If there are two things you need to know about a BC ski holiday: British Columbia is one of the top places in the world to ski, and there are an incredible number of ski experiences spread all over the province. We’re talking 13 major resorts and an additional 22 community ski areas, plus a staggering amount of terrain tenured for heli- and cat-skiing.
Here is a how-to guide to help you figure out which resort (or resorts) are right for you.
North America’s Largest Resort and the Coast Mountains Whistler Blackcomb and Mount Washington
Record-breaking PEAK2PEAK Gondola at Whistler Blackcomb. Photo: Anderw Strain
Skiing the Coast Mountains of British Columbia offers skiers a chance to cruise down runs at one of North America’s top resorts, combine skiing with surfing, and ski at resorts that receive some of the biggest snowfalls in Canada thanks to their proximity to the Pacific Ocean. We’re talking lots of snow. Mount Washington Alpine Resort and Whistler Blackcomb receive an average annual snowfall of 38 feet (11.5 metres).
The drive from Vancouver to Whistler along the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway is a 1.5-hour journey. Once you arrive, you can choose from the more than 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers of powder bliss on offer at Whistler Blackcomb. Time off the slopes can be just as fun: hop in a bobsled and race down an Olympic sliding track, glide through a snow-covered forest on cross-country skis in Whistler Olympic Park, or check out the multiple art galleries and museums on a cultural walking tour through the village. If island life is more your thing, you can head to Mount Washington and ski for a few days before heading to Tofino for a surf lesson and make your ski-to-surf holiday dreams a reality.
Ice hockey game on Green Lake with Whistler Mountain in the background. Photo: Andrew Strain
A Winter Wonderland in BC’s InteriorBig White, Sun Peaks, SilverStar, and Apex
Ski-in/ski-out chalets at SilverStar Mountain Resort. Photo: Andrew Strain
BC’s Interior has all the perfect ingredients for a ski holiday, with champagne powder, a huge range of winter activities, plenty of bluebird days, and tons of ski-in/ski-out accommodation. Kelowna is the biggest city in the region, and Big White Ski Resort is located just southeast of town. More than half of the runs here are for intermediate skiers, and non-skiers have a ton of options too. Dogsledding adventures, a tube park. snowmobiling, and an 18-metre (60-foot) ice climbing tower. Travel northeast to Vernon and SilverStar Mountain Resort to take advantage of their all-inclusive lift ticket, the first one of its kind offered in Canada. In addition to 132 runs spread out over four distinct mountain faces, skiers and boarders also get unlimited access to 55 kilometres (34 miles) of Nordic trails, snowshoe trails, the resort’s tube park, ice skating, and fat bike trails.
Skiing through the trees at Sun Peaks Resort. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
Still have energy for more? Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops is another mecca for winter lovers. From a cosy pedestrian village base, the resort offers everything from horse-drawn carriage rides to dogsledding excursions. Sun Peaks is known for its light, dry powder and its amazing tree skiing, and it boasts an enormous top-to-bottom terrain park. The quaint ski-in/ski-out village at Apex Mountain Resort, 30 minutes from Penticton, is another base for family adventure in the Interior. This hidden gem gets six metres (19 feet) of perfect powder each year, and activities include a tube park, terrain parks, snowshoe trails, and 56 cross-country skiing trails.
Ski Massive Terrain on BC’s Powder HighwayRevelstoke, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Panorama, Whitewater, RED Mountain, Kimberley
The Powder Highway is the road of skiers’ dreams. Eight resorts, three ski areas, more than 30 heli- and cat-ski operators, almost two dozen backcountry lodges, and quaint mountain towns populate this loop in eastern BC. The route may seem daunting, but you can explore in sections, a few resorts at a time. That just means you’ll have an excuse to come back.
There is powder to be found at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Ian Houghton
Revelstoke Mountain Resort has North America’s greatest vertical at 1,713 m (5,620 ft), and advanced skiers are drawn to the resort’s long, steep runs and deep powder. For anyone looking for an even deeper experience, the resort has teamed up with Great Northern Snowcat Skiing to offer small group, single-day cat-ski experiences. Want to get even higher? Hop in a helicopter with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing for a single-day heli-ski experience. As you head east, the mountain town of Golden is the perfect powder seeker’s paradise. Home to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with 2,800 acres, four bowls, countless chutes, and ridgelines for days, this resort attracts adventurous skiers.
Just south is Panorama Mountain Resort with its newly opened terrain—an additional 128 acres and four new runs—in the resort’s Taynton Bowl. Surrounded by 3,000-m (10,000-ft) peaks, this resort offers spectacular views, and all Panorama Lodging guests can access the slopeslide hot pools where you can relax après-ski. Also tucked along this southern route are Kimberley Alpine Resort and Fernie Alpine Resort. These mountain towns have it all—great skiing, friendly locals, and views of peaks in all directions. You may want to park your skis and stay awhile. Otherwise, head west and tackle more of the Powder Highway. You’ll eventually hit Whitewater Ski Resort, a place with a very local feel that sits just outside the eclectic town of Nelson.
Terrain at Fernie Alpine Resort. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
A view of Nelson, near Whitewater Ski Resort, on BC’s Powder Highway.
Last stop? Head for the tiny town of Rossland and RED Mountain Resort. This is the kind of ski resort you fall in love with right away, and the kind of mountain town you never want to leave. Perched above town, the resort is surprisingly big with 2,877 lift-serviced acres, almost 900 m (2,919 ft) of vertical, 110 runs, seven lifts, and 360-degree descents. The kicker? You can try in-bounds cat-skiing for just $10.
To plan your ski holiday in British Columbia, check out this ski map.
Dreaming of your next ski holiday is easy. Planning for it takes a bit more effort. With direct flights to Vancouver, British Columbia from Sydney, Melbourne, and London (and connecting flights to Calgary, too) a ski holiday to Canada is closer and easier than you might think. Here are three ways you could spend a 14-day ski safari in British Columbia, Canada to help make those ski dreams a reality.
World-famous Whistler Blackcomb, Vancouver, and Sun Peaks
Skiing at Whistler Blackcomb. Photo: Andrew Strain
What do you think of skiing the largest resort in North America, visiting Vancouver—a city perched on the edge of wilderness—and hopping on a train to a small ski village in BC’s Interior? It could be the perfect Canadian ski holiday. Fly into Vancouver, and from there you can shuttle, helicopter, or private charter (among other options) up to Canada’s must-ski destination, Whistler Blackcomb. A few shuttle companies whisk skiers directly from the Vancouver International Airport up to Whistler in just two hours, where 8,000 acres of ski terrain and more than 200 runs await. Once in Whistler, there is no need for a vehicle. Whistler Village is easily navigated on foot with a variety of ski-in/ski-out accommodations and a bus system linking the entire Whistler Valley. It’s easy to spend a week here, even if your legs only last four days. Those rest days are never dull—soak in the outdoor hot pools of the Scandinave Spa, zipline through the rainforest, take a snowmobile tour, or culture crawl through the village.
Scandinave Spa Whistler in winter. Photo: Justa Jeskova
The village at Sun Peaks Resort. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
The final leg of this holiday? Why not hop on an overnight train to Sun Peaks Resort. VIA Rail transports skiers from Vancouver to Kamloops, and from there a 30-minute shuttle will take you directly to Sun Peaks Resort. Not into rail? Direct flights from Vancouver to Kamloops operate every day, and there is a shuttle from the airport to Sun Peaks Resort’s pedestrian-only ski village. Three mountains and a variety of winter activities make Sun Peaks Resort a great ski holiday option.
Walking through the pedestrian-only village of Sun Peaks Resort. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
Revelstoke and Big White
Fresh lines at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Andrew Strain
Keen to explore beyond Whistler Blackcomb? Try some of British Columbia’s other destination ski resorts. Canada’s newest ski resort—Revelstoke Mountain Resort—may be the new kid on the block, but it’s already getting international attention and it’s only a one-hour flight from Vancouver International Airport. Set in the charming mountain town of Revelstoke, this place has some real Canadian culture. Spend a few days here working on your turns, and build up the courage to give one of the most challenging trails on this mountain—Kill The Banker—a run for its money.
Après-ski at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Andrew Strain
Skiing through snow ghosts at Big White Ski Resort. Photo: Blake Jorgenson
After your legs have warmed up, make your way to Big White Ski Resort in BC’s Interior for a whole different experience—champagne powder, a vibrant pedestrian village, and plenty of ski-in/ski-out accommodation options. There is a shuttle service between Revelstoke and the Kelowna International Airport, and from the airport another shuttle can take you directly to Big White Ski Resort. This is another place where a vehicle isn’t necessary. Most of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out, and the small village has everything you need—cafes, bars, restaurants, and grocery stores. With 188 runs and 15 lifts, Big White has new terrain to explore every day. Dogsledding tours, an ice-climbing tower, outdoor skating, and village fireworks are some great ways to have a true Canadian winter experience. It’s an easy place to spend another week.
Riding powder at Big White Ski Resort. Photo: Andrew Strain
For your trip back home, there are flights from Kelowna to Sydney, Melbourne, and London, with one quick stop back in Vancouver. You may just want to extend your stay and explore the city.
Kicking Horse, Panorama, and Fernie
Skiers at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
This one is for the adventure seekers. A winter road trip along BC’s Powder Highway is an iconic Canadian experience. Take a one-stop flight into Calgary from Sydney, Melbourne, or London and hire a car for your own Powder Highway adventure. First leg? Travel east towards BC’s Canadian Rockies and head for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Perched high above BC’s quiet mountain town of Golden, this resort is squished among six of Canada’s most mountainous National Parks. Most of the trails are designated black or double-black runs, which means it’s a good place to push your boundaries and test your skills.
Next stop? Head south to Panorama Mountain Resort, the perfect mid-way break between Kicking Horse and Fernie. Explore 128 acres of newly opened terrain in the resort’s Taynton Bowl, which was former heli-skiing tenure. Surrounded by 10,000-foot peaks, Panorama Mountain Resort offers spectacular views, and all Panorama Lodging guests can access the slopeslide hot pools where you can relax après-ski. A few days here and you’ll be ready to hit the road again.
Two skiers at Fernie Alpine Resort with the mountain town of Fernie in the background. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
Keep heading south and you’ll come to the small mountain town of Fernie, tucked in the mountains of southeastern BC. Set against a backdrop of towering slopes, this is one of the most idyllic winter destinations in Canada. With five alpine bowls, legendary deep powder days, tree skiing off ridges, and fall lines that test your skills, Fernie Alpine Resort is truly a skiers paradise.
Fernie Alpine Resort from the town of Fernie. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
All skied out? It’s a quick three-hour drive back to Calgary to return your rental vehicle before hopping on a plane home.
Note: This trip is for drivers comfortable with winter conditions and driving through mountain passes. Snow tires are mandatory in winter on all BC roads. Canadian Affair offers car hire from Calgary International Airport with the option to add snow tires and ski racks to the car.
To start planning your next ski holiday, check out this BC ski map.
Did you know British Columbia, Canada has the longest lift-serviced vertical in North America? Or that you can go cat-skiing for $10? Dogsled through a winter wilderness and ski through an alpine village? Here are some of the top reasons why a ski trip to British Columbia, Canada should be your next ski vacation.
1. North America’s largest ski resort—Whistler Blackcomb—is just a 1.5 hour drive from Vancouver.
A group of skiers and snowboarders ride fresh powder in Whistler’s Flute Bowl. Photo: Andrew Strain
North America’s largest ski resort is a short, scenic 1.5 hour drive from Vancouver.Whistler Blackcomb spans two mountains, connected by the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, with more than 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers. This destination ski resort lures skiers from all over the world, and the glamorous après and endless off-mountain activities help make a trip here unforgettable.
2. Burn your thighs down the longest lift-serviced vertical in North America.
Skiing trough the snow ghosts at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Andrew Strain
Canada’s newest ski destination, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, gives skiers and snowboarders access to the continent’s longest lift-serviced vertical at 1,712 metres (5,620 feet). The best part? The village base is only 512 metres (1,680 feet) above sea level, which means you won’t be short of breath plowing through the nine to 13 metres (30 to 45 feet) of powder the resort sees on average each season. Lap the alpine before ending the day with a slow, easy cruise down The Last Spike, a 15.2-kilometre (9.5-mile) green run that winds its way to the village base.
3. Ski straight to your door and through alpine villages.
Chalets at SilverStar Mountain Resort with the Monashee Mountains in the distance. Photo: Andrew Strain
The ski-in, ski-out accommodations are abundant at most resorts in British Columbia. This means less time getting to and from the skiing, and more time for après, post-ski activities, long days on the mountain. Options include private slops-side cabin rentals, hotels at the base of gondolas, and ski-in/ski-out condo rentals. The Josie Hotel at RED Mountain Resort, Whistler’s new Pod Hotel, and a few new boutique hotels in Revelstoke are great options. Big White Ski Resort has the largest ski-in/ski-out village in Canada and at Sun Peaks Resort the modern village is a ski-through affair, so you can ski right up to your hotel, local coffee shop, or dinner reservation through the pedestrian-only ski village.
4. There’s plenty more to do than just ski.
Dogsledding is offered at many ski resorts across British Columbia.
Skiing is one reason to make a trip to British Columbia, but there are so many other activities to enjoy too. Winter is full of reasons to play in the snow. Most ski resorts offer dogsledding, a chance to glide through the forest pulled by a team of mountain-loving sled dogs. Or you can lace up and skate along Apex Mountain Resort’s one-kilometre (0.6 mile) skating loop. At Big White Resort you can climb a frozen tower of ice, standing 18 metres (60 feet) tall. Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and a simple stroll through an alpine village are all great ways to spend time between laps down the mountain or rest days. There are plenty of winter activities to enjoy around British Columbia.
Skiing powder at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Ian Houghton
The ultimate ski road trip is found in BC’s southeastern corner. This powder-seekers loop travels through the Kootenays and deep into the heart of the Rocky, Purcell, and Monashee mountains. Eight lift-service alpine resorts, two dozen cat-ski and heli-ski operations, and backcountry lodges punctuate the landscape. Ski them all, or choose just a few—BC’s Powder Highway will not disappoint.
6. Cat-ski for a mere $10? Yes, you can.
Cat-skiing at RED Mountain Resort. Photo: Erik Kalacis
It’s a few quick turns from the top of the Grey Mountain Chairlift at RED Mountain Resort to the Mt. Kirkup Cat Skiing pickup spot. You could ski right past the sign among the trees if you weren’t paying attention. If you’re lucky enough to spot it, toss the driver a cool $10 and jump in. Listen to the instructions carefully and study the trail map as you creep along the snowcat trail to the slopes of Mt. Kirkup. Pick your line—open runs or tree skiing on advanced terrain—and float on untracked powder back to the lifts.
There aren’t many places in North America where you can ski on a mountain while taking in views of the ocean. There are fewer still where you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon. On Vancouver Island, you can do it all. Grab first tracks at Mount Washington, then head to Tofino and learn to surf Chesterman Beach or tackle the swell at Long Beach. For lovers of both swell and snow, Vancouver Island is paradise.
8. Apres-ski at Canada’s highest-elevated restaurant.
Sip a cold one while scoping your lines for the next day at a cosy mountain lodge 7,700 feet (2,346 metres) above sea level. The views from Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are some of the best in Canada. A meal, or just an après, at Canada’s highest-elevated restaurant is a must-do. You don’t even need to come down: you can book a stay in the Eagle’s Eye Suites. That means guaranteed first tracks from your own private mountain-top retreat.
9. BC is the birthplace of heli-skiing.
Heli-skiing in Northern British Columbia. Photo: Reuben Krabbe
Over 50 years ago, Hans Gmoser—legendary climber, mountain guide, and backcountry skier—whisked a few intrepid skiers into the Bugaboo Mountains by helicopter. Soon after, the first commercial heli-ski operation in the world was up and running. Now, BC is home to dozens of heli-ski operations, with terrain that stretches from the far corners of Northern BC, to the rugged Coast Mountains, and into the Canadian Rockies. Choose from one-day boutique operations to week-long adrenaline getaways. Why not give it a go where it all began?
10. Night ski above Vancouver’s city lights at three resorts.
Skiing over Vancouver’s city lights on Grouse Mountain. Photo: Pierre Leclerc/Getty Images
Where else in North America can you ski on three different mountains while gazing down upon a major metropolis? By travelling less than 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, you can ski at Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, or Mt Seymour before heading back into the city for an evening on the town. Glide down perfectly groomed night-skiing runs while the city lights twinkle below.
Check out this BC ski map to start planning your trip.