Surrounded by the beauty of Alberta's Banff National Park, Norquay offers stellar terrain for the whole family.
BANFF, AB — I'm a sucker for the underdog. It's why I cheer for the Columbus Blue Jackets and why Rudy is one of the greatest movies ever made. It's for this same reason that I was so excited to hit up Mount Norquay, located less than eight kilometres from the Town of Banff.
Compared to Lake Louise and Sunshine, Banff National Park's other two ski resorts, Norquay, as it is now simply called, has the reputation of the ugly step-child. It's often passed over in favour of its bigger, more popular brother and sister.
It doesn't have the cache of those other mountains and so it's been relegated to being the "locals' hill." Not one to make judgments based on the opinions of others, I took a break from some of Banff's signature spots and headed to Norquay to see things for myself.
Norquay was actually a SnowSeekers first: it was the first hill we'd ever visited where none of us had been there before. Even Doc Pow was a Norquay virgin.
It was a fun experience getting to learn the hill together, each of us not knowing what was coming around every turn and down every drop.
Norquay was a great time for us. Was it as large as Sunshine and Lake Louise? No. Does it have the same facilities and variety of terrain? Not quite. But it has everything your average skier would ever want.
It has an even distribution of green, blue, and black runs (it even has a double-black), moguls, jumps, steeps and deeps. It's got a cool terrain park, and it has something that those other hills don't have: night skiing.
That's right, Norquay is the only night-skiing option in Banff.
"I have to admit, I'm a bit surprised," said Robin Therieau, who made the trip from Calgary to visit Banff's Whyte Museum and decided to get in some turns on Norquay for the first time. "You don't really hear a lot about Norquay, so I didn't expect much of anything. But this place is more than alright. I only wish that I had taken my kids with me. This hill would be great for them."
If Norquay is known as anything, it's a family hill. It has a nice collection of greens and blues, and its Cascade chair offers a great place to start skiing or boarding. Conversely, if mom and dad want to get out and shred while the kids learn the ropes, they can head up North American for some serious black diamond action.
The real draw, for me, was the view. Banff National Park is absolutely gorgeous, and there's no better place to discover that than atop Mount Norquay. With Mount Rundle on your right, and the valley on your left, you're skiing into some stellar scenery.
It might be a modest hill, but it's also less than 15 minutes from downtown Banff and lift lines are non-existent. In fact, you'll almost feel like you've rented your own private hill for the afternoon, and that's definitely something that gives Norquay an edge over its bigger, more popular brother and sister.
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