Growing up in Vancouver, BC skiing in Canada was a big part of my upbringing. Not only are there three great local North Shore Mountains, but there are awesome mountains a little further away as well.
I learned to ski at Cypress Mountain, one of the local mountains (which hosted some of the 2010 Olympic events). With its variety of runs and the convenience of it being close to home, this mountain was great to learn on. But since Vancouver has a warmer climate than the rest of Canada, the conditions at Cypress weren’t always the best. It was icy, or the snow was slushy, or there wasn’t snow at all! This made us try out other mountains that we ended up going to more often. Here are my favourite ski mountains in Canada.
All of the mountains in the Okanagan are great, but my favourites are Apex in Penticton, BC and Big White in Kelowna, BC.
Apex—a quaint mountain for all levels
Apex is a small mountain that has great runs for people at any level. It has a resort, a ski and rental shop with quality ski and snowboard equipment, cafeteria, and a cute coffee shop. The best thing on the mountain though? The outdoor ice skating loop. It’s surrounded by trees and always brings a smile to my face. If a normal ice rink is more you’re style, there’s also a hockey rink. If you time it correctly, you may even get the whole rink to yourself!
Interested in tricks and jumps? Check out their two terrain parks: one for those that are more advanced and one for beginners. There’s also a fully lit night park available to test out your skills at any time of day!
Big White—a big mountain with a small feel
Big White is a big mountain with a small feel. At 7,355 acres with many accommodation options, food choices, sports activities, and 118 designated trails, there’s something for everyone. The mountain is known for its powdery snow and bluebird days (clear blue skies). When the two are combined it makes for the best ski days and an incredible view of the city!
You can rent a cabin or hotel room where you can ski right to the front door. Don’t have gear of your own? You can rent or buy skis and snowboards here as well.
Other activities at Big White
Any level of skier or snowboarder can have fun here; there’s even a children’s centre filled with fun activities for kids. If you don’t feel like skiing or snowboarding, you can snowshoe, snow tube, skate on the outdoor rinks, snowmobile, or ride in a horse-drawn sleigh (extra points for doing this during the holiday season).
There are also lots of restaurants and bars to choose from or a grocery store if you feel like cooking.
Big White is a great place to go for a Canadian ski trip. It has many events and gives everyone the chance to be in a winter wonderland. My favourite holiday event is when skiers and snowboarders dress up as Santa or Mrs. Claus for free admission on a particular day.
There are also events going on to celebrate Christmas Eve and fireworks to bring in the New Year. Don’t feel like staying on the mountain? Go explore the city for more great restaurants and shops, walk in the park along the water, or go wine tasting.
Whistler— a world-class ski and snowboard destination
Whistler Mountain in BC is one of the most well-known mountains in Canada; it’s even world renowned. Featuring two mountains (Whistler and Blackcomb) at a combined 8,100 plus acres, three glaciers, 16 alpine bowls, terrain parks and over 200 marked trails, any level of skier or snowboarder can enjoy this mountain.
You can ski from the top of the mountain to the bottom or take one of the many different chair lifts and find the perfect section of the mountain for you. When I was young, I tried to ski from what felt like the top of the mountain to the bottom. It seemed like a great idea at the time but let’s just say we were late for dinner.
Experience the Peak 2 Peak Gondola
The mountains are connected by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola: the longest continuous lift system and the highest gondola in the world. It has an elevation of 1,427 ft. and is 3.024 kilometres long. It has beautiful 360 degree views of the village, mountain peaks, lakes, and forests. You can even ride a gondola with a glass-bottom for even more amazing views! Whistler was also the host mountain resort for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Other activities in Whistler
Not interested in downhill skiing or snowboarding? There’s also cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tubing, dog sledding, heli-skiing and cat-skiing. Not only are the mountains huge but the village is lots of fun too. With beautiful resorts and spas, delicious restaurants, and lots of outdoor activities such as ziplining and bungee jumping, there’s literally something for everyone!
Even though the mountain is very popular, meaning lots of crowds, the runs are big enough that everyone gets spaced out. The downside? Whistler can be expensive and due to the largeness of the mountain, it’s a long trek to the chair lift if you’re not in a nearby hotel. But it’s an amazing place to ski and is a perfect spot for a Canadian ski trip!
Along with Whistler, Banff is another amazing and world famous Canadian ski trip destination, that’s located within the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. Make sure to look around because seeing the Rockies in real life is truly incredible! With a charming town and three main mountains it’s a great place for a winter vacation.
Since Alberta is colder than BC, there is lots of great dry, light snow. Three main mountains and two towns (Banff and Lake Louise) are located within Banff National Park, making it an obvious choice for a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Related: Check out our blog post on Romantic Winter Getaways to learn more about The Lake Louise Ski Resort and other Canadian resorts.
Check out Mt. Norquay—the hidden jewel of ski mountains in Banff
I’ve only skied in Banff once at Mt. Norquay, but it was awesome! Mt. Norquay is the smallest (190 acres) and closest mountain to Banff (only 10 minutes away). Since this mountain is small it’s great for families and locals alike. It’s also the oldest mountain in Banff, turning 90 this year! Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not modern though. Mt. Norquay offers the only night skiing in the area, has high speed chair lifts and 28 runs for any level of skier.
When I went, we had parts of the run to ourselves. There were tons of great green and blue runs, and we ended up finding a few runs that we zipped down over and over again. There was also a rental shop, where I happened to find my new skis.
Sunshine Village Ski Resort and Lake Louise Ski Resort
The other two mountains are Sunshine Village Ski Resort and Lake Louise Ski Resort. Sunshine Ski Resort is about 15 minutes from town and has a gondola to get to the ski area. The mountain is 3,358 acres and has over 145 runs for beginners to pros. It even has a heated high speed quad chair debuting this season!
Lake Louise Ski Resort, which is about 40 minutes from Banff, is only minutes away from the village of Lake Louise. It’s the biggest of the three mountains at 4,200 acres and has a wide variety of terrain for all ability levels with over 145 runs and a gondola. To make it easy to ski the big 3, there is a tri-area lift ticket that grants you access to all three mountains.
With tons of restaurants, bars, and shops there’s lots to see and do in Banff. There is no other ski-in, ski-out hotels on any of the mountains, except for Sunshine Mountain Lodge; but with tons of accommodation and entertainment options, the town is where you want to be.
There are lots of hotels for any budget, but make sure to check out the iconic castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. I’m going back to Banff this winter and I’m excited to try out all the mountains and soak up all the beauty that Banff has to offer.
Where’s your favourite place to go skiing in Canada? Let us know in the comments below.