Tanya here and I’m back to tell you about another great ski resort, this time in Northern Alberta! We like Marmot Basin so much, we’re willing to drive the 400 km from Calgary for a weekend if it means we can spend a couple of days skiing and playing in beautiful Jasper National Park.
There are many reasons for families to love Marmot Basin Resort in Jasper, but I’ll tell you about my top 5 favourites:
- One. The whole family can ski together on the entire mountain
The whole family can ski together on the entire mountain as long as you have confident advanced-beginner or intermediate skiers. Most chairlifts on the hill allow skiers to access green, blue, or black runs, with options for groomed or natural runs, bumps, glades, and even terrain parks (of which there are three on the hill).
The only chairlift that doesn’t give access to a green beginner run is the Knob Chair, Marmot’s highest lift, but there is an easy blue traverse off the top (that would be considered green at most other resorts). Wait until the Knob Traverse has been groomed, and most advanced-beginners should do fine.
I love that beginners aren’t stuck skiing on the lower mountain while the rest of the family leaves them behind, and I like that there is something for all abilities and preferences of skiing off each chairlift. For my family, it means we can all ride up together and then split up to ski something fun or comfortable for each of us, always meeting at the bottom to ride up together again (while we swap stories of our chosen runs).
- Two. Marmot is fabulous for beginner skiers
Marmot Basin has a true beginner chair, the School House Chair, with two easy green runs off it, access to the main lodge at the bottom, and conveniently located beside the parking lots for ski in/out access. There is also a tiny beginner area (serviced by a magic carpet) perfect for toddlers or the complete first timer.
Beyond that, beginners will love everything off the Eagle Express Quad. With runs like Bunny Hop, Old Road, and Sleepy Hollow, you’ll know you’re not in for anything too scary. These are some of the best green runs I’ve seen at a resort and gave me confidence when I was learning to ski as a kid.
After mastering the runs off the Eagle Express Quad, advanced-beginners will have the confidence to ski green runs across the entire resort with access to the mid-mountain lodge.
- Three. There are so many opportunities to “play” at Marmot Basin
My son loves terrain parks, and so he was in heaven at Marmot with three parks spread around the hill. And you can hit all three in one descent from the top of the Canadian Rockies Express Quad.
My son also enjoyed playing in the trees off the “Old Road” beginner run. Narrow twisty runs resembling a luge track make their way through the trees alongside this run, and parents can just stick to the road (waiting for the kids to pop out on the next switchback lower down).
Marmot is an amazing hill for intermediate skiers wanting to take it up a notch with easy bump runs on low angled slopes. There are also several wide-open bowls off the Knob Chair that are fun to play in on a powder day (and they have easy escape routes back onto the groomed traverse if the kids get scared at any point).
And if groomed terrain is more your speed, there is no shortage of groomed blue and black runs for intermediate/advanced skiers looking to carve some swoopy turns. My personal favourite was Highway 16.
- Four. There are unlimited ways to challenge every member of the family
Once you get beyond the green runs, the groomers, and the easy traverse off the Knob, you’re going to want something more challenging – and Marmot definitely delivers here!
I’ve already mentioned the open bowls off the Knob (a dream on a powder day,) the terrain parks, and the variety of runs for skiers of all abilities. Other highlights for advanced skiers include the double black runs off Eagle East (this was my husband’s favourite area on the hill) and the brand new “Tres Hombres” area off the Paradise Quad Chair – full of steep double black chutes.
My boys also discovered that you can climb up above the higher chairlifts to ski down fresh untracked powder (in avalanche-controlled terrain that is still technically “in bounds.”) They carried their skis up the “Peak Run” off the top of the Knob Chair and then skied down into the bowl below. And that’s just one of the many runs that you can “bootpack” your way up if you’re willing to earn your fresh turns.
- Five. Marmot Basin is an easy hill to navigate
Step One: Arrive before 8:45am and make your way to one of the upper ski in/ski out parking lots off the School House Chair. There’s no need to use the bottom drop off zone. (It just gets congested and is way too busy.)
Step Two: Carry a small backpack to the mid mountain lodge, hang it on a hook, and make that your home base for the day. Avoid the main base area (which gets very crowded.)
Step Three: Have fun and enjoy this easy to navigate hill where you shouldn’t ever have to worry about getting lost. There’s no “back side,” and you don’t have to worry about kids accidentally ending up at the wrong chairlift or in the wrong bowl. Set an emergency meeting spot for the bottom of the hill (or even the mid mountain lodge) and you’ll always find your way there if you ski down.
We found it very easy to navigate our way around this resort and knew the runs quite well by noon on the first day. No matter how we chose to get down off the top of the mountain, we always ended up at the mid-mountain lodge. And if we went further, we always ended up on Bunny Hop or Old Road. There was comfort in seeing the same runs at the end of each descent and I knew my son would find his way down if we ever got separated.
Tanya blogs about her outdoor adventures on her website Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies. We are so happy to have her as our regular ski contributor this winter! To read the previous ski stories she has written for Alberta Mamas, check out the links below: