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Old 02-04-2015, 11:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default ISO a Calgary Info/ Advice Sherpa

Hello Canadians, I am headed to Calgary/Canamore/Banff in late March and I need some guidance and advice from a local (or two). This is my first foray into the great white north. Here are some of the questions I have:

Where to stay in Calgary? I am there for two nights before I head to Canamore. My wife wants to check out the Olympic Village and ride in the bobsled. Are there any must sees in town? Maybe a nice restaurant?

On the road to Canamore.. do I need a 4 wheel drrive car for the trip from Calgary? I live in Miami Florida and never drive in winter weather.

Which of the three area mountains are the best for my wife and 10 year old daughter to take some ski school lessons. Looking at two days of lessons and free ski/ board for the rest of the time.

Any must see and do's in Banff?

What is the best of the three for a tree boarding guy (me)?

Thanks in advance for any responses, I am so stoked about heading out.

Jesse D
The United States Southernmost Snowboarder

Last edited by jesboogie; 02-04-2015 at 11:10 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 02-04-2015, 11:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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First tip: it's canmore
if you have winter tires, 4wd not needed. If you don't, could have a tough time if it gets ultra snowy but you should be fine.
If you are referring to banff, Nakiska and lake Louise as the three mountains in proximity you are considering, may as well stick with banff it's the most family friendly and presumably closest to where you're staying.

Last edited by ryannorthcott; 02-04-2015 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 02-04-2015, 11:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Where to stay in Calgary? I am there for two nights before I head to Canamore. My wife wants to check out the Olympic Village and ride in the bobsled. Are there any must sees in town? Maybe a nice restaurant?
Book the bobsled in advance, it books out quick i think. (the skeleton does anyway). Don't stay near the olympic area, its super boring in the area, 4th st and 17th ave SW are where all the restaurants and bars are.

On the road to Canamore.. do I need a 4 wheel drrive car for the trip from Calgary? I live in Miami Florida and never drive in winter weather.
No need for 4wd the vast majority of the time but i would stay away from Rear wheel drive if you haven't driven on snow.

Which of the three area mountains are the best for my wife and 10 year old daughter to take some ski school lessons. Looking at two days of lessons and free ski/ board for the rest of the time.
Lake louise has a cheaper ski school, sunshine village has more mellow terrain and shorter lift lines than LL. DON"T GO TO NORQUAY.

Any must see and do's in Banff?
Its a smallish town, lots of shops and restaurants and some hotsprings. Pretty standard resort town i think.

Thanks in advance for any responses, I am so stoked about heading out.

March is a great time of year to come.

EDIT: i answered your questions in your quote.
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Old 02-05-2015, 12:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jesboogie View Post
Hello Canadians, I am headed to Calgary/Canamore/Banff in late March and I need some guidance and advice from a local (or two). This is my first foray into the great white north. Here are some of the questions I have:

Where to stay in Calgary? I am there for two nights before I head to Canamore. My wife wants to check out the Olympic Village and ride in the bobsled. Are there any must sees in town? Maybe a nice restaurant?

On the road to Canamore.. do I need a 4 wheel drrive car for the trip from Calgary? I live in Miami Florida and never drive in winter weather.

Which of the three area mountains are the best for my wife and 10 year old daughter to take some ski school lessons. Looking at two days of lessons and free ski/ board for the rest of the time.

Any must see and do's in Banff?

What is the best of the three for a tree boarding guy (me)?

Thanks in advance for any responses, I am so stoked about heading out.

Jesse D
The United States Southernmost Snowboarder
Welcome to Calgary!

- If you're not picky on hotels, there's a Sandman hotel near Canada Olympic Park. You just have to cross a major highway and you're close (you have to go uphill so you might need a taxi... There could be a shuttle? Not sure). Otherwise, stay in downtown Calgary if you want to see the city because as people mentioned, the Olympic Park is pretty much the outskirts before you head to the mountains so there's nothing there.

- You don't need 4WD as it's a major highway and they keep the roads relatively clean.

- Lake Louise and Sunshine IMO are the top two mountains to go within proximity to Calgary. The town of Banff is dead nowadays and nothing really spectacular to do IMO. If you're willing to drive further out, Revelstoke is ~5hrs away and Fernie is ~2.5hrs away but late March could be wet and slushy.

Have fun and enjoy our rocks.

It still shocks me that I've lived here for over a decade and I just recently started snowboarding. I've taken the Rockies for granted and haven't given the time to actually appreciate the mountains, which is a stone's throw away from me. All that's changed.

People actually FLY to do what I can do essentially every weekend. I'm blessed to be here.

If you need any more help, just reply!
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Last edited by flipstah; 02-05-2015 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 02-05-2015, 09:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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To be honest you could probably do everything you need to do in calgary with one nights stay, you'd be better off heading straight to the mountains. Restaurants are OK here but nothing special. Like it's mentioned above, the bobsled will need to be booked in advance, but you could get your 10 year old a lesson on the hill at COP while you're in Calgary to maximize your time together on the hill.

You don't need a 4WD for the highway but if you;re planning on going to sunshine when it's snowing you have a short windy, mountain road to drive up. My experience is that Sunshine Village (Sunshine Village) will have the best conditions and is the most family friendly. Nakiska is a close drive too from Canmore and is the ski resort built for the olympics so should get a visit.

Must see's while staying up here, other than the ski hills
- lake Minnewanka
- lake louise
- Banff hotsprings/gondola

I'd also take a day trip up Icefields parkway into glacier country, you can get sightseeing buses but if you do get a 4WD I'd recommend driving it.

Honestly, some of the best things you can do is make sure you're wrapped up warm and go for random drives. Rent some snowshoes, pick a spot on the map and drive out there for a walk if the weather is good. I do that with my family all the time and I've lived here for 3 years.

There are loads of activities you can book like snowmobile tours, iceclimbing, cross country skiing etc. It's all about what you fancy doing.

there's not too many man-made glades in any of the resorts in Banff as it';s a national park but sunshine has some pretty fun trees off wawa and some on goatseye. Nakiska has the monster glades which can be fun when it's snowed but if not you're avoiding trees on a mogul ice-rink.

Have fun.
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Old 02-05-2015, 09:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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To be honest you could probably do everything you need to do in calgary with one nights stay, you'd be better off heading straight to the mountains. Restaurants are OK here but nothing special. Like it's mentioned above, the bobsled will need to be booked in advance, but you could get your 10 year old a lesson on the hill at COP while you're in Calgary to maximize your time together on the hill.

You don't need a 4WD for the highway but if you;re planning on going to sunshine when it's snowing you have a short windy, mountain road to drive up. My experience is that Sunshine Village (Sunshine Village) will have the best conditions and is the most family friendly. Nakiska is a close drive too from Canmore and is the ski resort built for the olympics so should get a visit.

Must see's while staying up here, other than the ski hills
- lake Minnewanka
- lake louise
- Banff hotsprings/gondola

I'd also take a day trip up Icefields parkway into glacier country, you can get sightseeing buses but if you do get a 4WD I'd recommend driving it.

Honestly, some of the best things you can do is make sure you're wrapped up warm and go for random drives. Rent some snowshoes, pick a spot on the map and drive out there for a walk if the weather is good. I do that with my family all the time and I've lived here for 3 years.

There are loads of activities you can book like snowmobile tours, iceclimbing, cross country skiing etc. It's all about what you fancy doing.

there's not too many man-made glades in any of the resorts in Banff as it';s a national park but sunshine has some pretty fun trees off wawa and some on goatseye. Nakiska has the monster glades which can be fun when it's snowed but if not you're avoiding trees on a mogul ice-rink.

Have fun.
Snowshoeing is a must-do. If you're here for nature, just do the winter fun stuff and you can sightsee Calgary in a day.

We're not built as a tourist destination just yet and we're a 'young' city compared to others so not as historical.
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Old 02-05-2015, 10:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Thanks for the kick ask advice

Thanks for the advice, I have a much better idea on how to lay out my visit. Im sure there will be other q's, but now, join me in a prayer for snow.. JD
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Old 02-05-2015, 12:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If you can rent an SUV with 4wd/awd for a reasonable price, it can help when heading out on powder days. You certainly don't "need" it, but I've passed people stopped on the hill to Nakiska spinning their tires.

If the snow's good, you'll want to be at the hill! Weekdays are better than weekends, but our hills don't get nearly as busy as other areas I've been (Whistler, Blue Mountain, Tremblant)

Others advice about just going where the road takes you is spot on. Minnewanka, Moraine Lake, Johnsons Canyon (if it's a warm day), are all worth seeing.

In Calgary, the Chicago Chophouse has fantastic Alberta beef, but it'll be $200 for the 3 of you. Famoso has good thin crust pizzas and a fun vibe. Many pubs/places on 17th ave SW (the Red Mile) if you just want to wander and go with what works. I like Fiore's for Italian. Alberta is known for it's meat so finding a restaurant with local beef, pork, etc. is going to be your best bet. Stay somewhere cheap in Calgary. Something near the airport is a little out of the way, but it's not a tough city to get around except at rush hours.

In Canmore, if you haven't booked a place, I like the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge. It's a basic motel, but VERY well kept and probably better than most hotels I've stayed at for the price. For food, there's a Brazilian BBQ restaurant called Gaucho that's fantastic! If you're looking for something more fun, Grizzly Paw brewing has a brew-pub with good food and you can try any or all of their locally brewed 12 beers on tap. They have a 12 beer sample tray if you're into that.

In Banff, hotels are competitive, so check tripadvisor.ca for reviews before heading out. The Old Spaghetti Factory is fun and cheap, but don't expect fantastic food. Banff Ave. Brewing is another place I like to go for local good beer and food.

If you can stop in at the Bistro at Baker Creek Chalets (about 40 minutes West of Banff, 10 minutes East of Lake Louise). It's phenomenal. We had our wedding rehearsal dinner there last March, and stayed in one of the cabins on our wedding night. Most of my family said it was the best meal they've ever had. We did have the place to ourselves and a special menu, but I believe even a regular meal there should be FANTASTIC.

Johnsons Canyon also has some fun cabins near it for reasonable prices. Might be more fun than doing the "hotel on the strip" type Banff scene.

For the actual snowboarding: If you're looking to do something family friendly for the wife and kid, any of the local mountains will be fine. Might be best to wait and see who's getting the most snow. For tree boarding, Fernie is the best I've ever been to, but that's 3 hours from Calgary, 4-4.5 from Banff. Kicking Horse also has some amazing terrain, but it's 1.5 hours from Banff and there isn't much beginner terrain there.

Opinions on Lake Louise vs. Sunshine are like assholes. Everyone's got one. Locals fight over that argument like we fight over which hockey team is better (spoiler alert, I'm an NFL fan instead!). They both are beautiful resorts, they both have all the extreme terrain anyone visiting could ask for for a few days. I think Louise's treed terrain is more accessible and can be hit off the same lifts your wife and kid would be riding, so you could say "meet you at the bottom of this lift" and have your fun run while they stick to the groomers. I think everyone needs to see Sunshine on a bluebird day. It's an amazing scene looking around the whole valley and seeing nothing but mountains and runs.

During the week, Nakiska may be better for learning. It's a smaller hill (still 2400 ft of vert) and all the lifts are high speed except the bunny hill. You can go blast off laps and play in trees on the gold chair, while the wife and kid play on the silver chair. Nakiska always seems to get negative feedback on the forums, but I chose to Ski Patrol there because I like the hill, and I like how close it is to Calgary. If you're staying in Canmore or Banff, Sunshine or Louise will be closer, so it makes more sense to go to those two, unless Nakiska is getting the rare event of having more snow. It does happen.

Have fun!

P.S.: If you ever want to house swap, I need to spend more time in the sunny South! We just got back from a cruise and I want to move to St Maarten. The wife has a problem with me wanting to work on the cruise ships...

Last edited by poutanen; 02-05-2015 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 02-05-2015, 01:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Loves2splooge View Post
Honestly, some of the best things you can do is make sure you're wrapped up warm and go for random drives. Rent some snowshoes, pick a spot on the map and drive out there for a walk if the weather is good.
Totally agree, but don't forget to read the avalanche bulletins / have some backcountry travel experience / knowledge

I don't know what the OP's experience is like in the mountains but it can be pretty dangerous if you don't know what you're doing
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Old 02-05-2015, 03:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poutanen View Post
If you can rent an SUV with 4wd/awd for a reasonable price, it can help when heading out on powder days. You certainly don't "need" it, but I've passed people stopped on the hill to Nakiska spinning their tires.

If the snow's good, you'll want to be at the hill! Weekdays are better than weekends, but our hills don't get nearly as busy as other areas I've been (Whistler, Blue Mountain, Tremblant)

Others advice about just going where the road takes you is spot on. Minnewanka, Moraine Lake, Johnsons Canyon (if it's a warm day), are all worth seeing.

In Calgary, the Chicago Chophouse has fantastic Alberta beef, but it'll be $200 for the 3 of you. Famoso has good thin crust pizzas and a fun vibe. Many pubs/places on 17th ave SW (the Red Mile) if you just want to wander and go with what works. I like Fiore's for Italian. Alberta is known for it's meat so finding a restaurant with local beef, pork, etc. is going to be your best bet. Stay somewhere cheap in Calgary. Something near the airport is a little out of the way, but it's not a tough city to get around except at rush hours.

In Canmore, if you haven't booked a place, I like the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge. It's a basic motel, but VERY well kept and probably better than most hotels I've stayed at for the price. For food, there's a Brazilian BBQ restaurant called Gaucho that's fantastic! If you're looking for something more fun, Grizzly Paw brewing has a brew-pub with good food and you can try any or all of their locally brewed 12 beers on tap. They have a 12 beer sample tray if you're into that.

In Banff, hotels are competitive, so check tripadvisor.ca for reviews before heading out. The Old Spaghetti Factory is fun and cheap, but don't expect fantastic food. Banff Ave. Brewing is another place I like to go for local good beer and food.

If you can stop in at the Bistro at Baker Creek Chalets (about 40 minutes West of Banff, 10 minutes East of Lake Louise). It's phenomenal. We had our wedding rehearsal dinner there last March, and stayed in one of the cabins on our wedding night. Most of my family said it was the best meal they've ever had. We did have the place to ourselves and a special menu, but I believe even a regular meal there should be FANTASTIC.

Johnsons Canyon also has some fun cabins near it for reasonable prices. Might be more fun than doing the "hotel on the strip" type Banff scene.

For the actual snowboarding: If you're looking to do something family friendly for the wife and kid, any of the local mountains will be fine. Might be best to wait and see who's getting the most snow. For tree boarding, Fernie is the best I've ever been to, but that's 3 hours from Calgary, 4-4.5 from Banff. Kicking Horse also has some amazing terrain, but it's 1.5 hours from Banff and there isn't much beginner terrain there.

Opinions on Lake Louise vs. Sunshine are like assholes. Everyone's got one. Locals fight over that argument like we fight over which hockey team is better (spoiler alert, I'm an NFL fan instead!). They both are beautiful resorts, they both have all the extreme terrain anyone visiting could ask for for a few days. I think Louise's treed terrain is more accessible and can be hit off the same lifts your wife and kid would be riding, so you could say "meet you at the bottom of this lift" and have your fun run while they stick to the groomers. I think everyone needs to see Sunshine on a bluebird day. It's an amazing scene looking around the whole valley and seeing nothing but mountains and runs.

During the week, Nakiska may be better for learning. It's a smaller hill (still 2400 ft of vert) and all the lifts are high speed except the bunny hill. You can go blast off laps and play in trees on the gold chair, while the wife and kid play on the silver chair. Nakiska always seems to get negative feedback on the forums, but I chose to Ski Patrol there because I like the hill, and I like how close it is to Calgary. If you're staying in Canmore or Banff, Sunshine or Louise will be closer, so it makes more sense to go to those two, unless Nakiska is getting the rare event of having more snow. It does happen.

Have fun!

P.S.: If you ever want to house swap, I need to spend more time in the sunny South! We just got back from a cruise and I want to move to St Maarten. The wife has a problem with me wanting to work on the cruise ships...

Lets see how much I dig the Canadian Rockies, a house swap might definitely be in order. I have traveled the Caribbean extensively and I agree that Dutch St. Maarten is the tits, especially Orient bay. But for my money, Aruba is even more kick ass. Lots of fun and sun there. That's for another thread tho. This thread has definitely pull my possible itinerary into focus. Thank you e friends, may we soon meet in persons. JD
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