When you think of world-famous ski destinations, European countries like France and Austria tend to spring to mind, but Canada offers equally impressive skiing conditions to those found at its neighbours on the continent.
What's more, when many of the European skiing destinations are closed, Canada's remain open, with resorts accessible from early November until late May in many cases. A particularly renowned spot for skiing is the Ski Big 3, which comprises the town of Banff and the villages of Sunshine and Lake Louise.
These three resorts are interlinked and offer more than 200 runs spread over 7,558 acres of terrain. It's possible to get a single lift ticket that also entitles you to shuttle transportation between the three areas, making it a cost-effective option for a short break on the piste. Keep reading to find out more about each area.
Family-friendly Lake Louise
Lake Louise is a charming village that provides over 4,200 acres of skiable terrain, along with a good clutch of local amenities. Families on ski holidays are at home here, where they can enjoy pastimes like snowboarding, dog sledding and sleigh rides, in addition to skiing.
During your time on the piste, you'll be able to admire the nearby peaks and tree-lined runs, as well as make the most of the chance to ski down four mountain faces. As well as regular skiing, you can try your hand at freestyle and alpine versions of the sport.
Ski paradise for hardcore fans, Sunshine
The village of Sunshine is particularly popular among the keenest skiers as it is the only part of the Ski Big 3 area that offers ski in, ski out facilities. This makes it ideal for holidaymakers looking to do little more than strap on their skis and hit the slopes every day.
Goats Eye Mountain is known as the best spot in the resort for advanced skiers looking for a challenge, and you'll find plenty of double black diamond runs here.
Sunshine is also good for beginners, who can build their confidence on the gentler slopes, while those looking to try other pursuits can visit the ice rink, follow a walking trail or climb aboard a snowmobile.
Popular apres ski scene, Banff
Situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Banff offers enchanting scenery from its lofty heights at an altitude of 1,380 m. Catering for all levels of skier, there are 36 runs for beginners, 46 for intermediate skiers and 53 for those who have advanced abilities.
You'll find 18 chair lifts and two cable cars to get you up the slopes, which cover 200 km. There are plenty of other sports to try, too, including snowshoeing, swimming in the heated pool and ice skating.
Banff is known for its lively apres ski scene, and there is a good clutch of bars to call in at, as well as a nightclub, if you've got energy to burn after your exploits on the slopes. The following morning, you can pamper yourself by taking a dip in the hot mineral springs or visiting the health spa.