Unusual in that the village sits at the top of the gondola, on a high-alpine plateau surrounded by rolling, treeless terrain, Banff Sunshine feels like a world apart. No parking lots mar these majestic summit views (No. 3, Scenery). Mellow bowls invite intermediates to attempt their first off-piste turns, while the notorious Delirium Dive backcountry zone includes famously steep terrain. Entrance there requires avalanche rescue gear and a similarly equipped partner, so backpacks denote this resort’s cool kids, who count “Dive laps” like others chase Strava rankings. But while the terrain is big-league, prices for food and drink seem more mom-and-pop (No. 8, Value). Consequently, on-mountain eateries exhibit a refreshing mix of core shredders and visitors. Pack a puffy and a neck gaiter—prevailing cold and wind make the covered “bubble chair” very popular— and do as locals do: Warm up with a steaming plate of poutine at the Alpine Grill. — Kelly Bastone
2021 Reader Resort Rank for Banff Sunshine: No. 16 in the West
- BRAGGING RIGHTS: Delirium Dive is a coveted feather in any skier’s cap. Don’t have a partner? Book the ski school’s “Day in the Dive” to get a guide and avy gear.
- APRÈS SPOT: Locals crowd into Creekside (at the base) to chug bargain-priced drinks while they wait to board buses back to Banff, Canmore, and Calgary.
- BEST VALUE: The resort’s only hotel, Sunshine Mountain Lodge, is a killer deal in ski-in/ski-out lodging, with rates from $150 per night.
Review No. 17 in the West: Winter Park, Colo.
Go Deeper: No. 15 in the West – Lake Louise, Alta.
SKI Magzine’s 2019 Review of Banff Sunshine, Alta.
Every once in a while, a resort surprises us. Banff Sunshine (formerly Sunshine Village), outside of the town of Banff, is once of those places. There’s no snow-making here—Sunshine relies on Mother Nature’s good graces, which typically supplies the resort with 360 inches of fluff annually.
The terrain is expansive: three mountains, offering 3,358 acres, in a horseshoe around a central base and single hotel. The base area is a gondola ride from the parking lot, so guests at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge get the resort to themselves—and first tracks when the lift start spinning in the morning. A high elevation means it can get pretty chilly here, but if that’s the price of a relatively snow-sure season, we’ll pack our extra layers. Experts: Consider testing your mettle on Delirium Dive. Pack your avy gear and sign in at the patrol shack first.