Snow sports like skiing and snowboarding are a big part of winter life in the Calgary area and many families are excited to get their little snow bunnies on the slopes almost as soon as they’re able to walk. The ski hills and resorts in Southern Alberta are happy to accommodate families and offer learning areas, lessons for youngsters and/or quality childcare so that older family members can enjoy a day of skiing. All these ski facilities offer reduced prices for kids, family packages, or even free lift tickets for children under the age of six (visit the facility’s webpage for current prices).
Here’s a rundown of the major ski hills within easy driving distance from Calgary, including a brief summary of some of the things they offer to keep kids and their parents happy and loving the mountains and the winter.
WinSport (formerly Canada Olympic Park)
Where: 88 Canada Olympic Road SW, Calgary AB
What could be more convenient than getting to ski without even leaving the city? WinSport is a great choice for families who want to hit the slopes without making an entire day of it (but you could!). Because the hill is relatively small, it’s the ideal place for first-time skiers, but it also offers a progression park, terrain park and superpipe to keep things interesting. Winsport offers lessons for kids ranging from preschool age to teens (and of course adults too) and there are plenty of other activities at the park to keep non-skiers busy while the rest of the family is on the hill. 2-hour, 4-hour and family day passes are available.
Where: 3 Mount Allan Drive, Kananaskis AB
Just 45 minutes outside of the city, Nakiska is another great choice for families that don’t want to commit to a full day on the slopes or aren’t sure how long their kids’ stamina will hold out. Nakiska’s TELUS Winter Sport School offers lessons for kids as young as three, as well as lessons that can be combined with childcare so that your little ones will be occupied while older family members spend their entire day skiing. Childcare (open Thursday-Sunday, advance reservations required) is offered for kids as young as 19 months. You can buy half-day (12:30 – 4 pm) lift tickets for a shorter excursion and a later start.
Where: Banff National Park, on Mt. Norquay access road
Norquay is a medium-sized hill that isn’t as busy as some of the bigger ones in the area; this makes it the top mountain choice for many families looking for a quieter day on the slopes. There are plenty of programs and lessons for kids as young as three with optional daycare add-ons, plus Norquay puts on kids’ camps during school breaks. Anyone who isn’t into skiing (or just needs a break!) can check out the awesome tubing park for an alternate way to enjoy the snow. Lift tickets are also available in 2- 3- and 4-hour increments, so you don’t have to pay for a full day if you just want to do a couple of runs with the kids. Want the chairlift experience and the amazing view without having to ski back down? Try the Winter Sightseeing Chairlift!
Where: 1 Whitehorn Road, Lake Louise AB
This is a bigger and more challenging hill than Norquay, but there are still plenty of opportunities for families and kids. Kids and beginners enjoy the Beginners Fun Zone, featuring progressive slopes with user-friendly carpet lifts and whimsical decorations to help keep learning fun for kids. There are plenty of options for child and youth lessons, including the Bow Valley Ski & Snowboard Programs, which run on consecutive Saturdays or Sundays and have options for kids age 3 to 17. Lake Louise also has a licensed daycare on site and you can combine daycare with lessons to keep little ones busy all day.
Where: Banff National Park
Sunshine offers extensive ski and snowboard lessons, including 3-day camps during school breaks (for kids as young as three, right up to adults), which can be combined with the licensed Tiny Tigers daycare (for kids aged 19 months to 6 years). Even if they spend the whole day in daycare while you ski, young kids will still have the thrill of riding the gondola up to the lodge.
Where: Near Pincher Creek, AB
Castle Mountain’s childcare program is only open on weekends and holidays, but their Kids’ Club ski programs provide lessons and playtime for kids as young as two years old. Lessons are priced for packages of 1, 2, 4, 6 or unlimited lessons for the season! Lift tickets are available for full or half days.
Now, get out there and LOVE your winter!
Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.