Words & photos by Karen Ung
Ski season has started and it’s not too late to get a Nakiska Season’s Pass! Why Nakiska? The best hill is the one you go to! Since my first visit in ’99, I’ve made lots of turns at Nakiska, and return each year to the promise of great skiing less than an hour’s drive from home. There is terrain for all levels, with fun features such as the NaJibSka Rail Park and Monster Glades, an amazing snow school, and a long season thanks to state of the art snowmaking equipment. Last year, we made the most of our season’s pass (15 visits!), and were surprised at how quickly our kids progressed from bunny hill to blue runs! If you love to ski and want to go often, a Season’s Pass or RCR Rockies Card is the best value for your money.
- Ski Close: Since Nakiska is less than an hour from Calgary, you not only save time and money driving, but on lodging and dining also!
- Ski any time, all season long, for a great rate: Your Season’s Pass pays for itself in only 11 visits (way less if you get the early bird special)! Not sure you will go that many times? Consider the RCR Rockies Card*. For little more than a single lift ticket, you get three free days and discounts at partner ski resorts. *Only available until December 26th
- Flexibility: Whether you like to sleep in or have children that nap, a season’s pass allows you to ski when you want. There’s no need to wait until 12:30 pm for half-day lift tickets! Since our girls are late risers, we head out mid-morning after a big breakfast and ski until the lifts shut down. It’s just the right amount of time for little legs (and by not overdoing it, they’re keen to go back)!
- Terrain for All Levels: Nakiska boasts a large learning area, beginner-friendly green runs, the NaJibSka Rail Park, Monster Glades, and everything in between. While the runs off the Gold Chair are my favorite, now that I have children, I appreciate the beginner terrain. There is an easy way down, so even beginners can take long runs down from the top of the Silver Chair. My daughter quickly advanced to blue runs by the age of 5!
- Super Fast Gold Chair Express: I love the Gold Chair Express so I can wait less and ski more. Tip: Play in the Monster Glades after a big dump of snow!
- Kids 5 & Under Ski Free: For real! Nakiska is the only mountain that offers free skiing to children 5 and under, so if your children are the right age, you only need to purchase adult season’s passes!
- Resort Size: With 71 runs, Nakiska is just the right size. The hill is easy to navigate, with all runs on the same side of the mountain, and there are plenty of fun runs for everyone. Pop in to the mid-mountain lodge or main lodge for a bite. Fun fact: 28% of Nakiska’s runs are advanced!
- No Getting Stuck In The Flats: Nakiska doesn’t have long, flat stretches to get stuck in, so you can ski or ride more!
- Family Friendly: Families will love Nakiska’s onsite daycare, Snow School, great learning area for first timers, and beginner friendly runs from the Bronze Chair. The Bronze Chair is not too fast, so first-timers can safely get the hang of getting on and off.
- Partner Discounts: Your Nakiska Season’s Pass includes discounts at partner resorts, hotels, and businesses. See all member benefits here.
Bonus: Skiing at Nakiska is fun!
See you on the slopes! At Nakiska!
We got to try Nakiska’s brand new Tube Park while we were at the resort before Christmas. First impression, I honestly thought it looked like a miniature toboggan hill. It didn’t look like much and it wasn’t very big. I’d never tried tubing at a resort before so I guess I had built it up in my mind to be something much larger. I quickly changed my opinion after the first ride down though. It was the most fun I’ve had on a sled or tube – EVER. And it didn’t hurt!
I’m not generally a big fan of sledding because honestly, this body is just too old to handle all the bumps and jarring anymore. Tubing at Nakiska on the other hand was completely gentle, smooth, groomed, and adult-friendly! I’d go back again any day!
Nakiska Ski Area is well known for a few things, including its super long ski season and often being the earliest resort in Canada to open as well as it’s immaculately groomed, wide, Olympic sized runs and also its snowmaking abilities.
Nakiska is a public ski resort today, however, it owes its entire existence to Calgary winning the bid to host the XV Olympic Games in 1988. Being constructed to host to world’s best alpine athletes, a state of the art world class snowmaking system was built into the resort. Often opening for skiing and snowboarding right at the beginning of November (sometimes even at the end of October) the credit is owed in part to Mother Nature, of course, and also largely to the snowmaking capabilities.
Nakiska Snowmaking Fact – depending on the time of year the system can produce between 1 and 2 feet of snow over an acre in an hour. In terms of football fields, (the North American variety and including the end zones), Nakiska’s system can cover one of them in between an hour and a half and 45 minutes!
Each season, Nakiska makes upgrades and improvements to the snowmaking system to ensure it’s the most cutting edge it can be. This season, the focus was on environmentally friendly improvement. Some of the work done over this summer and fall including installing a new cooling system to save water and reuse it back into snowmaking and building a new mid mountain pump house with a continuous pipe from the base to bring the water saved and turn it into snow.
Nakiska Snowmaking Fact – our water license gives Nakiska the capacity to make 6 feet of snow to cover the entire mountain!
Visit Nakiska this season to enjoy it’s Olympic caliber terrain & great snow – don’t forget to check out the Monster Glades where there is no grooming required and often powder stashes to be found for days after a natural snowfall!
Read more about how our snowmaking system upgrades in our Getting Ready for Winter news post and read more about our Commitment to the Environment and new Trees are for Glades project on treesareforglades.com.
We like white on green here at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; lots and lots of snow on our mountains and all over the trees on those mountains too. Because if you’ve never come rocketing through the glades, ripping up and down the natural moguls with powder hitting you in your grinning face until you blast back onto the trail, you really haven’t lived. And we kind of want to keep that around for a while, for future skiers and riders, for our kids, and for our kids’ kids too.
That’s why we decided to take a stand and be the first ski resort company to refuse printing a brochure this year, to do what we can to lessen our environmental footprint. On top of that, we’ll plant a whole tree for every email sign-up to our online newsletter. We hope this helps reiterate to consumers everywhere, that taking paper maybe isn’t the answer any more, especially if you can find that information online anyways.
So, help do your part and keep the Trees for Glades! Sign your email up on our Trees for Glades website and read our full story (plus enter our contest for the chance to win a spring event ski trip for you and 3 friends)!
Success So Far:
- 75,000 pieces of paper saved by this initiative alone
- So far: 3000+ trees planted – thanks to you!
Photo courtesy of Trees for the Future Facebook.
Alpine Canada recently sat down with Jan Hudec for a candid interview discussing his biggest fear, favourite music, his long standing nickname, what he enjoys in the off season and much more. Jan is an accomplished skier, with a long career earning many accomplishments including being the first Canadian in 20 years to win an alpine Olympic medal in 2014 in the Super G in Sochi and being the first ever Canadian to win the Lake Louise World Cup Downhill in 2009.
Words & Photos by Tanya Koob
I remember our first family downhill ski trip in great clarity because I had been extremely apprehensive of the whole sport as a “family experience.” My husband and I had done a lot of resort skiing back in the “good old days” before kids but had been nervous to try it with a child in tow. We were both envisioning the worst when we thought of taking a small child to a busy ski resort for a day, of having to find parking and get all of our gear to the day lodge, and of having to find space in a crowded lodge for our family to eat and rest. Add other fears such as having to get out of the house early in the morning to reach the hill in time to find parking, dealing with a cranky child who’s missed his afternoon nap, and having to deal with a tot who may or may not appreciate the long car ride out to the hill (and back) – and you can see why I was just a teensy bit apprehensive of the whole experience.
All I can say in a quick response to the above fears is thank god for Nakiska! One half day at Nakiska and all of my fears were relieved. We had a fabulous first day downhill skiing as a family and my son would now consider it to be his favourite winter sport.
Tips for a Relaxed Morning at the Hill
We tried to pack for our ski day the night before to save time in the morning. When we got up, we just had to have a quick breakfast and jump in the car. Other things we did to save time were booking our son’s ski lesson in advance rather than just showing up at the hill to register him, and buying him his own gear rather than renting at the hill. If planning to rent, allow for at least an extra half hour at the hill before you will be able to start skiing. (Something to keep in mind if you have lessons booked first thing in the morning.)
We arrived at the hill with plenty of time to find a good parking spot, to find our way to the day lodge, pick up our lift tickets, and to make our way to the meeting spot for lessons. We quickly discovered that registering our son in a lesson for first thing in the morning was the smartest thing we could have done as beginners to family downhill skiing. We only had to worry about getting one person dressed and set to go rather than getting all three of us ready at the same time.
As soon as our son was in his lesson, I distinctly remember grabbing a coffee and thinking about how relaxed the whole process had been. Because of the lesson, my husband got to ski on his own all morning and was able to do a bunch of his favourite runs rather than spending the morning on the bunny hill. Meanwhile, I spent a relaxed morning with my coffee near the day lodge and kept close tabs on the lesson process.
Lunch without the Crowds
We headed in for an early lunch after the lesson and discovered another secret to success: Eat early to avoid crowds! We had left a duffle bag with our personal belongings and lunch under a table in the day lodge and had no problem finding it when we went inside. We easily found space to eat, and had an enjoyable time in the non-crowded dining area.
Family Bonding at the Hill
We’ve gotten into a habit where we try to take advantage of children’s lessons in the morning whenever possible and then we spend the afternoon skiing together as a family. We can now bomb down the blue runs together with our 6 year old who’s become quite the proficient skier but on our first day at Nakiska, we enjoyed the bunny hill together and took a few spins down in the tube park. The Tube Park was a great add-on to our ski day and allowed some rest time from skiing. We had a snack in the lodge mid-afternoon and then left the hill early to avoid congested roads on the drive home.
- Bring a sled to haul gear into the lodge with or load your gear (and youngest tots) into a Chariot stroller
- Go as a group and alternate child care duties with friends or go with another couple and take turns with the men doing bunny hill/day lodge duty while the women ski, and vice versa.
- Bring a grandparent or family member along who is content to hang out in the lodge with babies or young tots not old enough to ski yet