British Columbia is one of the top places in the world to ski. 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—spread out all over the province.
BC’s international airports are within close proximity of the snow, and there are a host of regional airports you can connect to from within the province to get to your final destination faster. Car rentals are available from most airports, and many of the resorts offer airport shuttles (note that most shuttles have to be reserved at least 72 hours in advance). This handy how-to guide will get you to your chosen resort and on the slopes as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Want to ski one of the top resorts in North America? Whistler Blackcomb is approximately 2.5 hours by car from the Vancouver International Airport via the stunning Sea-to-Sky Highway. Rent a car at the airport or, if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else and just enjoy the views, consider a range of alternatives including buses, limos, ride shares, and even helicopter transfers.
Skiing within view of the ocean is one of the things that sets the BC ski experience apart. Want to ski on an island? Vancouver Island is home to Mount Washington Alpine Resort, about 45 minutes from regional airports in both the Comox Valley and Campbell River, both accessible via a connecting flight from the Vancouver International Airport. Rent a car, or plan for bus or shuttle service to the resort.
If your need for powder is too great to wait the 2.5 hours to Whistler, consider one of Vancouver‘s North Shore mountains, Cypress Mountain Resort, Grouse Mountain, and Mt Seymour. Drive the 60-90 minutes from YVR, or take a shuttle—Cypress Coach Lines and the Mt. Seymour Shuttle Bus have a number of pick-up locations between the airport and the mountain, and all three are accessible via public transportation from the airport.
Travelling with kids? Some of the best family-friendly resorts are found in BC’s interior, and as a rule they are buried in soft powder. Kelowna International Airport and Kamloops Airport are the main air access points, and several nearby resorts operate shuttles from both locations.
The closest ski resort to Kelowna is Big White Ski Resort, home to the country’s biggest ski-in/ski-out village. Book a shuttle from the airport, or rent a car and get there in about an hour. Also accessible by shuttle from the Kelowna airport is SilverStar Mountain Resort in Vernon. SilverStar has the unique advantage of a lift ticket that includes unlimited access to 55 kilometres (34 miles) of Nordic trails, snowshoe trails, the resort’s tube park, ice skating, and fat bike trails.
Sun Peaks Resort is best accessed via the Kamloops Airport and offers a huge range of activities for families, including horse-drawn carriage rides, snowmobiling, and dogsledding. To ski at Apex Mountain Resort southwest of Penticton, you can fly to Kelowna and drive the 1 hour 45 minutes to the resort, or fly into the Penticton Regional Airport and rent a car for the 40-minute drive to Apex. The resort does operate a Snow Bus from Penticton, but it doesn’t pick up at the airport.
As its name suggests, the Powder Highway is the place to go for exceptional snow, and lots of it. This route boasts the world’s highest concentration of ski experiences—resort-based, backcountry, cat-, heli-, and Nordic—alongside funky mountain towns. A handful of natural hot springs are also nearby.
Gateway airports to this area are the Calgary International Airport in neighbouring Alberta, and the Spokane International Airport in Washington State. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort just west of Golden offers big vertical and great après, and is accessible from Calgary via a shuttle that runs twice weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Scenery along the 3.5-hour drive through the Rocky Mountains will make the time pass quickly. Farther south, Panorama Mountain Resort with its outdoor slopeside hot pools—the biggest in the country—is most commonly accessed through Calgary. A twice-daily shuttle service runs upon request and takes about four hours. The Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook is a little closer. Pick up a rental car and get there in about two hours.
Wednesday to Sunday you can book a shuttle to Fernie Alpine Resort from the airport in Calgary, or fly to Cranbrook, rent a car, and arrive at the resort in about an hour. The resort enjoys an average of 11 metres (37 feet) of snow each year, and the laid-back town of Fernie is charming. Some time to explore here is a must. Families will love the welcoming vibe at Kimberley Alpine Resort, located less than 30 minutes from the airport in Cranbrook. Shuttles are available from both Cranbrook and Calgary airports.
RED Mountain Resort and Whitewater Ski Resort in the Kootenays are best accessed from Spokane, Washington. Daily shuttle service is available to both resorts, with RED about a three-hour trip and Nelson another hour. Skiers and boarders love the authentic experience at RED, a resort known for its tree skiing and uncrowded slopes. Nelson is a picture-perfect town with a thriving arts community, and Whitewater is celebrated for its deep, dry powder.
The Powder Highway is also home to the highest vertical in North America at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Canada’s newest resort. The Stoke Shuttle runs daily from the Kelowna International Airport, roughly a three-hour trip. Want a more direct route? Pacific Coastal Airlines operates a direct charter flight from Vancouver to Revelstoke two to three times a week through the winter months. Leave Vancouver’s South Terminal and be in Revy in an hour.
For a ski vacation that is off the beaten path, consider heading north. Waaaaaay north. Resorts in Northern BC come with fresh tracks aplenty and it can feel like you have the mountain all to yourself. This massive, remote landscape is also home to some of the biggest tenured heli- and cat-ski areas in the world.
Prince George, the biggest city in the north, is close to two ski hills: Tabor Mountain Ski Resort and Purden Ski Village. Connect to the Prince George Airport through Vancouver, and drive your rental car 20 minutes to Tabor, or 50 minutes to Purden. And while you’re in the area, Powder King Mountain Resort, about two hours and 20 minutes north, is well worth the drive.
Further west, Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers and Shames Mountain in Terrace promise deep powder, pristine wilderness, friendly locals, and virtually nonexistent lift lines. Get on the mountain quickly by flying into the Northwest Regional Airport, which services Terrace, or the Smithers Regional Airport, and renting a car.
Alpine resorts are bordered by uncontrolled wilderness areas. Respect the boundary lines and don’t ski out of bounds. Make sure you know the Alpine Responsibility Code and learn about the danger of tree wells. AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors.
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