TRAVEL GUIDE TO SKIING IN CANADA by Alex T.
Alex T. is a Global Explorer, Fellow Foodie and Music Lover. He first learned to snowboard in Canada roughly ten years ago and has since been to some of the best ski destinations across North America. He loves being adventurous, taking the road less traveled and experiencing all that life has to offer. You can usually find him travelling around the globe in search of the best music festivals & events out there.
Winter is upon us and that means it’s time to dust off your skis, wax your snowboard and hit the slopes. Whether you’re a seasoned professional, have never skied before, or are just along for a relaxing trip to the Spa, this guide will give you the information you need to get the most out of your North American ski trip this season.
Every mountain will usually have terrain for all levels of experience and typically offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons, along with equipment rentals.
A few tips
Be cautious when booking in advance
It can be hard to gauge ski conditions when booking far in advance. Typically each mountain will have its own app that will provide real time live camera footage of the mountain, lift / run status, how much snow has fallen over a period, etc. Apps like Open Snow are great because you can choose your favorite mountains and it will put all the data together in one place and email you alerts when the resort has seen x amount of snowfall over x hours. Be cautious when planning in advance but also keep in mind that prices may increase the closer you get, so do some research and book based on your own needs.
Determine whether you should get a season pass
Another important consideration is how often you plan to go in a season. At the top resorts, it will cost $150+ for a single day lift pass. If you’re only planning one trip in a season, then buy your tickets online at least one day before for cheaper tickets and less wait times in line. If you’re an avid skier however, you should really consider purchasing a season pass. Costing around $1000, you have to purchase these passes in advance, but they can be well worth it.
The Epic Pass includes unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at many of the top resorts including, Vail, Whistler, Park City, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar, Stowe and many others. They also give you access to some hills in Japan and 21 european resorts. Their EpicMix app provides conditions for its hills and also tracks statistics like how many vertical feet you’ve skied or how many days you’ve spent on the mountain.
The Ikon Pass is another great pass with access to approximately 40 destinations including Squaw Valley, Mammoth, Aspen, Deer Valley, Sugarbush, Revelstoke, Mont Tremblant and many more. Costing around the same price as the Epic Pass, both are great options if you plan to spend more than a weekend on the slopes.
Whistler Blackcomb, BC
Whistler is your best bet if you are looking for a good mix of incredible terrain, great options for accommodations, plenty of tasty eats and a lively nightlife / après-ski culture with venues often booking DJs among the likes of Pete Tong and other legendary artists.
Closest City / Airport: Vancouver
The largest ski area in North America
Hosted most of the 2010 Winter Olympics’ alpine skiing events
Great après-ski, nightlife and dining options
8,000+ acres of terrain, 200 runs and 5 terrain parks with over 150 features between two mountains
The Whistler Sliding Centre – another 2010 Olympics Venue – is open to the public for bobsleigh and skeleton rides
The infamous Peak2Peak Gondola is a tourist attraction in itself
Whistler routinely shows up in lists from Forbes and Ski Magazine alongside the best the US has to offer
2 hours from Vancouver, making it easy to get to
Where to stay
The Four Seasons is the place to stay here
Plenty of nearby Airbnb options
Where to play
Moe Joe’s Nightclub
Merlin’s Bar and Grill
Longhorn Saloon & Grill
Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub & Restaurant
Where to eat
Sushi Village: An absolute must. Known for its casual yet vibrant atmosphere, terrific sushi, and legendary sake margaritas, this restaurant is frequented by countless celebrities like the Beckhams, so be sure to book ahead.
Sidecut: A modern bar and steakhouse, located in the Four Seasons, Whistler.
Il Caminetto: Italian eatery serving up very generous servings of pasta, risotto, meatballs, along with a great wine list.
Bearfoot Bistro: Great food and wine, a sabering room for Champagne, and the Ketel One Ice Room is the coldest vodka tasting room in the world.
Christine’s On Blackcomb: Located on the mountain, the views are incredible and the food is delicious. Try Chef Steve Ramey's seared scallops, barbecue duck salad, soy braised beef short rib, and bright green crab risotto. Book ahead!
Big White, BC
Closest city: Kelowna
One of the best destinations for “Champagne Powder” skiing
Largest ski-in/ski-out village in Canada
Largest night skiing area in Western Canada
Over 300 inches of average snowfall per year
An hour drive from Kelowna and its international airport
Sparkling Hill Resort (one of the world’s best wellness destinations) in close proximity
Where to stay
You can’t go wrong staying on the mountain here. Be sure to check out options for available ski-in, ski-out chalets located directly on the mountain.
Where to play
Whether you ski or not, you absolutely must put visiting Sparkling Hill Resort on your bucket list.
The resort is roughly 30 mins from Kelowna and 1.5 hours from Big White. Plan to spend a couple days here after your ski trip.
Recognized worldwide as a top wellness destination, Sparkling Hill has received numerous awards and accolades. Owner Gernot Langes-Swarovski, of Swarovski Crystal fame, infused over 3.5 million glimmering Swarovski crystals throughout the property to create this sparkling resort. With stunning mountainside views overlooking the waters of Lake Okanagan, this incredible wellness retreat destination looks as though it could have been plucked directly from a James Bond film.
Dining is integral to the holistic and wellness experience at Sparkling Hill. Its restaurant, PeakFine, features fresh farm-to-table style dining. Menus change according to the season and freshest Lake Okanagan garden ingredients.
The KurSpa is a 40,000 sq. ft. oasis for a peaceful state of mind, relaxation, and wellness with a blend of traditional services and state-of-the-art treatments. A blend of the German word for ‘healing’ and the Latin word for ‘water,’ the name KurSpa personifies the holistic value of health and wellness in mind and body. The Wellness Clinic at KurSpa highlights the best in Naturopathic care and integrative medicine. KurSpa offers over 100 innovative healing treatments and provides guests with the wellness retreat of a lifetime.
Mont Tremblant, QC
There are many great parties in Montreal that you could combine a trip to Mont Tremblant to. Just be sure to book your skiing before hitting the city because Montreal is known for its late after hours parties. You wouldn’t want to be too drained on the hills.
Closest City: Montreal
Rated the best East Coast skiing destination in North America
European-style alpine setting, nicknamed the “Disneyland of the ski world”
Bilingual resort combines unique Quebecois culture and cuisine with terrain to suit any ability
Located only 90 minutes northwest of Montreal, making it one of the easiest resorts to get to in Canada!
100 trails, 3 terrain parks, 2,116 ft of vertical drop and Quebec’s steepest run with a pitch of 42 degrees
Expansive vistas of the Laurentian Mountains
Great options for food, drink and après-ski
Where to stay
Sun Peaks, BC
Closest city: Kamloops
Home to the Canadian edition of the Austrian winter music festival Snow Bombing, Sun Peaks Resort. In early April, the village is taken over by the festival, with a solid lineup and fun mix of West Coast / Canadian and Australian ski bums who are all just there to enjoy the last of the ski season.
Offers great skiing and snowboarding terrain for all levels
Banff Sunshine, AB
Closest City: Calgary
Highest ski resort and above-the-treeline terrain in Canada
Longest ski season in Canada
Natural smoke dry snow with no snowmaking
Close proximity to Banff, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay
High alpine skiing in Canada’s first National Park, stunning scenery and incredible views of the Rockies
One of the most extreme ski runs in the world, Delirium Dive
Sunshine Mountain lodge, the only ski-in/ski-out hotel in Banff National Park
Lake Louise, AB
Closest City: Calgary
One of the longest ski seasons in North America (6 months)
World-class, diverse terrain
Voted the Number 1 Ski Resort in Canada at the 2017 World Ski Awards
Terrain on 4 mountain faces with 145 runs and over 3,000 ft of vertical drop
Summit at 8,651 ft.
Closest City: Kelowna
North America’s biggest vertical drop at 5,620 ft.
Highest average snowfall in the area
Lifts, cat-skiing, and heli-skiing all available from the same base
Slopes are rarely crowded
Only 7% of the mountain is rated for beginners, so pure novices should look elsewhere
Not easy to get to, which helps keep the mountain less crowded
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