Home to some of the best ski resorts in Canada, exploring British Columbia should be on every avid skier or snowboarder’s bucket list. Lucky for you, we've pick out the top resorts you must visit including some on the infamous ‘Powder Highway’.
- Tons of snow; 914 cm on average per year
- World-class expert terrain
- Convenient, relaxed base village
- Array of off-slope activities
- Catskiing available nearby
- A few long traverses can be frustrating especially for snowboarders
- Slow lifts to reach best terrain
- Limited groomed runs
- Slopes can get icy
- Basic amenities at the base
Sitting on the famously dubbed ‘Powder Highway’ should give an idea of what to expect at Fernie Alpine. Given its location in BC’s interior, snowstorms tend to lose their moisture far to the west, allowing light and dry snow to fall on Fernie. Best of all, it gets loads of it and hidden powder stashes can be found wherever there are fresh tracks!
Combine the incredible powder with some gnarly terrain and Fernie is the perfect expert’s playground. The deep and steep lines off their five – yes five – bowls are sure to please including the steep shots off the Currie Bowl and Polar Peak. The ungroomed glades and gullies also provide plenty of fun too, though be prepared to be patient as the best terrain is served by slow lifts. Once you’re off the chairlift it’s a different story; most areas don’t see many crowds, so you can shred the slopes in peace.
Plenty of Off-Slope Fun
The base village offers pretty much basic everything: basic accommodation, basic dining, and limited activities. While there are a few cool concerts and events throughout the season, the town of Fernie, 8 km down the road has more variety, for everything mentioned above. There’s everything from dog sledding, snowshoeing, a climbing wall and even, the classic curling!
- Tons of vertical
- Highest average snowfall in the area
- Slopes are generally less crowded
- Lifts, cat-skiing, and heli-skiing all available from the same base
- Far away from Kelowna’s regional airport – 2.5 hours drive
- Not ideal for beginners
- Limited dining and lodging in small base village
- Lift queues on weekends
Our second entry from the Powder Highway, Revelstoke delivers more than just dumps of snow. It’s seemingly endless vertical is more than enough reason to get stoked for Revelstoke. At 1,713 m it has the biggest vertical not only in Canada but North America!
A stop on the Freeride World Tour
While there’s little on offer for beginners here, the 69 runs here are bound to keep everyone from intermediates to experts more than happy. The tough terrain here is as fun as it is gnarly, so much so the Freeride World Tour makes a stop here. If off-piste skiing is not so much your style then how does a 16 km leg-burning run sound? To top it all off, lifts, cat-skiing, and heli-skiing all conveniently start from the base of the resort.
A worthwhile trek for crowd-free slopes
Revelstoke rarely sees many crowds which is a bonus for any avid skiers. Sitting in eastern BC, Revelstoke isn’t the easiest to access which tends to deter the flocks of skiers (although there can still sometimes be bottlenecks and some crowds on the weekends). Nonetheless, whether it is a two and a half hour drive from Kelowna’s regional airport or over four hours drive from Calgary (the nearest major airport), Revelstoke’s crowd-free slopes, exceptional powder, and challenging terrain make it well worth the trek.
- Diverse terrain with impeccably groomed slopes
- No crowds
- Family-friendly mountain and village
- Exceptional tree runs
- Somewhat less snowfall compared to surrounding resorts
- Potential long stretches between powder dumps
- Slopes can be icy
Just a 45-minute drive from Kamloops Airport, Sun Peaks is the second largest resort in Canada with a massive 1,728 ha to explore. There’s something for everyone here with loads of great beginners to advanced terrain. The impeccable grooming here is a worthwhile mention too. With so much terrain to choose from, crowds and lift queues are almost non-existent here.
A Family Favorite
Sun Peaks was made for families. On the slopes, skiing families will be spoiled with the variety of family-friendly terrain here while non-skiers can easily watch their kids in the beginner areas. In the cosy village, the majority of lodging has ski-in/ski-out access making it very convenient to get the little ones onto the slopes; meaning you won’t need to lug their skis (and yours) to and from a car park. Sun Peaks also makes for an affordable choice for families with everything being reasonably priced including their awesome ski school and kid’s facilities as well as activities. There is ice skating, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, tobogganing and loads more.
Terrific Terrain Park
For those that are more focused on the tricks, the top to bottom 4 ha Rockstar Terrain Park is a full run and is one of the largest terrain parks in Canada. There are beginner, intermediate and expert zones offering over 45 features including jumps, boxes, rails and as well as a jump line with 9 jumps! Over near the Village Platter, the Platter Terrain Park has smaller features and is open later into the night.
- Tons of champagne powder
- Biggest ski-in/ski-out village in Canada
- Biggest night skiing area in Western Canada
- Closest resort to Kelowna International Airport than Sun Peaks – just an hour away
- Given its easy accessibility, it can get crowded
- Often poor visibility
- Terrain on the eastern side can get icy
Coming in at second place, you’d expect some big things at Big White and trust us, it delivers. It’s got a huge skiing area – 1,119 ha to be exact – and has the biggest night skiing area in Western Canada! But that’s not all, the mountain receives over 762 cm of champagne powder per year on average which you access just an hour away from Kelowna and its international airport. The only thing that doesn’t impress us here are the crowds!
With tons of glorious champagne powder falling on the mountain, Big White is one of the best spots in Canada for powder skiing. The white stuff can be found all over the mountain and the glades is where you’ll find deep fresh snow that lasts a few days after a storm. It’s not all just for the advanced and experts though, intermediates can also get their fair share of knee-deep powder here. Of course, a trip to Big White wouldn’t be complete without skiing amongst their infamous snow ghosts – spectacular snow covered trees.
When convenience is key and first tracks are a priority, Big White’s village is sure to impress. The entire main village has ski-in/ski-out access! However that’s only one of the many highlights in the village. Horse drawn sleigh rides, skating, ice wall climbing, dog sled rides, snowmobiling and a whole bunch of fun kids activities are also on offer. For the adults, the village has a fairly decent après ski scene; don’t miss out on Snowshoe Sam’s, voted Canada’s #1 Ski Bar by Ski Canada Magazine.
- Largest ski area in North America
- Massive variety of incredible terrain
- World-class village full of amenities
- Easy to access from Vancouver (less than 2 hours) and Seattle (approximately 5 hours)
- Snow can be wet and heavy due to the low peak elevation
- Crowds can be an issue – especially during US long holiday weekends
- Long lift queues
- Expensive place to ski
As the largest ski area in North America and the vast variety of terrain to go with it, it’s safe to say Whistler-Blackcomb has rightfully earned the top spot. The skiing here is world-class, so much so it hosted most of the alpine skiing events for 2010 Winter Olympics! The world-renowned resort is even consistently ranked in the lists of the best ski resorts in North America from the likes of Forbes and Ski Magazine.
Epic Terrain Across Two Epic mountains
Over 3,237 ha of terrain spread across the two mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb, both of which are linked by the infamous Peak2Peak Gondola. The impressive size of the terrain is backed up by some of the most impressive terrain around including 200 runs, inbounds backcountry, bowls, glaciers, tree trails and five terrain parks! Beginners will be more catered for on Whistler Mountain while experts won’t have any trouble finding across either mountain.
A Village Like No Other
A destination within itself, Whistler Village has everything you’d ever want from a ski village. There are endless options for pretty much anything with an abundance of accommodation, dining options, lively nightlife venues and a long list of non-skiing activities. Tubing, snowmobiling, zip-lining, and snowshoeing are just some of the mellower options here. For the daredevils, how does bobsleighing and skeleton rides sound? The Whistler Sliding Centre, another 2010 Olympics Venue offers both to the public.