British Columbia is an attractive proposition for winter sports enthusiasts. This mountainous province on Canada’s west coast lures skiers and snowboarders with its craggy peaks and forested slopes. Steep descents, deep powder, and breathtaking Alpine bowls challenge accomplished skiers but there’s excellent provision for beginners too. If that sounds enticing, why not book a trip to one of these ski vacation towns in British Columbia?
Ski hard, play hard: Whistler Blackcomb is British Columbia’s poster child, boasting more skiable acres than any other resort in North America and a legendary après-ski scene to match. Whistler was conceived as part of a bid to host the 1968 Winter Olympics, though that dream wasn't realized until 2010. In the meantime, the twin mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb, once separate rivals, decided to merge and are now connected by the impressive PEAK 2 PEAK cable car. When you’re done skiing for the day, head Whistler Village where a slew of bars and clubs awaits once the dinner plates are cleared away.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Alight the train at Golden for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Abundant champagne powder makes skiing here a pleasure, with upwards of seven meters of the light fluffy stuff falling each year on average. The adventure begins as you ride a single gondola straight to the summit, where you’re greeted with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. It won’t take long for you find out why people remark on how hardcore this resort is. Home to the fourth highest vertical drop in North America, its chutes and bowls are not for the faint hearted, with 45% of runs classed as blacks and 15% as double-black diamonds. The resort’s also home to Canada’s highest restaurant: Eagle Eye perches on the mountaintop at 7700 feet.
Located in British Columbia's delightful Okanagan Valley, Big White Mountain is a great place for novices to learn or for intermediates to boost their confidence. Over half the runs are graded blue, but in fact, the whole mountain can be skied on green runs should you wish. Steeper runs such as those accessed via the Powder Chair and the Cliff Chair offer progression without the intense challenge found in Whistler or Kicking Horse. Families will appreciate the range of other activities on offer, such as snowshoeing, dog sledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snow tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and Nordic skiing.
Fernie comprises 2500 acres of terrain, with 142 named runs across five Alpine bowls. Each has its own characteristics: Cedar’s scenic views have the wow factor, Timber offers challenging runs that wind through forest, Siberia feels wild and untamed, while Lizard and Currie Bowl attract thrill-seeking adventurers. If it’s your first time here it’s worth hiring a guide to get your head around the lay of the land. Expert skiers should sign up for one of the regular Steep and Deep All Mountain Camps to learn how to safely experience the extreme terrain and deep snowfalls.
Shoehorned between the Monashee and Selkirk Mountain Ranges of southeast British Columbia, Revelstoke began to take shape in the late 19th century as a railway town. Scandinavian immigrants commuted to work on skis and the idea of skiing for pleasure quickly caught on. Today, the resort is thriving, largely thanks to the construction of the Revelation gondola and two fast chair lifts which made it an attractive proposition for tourists as well as locals. Steep slopes, the longest vertical descent in North America, and at least 12 meters of snow each year have cemented its reputation as a winter playground. Snowcat and heliskiing operations also enable experienced skiers to enjoy pristine powder.
SilverStar Mountain Resort channels a mining town vibe, its mock 19th century main street a colorful and fun place to begin and end the day. But quaint though the town is, it’s the mountain itself which draws visitors throughout the winter season. This resort is British Columbia’s third largest ski area, encompassing more than 3200 skiable acres. Ease yourself in on its mellow ski in-ski out runs. When you’re ready, drop into Putnam Creek and ramp up the adrenaline factor as you tackle the blacks and double black diamond runs of the backside of the mountain.
Red Mountain is a fabulously unspoiled resort located on the Powder Highway in Rossland. Spread over more than 3800 acres, the wide, well-groomed slopes of this underrated gem receive more than 7 meters of snow each year. Tackle Red Mountain, Granite Mountain and the more recently opened up Grey Mountain, where intermediates are especially well catered for. When you’re done with the downhills, you might also try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and fat biking. Let off steam at the end of the day in the lively Rafters Bar as you toast to winter fun with a glass of the local craft beer.
Sun Peaks is Canada’s second largest ski area, offering 4270 acres of skiable terrain spread over three mountains. Take in the scenery as you cruise down gentle greens, or challenge yourself on steep double black diamonds. At around 5.6 meters a year, the annual snowfall total is a little less than the British Columbia average, but abundant sunshine makes skiing here a pleasure. A banked slalom course can be found alongside the Sundowner and Suncatcher runs, plus there’s a whole host of other activities such as Nordic skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and snow tubing.
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