How to make the most of a winter weekend in Banff with snow tubing at Mount Norquay, skiing, skating, and more! Tube & Stay at Mount Norquay and Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa.
Snowflakes drift lazily from the sky as we lace up our skates at Fenlands Outdoor Meadow Rink. On this chilly Friday afternoon, it’s nice and quiet, just how we like it. We skate past snow-covered trees and look up at Mount Norquay. With lots of snow in the forecast, it’s going to be a great skiing and tubing weekend in Banff!
Disclosure: This story was written in partnership with Mount Norquay and Banff Lodging Company, but all words and opinions are my own.
When it’s time to warm up, we check in to Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, curl up by the fire in the lobby, and peruse Banff’s Hot Chocolate Trail menu. Good Earth, just one kilometre away, has a decadent Raspberry White Hot Chocolate Kiss for the holidays; and Bear Street Tavern has a chili vodka infused Spice Bear Boozy Hot Chocolate (many more options around town). We grab dinner at Chili’s, then get fancy hot chocolates for dessert.
Next, we head over to Banff’s Christmas Lighting Trail, “In Search of Christmas Spirit.” You are sure to find Christmas spirit with the help of Owl and her friends on this magical walk. Light installations, soundscapes, and digital projections help tell the story. Get your free tickets online from Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
Snow Tubing at Mount Norquay
In the morning, the kids are so excited about tubing, they’re ready to go before I’ve had my first coffee! Somehow, I get them to sit down and eat breakfast before we hit the road.
Deer with fluffy winter coats are hanging out on the side of the ski hill road, so we go slowly up the switchbacks. We’ve seen bighorn sheep and bears on this road too! It’s a short drive though, so before we know it, we’re at Mount Norquay’s upper parking lot. We check in to Norquay’s Tube Park, grab tubes, and ride the magic carpet to the top of the hill.
Screams and peals of laughter echo across the mountain while riders fly down the hill. You can get going pretty fast on Alberta’s longest tubing lanes (over 50 km/hr!), and for added excitement, you can get a spin! Tip: For more spins, ride solo; for a faster ride, go as a group.
According to my kids, when they ask if you want a spin, “Always say yes.” We tried every lane and like the ones at the end best because they’re the steepest – and fastest. Whether you’re a skier or not, you’ll love tubing! You can go super fast and the views are amazing. And best of all, you don’t have to hike up the hill!
Tips for Tubing / Know Before You Go
- The Mount Norquay Tube Park will open on December 16, 2022, weather permitting. Visit Mount Norquay for hours of operation and tickets.
- You must be 107 cm / 42″ tall to use the tube park.
- Helmets are recommended but not required
- Bringing a GoPro? Mount your GoPro on your helmet so you can tube with friends/family (when riding together, you have to hold on to each other’s tubes)
- Goggles and neck gaiters are nice to have to keep snow out of your face.
- Wear snow boots; ski boots are not permitted
- For your convenience, take the free return shuttle from Banff Caribou Lodge to Mount Norquay!
Get your Snow Tubing Tickets at Mount Norquay. Tickets can be purchased for morning (10 am – 12:30 pm) or afternoon (1:30-4 pm) time slots; and evening tubing is available from early January to mid-March on Fridays and Saturdays (5 pm – 7:30 pm). Pre-purchasing tickets online is recommended as they often sell out.
Dining in Banff
My kids’ favorite place to eat in Banff is the Old Spaghetti Factory because the meals include bread, soup or salad, a drink, and ice cream. Some of my favorite restaurants include Farm + Fire (the flank steak, rotisserie chicken, and roasted vegetables are amazing), 3 Bears Brewery & Restaurant (try the Carne Asada Lettuce Wraps!), Maple Leaf Grill (splurge on the Surf n Turf platter for two), and The Keg at Banff Caribou Lodge (slow roasted prime rib for the win!).
Nightrise at the Banff Gondola
Nightrise at the Banff Gondola is a magical experience on Sulphur Mountain. Stoney Nakoda words and stories, lights, soundscapes, and digital projections depict the Four Wonders of night in the mountains. For more information, see our story: Nightrise lights up the night at the Banff Gondola. Nightrise runs evenings from December 2, 2022 until March 31, 2023. See hours here.
Skiing at Mount Norquay
Sunday finds at back at Mount Norquay for skiing! With fresh powder, conditions are fantastic, and although Christmas break has begun, we never have to wait too long in line. We make our way over to the Mystic Chair, where most of the intermediate terrain is, and hang out there until the kids get hungry.
With terrain for all levels, Mount Norquay is fun for the whole family! Beginners can learn on the Sundance Magic Carpet before graduating to the Cascade Chairlift. Cascade is close to the lodge – perfect for when you want to have a bite to eat and warm up. Spirit Chair also has beginner-friendly terrain (green runs), while Mystic has mostly blue runs (plus some black diamond), and the North American Chair has expert terrain. Check out the Mount Norquay interactive ski map here.
If you missed the Early Bird sales on season’s passes, you can save on skiing with the Big Drop Card ($89 for the card gives you 50% each visit off all season), Grade 4/5 Snow Pass ($29.99 for 2 ski days at select resorts across Canada), Costco lift tickets, Power of Four Midweek Season’s Pass ($1196 for 4 people, valid Monday to Friday) or Night Skiing Season’s Pass (only $99! Night skiing starts January 6, 2023). Kids 5 & under ski free with the purchase of an adult lift ticket!
To purchase lift tickets, season’s passes, or the Big Drop Card (gives you 50% off all season), visit Mount Norquay.
***If you’d like door to door service, take the free return shuttle from Banff Caribou Lodge to Mount Norquay!***
Where to Stay: Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa
Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa is popular with couples because it has Banff Avenue’s only full service spa and a large hot pool, but it’s also great for families. Standard and superior rooms with mini fridges are available, as well as spacious loft suites with gas fireplaces and jetted tubs (perfect for special occasions!). Caribou Lodge also has a fitness room, onsite dining at the newly renovated restaurant (The Keg Steakhouse & Bar – open for buffet breakfast and dinner), and offers Complimentary Banff Roam bus passes so you can park your car in the underground parking lot and avoid paying for parking. If you’d prefer to walk downtown, it’s only one kilometre away.
Red Earth Spa has six treatment rooms including an esthetics room with manicure stations and pedicure chairs, a hydrotherapy room, and massage therapy rooms. Other services include body treatments, waxing, and facials. Book your appointment online 48 hours in advance.
Stay and Save
Save up to 20% on lodging (winter promotion) at Banff Caribou Lodge, or other Banff Lodging Company Hotels. You can also save and save 10% on tubing at Mount Norquay! See details at Banff Lodging Co | Winter Activities.
If You Go
- Mount Norquay is open every day of the week. See Mount Norquay Hours of Operation for Guest Services, Tube Park, Ski Shop, and Lodge hours.
- Fenlands Outdoor Meadow Rink, located next to Fenlands Recreation Centre, is open from 8 am to 8 pm daily.
- Banff’s Christmas Lighting Trail is on until December 31, 2022. Tickets (free) are required.
- Banff’s Hot Chocolate Trail features seasonal hot chocolates at participating venues from November 19, 2022 – January 1, 2023.
- Nightrise at the Banff Gondola is a cool evening experience that runs December 2, 2022 until March 31, 2023.
- Parking fees are in effect in the town of Banff but Caribou Lodge offers guests complimentary Roam bus passes, and Mount Norquay offers free return shuttle service.
Banff is tons of fun in winter! For more trip inspiration, see our story: 10 Things to do in Banff this winter.
What to Bring
Disclosure: This section includes affiliate links through which I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small family business!
Good hiking boots, a down hoody/fleece, toque, gloves, and windproof/waterproof shell are recommended year round.
For winter hiking, we recommend traction devices such as Kahtoola Microspikes (Available from Amazon and MEC), or Hillsound Trail Crampons (Available at Amazon and Sport Chek) and trekking poles with snow baskets. Base layers, insulated winter boots, a down jacket and windproof/waterproof shell (or insulated ski jacket/parka), gloves or mittens, and toque are cold weather must-haves.
- See our fall/winter hiking gear guide for product recommendations.
- For snowshoeing, see our Snowshoeing Gear List.
You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a headlamp, a GPS/satellite communicator (or compass) and map of the area, sunscreen (this one is safe for babies), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Frontiersman Bear Spray Holster or Scat Belt.
The mountain town of Banff is located 127 km west of Calgary. Click here for Google Maps directions to Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa.
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