Things To Do: Exploring Mount Norquay

Banff, Alberta

Skiing at Mt. Norquay, Banff National Park

 

Mount Norquay is a towering Rocky Mountain peak just outside of the town of Banff, Alberta in Banff National Park. It is home to the Mount Norquay Ski Resort which was the first ski hill in Canada to install a chairlift in 1948.

It's not one of the largest ski resorts, but with good snow and lots of black diamond runs, this is a challenging resort for even the most advanced skiers and snowboarders. Ski season starts in early December and ends in mid-April to early May. Check the ski report before heading out.

History of Mount Norquay

The mountain was named after a former premier of Manitoba in the late 1800s. It was believed that John Norquay climbed it around 1888 but it has been contested if he actually reached the summit.

Norquay is one of the oldest ski resorts in Alberta and dates back to 1926. A tow rope was installed in the early 1940s, followed by the first chair lift in Canada in 1948. Today, Mount Norquay ski resort is partially owned by famed Crazy Canuck Ken Read.

Skiing and Snowboarding at Norquay

Alpine skiing has a history here dating back to the 1960s. In 1972, Mount Norquay hosted a World Cup giant slalom and slalom downhill race. Today, Mount Norquay is a the smallest of the Alberta Rocky Mountain ski resorts but is still a major supporter for local ski clubs and international ski jumping competitions.

Snow making covers over 85% of the skiing terrain, the most of any mountain resort and one of the few to offer night skiing.

The ski resort has 3 quad chairs, a magic carpet for those just starting out, and an older double chair servicing some of the steepest & most challenging mountain runs in North America.

Facilities include a ski lounge and rental shop. For those not interested in skiing or snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing are also fun alternatives.

Hiking at Mount Norquay

In the summer, hikers can drive up a portion of the mountain and park in the ski resort parking lot. To the west, there's scenic meadows surrounded with large spruce and pine trees and is a popular picnic area with sky-high views of the Banff townsite.

The hike to the top of Mount Norquay is difficult and includes scrambles and open exposures. The true summit can't be seen from the ski resort but is further north along the mountain. This hike is for experienced hikers only as fatalities have occurred on this mountain face.

The warmest and driest times to hike in the Canadian Rockies is from mid-June to late September.

Getting There

Take the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy #1) from Calgary towards Banff, heading west. At the second Banff exit, turn right on Mount Norquay Scenic Drive and head up the mountain. The access road is steep and winding, and is usually in good driving condition.

Banff is about 90 minutes from the Calgary International Airport.


View Ski Mount Norquay near Banff, Alberta, Canada in a larger map

Skiers coming from the west will take the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy #1) from Kamloops, through Revelstoke and Golden, BC. Winter road conditions through the Canadian Rocky Mountains can be particular fickle at times with avalanche delays lasting for days. Check road conditions before setting out (BC road conditions, Alberta road conditions).

You will need a national park pass when using the Norquay facilities. The annual pass is good for all national parks in Canada but daily passes are also available for those guests visiting the Canadian Rocky Mountain parks for a short period.

Mount Norquay ski resort is the closest ski hill to Banff (5 minutes) and Canmore (20 minutes). Ski bus shuttles are available from locations around Banff to the ski hill (at a small cost).

Check out more things to discover in Alberta, including stunning scenery, great hikes and outdoor adventures, and interesting roadside attractions.