Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Affordable Ski Weekends at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre

I love ski weekends at Lake Louise because you're almost always guaranteed to have good snow. With a two hour drive from Calgary, it's hard to drive out and back as a day trip though. We solve this by staying at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre for an affordable family getaway.

Ski in-out Accommodations at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre

Last winter we spent two nights at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre so that we could try a variety of winter activities in the area. We spent two days at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, one day downhill skiing, and the other day snowshoeing and tubing, and then we also got out for some cross country skiing, went skating on Lake Louise, and checked out the ice sculptures from the recent Ice Magic festival. Yes, it was a busy three day weekend!

The Lake Louise Alpine Centre is a joint venture between Hostelling International Canada and the Alpine Club of Canada. Members of either club get discounts to stay here. The Centre has two buildings and each one has its own kitchen and lounge area. We had a room in the main building where the check in desk and restaurant are located. This is also the building with the biggest lounge area, a beautiful fireside room with pool table and plenty of room for kids to play in.

The kitchen in our building was very big and great for large groups. We shared it with a school group the first night and with a group of scouts the second night. Fortunately, there were plenty of tables, stoves, fridges, and even ovens in the industrial sized kitchen so that everybody could cook together at the same time.

Fireside room at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre

Rooms come in a few different configurations here. We had a private room that slept 3 people in a single over double bunk. It wasn't anything fancy but it did the trick for allowing us to stay at Lake Louise. We had a shared bathroom just outside our room which we shared with one other private room. Showers were further down the hall and each shower had its own private room.

Friends that went with us got a "family room" which had two bunk beds and a loft, sleeping a total of 6 people. It had its own private bathroom and was much bigger in size. Families can also rent the regular shared dorm rooms too which sleep between 4 - 6 people.

Small Family Rooms at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre

Tips for Staying at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre with Kids:

  • Our bedroom in the main building was on the 3rd floor and the kitchen was in the basement. That's a LOT of stair climbing and there are no elevators. I'd suggest packing in a way that you can get your stuff to your room easily (our large hockey bag with wheels that weighs 60 pounds was maybe not a good idea.) You'll also be carrying your food down a flight of stairs so make sure you can easily do so.

  • If stairs and climbing are a problem for you, request a ground floor room and you'll be placed in the other building which has private rooms on the bottom floor. It's also closer to the parking lot. AND, if you request to be placed in this building, there's a good chance you'll have the kitchen and lounge to yourself because they fill the main building first before using this "overflow" building.

  • Expect to be sharing the Centre with groups. If you don't like crowded or noisy places, this might not be the quiet alpine retreat you were looking for. I was told though that the second building (not the main building) is quieter and that it helps if you don't plan your stay over a major festival at Lake Louise. (We were there over the Ice Magic festival so the hostel was packed.)

  • Bring snowshoes or cross country skis if you want to enjoy the trails right outside the door of the hostel. I enjoyed skiing the Bow River Loop with my girlfriend later in the afternoon Saturday while the kids were resting. We also skied from the lake down to the village earlier in the day with the kids and skied right up to the door of the Alpine Centre.

  • You'll have to drive up to the main Lake Louise area for skating and to access the trails around the Chateau. It's a short 5 minute drive though.

  • Finally, if you want to book a shared dorm room for your family rather than a private room, just tell the person you make your booking with that you'll have kids with you. They'll try to make sure you get your room to yourself.

To read about all room options here, follow this link to find out about the various rooms and packages.

Large industrial kitchen for groups at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre

Reasons we'll definitely return to stay at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre:

  • Affordable accommodations in a premier area of the Canadian Rockies

  • Ability to cook our own meals in a shared kitchen rather than having to eat out the entire weekend (And there is a restaurant on site should you wish to eat out at times.)

  • Ski in/out accommodations for cross country skiing (and the trails are great for biking in the summer)

  • Cozy rooms that allowed us to sleep in privacy as a family rather than sharing a large dorm room with people we don't know (which you'd have to do at many other hostels)

  • We loved the big fireside room for hanging out in together with our friends and their children. This is harder if you stay in hotel rooms where you have no common area to visit.

  • Because it's Lake Louise and it's a 5 minute drive from the Lake Louise Ski Resort. It's also a short drive to scenic hiking trails that we enjoy year round and world class scenery around every corner.

Skiing the Bow River Loop at Lake Louise

Other Winter Activities to Enjoy at Lake Louise 

The beauty of planning a weekend at Lake Louise is that the activities we did are just a sampling of what a family could enjoy over a few days in this magical place. Dog sledding would have been another fun option and we barely skimmed the surface of snowshoe and ski trails in the area that we wanted to explore. My son has also made it very clear that he wants to do a sleigh ride next time we visit Lake Louise to see the waterfall at the far end of the lake. (I told him we could just hike or ski across the lake to see the waterfall but that didn't quite cut it.)

Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise

Below are just some of the many things you can do at Lake Louise (with links if you're curious to check the activities out.) Note we have not done all of these activities and companies did not pay to have links placed in this story. I'm just seeking to be a good "source of information" here.

Downhill Skiing, Guided Snowshoe Tours, and Tubing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort - And you can read more about this here at my story that I wrote last winter: Family Guide to the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Skiing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort

Skating on Lake Louise - cleared rinks for both recreational skating and hockey. Ice is cleared of snow by staff at the Chateau so you can skate here all winter long. There's an ice castle on the ice too by January and it will be there until it melts.

Ice Skating at Lake Louise

Cross country skiing - We love the Tramline Trail which descends down from the lake to the Village with roughly 200 metres of elevation lost. It's a great trail for teaching kids to glide with gravity in their favour. Last year we also tried the Upper Telemark Trail from the Village down to the Great Divide Parking Lot. Then we hopped across the road, climbed a short hill, and got onto the Tramline Trail to finish our descent to the Village. (Note that you'll need a vehicle shuttle for these options or an adult will have to ski back up at the end to fetch the vehicle from the Lake Louise parking area.)

Other great trails for kids are the Bow River Loop, the Fairview Loop and the Lake Louise Loop.

Read more about skiing at Lake Louise in my previous story here: Family X-Country Skiing at Lake Louise.

Skiing at Lake Louise in a winter wonderland

Snowshoeing - While we chose to snowshoe at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, there are many great trails around the Village. I've heard that the Louise Creek Trail is nice if you have a shuttle so that you can hike down from the lake to the village.

Find out more on guided snowshoe tours at the Lake Louise Ski Resort here.

Snowshoeing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort

Sleigh Rides - Brewster Adventures operates daily sleigh rides across Lake Louise to see the frozen ice falls at the back of the lake. As with most "tourist" activities, there is a high price that goes with this activity. It is a great trip though for those with limited mobility who can't walk or ski to reach the far end of the lake - but still want the experience and the views. It would also be one of those special "treat" activities that visitors to Louise would not forget anytime soon.

Dog Sledding - Another one of those "life experiences" and "bucket list' activities that comes with a price. Worth every penny though. I have never done the tour at Lake Louise but I've done another tour in Kananaskis and it was incredible! 

And for more information on the Ice Magic Festival in January, please visit the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website

Ice Castle at Lake Louise during Ice Magic in January 

Disclaimer:  We received complimentary accommodations at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre from Hostelling International Canada. As always, all words and opinions are my own and I wasn't paid to write this story.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hiking with Kids is More Fun when there's SNOW! (Family Winter Hiking Guide)

We climb a lot of mountains in the summer but I'd have to say I prefer winter hiking for the pure FUN. Seriously, winter hiking is as much (if not more) fun as summer hiking.

You can't build snow caves in summer 

We Like Winter Hiking for the TOYS

There are several reasons why we love winter hiking, but first and foremost is because we can bring TOYS! 

We bring snowshoes, sleds, ski bikes or scooters, skates, skis, and ice cleats. All of these toys or tools help us to enjoy our experience to the ultimate max. 

With ice cleats we can descend into icy canyons and search for frozen waterfalls. 

Frozen waterfalls in Grotto Canyon, Kananaskis 

With sleds we can enjoy backcountry sledding (which is an extreme sport if you do it on a steep twisty mountain trail.) 

How's this for a scenic and epic sledding hill!

Snowshoes take us to remote places that few tourists would ever see driving by on the highway. 

This magical place is 5 minutes off the Icefields Parkway at Mosquito Creek, Banff (snowshoes required)

And ski bikes or scooters are just FUN! They convince the kids that winter hiking is actually a good way to spend the day (and help them to forget about the cold temperatures.)

Hiking with Strider bikes and ski attachments

And while you normally wouldn't bring skis along on a winter "hike," it can be fun to carry the kids' downhill skis up the trail so that they can ski back down to the trailhead. We did this with the Chester Lake Trail in Kananaskis (my son snowshoed up, and skied down.) - and it was a blast!! Just be prepared that the kids will be a lot faster than you on the way down (or bring your own skis as well.)

You can read more about our hiking/skiing day at Chester Lake here. 

Hike up and ski down! Tons of FUN!

As for the skates, that's just me who drags them everywhere in hopes I'll find something to glide on. (Last year I skated through Grotto Canyon.)

The DREAM - Skating Grotto Canyon

Essential Winter Hiking Gear: Ice Cleats and Spikes

Jump off frozen waterfalls, descend into icy canyons, and explore the magic of places like Johnston Canyon, Jura Creek Canyon or Grotto Canyon. And don't forget Troll Falls which is a lot of fun to climb around on.

Our favourite spikes are the Kahtoola microspikes. And if you can find a pair of XS ones, they fit children with feet as small as size 13 or 1. (Sadly I think they've been discontinued in this size though so kids will have to try a pair of small yak trax or a similar brand of ice cleat.) 

note these are affiliate links to Amazon. Support me by shopping there and I will make a dollar towards a cup of coffee. 

The ice highway through the Jura Creek Canyon

Grotto Creek Canyon

Suggested Reading for Ice Hikes

Jura Creek:

Johnston Canyon:

Grotto Canyon:

Frozen Troll Falls 

Essential Winter Hiking Gear: Snowshoes

Snowshoes are super easy to use and require very little practice using before you can take off running down the trail. Alberta Parks and Banff National Park both have great snowshoe trails that are packed and maintained for easy winter walking.

Snowshoes can take you to beautiful places like this! (photo: Icefields Parkway near the Hilda Creek Hostel)

Suggested Reading:  Family Snowshoeing Super Guide

And if you want to know what we're wearing, my son loves his MSR Shift Kids Snowshoes (affiliate link goes to Canadian company, All Out Kids Gear, website) 

I'm partial to Atlas snowshoes for myself (and would never wear a pair of snowshoes that weren't specifically designed for a woman's gait.) As for my husband, his snowshoes are so old I doubt they even make them even more. If he didn't like skiing so much better than hiking, I'd buy him a new pair for Christmas.

Snowshoeing is pretty exciting when you get views like this! (photo: Shadow Lake, Banff)

Essential Winter Hiking Gear: Sleds

Let's face it, the best thing about winter hiking is that there is snow! This means you can pull the kids in sleds, Chariots, pulks, and strollers with skis when they get tired. We've even pulled our son on a bike with a ski attachment.

Backcountry sledding for the WIN
Because our son is almost 8 years old, we've long outgrown Chariots, strollers, and pulk sleds but we love hiking with a normal plastic Pelican sled. We hike up the trail as a family and then the kids pile into the sleds we've pulled up for the trip down. Helmets are recommended and you'll want to get good at steering the sled if pulling kids down steep trails. (I recommend letting the sled go in front of you so you can steer it around trees!)

Backcountry sledding is a BLAST and kids love the opportunity to slide off hills they'll find in the backcountry along with sliding down your ascent trail back to the car.

Suggested Reading:

*note the highway is closed to reach Highwood Pass now but the story still serves as good inspiration.

Backcountry Sledding on a homemade luge track

And for a real adventure, try creating a twisty windy luge track with banked corners next time you're out in the backcountry! (again, helmets recommended)

Our personal favourite sleds: You're going to need something that you can attach a rope to if you're going to pull a sled up a hiking trail. It should also be a plastic molded sled and not a foam sled that you'd use on a sledding hill.

We like the red Pelican brand Two person plastic sled. It allows us to tie a rope to it and pull kids. (unlike the foam sleds.)

For backcountry hut trips, we like using a black utility ice fishing sled. (similar to this one.)

Whichever sled you use, attach a longer rope to it than what it comes with. You'll appreciate the length so that you can wrap it around your waist and steer it.

(and yes again, affiliate link here so I can afford my Starbucks Coffee.)

Steering our Pelican Sled down the Chester Lake Snowshoe Trail

Other COOL Winter Hiking Gear: Strollers With Skis 

Last winter I did a full review on the Polar Stroller skis, designed and manufactured by a local Calgary family business. Read that review here.

Polar Stroller is unique in that they design and manufacture skis for use with all kind of strollers (three or four wheel ones, mall strollers, all terrain strollers, jogging strollers, Chariots, etc.) Their skis can also be used on a Weehoo or bike trailer if you enjoy winter fat biking and want to pull the kids behind you. (Now THAT is cool!)
Get outside this winter with Polar Stroller Skis

With a set of Polar Stroller skis, you can enjoy fat biking, winter walks or snowshoeing with babies, toddlers, and young children all winter long. You can continue to use the same stroller you normally use all year round (without having to invest in a special ski pulk or Chariot with ski attachment) AND their skis are the best on the market for strollers. You can turn your stroller into a sleigh with a click and away!

Please visit the Polar Stroller Website for full information on the company and to see the different kinds of ski sets available.

Other COOL Winter Hiking Gear - Ski Attachments for Strider Balance Bikes and Scooters

My son has outgrown his Strider balance bike now, but back when he was younger, it made hiking so much more fun!!! We'd strap that bike to our backpack, carry it up the trail with the ski attachment in winter, and then let him ski back down. It was a guarantee "make the day fun" method.

The skis don't work well on flat terrain but we did tow our son into the Elk Lakes cabin one year by attaching a rope to the bike. It worked very very well and was again, a great way to descend the hills on the trail. Read more about that trip into Elk Lakes here.

And for older kids, you can also get ski attachments for scooters. (Amazon affiliate link for the Stiga Snow Kick scooter.)

You can see the ski attachment for the Strider bike here. They're currently out of stock many places I've checked.

Never a boring moment when you have a ski bike on the trail

We Like Winter Hiking for the FUN Activities

You should have a good selection of fun "hiking activities" now after reading the first part of this story. Below are a few other things we enjoy doing on our winter hikes:

- Building/playing in snow forts, quinzees, and tunnels

- Playing in the snow (snowball fights, building snowmen, making snow angels)

- Building snow mazes for games of tag. (pie or circle tag is a lot of fun.) 

Playing backcountry tag in the snow 

Choosing a Winter Hiking Trail 

Visit the Alberta Parks website and explore this page: Kananaskis Country Winter Activities.  There are good links and resources on this page.

Also, check out this PDF guide to snowshoeing in Kananaskis. 

Visit the Banff National Park website and explore their information on snowshoeing in Banff National Park. 

Finally, I recommend you read this story I wrote for Snowshoe Magazine: How to Choose the Best Trail for your Winter Adventure. 

*And remember to stay off ski tracks when hiking. Some ski trails are also closed to hiking so respect signs that request hikers to stick to hiking trails. (West Bragg Creek for example has separate trails for skiing and hiking.)

Snow Angels - the best part about winter hiking

Safety Disclaimers 

I have featured trails in this story that generally, do not have avalanche risk. That being said, some "safe" areas could have risk at certain times of the year when avalanche hazard is high. Always consult with a local visitor centre if uncertain of where to go with your family to stay SAFE. I recommend checking trail reports as well for the park that you want to visit.

Also, nobody is going to have fun hiking if they are cold. Make sure you wear warm winter boots, smart wool socks, layers of warm clothing (non-cotton,) good waterproof gloves, a warm toque or hat, and something to cover the face if it's windy or cold. If uncertain that you have the right clothing, save your adventure for a warm day and choose a trail without a lot of distance so you can turn around if somebody gets cold. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Family Tube Park Review (Calgary, Kananaskis, Banff, and Lake Louise)

There are 4 different tube parks to visit between Calgary and Lake Louise, all located at family-friendly ski resorts. Each one is awesome and fun in its own way, with slight differences and advantages depending on your family's need for speed or desired thrill factor.

Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis 

What to Expect at a Tube Park 

Tubing is a great activity for the whole family with no previous experience required. It's relatively gentle on adult bodies (unlike regular sledding,) and resorts test their parks regularly to make sure the runs are safe. (They'll make sure for example that you won't go flying over a berm at the end in icy conditions.)

Another great thing about tubing (over traditional sledding) is that you won't have to walk up the hill at the end of each ride down. There's always a magic carpet lift to get you (and your tube) to the top of the hill.

Basic required gear:

  • Warm winter clothing - ski pants and a warm coat, winter boots, waterproof mittens or gloves, and a warm toque or hat.

  • A helmet! Required for children at all resorts, and recommended for adults as well. And it's best to bring your own helmets with you if you have ski helmets. If you don't have helmets, you can usually rent them at the resort.

  • Ski goggles - Recommended if it's windy or cold.

Basic Rules and Guidelines:

  • Ski boots are not permitted in tube parks so make sure you have normal winter boots with you if planning a combo ski/tubing day.

  • All participants have to ride in their own tube (family tubes at Winsport in Calgary aside.) You can usually slide down together with friends or family members though by holding on to each other's tube.

  • I personally would not recommend tubing as a "great activity" for pregnant women or for people with neck or back conditions. Other red flags "could" include recent surgeries, high blood pressure, or problems with vertigo/dizziness. Overall though, if you are healthy and can handle a bit of light jarring to your body, tubing is a lot of fun for the whole family.

  • Every tube park has individual height/age restrictions that should be consulted before visiting the resort. Most tube parks do have slower lanes though, practice lanes for beginners, or a means of making your ride a bit slower if visiting with young kids.

The Sunny Tube Park at Lake Louise 

Below is an overview of the four tube parks located within an easy driving distance from Calgary.

The Servus Tube Park at Winsport's Canada Olympic Park, Calgary

Height and age requirements - The minimum height requirement is 36 inches tall. Children between 36 inches and 42 inches may tube with an accompanying adult in a separate tube, holding on to the child’s tube during descent. Children over 42” tall may tube on their own.

Also note that children under the age of 12 must be under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian at all times. That being said, I have sent my 8-year old son up the magic carpet on his own to slide down with his tube (while I supervised below with a hot chocolate) and have never gotten in trouble for it. I think the "key" is making sure you are actively at the sliding hill watching your kids at all times, and that you've made sure your child knows what he/she is doing, knows how to ride the magic carpet safely, and is going to listen to all instructions given by park attendants.

The Servus Tube Park, WinSport Calgary 

Cost - Tube Park tickets are $20 for an AM session, $25 for a PM session, and $25 over the holidays and all tickets must be pre-purchased.

Visit the Winsport website for tube park hours and all other information.

And note for 2021-22, spectators of the tube park require their own tickets. (So you might as well join in the fun mom and dad!)

Also know for 2021-22 WinSport has implemented the Alberta Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) in accordance with the City of Calgary’s Vaccine Passport Bylaw at our ski and snowboard recreation facility. Proof of vaccination is required for everybody 12 and over.

The tube park opens on December 18th for 2021. And watch for discount nights on select Fridays. Dates are available on the website.

What sets this tube park apart from the others - First, the Servus Tube Park is the largest of its kind of Western Canada. In previous winters they have had up to 12 sliding lanes.

Second, Speed! When I visited the park recently, I was clocking speeds of 50+km/hour.

Third, this is the only tube park I know of with its own snack/beverage bar on site with bathrooms at the base of the sliding hill. Winsport has definitely taken care of everything to ensure you'll be able to spend your full two hours in the park without having to leave for anything.

Snack bar at the base of the Servus Tube Park in Calgary

What I like best about this tube park - The Servus Tube Park is a great "intermediate" tube park after you've tried some of the more "mellow" ones such as Lake Louise or Nakiska. Head to Winsport when you're ready for some serious speed and a decent thrill! (Note they do have discs they can place under your tube if you'd like it to slide more slowly rather than racing down at 50+ km/hours.

My son has gotten a bit "spoiled" after trying out a variety of tube parks (multiple times) every winter. He still finds the Winsport park to be very exciting though and never gets tired of spending a half-day here. I can't say the same for some of the other beginner parks where he gets bored after a few runs.

The Servus tube park is a great "stand alone" park where you could visit WinSport just for the tube park and not feel like you had to have come for the skiing as well.

Finally, I love the new snack bar at the bottom of the park. It means that I can go grab a hot chocolate or coffee and "supervise" from the bottom of the hill once I've had my fill of sliding (because let's be honest, the kids could slide for hours!!)

Sliding down the very fast lanes at the Servus Tube Park

Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis 

Height and age requirements - Children must be 42" tall or 3+ years old with an adult (riding in their own individual tube.)

Cost - $21.95 for adults, $19.95 for youth (13-17) and seniors, $17.95 for children (5-12,) and free for children under 5 with a paying adult. Tube park passes are valid for a two hour period from your first scan.

Visit the Nakiska website for tube park hours and all other information.

Note prices above are from last year and have not been updated yet for 2021-22. An opening date also has not been determined. 

And proof of vaccination is also required for all visitors 12+ for access to Nakiska this winter. 

Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska Ski Area 

What sets this tube park apart from the others - If you have already purchased a lift ticket you can purchase a tubing ticket for an additional $10 for adult, senior & youth or additional $5 for children.

This makes for affordable family tubing and I'm now thinking we'll definitely hit up the tube park over the Christmas holidays. After all, at $15 for my son and I to add tubing on to our ski day, it's pretty affordable. (We'll just have to skip the lodge cupcakes and coffee!)

What I like best about this tube park - I think this is an excellent tube park for young children and "tube park newbies." There are only 3 lanes (and they aren't very long) so it's a good beginner experience that won't intimidate anybody. I'd personally bring my 3 year old child here before taking them to a larger park like Winsport.

I also like that the tube park is located right beside the beginner ski area (the bunny hill.) And, it's free to ski in the beginner area (with a special beginner pass from the day lodge.) Tubing would make for a great add on with young children who tire of skiing after an hour or two. (And could be a good treat or reward for good effort on the bunny hill.)

Gorgeous scenery at the Wanidu Tube Park in Kananaskis 

Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - There is a normal sledding hill at the Village behind the Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge (assuming there is enough natural snow for sliding.) There's also a small skating pond at the village. Come out for a couple hours of tubing and then go down to the village for a skate, a coffee in the Lodge and a short walk around the resort grounds.

Finally, you can add some cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or winter hiking to your day trip by exploring any of the trails starting from Kananaskis Village or Ribbon Creek down below. The trailhead for Troll Falls is a short drive from Nakiska as well.

Follow this link for more information on snowshoeing in Kananaskis.

Also check out Ten Reasons to Spend Time at Kananaskis Village this Winter. 

Troll Falls near Kananaskis Village 

Mount Norquay Tube Park, Banff

Height and age requirements - Children must be 42″ tall and 4+ years to use the tube park. (note this is a higher age and height requirement than the other three area resorts.)

Cost - $42 for adults, $36 for youth (13-17) and seniors, and $28 for children (4-12.) Children under 4 years of age can not use the tube park. Tube park passes are valid for a half day session (morning, afternoon, or evening.)

It's highly recommended that you pre-book your session to the tube park.

Visit the Mount Norquay website for tube park hours and all other information.

The tube park opens on December 18th for 2021 and proof of vaccination is required for all users 12+.

The beautiful Mount Norquay Tube Park

What I like best about this tube park - This tube park is a great "intermediate/advanced" park, so after you've tried some of the more "mellow" ones such as Lake Louise or Nakiska, head to Mount Norquay for some serious speed and a decent thrill! Mount Norquay has the longest tube lanes in Alberta as well!

As I said earlier, my son has gotten a bit "spoiled" after trying out a variety of tube parks (multiple times) every winter. He can definitely spend hours at this park though.

Finally, The Norquay park is a great "stand alone" park where you could visit Norquay just for the tube park and not feel like you had to have come for the skiing as well. 

Family fun at Mount Norquay 

Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - You'll be conveniently located near the Town of Banff if you want to add on to your day in the mountains with a visit to the hot springs, a ride up the Banff Gondola, or a walk on one of the town trails.

Hiking above the clouds at the Banff Gondola 

Sunny Tube Park, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff 

Height and age requirements - Children must be at least 3 years old to ride in the tube park. And as with all tube parks, all children are the responsibility of their parents or guardians at all times. (even though it would be super tempting to sit on the sunny lodge patio with a beer while the kids were sliding!)

Cost - $35 for adults, $30 for youth (13-17) and seniors, $20 for children (6-12,) and free for children ages 3-5. Tube park passes are valid for the day.

A family pass for up to four people is $109.00. ($20 add on price for additional children.)

Seasons pass holders get FREE tubing.

Lake Louise Plus Card holders pay only $5 for a tubing day pass.

Other discounts are available if you have a valid lift ticket for the day or a Ski Big 3 Season pass.

Visit the Lake Louise website for tube park hours and all other information.

Tubing at the Sunny Tube Park, Lake Louise 

What sets this tube park apart from the others - This is definitely a tube park for skiers and snowboarders who already have a lift ticket for the day, a seasons pass for the resort, a Louise plus card, or another applicable pass or discount card. There are great discount deals to be had for affordable tubing (or even free tubing with your seasons pass.)

What I like best about this tube park - This is not really a "Stand alone" park where you'd drive to Lake Louise just for the tubing.  I also can't imagine you'd spend more than an hour in the small sliding area. That being said though, I think this is an excellent tube park for young children and "tube park newbies." There are only 2 lanes (and they aren't very long) so it's a good beginner experience that won't intimidate anybody. I'd personally bring my 3 year old child here before taking them to a larger park like Winsport.

This is also a great alternative to Mount Norquay if you want to go tubing in Banff with smaller children (since kids have to be 4+ to slide at Norquay.)

Great scenery from the Sunny Tube Park at Lake Louise

Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - I highly recommend a guided snowshoe tour while at the resort if you are not a skier (or even if you are a skier but want to change it up for the day.)

You can read about our snowshoeing adventure at Lake Louise last winter here: Family Guide to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. 

You can also purchase a sightseeing gondola / tubing combo package if you want to get up the mountain for some awesome views but don't want to go skiing or snowshoeing.

And for cross country skiers, I recommend reading Family Cross Country Ski Trips - Our Favourite Destinations Near Calgary

And check out this story as well - Family Cross Country Skiing at Lake Louise.   

Snowshoeing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort