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Wintertime – for many folks that live here in Western Canada and the Canadian Rocky Mountains, or those that like to visit us when the mercury drops — it’s the best time of year.
The calendar says Winter doesn’t begin until December 21, but up here, winter really begins in November; that’s usually when we start getting our first real snow, the kind that sticks around and is good for skiing and playing outdoors (or snuggling up cozy-like in front of the fire).
Up here the average temperature in the winter months, November to March, hovers around minus 12 degrees Celsius (that’s about 6 degrees Fahrenheit to you Yankees from south of the border). During December and January low temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius are not unheard of – but then this is the Rocky Mountains.
But not to worry, it’s not really frigid down in Banff National Park during winter. This area and to the west and south enjoy the “chinook,” warm winds that can produce spring-like temperatures in a matter of hours. Sometimes the moderation even lasts for a few days or even a week or two.
But not to long, fortunately, because we like playing outdoors here, and wintertime means snow and winter sports. While there is plenty of winter alpine activity right here in Lake Louise just an hour south in Banff there is even more to do. The park and this entire region of Alberta gets plenty of good snow for a nice long winter recreation season. And the chinook winds often bring even more precipitation – usually in the form of snow.
Banff town sees an annual average snowfall of 235 centimeters during the winter months, while the higher elevations, including the best ski areas, get even more. Mount Norquay, for example, gets 300 centimeters of snowfall on average; Lake Louise gets 380 centimeters of snow; and Sunshine Village gets a whopping 1,005 centimeters of snow a year.
So what can you do around here with all that snow? What can’t you do with all that snow on the mountains — that’s a better question. Of course draping the beautiful Canadian Rockies in white only heightens their alpine splendor – the days may get shorter, but the scenic wonder of the Rocky Mountains continue all year long.
So even if you don’t own a pair of skis, a snowboard or snowshoes, you can still enjoy the rugged beauty of the mountains and enjoy the excellent accommodations, resorts and boutique hotels of Banff and Lake Louise.
Ice walks are a perfect way to capture the beauty of Banff and the Canadian Rockies in winter; the frozen, snow-covered alpine peaks and valleys are lovely.
There is plenty of rock climbing and mountaineering in Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies. In winter time we don’t stop; there is ice climbing too.
Canadian Rockies heli-ski tours provide fresh powder, long descents, steep slopes, natural terrain, old-growth forests — perfect alpine skiing.
Snowmobiling isn’t allowed in Banff National Park, but that sill leaves you plenty of room to play and explore the alpine terrain of the Canadian Rockies.
Snowshoeing is a great traditional way to enjoy the winter alpine scenery of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies, as well as view wildlife.
Cross country skiing in Banff: track-set cross-country, groomed skate-skiing, untracked backcountry trails, telemark slopes, and ski mountaineering routes.
Ski mountaineering: you can go mountaineering,or you could go skiing. Why not both? Here in Banff and the Canadian Rockies, you can.
Ski Banff National Park’s 3 ski resorts: Mount Norquay, Lake Louise Ski Area and Sunshine Village. 8,000 acres of perfect powder, six months a year.
Winter Icewalk Tours
in Jasper, Alberta
Join us on the three-hour Maligne Canyon Icewalk, where you will discover frozen waterfalls and elaborate ice caves!
Whitewater Rafting in Jasper, Alberta
Raft the exciting Sunwapta or the Athabasca River, or try the Fraser River in B.C. Jasper whitewater rafting has never been so appealing.
Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge
Get great deals on lodging in our newly renovated rooms and cabins surrounded by Jasper mountain scenery.
The Johnston Canyon Resort is the best way to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Canadian Rockies.