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Getting There Banff has become easily accessible, with daily nonstops into Calgary from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago. That means Calgary is easily reached from East Coast cities with one changeover. There are shuttles to Banff (90 minutes away) and Ski Banff’s tri-area ticket includes free shuttle service from lodges to the ski areas. But if you want to explore Banff National Park, rent a car.
When To Go January is the coldest month, with daytime temperatures averaging 21 degrees. Local lore has it that the dismal 2000-01 snowfall was the worst since 1951. That dry winter was followed by two of the biggest snow years in history.
Where To Stay Ski Banff (877-754-7076) handles reservations for some 35 local properties. Each Ski Banff package includes lift tickets, and since the association is jointly run by the three area ski resorts, it gets the best ticket prices. The Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau can also assist (403-762-8421). The Sunshine Village Inn (877-542-2633) offers the only on-slope lodging; the newly renovated Banff Springs Hotel and the Chateau Lake Louise are Canadian Pacific legends (800-441-1414); and the Post Hotel in Lake Louise will kill you with charm (800-661-1586).
Eating Out Coyote’s Bar & Grill (403-762-3963) has cosmopolitan flair; the Buffalo Mountain Lodge (403-762-2400) is rated four-star by AAA, specializes in wild game and features an extensive wine list; Classico, on the seventh floor of the Rimrock Hotel, offers the best views in the Park, with classic Italian cuisine and desserts to die for.
Kicking Butt Take the Delirium Dive at Sunshine for the pain-and brag about it.
Kicking Back Bruno Engler’s extensive photography is on display in the base lodge at Norquay; at Bruno’s Restaurant in Banff; in the Timberline Hotel; and at The Post. His work also appears in a new book out this fall, Bruno Engler Photography ($40 U.S.). Call Rocky Mountain Books in Calgary (403-249-9490) for more information.
Details Multi-day three-area lift tickets, including transportation and nightskiing at Norquay on Fridays, start at $38 a day for adults and $14 for children 6-12. Lake Louise has a 3,250-foot vertical drop, Sunshine’s is 3,514 feet and Norquay’s is 1,650. Check out www.skibanfflakelouise.com.
Buying In Banff requires homeowners to live and work in the Park, so if you are hunting for a vacation home, look elsewhere.