluxe view with balcony room is for you. This room includes a queen bed and twin-size trundle bed, as well as a private balcony.
- Deluxe Waterfall Guest Rooms: These guest rooms overlook the ski run “waterfall” and include a queen bed and twin-size trundle bed.
Learn more about the Sunshine Mountain Lodge on the resort’s official webpage.
Another area you may want to consider staying in is Canmore. Just shy of thirty minutes away from Banff, Canmore is a slightly larger township with a wide range of affordable or expensive accommodation options.
Final Thoughts: Is Lake Louise or Sunshine Village Ski Resort Better?
When it comes down to it, either Lake Louise Ski Resort or Banff Sunshine Village can be an excellent choice for your next trip to Banff.
If you want to stay on the actual skiing grounds, then Sunshine Village’s Sunshine Mountain Lodge may be the best choice for you. If you prefer a less-rustic stay, you can opt for Lake Louise and one of its nearby lodges, including the luxurious Fairmont Chateau.
No matter which resort you choose, you are bound to have an exceptional experience as you enjoy the natural beauty of Banff, Alberta.