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Five Must-Do Ski Trips in BC

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Skiing through powder at Whitewater Ski Resort | Kari Medig

Skiing and snowboarding in British Columbia should be among every mountain lover’s life goals. The consistent snowfall, wide-open terrain, and variety of mountain ranges provide venues to excel and appreciate nature to its fullest. Add in a ski-town culture that emphasizes connection with both friends and visitors well after the lifts close down, and you have a recipe for an unforgettable ski trip. Here are five trips to help you maximize your time enjoying these areas, both on and off the slopes.

Skiing through the snow ghosts at Big White | Andrew Strain

The Okanagan: Three Welcoming Resorts in the Heart of BC

In BC’s interior are the ski-in, ski-out resorts of the Okanagan. Okanagan Lake runs north to south over 135 km (84 mi), providing just enough moisture to make for some remarkable, sunny powder days with featherlight snow. 

Apex is first up, situated just an hour away from the US border off Highway 97. The resort offers easy-access lifts and plenty of steeps in a cozy atmosphere, while off-slope activities include sliding down the tube park or lacing up at the ice-skating loop that winds through the forest. 

 

A little farther north is Big White, famous for being Canada’s largest ski-in, ski out village. This resort is home to snow-laden trees (a.k.a. snow ghosts) on the upper slopes that look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. But this is no fantasy—it’s light, dry powder without the crowds. The resort also hosts a full slate of off-mountain activities from snowmobiling to ice skating, and even a horse-drawn sleigh ride to a cabin in the woods for a dinner to remember.

Next up is SilverStar, a resort that warmly welcomes all ages and abilities. Here, wide-open runs are perfect for those looking to cruise with plenty of elbow room. With a well-planned mid-mountain village, one can easily ski up to shops like the Bugaboos Bakery for a delicious homemade soup, or to Elevate Spa for a rejuvenating massage.

Snorkel required at Whitewater Ski Resort | Kari Medig

The Kootenays: Cold Smoke and Classic Ski Culture

Two-and-a-half hours north of Spokane, WA, in the southeast corner of BC, is an area residents affectionately call the “Koots,” short for Kootenays. The Ktunaxa Nation‘s traditional territory spans from here into the US states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The area has several small towns serving as hubs for all kinds of outdoor recreation, but especially winter sports; the network of roads connecting these locales is known as “The Powder Highway.” Coming here is a voyage to a world of deep powder, uncrowded lifts, and communities that prioritize powder over a day at the desk.

Just 15 minutes from the US border is the town of Rossland, home to RED Mountain Resort. Skiing is the talk of the town, with homegrown shops such as Butch Beautry Ski Shop offering space to share tall tales while also outfitting the latest gear.  On RED, you’ll find well-spaced tree skiing with sustained pitches topping 2,000 feet. A great time to visit is during the annual Winter Carnival in late January, when residents come out to celebrate all things winter, as they have since 1898.

An hour east of Rossland is the eclectic town of Nelson, with a thriving arts and music scene only at 20-minute drive from Whitewater Ski Resort.  A quick jaunt up the summit chair gains access to some ahhh-inspiring tree skiing that won’t get immediately tracked-out. And you can make tracks all day thanks to amazing on-mountain food that has garnered a fervent following, even spawning its own cookbook series.

After Nelson, head over the Kootenay Pass into the Purcell Range to Kimberley, a resort that’s been in operation since 1948. Nowadays, guests can stay in a wide variety of slopeside accommodations that provide incredible value, especially when factoring in the extended-hours night skiing from Thursday to Sunday most of the winter.

Northward into the heart of the Purcell Range is Panorama Mountain Resort with immaculate slopes away from any hustle and bustle. After a full day on the mountain, resort guests are welcome to unwind at the Panorama Springs Pools. Choose from a variety of pool sizes and temperatures to get the body primed and ready for another day with impressive views and 4,200 feet of vertical descent.

The slopes of Kicking Horse and the Purcell Mountains | Reuben Krabbe

Revelstoke to Golden Via Rogers Pass

The route along the Trans Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden is nothing short of iconic. The journey through Rogers Pass intersects both the Selkirk and Purcell ranges and Glacier National Park to provide a lifetime’s worth of accessible backcountry ski touring. A passionate group of ski guides are available in either Revelstoke or Golden to show all experience levels the power and beauty of this area. 

Revelstoke Mountain Resort is home to North-America’s highest vertical drop at more than 5,600 feet. Combine that with an average yearly snowfall of over 30 feet, and the result is seemingly endless thigh-burning runs, from top to bottom. Afterwards, have a pint at the Mackenzie Tavern, or “The Mac.”  The bar is part of the 4-star Sutton Place Hotel, mere steps from the gondola.

In Golden, skiing has been part of the town’s fabric for more than a century, thanks to Swiss guides who introduced a mountaineering culture that still thrives today.  Just a few minutes out of town is Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, home to the only North American stop on the Freeride World Tour. The mountain itself showcases a wide variety of terrain—from open groomers lower on the mountain to hiking-accessible steeps and bowls that push even the most seasoned athletes. For a next-level dining experience try Eagle’s Eye restaurant, North America’s highest restaurant with priceless views in every direction. Across the valley are the Rocky Mountains and Yoho National Park, offering further opportunities to be amazed at every turn.

Whistler Mountain and Black Tusk, as seen from Blackcomb Mountain | Reuben Krabbe

The Pacific Coast: Where Mountains Meet the Sea

While BC’s two Pacific Coast resorts have distinctly different vibes, they share one commonality: Proximity to the ocean, translating to copious amounts of snow.

People new to visiting Vancouver Island are often surprised by how massive it truly is. It’s three quarters the size of Switzerland with peaks that tower over 7,000 feet from sea level. In the middle of “The Island” is Mt. Washington Alpine Resort, just a 40-minute drive from the Comox Valley. This resort is a welcome surprise to newcomers when they first experience the lack of crowds and abundance of fresh snow when the storms hit. It’s also one of the few places in the world where one can start their morning on the slopes and finish their day surfing on the west coast in Tofino. Here the consistent winter swells can cap a multi-sport day of epic proportions. 

Over on the mainland, 90 minutes from downtown Vancouver is world-renowned  Whistler; home of Whistler Blackcomb. The two mountains boast North America’s largest in-bounds terrain at over 8,000 acres and consistently rank among the top resorts on the continent.  After the lifts close, the fun heats up in the village with restaurants and a nightlife that welcome ski boots well into the early hours. Or if you’d like a more refined activity, visit the Audain Art Museum only a few minutes walking distance from the lifts.

Untracked at Revelstoke Mountain Resort | Reuben Krabbe

Utilize Your Ikon or Epic Pass

If you have either an Ikon or Epic Pass, then it makes even more sense to visit BC. Both passes offer multiple resorts to enjoy, including deals on lodging. Factor in a strong US dollar and a forecasted La Niña winter of cold temperatures and above-average snowfall, and you have more than enough justification to set your sights northward.

Ikon Pass Resorts

The Ikon Pass offers passholders five different resorts to choose from in BC, each offering 7 days of access:

  1. Revelstoke Mountain Resort
  2. Panorama Mountain Resort
  3. Red Mountain Resort
  4. Sun Peaks
  5. Cypress Mountain

 

Epic Pass Resorts

Epic Passholders get unlimited access to Whistler Blackcomb, and seven days at Fernie, Kicking Horse, and Kimberley. Each resort offers something slightly different, so it’s definitely worth a few days at each one. Consider this your invitation to join us for another great year of skiing and snowboarding here in BC.

Find out more about skiing in British Columbia by visiting www.hellobc.com/ski

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