Canada's Top Winter Destinations
From Whistler to Banff to Montreal, this winter’s best places to ski, snowboard—and even surf—in Canada.
In Canada’s Rocky Mountains
Celebrating 125 years, Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Eighty miles from Calgary in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, it offers every winter activity imaginable, including skiing at nearby Mount Norquay. The lively town of Banff features natural hot springs, unique shops, art galleries, and the occasional elk wandering in from the nearby forest. Modeled after a Scottish castle, the magnificent Fairmont Banff Springs (pictured; rooms, from $250; 405 Spray Ave.; 866-540-4406; fairmont.com) dominates the skyline. Concierge Rory Zolob can arrange everything from sleigh rides to dinner reservations at the excellent Bison Mountain Bistro. Also in town is the top-notch Buffalo Mountain Lodge (rooms, from $260; 700 Tunnel Mountain Dr.; 403-762-2400; crmr.com) and its delicious Sleeping Buffalo restaurant.
Near Banff, in Canada’s Rockies
Only 45 minutes past Banff is Lake Louise, one of the largest ski areas in North America, with more than 4,200 acres of land, four mountain faces, and famed back bowls. Just minutes away, in the heart of Banff National Park, is the Fairmont Château Lake Louise (rooms, from $310; 111 Lake Louise Dr., Banff; 866-540-4413; fairmont.com), which overlooks the massive Victoria Glacier. From the hotel you can arrange numerous activities, like snowshoeing with a mountain heritage guide, dogsledding on an Inuit sled, skating through an ice castle on Lake Louise, hiking through an ice canyon, or ice-cleating along the Great Divide. It’s also worth trying out traditional wooden skis on the Hickory Skee tour. Among the other top places to stay near the lake are the Deer Lodge (rooms, from $95; 109 Lake Louise Dr., Banff; 403-522-3991; crmr.com) and the very chic Post Hotel (rooms, from $260; 200 Pipestone Rd.; 800-661-1586; posthotel.com), home to one of the finest restaurants in all of Canada, with 27,000-plus bottles of wine in the cellar.
In the northernmost part of the Rockies
Located at the end of the Icefields Parkway, a three-hour stretch of highway that starts in Banff and is known as one of the most scenic drives in the world, is Jasper National Park. The place to stay here is the iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (rooms, from $195; Old Lodge Rd.; 866-540-4454; fairmont.com). Spread across 700 acres, each cabin has between one and eight bedrooms and features woodburning fireplaces. With its new $6.7 million spa and the Moose’s Nook Northern Grill, which specializes in bison, the Fairmont makes a great base from which to explore.