There’s no way I would travel to Canada and not visit my most favourite place on earth! A short side trip to Alberta to ski the Big 3 was a wonderful three days. I took lots of photos at the three ski resorts and as I was staying in Banff, I snuck in a few extra photo shoots around my favourite Rocky Mountains haunts.
After visiting three ski hills in Alberta, I feel like I’m practically a local now! I found a lot to love about each of the Big 3.
Mt Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village are part of the Big 3 alliance. You can purchase a lift pass that allows you to ski at all three resorts. The benefit of this is you can pick and choose where to ski based on conditions.
Sunshine Village is pretty much known for its powder and massive terrain. It has three mountains, over 120 runs and room to move even on a busy Saturday.
I asked my lovely host Sinead if she could ski past me and flick up some snow but even I wasn’t expecting this.
This is why I love skiing at Sunshine Village. I was here on a Saturday and people were literally parking 7km away from the main lodge. It was PACKED!
Yet with so much terrain it never seems crowded. And there are lots of places to explore where you won’t see another soul.
Oh, and did I mention the heated chair lift? I actually took a selfie in it but thought better of sharing.
Vermillion Lakes is five minutes from downtown Banff. I was very lucky to have my insta-pal @whatiseephoto with me to go out shooting with.
Michelle and I hit this spot on two out of three mornings and the cracking sunrise was the day we didn’t go there. That’s life!
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Even though I’ve visited the Fairmont Lake Louise many times, I’ve never had the chance to stay overnight.
After a morning exploring the Lake Louise ski resort, we headed to the Fairmont Lake Louise for a snack and a photo shoot.
Enjoy my special secret spot in Lake Louise (see main photo). Isn’t it stunning? Next time I come to Alberta, I’m staying at the Fairmont!
Magic view at Lake Louise
Who is this fetching fellow in the red Canadian goose jacket with fur trim? Why it’s none other than my friend James (@jamesgfraser).
Thanks to James, we had access to a secret shooting spot at the Fairmont where we captured a 22° halo around the sun. Can you see it?
Here it is. This natural phenomenon is known as a 22° halo and I was lucky enough to catch it over Lake Louise! Pure magic!
At this time of day the exposure is pretty tricky but I was shooting on my Nikon D810 so I exposed for the sky and lifted the shadows in Photoshop. It was so beautiful!
Do you remember my photographs of Quebec in winter from a previous visit?
Lake Minnewanka is another incredibly scenic spot near Banff. We found this spot on my last afternoon in Banff. The scene was perfect. Alberta always is!
The entire lake was frozen so we wandered around and met some locals.
I’d have to say the photo of this ice skater on Lake Minnewanka is my favourite photo from this visit to Alberta.
It’s actually quite unusual to have so much exposed ice on this particular lake so the locals were taking advantage of it with skate offs and mini hockey games.
I couldn’t believe how great this guy looked against the mountain and asked if I could photograph him. His name is Royce. Are you on Instagram Royce?
When it comes to tubing, I’m a squealer!
I was really hoping to share a photo of the tubing at Norquay but we had such overcast weather that day.
Tubing is one of the activities available to non-skiers (and non-snowboarders) at Lake Louise.
Other activities include hiking, snowshoeing and curling up in front of a fireplace in the lodge with something yummy to eat.
Despite obtaining an injury in California the week before, I was ready to have a shot skiing the slopes of Mt Norquay.
Mt Norquay is the nearest ski resort to Banff and it’s great!
Compared to the other two resorts, Mt Norquay is a smaller resort with the best tubing I’ve ever done.
Norquay has fun groomed runs perfect for my skiing ability and the Lone Pine Lodge serves the best salad I’ve ever eaten!
After I was done skiing some of the groomed runs at Norquay, I kicked off my skis and went for a walk and some tubing.
The North American Chairlift is open to foot traffic and takes you all the way to the Cliffhouse Bistro for amazing views over Banff and great food.
Although the views weren’t visible during my visit, the mountain was welcoming the snow!
You might also be interested to hear that Mt Norquay has just opened an incredible experience called “Via Ferrata”, which is an assisted climbing tour that I am dying to go back and try!
This morning was hilarious! Michelle and I were rushing to Lake Louise in the morning after a little sleep (which may or may not have had anything to do with 27 ounces of wine we drank the previous night), when we saw the best sunrise ever.
Unfortunately, the sunrise was in our rear vision mirror as we drove down the highway!
Luckily the light was still very soft and beautiful when we arrived at Lake Louise.
I decided that I would rest my injured calf and try out some of the activities on offer for “non-skiers”.
For those that are wondering my injury from California is healing nicely, I have just been careful with it.
Lake Louise was the perfect resort to visit as a foot passenger as there is lot’s to see and do and seriously breathtaking views.
My host, Emerson, took me up the gondola for a short hike. Then we hit the tubes (tubing twice in two days was fun).
This is Kuma Yama, the new sushi restaurant and it is as good as it looks!
Although I’ve visited Lake Louise at least six times over the past three years, I never get tired of the scenery. Every season is different.
I’ve been here in fall and winter but I’ve yet to visit in spring or summer.
Here is a “selfie” achieved with a wireless remote control and a bit of running back and forth.
I’m almost too old for this selfie business. I need a full-time model to travel with me. Any takers?
Lauren Bath is a social media influencer who has over 450,000 followers on Instagram.
For more ideas on what to do in Canada in winter, here are 20 inspiring Canadian instagrammers to follow.
Have you considered visiting Quebec? The Quebec Winter Carnival is loads of fun for the family. Something every visitor should experience while in Quebec is tasting taffy at a sugar shack.
Can’t ski? Well, Canada has ski fields for all abilities and most ski resorts cater for beginning skiers and snowboarders.