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Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

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Charlotte, North...
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Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

Hello,

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions experienced travelers or residents could provide. We are considering Banff or Whistler for my son's spring break in 2015 (April 3-11). This would be a big departure for us as we are typically warm weather vacationers and have had only trouble when we try winter sports (think broken bones and emergency room visits). Our son will be 15 and with only a few years of high school spring breaks left we are anxious to try some new things. Both Whistler and Banff look amazing. We are east coast in the US so Banff may be an easier trip for us. Following is a list of things that we will be looking for in a vacation. Again, we would appreciate any suggestions of which area might be best for us:

1) We would like to try some skiing and will likely want to have private lessons. So good beginner - intermediate slopes would be nice.

2) We don't need a lot of nightlife, but proximity to a town with restaurants, shopping, movie theaters, etc. would be great.

3) We would like to participate in some non-skiing activities like dog sledding, snow shoeing, maybe snowmobile tours.

4) We would be open to a hotel or a condominium - would like to have heated or indoor pools and hot tubs.

Thanks so much!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

Whistler is world class for skiing, huge mountainside, huge number of runs, from easy to black diamond. Skiiing lessons are top notch and expensive. The only thing with Whistler is that if, if, if we have a warm spring, the snow base and snow quality is affected because weather on the coast, next to the ocean, can be milder. I know the Peak to Peak and Whistler chair close on April 21st for a month of maintenance, but the Blackcomb chair does not close and skiing carries on as usual on Blackcomb. Whistler is a 2 hour drive/coach ride from the big smoke of Vancouver. Whistler Village itself is very small and can be walked across in 15 minutes. Hotels charge plenty for parking, condos usually have 1 complimentary spot per guest group. alluradirect.com is a good booking agent for Whistler condos.

The Rockies/Banff/Lake Louise in early April will be as wintery as you could want.

Edited: 2:25 pm, March 23, 2014
Jasper, Canada
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2. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

The Banff area also is world class for skiing (FIS World Cup downhill skiing races are held at Lake Louise every year), huge mountainsides, huge number of runs, from easy to black diamond. Lake Louise stays open until early May usually (the normal closing date is after the first weekend in May), and Sunshine Village closes May 19 this year. The Banff ski areas are also in a national park, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What Banff doesn't have is much on-hill accommodation. There is a bit at Sunshine Village, but you have to take a gondola in. Most people stay in either Banff (a town of 8000) or Lake Louise (with limited accommodation & services), and take shuttles to the ski resorts. Some hotels do indeed have pools and hot tubs, and some offer condo-style accommodations. But private condo rentals for overnight visitors are not allowed in the national parks, so you won't find VRBO options unless you look at Canmore, which is just a bit outside the national park, about 20 km east of the town of Banff.

April may be getting a bit late, though, for some of the other outdoor activities, especially at lower elevations. While there is still lots of snow up higher, it's melting in the valleys. I would suggest checking websites for those things over the next few weeks (or check the various operators' social media feeds); it will give you an idea of what is available and the possible conditions for next year. Check www.banfflakelouise.com , under "activities" and tours. Higher elevations, like up at the lake at Lake Louise (not the village in the valley) will still be wintery, so you can snowshoe, cross country ski etc. I am not sure if dog sledding is offered there or not.

Charlotte, North...
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3. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

Thanks so much! Great tips for early April and I appreciate all of the information!

4. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

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Edited: 9:56 am, April 16, 2014
Banff, Canada
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5. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

"infamous"? There must be a story here that I haven't heard!

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

I think early April is still pretty safe for Whistler, although probably no snow in the village, with the lower part of the mountain being a bit rocky, but really, no one skis the lower part of the mountain even in peak season. Whistler ski school frequently gets raves. I can't speak to Banff at all, but Whistler checks all your boxes, with day trips into Vancouver being quite easy to do as well.

Spokane, Washington
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7. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

For beginner skiing, it does not matter. Any mountain will offer decent private lessons (they won't be much superior than N. Carolina's). Compare the costs of both places - ski pass, rental, lesson, hotel packages. I would not worry about snow, or the lack of in Whistler, they have excellent snow making machinery. The mountains usual opens till late May or June(usually latest in N. America). Vancouver will have more flights/connection than Calgary, and is the more exotic cosmopolitan.

For scenery, I am totally in krp's camp - Banff is one of most beautiful place in the world.

You can't go wrong with either place.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

Whistler Mountain closes on April 21, 2014. The Peak to Peak gondola across the valley to Blackcomb closes for maintenance on April 21 for a month at which time the summer tourist season begins.

Blackcomb closes to regular skiing and boarding on May 19, 2014. From April 21-May 19, the Blackcomb chair runs daily from 10 am to 4 pm, with the lifts stopping 45 min ahead of closing.

From May 19, tourist season begins, both mountains are open and the Peak to Peak starts up again.

From June 22-July 28 there is glacier skiing and boarding on Blackcomb and is restricted to the advanced and expert boarder/skier.

Snowmaking begins when the temperature is -2C. The aversge low temp in April is 0.3C.

Your dates are well within ski season at Whistler. What might be problematic in early April, as I mentioned, is a warm Spring. If the weather stays cold into April, the mountain would perform for you.

Edited: 1:57 am, March 24, 2014
Edmonton
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9. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

I think your family would enjoy Banff and all it has to offer... so much to do and see! Banff is an easy destination to get to. Fly into Calgary and rent a car, a short drive (less than 2hours) and you will be in the most beautiful scenic place you can imagine! Study up on Banff as I know it will tick all of your vacation boxes and more. Our family vacations every Feb for one week and it's never long enough! Skiing at 3 different mountains, tubing, skating at Lake Louise, Johnston's canyon hike, hot springs...I could go on and on.

Glasgow, United...
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10. Re: Banff or Whistler Early April 2015 - Newbies

Hi there,

I too am torn between Banff and Whistler for a trip next April.

My partner and I are not skiers but would really like to view the scenery and do some fun activities like snow mobiling, dog sledding and snow shoeing.

Banff seems to be the most picturesque but it would take us 13 hours to get there from Vancouver, as opposed to only 2 hours to Whistler!

Could someone advise me - is it worth the extra travel?

Many thanks,

J :o)