Skiing in SilverStar: A BC Resort for the Bucket List

Last winter I reported on BC’s Powder Highway, and having previously written about Sun Peaks, Whistler, Revelstoke, and others, I’m determined to visit all 13 major BC ski resorts to tick them off the Canadian Bucket List.    With reliable champagne powder, 3282 acres of skiable terrain, 132 runs and a 760-metre vertical drop, SilverStar Mountain Resort is next on my radar.

As a family-friendly ski destination, and for those looking for more time on the slopes and high-quality downtime, SilverStar easily made my Top 3 List.    Here’s eight very good reasons why:

1. It’s convenient

Located 22 kilometres outside the city of Vernon BC, SilverStar is easy to find and get to. Vernon has grown significantly over the past decade and has everything you might need (including big box stores like Walmart, Superstore, Canadian Tire).  The drive from Vancouver took less than six hours, including an hour stop for lunch in Merritt.  Granted, the Coquihalla was playing ball for us, but the notorious mountain pass impacts all interior resorts: check conditions before you hit the road for alternative routes.   For those arriving via air, there’s a daily shuttle to SilverStar from Kelowna International Airport, located 65 kilometres away.  Picking up our rentals and passes in the village was easy and efficient.

A quiet night in the village

2. It’s big enough to get lost on the mountain, and small enough to bump into friends in the village

Skiers want terrain variety, and SilverStar has that in spades.  Unlike more challenging mountains (here’s looking at you RED and Revelstoke), there’s loads of options for those who like to take it easy.  There’s also no shortage of double black diamonds if you want to ski bananas.  15% of the runs are rated for beginners, 40% intermediate, 35% expert, and 10% extreme.  Nobody will be bored on this mountain!  As for the village, it’s a short flat walk, framed with stores, services and restaurants.  The compact village centre reminded me of those small towns featured in westerns, when a mysterious stranger rode into town.  Only this time, the Man with No Name is on skis, and the saloon door is likely tended by an Australian, eager to serve you a hot plate of nachos.

Big smiles on the mini-sled

3. It offers great value for family activities

Skiing keeps the kids busy, until it doesn’t.  They’ll want to skate, and tube, and ride a min-snowmobile too.  SilverStar packages all these activities into their affordable My 1Alpine Pass, which offers great value. Well, relatively affordable…because “ski vacations are cheap” said nobody, ever.  Skating takes place on a natural circular pond, maintained by a Zamboni, and hosts weekly staff hockey games.   Pick up skate rentals at the same hut where you can sign the kids up for the mini-sleds.  Expect them to throttle their little snowmobiles around a short, circular forest route beaming ear to ear.  No, adults can’t ride the mini-sleds, as much as you’ll want to.  As for the tube park, it’s the best one I’ve encountered in the country:  fast, steep, and just the right amount of thrill for all ages (and thrill-resistant partners).   The 1Pass gives you access to a huge network of cross-country and snowshoe trails as well, see below.

4. It’s got a great range of ski-in, ski-out accommodation

SilverStar is one of the oldest ski resorts in Canada, but mountain accommodation looks fresh thanks to bright paint and new developments.   There’s a half dozen lodges on or close to the village, as well as condos, vacation rentals and houses.   We spent our time in the Snowbird Lodge, steps away from the village with a ski locker room that opened onto directly onto the slope to the Des Schumann Gondola and Comet Express.  The village is located mid-mountain, so it’s only one chair/gondola ride to the top of the mountain.   Our condo on the 5th floor of the Snowbird Lodge was huge: 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a large well-stocked kitchen, dining area, fireplace, a hot tub on the patio, board games, and 4 large TV’s to park the kids (or watch the Superbowl go into overtime).  The lodge also has a private cinema for family movies.  Guests keep their ski gear in secured slope-side lockers.  There is also off-mountain accommodation further down the hill, as well as in the town of Vernon.   For a bizarrely tropical hotel and with a nostalgic 70s feel, check out the Prestige Vernon Lodge.

The kids enjoying themselves on Far Out

5. It’s not busy and the chairs are fast

SilverStar doesn’t receive the same attention as bigger resorts like Sun Peaks or Big White, and locals prefer it that way.  Forget long line-ups.  Crowds are entirely manageable, and the resort’s RFID ski pass keeps things moving along swiftly.  Traffic is primarily centered on the six-seater Comet Express or the gondola, but I never waited for more than a few minutes wait over 4 days of skiing, during peak season, after a heavy dumping on snow.   Less time in line-ups means more time on the mountain, enjoying the epic powder and untracked corduroy.

6. It has epic groomers and stunning views

I’m transitioning from snowboard to skis because I like my knees, my lower back, and the lack of temptation to do something stupid.   SilverStar was the first mountain where I felt truly comfortable on blue runs.    Note:  there’s no standard consistency for what constitutes a green, blue or black run. It all depends on the mountain, and the colour rating is relative to the runs that surround it.  I thought SilverStar’s greens sometimes approached blue territory on other mountains, and their blues sometimes approached green runs on other mountains.  The upside is just how much fun these greeny-blues are to ski.   My family loved Far Out (a green run), and also swapping to the backside of the mountain at Bergerstrasse to hop onto Aunt Gladys for a long, lovely descent to the Powder Gulch Express.  Views of the Monashee Mountains were exhilarating along Aunt Gladys, which cuts and dips and splits along the way.   Other fantastic runs we loved included blue runs Sundance, Milky Way, Whiskey Jack and Gypsy Queen.  Kids who love their hops, trees and jumps will not want to miss the legendary Peanut Trail.  Following my kid into the Peanut Trail, now that was stupid.

Cross country on the Bridal Path.

7. It’s heaven for cross-country skiiers

SilverStar has more groomed XC trails than any other ski resort in the country.  That includes a 55-kilometre Nordic Trail system that joins up with trails around Sovereign Lake, home to Canada’s largest cross-country ski and snowshoe club.  Together, it adds up to a network of 105 km of groomed trails for cross-country and skate skiers (and snowshoers too).   For beginners, rent gear and start in the village, hopping onto the easy Bridal Path which cuts through the forest and returns to the village. Put your skis into the tracks and away you go.  Be warned that gorgeous mountain views along the way might literally stop you in your tracks.

Toasting a lemon, lime and bitters at the Red Antler

8. It has good dining options and wonderful staff

Admittedly I didn’t chat with too many locals, and lifties and staff had that familiar BC ski resort twang originating in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK.  That said, everyone we met seemed relaxed and helpful, influenced perhaps by the unrushed and chilled-out atmosphere of the resort.  I’m sure they’re all enjoying wild parties somewhere, but evenings were quiet in the village, giving the distinct impression that everyone is here for the mountain, not dancing under strobe lights.  A small yet well-stocked grocery had everything we needed to cook in, the sourdough take-out at Pizza Gratta was far above average, and the pubs and restaurants we visited (The Red Antler, The Den, Long Johns Pub) were all great.  There are finer dining options as well, and a surprising variety of eateries for a village of this size.


We spent four days on the mountain, and enjoyed some of the local surprises around Vernon as well (you can read about it that in my Canadian Geographic column here).  I would have liked to spend a week or two, but the Canadian Bucket List beckons, and you can’t stay on the mountain forever.  Unless you do.  A realtor in the village listed SilverStar condos and houses for sale ranging from $450K to $1.4m.

Click here for more info about SilverStar Mountain Resort.

Great Canadian Bucket List