As Calgary, Alberta's closest ski mountain, Nakiska Ski Resort is the ideal day-trip destination, offering an abundance of superb beginner and intermediate terrain. Beyond skiing, the resort enhances the overall family mountain experience with additional winter activities such as tubing and snowshoeing.

Previously employed as Nakiska's Marketing & Group Sales Manager, and now representing Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) as an ambassador, I'm gonna give you the lowdown and share all the insider tips on how to get the best out of your time on resort. I've rode this hill with media and athletes, have hosted corporate groups, and know many locals and employees, so I'm confident that I'll answer all of your questions!

snowboarder and rocky tales CEO, sophia, rides powder in the monster glades at nakiska ski resort in Alberta, Canada
Riding powder in the Monster Glades at Nakiska @ Reece Media

Nakiska Ski Resort

Situated at an elevation ranging from 1,525m to 2,260m, Nakiska encompasses 1021 skiable acres with 71 marked trails. The terrain composition caters to all skill levels, with 13% designed for beginners, 59% for intermediates, and 28% for advanced enthusiasts. The resort's commitment a winter playground is evident through extensive snowmaking, covering 75% of the area.

Mountain Statistics:

  • Vertical: 2,412 feet (735 meters)
  • Terrain: 1021 acres of skiable terrain
  • Top Elevation: 7415 feet (2,260 meters)
  • Named Runs: 71
  • Annual Snowfall: 250 cm (8.3 ft)

Nakiska Ski Area History

Nakiska, derived from the Cree word meaning "to meet" or "meeting place, officially opened for skiing in 1986 and stands as a testament to the rich history and development of winter sports in Alberta, Canada. The resort's roots trace back Calgary's bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics, with Mount Allan, known as Nakiska, ultimately chosen for its proximity, FIS compliance, and recreational potential. During the Olympics, Nakiska hosted ten alpine events and freestyle moguls skiing, playing a pivotal role in the games. A temporary t-bar lift was utilized for the men's downhill ski event, though now closed to the public. Remnants of the lift are visible from the Gold Chair and utilized by ski patrollers for avalanche control.

Post-Olympics, Nakiska is the official training centre for Alpine Canada. To this day, ski racers are abundant at Nakiska as the resort continues to host world class events such as the FIS Ski Cross World Cup. Under RCR stewardship, Nakiska has had major renovations, including snowmaking enhancements and the introduction of the Monster Magic Carpet (beginner's area). The 2009 installation of the Gold Chair, a high-speed quad lift, marked a significant upgrade, and Monster Glades (tree run section) added some spice to Nakiska's terrain.

Geographic Location

Nakiska Ski Area is located 114 kilometers west of Calgary and is easily accessible by highway 1. The resort is also close to Canmore, which is about 55 kilometers away (about a 35 minute drive). If you’re driving into alpine areas in Alberta, local enforcement requires that all vehicles carry snow chains.

Flying into Nakiska

The nearest airport is Calgary International Airport which is a little over an hour away from Nakiska. The airport has many connecting flights from cities within Canada as well as international destinations.

Winter Operations

*Check the daily snow report for most up to date information on operations and amenities hours of operation.

Nakiska's four chairlifts, aptly named Olympic, Bronze, Silver, and Gold, along with two conveyor belts for beginner access, ensure seamless exploration on diverse terrain. Due to how the resort is laid out and it's memorable features, it is easily the best beginner ski resort near Calgary.

2.5 year old, Sylas and mama, Sophia (me!) at Nakiska Ski Resort.

Beginner area (Monster Magic Carpet)

The beginner area at Nakiska is at the base of the resort, facing the main lodge. Looking at the image below, the conveyor belt, or carpet, on the left accesses a little steeper slope pitch than the carpet on the right (closest to tube park).

nakiska ski resort beginner area base map
Nakiska map of base from beginner area.

Bronze Chair

The Bronze chair area is the next level available after you've progressed from the beginner area. To access the bronze chair, you have to walk or glide down to the hill to the right of Olympic chair (you can't see Bronze from the base area). The lift is down around the bend to the right on run #24 Sweetgrass.

nakiska ski resort's beginner chair - bronze chair
Bronze chair at Nakiska.

If you're ready for the ‘big-chair’ experience, there are longer green runs available off both the Silver chair and Olympic chair. Either of these chairs get you to Gold.

Olympic Chair

Olympic chair is typically the first chair to open at the beginning of the season. It's not uncommon in early season to 'upload' on Olympic and descend on run #4 "Lower Homesteader".

Views off Olympic chair.

Silver Chair

Silver has a nice variety of blue runs with sweet mountain views. Days when I ride solo, you'll find me lapping runs off Silver - a personal favourite is run #34 Upper Eye Opener.

Views off Silver chair.
Silver chair at Nakiska.

Gold Chair

Gold Chair showcases more advanced terrain for those family members who are looking for moguls, trees, and steeper runs. There is no easy way down from this chair lift and therefore, not recommended for beginners. Because of Nakiska's involvement in competitive ski racing, you'll often see the only blue run on Gold, #17 Upper Mapmaker, is closed for training - know your ability!

Monster Glades

The 70-acre Monster Glades area provides some of the best tree skiing in the Alberta Rockies. One of Nakiska's best kept secrets is that many powderhounds go for the bigger resorts, leaving fresh tracks for longer and especially awesome on a powder day!

Nakiska's Monster Glades @ Reece Media

Amenities

Check the daily snow report for most up to date information on operations and amenities closures.

Parking

There is ample parking at the the base area at Nakiska, offered on a first-come-first-served basis. On weekends, the parking lots are busy so it's best to show up early in the morning or later in the afternoon when many families are leaving. Arriving at 11:00am may result in driving around searching for a spot.

Kananaskis Conservation Pass

Ensure you have a Kananaskis Conservation Pass, available for purchase online or at the Kananaskis Visitor Information Centre. Day-use permits cost $15, while an annual pass for three vehicles at the same address costs $90.

Guest Services

Guest services at Nakiska emcompass ticketing, lessons and rentals.

Passes & Tickets

If you're a family living in Calgary, Nakiska's early bird family season sale is the best deal. Always check Nakiska's website for most up to date information on season passes and tickets. Buy your season pass here!

2024-25 Season Pass Prices
Lessons

With a range of lesson options catering to all levels, Nakiska Winter Sports School ensures there's something for everyone. Whether you're into skiing or snowboarding, bilingual instructors are avalible to make your experience both fun and educational.

Nakiska sunrise lessons.
Rentals

Available on site.

Main Lodge

Slopeside Cafe, Cafeteria, Finish Line Lounge (upstairs)

You'll find the washrooms in the lodge. When it gets busy, there are extra ones out back through the right-hand side door. There is only one baby changing table and it's located in the handicap stall.

Mid-Mountain Lodge

There is a cafeteria and washrooms located in mid-mountain lodge.

Accommodations

There’s plenty of accommodation in Kananaskis Village right by the resort.

Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge

Stoney Nakota Resort & Casino

Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel (HI) - seasonal closures

The Sundance Lodges - seasonal closures

Corporate Bookings

Group rates are also available for bookings of 10+ people, with additional services like accommodation, transportation, and food & beverage options offered for larger groups. Contact Nakiska's Group Sales team at groupsales@skinakiska.com for more details.

Corporate groups can book exclusive use of the tube park on weekdays for a flat rate. Groups of 15+ get a 10% discount on weekends/holidays but requires advance booking.

Winter Activities near Nakiska

Beyond skiing and snowboarding, Nakiska has additional winter activities such as tubing and snowshoeing.

Wanidu Tube Park

Located conveniently in the base area next to the beginners area, Wanidu Tube Park provides two tubing tracks for your enjoyment. Children must be 42" tall or 3+ years old, and all participants must ride their own tube. For groups of 15 or more, enjoy a 10% discount on weekends and holidays.

Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska.

Snowshoeing

Nakiska offer snowshoes tours and rentals. With beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails (Green, Blue, and Black), there's something for every skill level. Rentals are available at the Rental Centre.

To ensure you secure your spot, it's highly recommended to book ahead for guided tours. Daily tour times will be determined, and bookings can be made by contacting Nakiska at 1 (403) 591-7777 Ext. 7901 or wintersports@skinakiska.com.

Snowshoeing group at Nakiska

Winter Hiking

Troll Falls and nearby is the Green Monster hike (Evan Thomas).

The Green Monster hike is just down the highway from Nakiska.

Cross-country Skiing

There are also cross-country groomed trails crisscrossing over 50 kilometers surrounding Nakiska, catering to all levels of skiers. The trails wind through forests and meadows, and there are several challenging hills to test your skills.

Summer Operations

Due to leased land subject to seasonal closures mandated by Alberta government restrictions, the resort is closed in the summer. However, there are an abundance of hikes near Nakiska such as Troll Falls and Ribbon Creek.

Nearby is Kananaskis Golf Course, Mt. Kidd RV Park, Boundary Ranch, and Kananaskis Village Centre.

Many memorable moments at Nak!

Some of my favourite days at Nakiska include shredding their world-class groomers, honing in on my own snowboarding skills and advancing my technique. Many of my best riding days have been the many surprise powder days while ripping through the Monster Glades!

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