Sometimes all you need to create a ski resort is a rope, a truck engine, a river valley and a dream. It won’t be long before other dreamers come along to help you build a community ski resort impressive enough to someday host provincial, national and even international winter games. Places in Alberta like Cold Lake, Fort McMurray, Red Deer and Nakiska are proof that “If you built it, they will come.” But in the case of Lake Louise Ski Resort - the first tourists skied right by! Below is a collection of stories showcasing some history to Alberta’s ski resorts. Challenge yourself to visit a few of Alberta’s “off the beaten path” ski resorts via our SnowSeekers Challenge. Click here and you can win as well!
Back in the days of travelling by train, European tourists would stop at Laggan to admire the emerald green lake in the summer. In winter they’d strap on long wooden skis to trek 11 kilometres further into the back country to enjoy endless blankets of cross country skiing bliss. Little did they know they were trudging past the slopes of what would become one of Alberta’s most loved winter resorts in Banff National Park. Which resort? Click here to find out more.
Just because you are 800 kilometres from the mountains doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a pow-day. The 1970’s saw the ski bums in Bonnyville and Cold Lake create their own ski resort that takes skiers and boarders momentarily into Saskatchewan. Find out how Kinosoo Ridge honours the Dene Legend and provides all-day-long entertainment for the surrounding communities.
Red Deer, Alberta is smack dab between Calgary and Edmonton so do they go north to Marmot in Jasper or out to the Banff resorts to ski. Neither! They have Canyon Ski Resort only five kilometers east of town. Read about how Canyon was the first in Canada to use snowmaking machines and how one resorts cast-off turned into Canyon’s lift to the top.
All it takes to build a massive ski resort in the middle of nowhere is a little Swiss ingenuity and an abandoned British Army truck. Okay, and a whole lot of perseverance and grit. But that’s what helped create Marmot Basin, the only ski resort in Jasper National Park. The rope tows are gone but the adventurous playground they created is still yours to discover. Find out more about Marmot Basin here.
The long slope down to the mighty Wapiti River near Grande Prairie is the home to Nitehawk Year-Round Adventure Park. It all started in 1960 when volunteers stripped the engine out of a Ford pickup to power the first rope town. Times have changed - now international athletes use the slopes for natural luge and locals come for the excellent terrain. But what about those bricks? Find out what part they play in the creation of Nitehawk.
Over 16,000 years ago the glaciers that crawled across Canada missed a corner of what is now Alberta. Grab a pair of skis and jump forward to today and you’ve found yourself at Hidden Valley Ski Hill. What was a bone dry island then is now a snowy winter oasis. Check out the story behind “Mile High Ski Hill” and how it became Hidden Valley near Medicine Hat Alberta.
The lead-up to the 1988 Calgary Olympics were frantic. New venues were needed for almost every event including the prestigious alpine events. Mount Allen won the competition on many fronts but could it handle the pressure? Could it handle no snow or worse - a drift of misplaced snow on race day? The story is intriguing. Learn more about family friendly Nakiska Ski Resort's history here.
Visit Vista Ridge today and you’ll see kids on skis and snowboards carving down slopes towards the Clearwater River where trappers and fur traders once paddled to meet the First Nation Communities. Those voyageurs would be amazed to see what can happen in 200 years. Find out how Fort McMurray and the Vista Ridge recreation area are tied to those fur traders and the goo that sealed their canoes.
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