Although I’ve snowboarded in Norway, South Korea and France, there’s something special about returning to where I first learned to hurl myself down snowy slopes on a board. My home province Alberta may be best known as flat, freezing cold and icy (and it is), but it also contains mountains, rolling hills and a few resorts that appeal to avid winter sport enthusiasts.

Here are 10 of the best ski resorts to carve up in Alberta:

Marmot Basin

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Lifts: 7

Vertical: 914 m

Runs: 91

My personal favourite mountain in Alberta, Marmot Basin is ideal for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. With an assortment of tree-lined slopes, groomed runs, steep drops, alpine bowls, chutes and moguls, there’s enough room—and minimal crowds—for everyone to enjoy. Stop at the mid-mountain restaurant and enjoy a hot chocolate and Baileys around the outdoor fire or watch brave skiers send it at the terrain park.

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Sunshine Village

photoReuben Krabbe

Lifts: 12

Vertical: 1,070 m

Runs: 138

Proudly claiming to have “Canada’s Best Snow,” Sunshine has a whopping three mountains to choose from. When I went snowboarding at Sunshine, I floated over powder and collected mounds of snow on my board. If you like fresh pow, heated chairlifts and accessible mountains, you’ve got to ski Sunshine. The Great Divide Terrain Park also offers 50 features over 12 acres for daredevils.

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Lake Louise

photoChris Moseley

Lifts: 10

Vertical: 991 m

Runs: 145

If you’re looking for endless terrain to explore, you can easily get lost on the numerous chutes, bowls and glades across four different mountain faces at Lake Louise. With 4,200 acres to ski, you can stay and play on the mountain all day, only returning when you’re ready for dinner.

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Mount Norquay

photoBanff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Lifts: 6

Vertical: 503 m

Runs: 74

Get your adrenalin soaring as you race and play down Norquay’s steep terrain. Hosting Canada’s longest-running ski race, Norquay is a local’s favourite place to escape the crowds that flock to the larger resorts around Banff.

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Castle Mountain
Pincher Creek

photoPaul Jerry Flickr cc by 2.0

Lifts: 6

Vertical: 863 m

Runs: 94

Two mountains and eight alpine bowls make Castle Mountain a must-stop winter destination near Pincher Creek in southern Alberta. If that’s not enough to convince you, strap on your helmet and head to the two terrain parks to catch some serious air.

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Lifts: 6

Vertical: 735 m

Runs: 79

Ideal for a family ski trip, Nakiska Ski Area offers breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, lengthy groomed runs and a brand-new tube park. Snowshoe, sleep in a luxurious snow-covered lodge and sip a pint on the patio after a long day of shredding.

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Fortress Mountain

photomark goble Flickr cc by 2.0

Planning to reopen for the 2020/2021 season, Fortress Mountain boasts the highest base elevation in the country. While the ski resort has been closed, a cat skiing operation known as KPOW (Kananaskis Powder) has been accessing the awesome snow. We can only hope future skiers will don 90s-era neon onesies when this historic hill reopens.

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Watch an interview with owner Thomas Heath:

Canyon Ski Area
Red Deer

Lifts: 6

Vertical: 164 m

Runs: 22

No, it’s not technically a mountain, but you can ski and snowboard beneath the stars (and illuminating lights) three times a week at Canyon. If that’s not enticing enough, there’s a tube park with banked corners and special tubes to zip down the groomed snow. Plus, it’s only a 10-minute drive from Red Deer.

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Silver Summit
Yellowhead County

Lifts: 3

Vertical: 300 m

Runs: 12

Located 50 kilometres north of Edson, this ski resort is a relaxing getaway for skiers and boarders. Family owned and operated for over 40 years, Silver Summit offers 100% natural snow and a large lodge with hostel-style room, so you can make new ski buddies!

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Hidden Valley

photoMatt Snell

Lifts: 4

Vertical: 200 m

Runs: 8

Operated by Alberta Parks, Hidden Valley Ski Resort opts for fun over everything. Cyrpress Hills Provincial Park is the perfect setting for this unique easterly Albertan ski resort. It can get chilly here, so bring your thermal base layers.

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Where is your favourite place to ski and snowboard in Alberta?

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