Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
Time to round up the kids and head for BC’s ski resorts. Here’s why you should hit the slopes this season on a family ski trip.
Finding terrain that suits your family is easy when there are 13 major ski resorts and 10 mountain ranges across BC. Choose from powder steeps, groomed slopes, adventure parks, and easy starter hills.
For skiers and snowboarders looking for vertical and deep powder, the Powder Highway beckons with Panorama, RED, Whitewater, Fernie, Revelstoke, Kimberley, and Kicking Horse resorts scattered about southeast BC. For families seeking runs and activities for all ages, BC’s interior will feel like home. Big White, Sun Peaks, Apex, and SilverStar provide champagne powder, organized family activities, and a friendly Canadian atmosphere.
Skiing on the coast offers unique experiences too. Try night skiing above Vancouver’s lights at one of the cities three resorts—Grouse, Seymour, or Cypress—or head over to Vancouver Island and ski one of the snowiest resorts in BC at Mount Washington. Whistler Blackcomb has seen the likes of professional skiers and snowboarders over the years, but there are plenty of green runs and adventures to keep the little ones entertained too. A quest for the on-mountain Magic Castle and Tree Fort is always a family crowd-pleaser.
Not sure what you’re after? Most resorts offer free mountain tours that can help you find the slopes, trails, parks, and glades suited for you and your pack.
Mountainside accommodation and ski-in/ski-out villages are abundant at BC ski resorts. Almost all the lodging at Apex and SilverStar is ski-in/ski-out, for example. This means more time skiing and less time rounding up the troops. You can send the young ones off to ski school, leave the teens to sleep in, and take time for a parents-only après ski.
Other accommodation perks include connecting rooms, ski valet, swimming pools, in-house ski rentals, and village shuttles. If self-catering is more your style, independent chalets like the ones offered at Sun Peaks or the A-frame cabins at The Village at Red Mountain will do the trick. The Panorama Springs Pools offers slides, splash pads, hot tubs, and saunas to all Panorama lodging guests.
When your legs need a break from skiing, there is always another winter activity to try. Feel the crunch of snow underfoot on a snowshoe adventure, let a team of sled dogs guide you through the forest, or feel the rush of tubing down a mountain. Options at Whistler Blackcomb include soaring above a snow-covered rainforest on a zipline tour or bungee jumping over a rushing glacial river. If you prefer more power, try snowmobiling. SilverStar offers mini-snowmobiles that navigate a fenced track, so kids can join in the fun too.
For something a little different, climb an 18-metre (60-foot) ice tower at Big White or take a fat-tire bike through the snow in Fernie. Big White’s Kid’s Centre After Dark program offers different post-ski activities every day of the week, including tubing, a climbing wall, or game and craft nights.
Whether you’re an experienced skier or a first-timer, there are lessons to learn the basics, carve perfect turns, ski steeps, or ride the powder.
Beginners can choose from a private lesson or group class, and practise new skills in designated learning zones. To take the stress out of the morning ski routine, Big White offers a door-to-ski shuttle service to transport little ones from lodging to lessons, and back again. Sun Peaks’ Sports School offers lessons and camps for beginners, powder seekers, backcountry explorers, and more.
Advanced skiers can try steep skiing classes or take a private lesson with Extremely Canadian at Whistler Blackcomb. If you’ve dreamed of skiing with an Olympian, you can do that too. Both Whistler Blackcomb and Big White offer opportunities to learn tricks and tips from the professionals.
Keep it Canadian and try the locals’ favourite winter pastime. Put on some skates and glide across the ice, or pick up a stick and play a game of hockey. Apex offers both options, a 1-kilometre (0.6-mile) skating loop and an NHL-sized hockey rink. Big White entices with an Olympic-sized outdoor rink, and at Whistler Village you can skate under dazzling festive lights.
For a true Canadian winter experience, skate on a frozen lake in the middle of the forest. Brewer’s Pond at SilverStar is one place to do it. Skating is even more magical at night, whether it’s on a pond or rink.
For resort information, ski offers, and snow conditions for a ski trip to British Columbia check out winterwithin.ca.
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