Lake Louise, Alberta: Rank 7 West, 1997

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This is one ski area where the over-used hook of "undiscovered gem" holds true. The handful of SKI readers who have ventured into Banff National Park rave over this northern treasure. "A world-class resort without the glitz," says one reader. Lake Louise's one-two punch of 4,000 acres and 3,250 vertical feet offers a paradise of slopes and exposures, boosting the area to a No. 5 national ranking in Terrain. There's no trail sign inflation here; when they designate "Expert" in Canada, they mean it. "I must return ASAP," declares a reader. The favorable currency exchange means a lift ticket costs about $30, one of the best bargains in skiing. Beware the annual Arctic freeze, which usually hits in January. Regrettably, there is no slopeside lodging. There are, however, several good hotels and two great ones¿the 500-room Château Lake Louise and the intimate Post Hotel¿about five minutes away in the village of Lake Louise. Reliable bus service is covered by your lift ticket. Many guests lodge in Banff, 40 minutes away, and others head there for the nightlife.

What's New A four-story, 30,000-square-foot base lodge, constructed from trees cleared to create the new Ptarmigan Glade.
A Good Deal Ski Package at the Post Hotel, five days' lodging and skiing, $490, Dec. 11-18, Jan. 4-Feb. 5, April 12 to closing; (800) 661-1586.
Medals Gold Terrain, Challenge, Value, Service, Lodging, Off-Hill Activities; Silver Grooming, Lifts, On-Mountain Food, Dining, Après-Ski.
High/Low Rank Off-Hill Activities (2); Snow Quality (56).
Don't Miss Dinner in a circa 1907 rail car at the Train Station.
Reader Remarks "Excellent value, friendly and a spectacular setting." "No ski-in, ski-out. Outdated lifts and facilities."