While skiing in British Columbia looks different this year, our love of the mountains still calls to us. Our desire for wide-open spaces, for run after run of fresh powder—and even fresher air—inspires us to safely explore our snowy backyard.
This handy how-to guide will get you to your chosen resort and on the slopes as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible. Note: Be sure to review safety protocols for all modes of transport prior to booking.
Want to ski one of the top resorts in North America? Whistler Blackcomb is a 2.5-hour drive 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, shuttles, and even helicopter transfers, for you and your bubble group.
Skiing within view of the ocean is one of the things that sets the BC ski experience apart. Case in point: 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 has a number of pick-up locations between the airport and the mountains.
Are kids in your bubble group? 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.
Big White Ski Resort is the closest ski resort to Kelowna, and is home to the country’s largest totally ski-in, ski-out resort 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. Ski SilverStar and enjoy the many other activities including 55 kilometres (34 miles) of Nordic trails, tube park, and ice skating.
Sun Peaks Resort is best accessed via Kamloops, and is one of Canada’s largest ski in/ski out destinations. 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.
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.
The gateway airport to this area is the Calgary International Airport in neighbouring Alberta. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort just west of Golden offers big vertical and great après. 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, or book a custom shuttle from the airport directly to the slopes.
Reach Fernie Alpine Resort from Calgary by taking the scenic route and driving 3.5-hours along the Crowsnest Highway, or opt for a quick one-hour drive from Cranbrook and the Canadian Rockies International Airport. 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. Private shuttles are available from both Cranbrook and Calgary airports, ideal for bubble groups skiing together.
RED Mountain Resort and Whitewater Ski Resort in the Kootenays are best accessed from Vancouver and Calgary via West Kootenay Regional Airport. Book a custom, local airport shuttle for your crew to reach Rossland or Nelson, the towns closest to each resort. To reach the slopes, RED and Whitewater each offer shuttles from town direct to the resorts. 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? Book a private charter flight departing Vancouver, Kelowna, or Calgary direct to Revelstoke through the winter months. Once here, the amount of terrain to explore is seemingly endless and the mountain town culture abundant.
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 (it’s what we all want right now). 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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