Every year, if you’re a skier, you face the age-old dilemma: return to the mountains you know or try falling in love with someplace new. Few ski destinations have the exceptional combination of big mountains, deep powder, open space, epic ski-in, ski-out accommodations, and funky towns as British Columbia. Plus, Canada’s favorable exchange rate right now makes everything that much more affordable. Here’s a taste of what you can expect on a ski trip to British Columbia, which, by the way, is a lot more accessible than you might think. Knowing these resorts exist is the first step. All you have to do now is go.
A true big-mountain experience with easy access to alpine ridges and bowls
Part of BC’s renowned Powder Highway—a loop of eight alpine ski resorts, 20-plus backcountry lodges, and several heli- and cat-ski operators—the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada is known for challenging terrain and impressive annual snowfall (averaging 24 feet). Its four massive bowls are popular with advanced skiers and adrenaline seekers who crave steep, thigh-burning descents, but leisurely runs in the lower regions satisfy skiers who land elsewhere on the gnar scale. It’s also an annual stop on the Freeride World Tour, which features the world’s best freeskiers and snowboard freeriders. Next year’s runs from January 13 to 18, 2023.
Refuel at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, Canada’s highest restaurant at 7,700 feet. While gazing out at the majestic mountain scenery, enjoy a local brew paired with the grilled winter squash ratatouille gnocchi. Dinner—think: duck confit ramen and slow braised lamb shank—is also an option on Fridays and Saturdays, just be sure to make a reservation (which comes with gondola access). Golden, the mountain town minutes from the base, is also available to make your night as big or small as you like with a fine selection of watering holes, such as the Rockwater Grill & Bar, Golden Taps Pub, or the Riverhouse.
The resort is an undiscovered gem because it’s well hidden, but once you know where to look it’s surprisingly easy to get to; it’s only a 2.5-hour drive from Calgary on the Trans-Canada highway, and rideshares in the region abound.
All about lots of snow, big terrain, vast mountains, and local characters
Five big bowls filled with over 30 feet of snow each season put Fernie Alpine Resort’s 2,500 acres on the list of top stops on the Powder Highway. Steep runs filter down into groomers, giving experts and new skiers alike plenty to keep busy with.
The town of Fernie is full of local characters from many walks of life. Say hello or chat at a bar or restaurant—there’s amazing dining across all cuisines. This makes for amazing dining across all cuisines. One of the best eateries is The Brickhouse, which serves up locally sourced fare. For a wide selection of local brews, swing by the Fernie Tap House.
This rough-and-tumble former coal-mining town has been reinvented and now offers all the amenities of a resort town while retaining a rustic appeal. You’ll have no trouble finding low-key and memorable après-ski in the historic downtown.
Stay in town, or for the ultimate resort experience book a place right on the mountain for ski-in, ski-out convenience. Fernie is an easy three-hour drive from Calgary International Airport via the scenic Crowsnest Pass, but there are three additional airports within driving distance to choose from.
Family-friendly with lots to do on and off the mountains
Big White is a perfect ski-in, ski-out resort village smack-dab in the middle of the Okanagan Valley. This is a true alpine destination with everything from steep descents to gentle slopes. If you want to crank as much vertical as possible, ride the Magic Carpet with the little ones, and while away happy hour with a glass of British Columbia’s best wine, Big White is the place to do it.
Each season, about 26 feet of light, dry powder falls up here, and frequent inversions provide bluebird days. Ski above the clouds and you’ll get that goggle tan going in no time. Night skiing is also an option, back after a two-year hiatus. Tour past the famous “snow ghosts,” pine trees encased in ice and snow, or take a long cruiser down to the base for a bite on a sunny patio.
When your legs need a break from Big White’s 119 runs, take a day off and go wine tasting at some of the more than 40 wineries nearby. A chilled Scout Vineyard Riesling or a lovely Liquidity Cabernet Franc pairs perfectly with a British Columbia ski week.
A European-style, ski-through village filled with quaint shops and cafés
Big terrain, small crowds! Skiing the same run twice at Sun Peaks is the exception, not the rule. Canada’s second largest ski resort feels almost like three resorts in one, with its 4,270 acres spread across three peaks—Mount Tod, Mount Sundance, and Mount Morrisey. Each has a personality all its own. Mount Tod is big and best for advanced skiers; Sundance offers a gentle family pace; and Morrisey has a split personality, one side mellow, the other double-black-diamond madness.
A ski vacation here is easy; Sun Peaks is a quick 45-minute drive or resort-shuttle ride from Kamloops Airport, which is less than an hour by air from the international airports in Vancouver and Calgary. Find your way to your slopeside accommodations, and step out each morning with your ski boots on and head right to the lifts, nearly all of which are high-speed. If a big dump happens, you’ll be first to carve lines and ski through the village. Then grab a spot on a patio and soak up some of the 2,000 hours of sunshine the resort receives each year.
As a destination marketing organization, Destination British Columbia develops and delivers programs and services that attract visitors to BC and help ensure that the quality of their vacation experience keeps them coming back for more. This includes promoting the 13 destination ski resorts found in British Columbia, Canada. Find out more at hellobc.com/ski