Some are famed for powder, others for parties. Either way, this is a country blessed with the best alpine adventure you’ll find anywhere. Here’s The Great Canadian Bucket List’s look at the Top Ski Resorts in Canada
Whistler isn’t so much a mountain as an experience. With 50% more terrain than any other resort on the continent – not to mention a bustling village – Whistler receives a busy stream of visitors from all over the world. Eager crowds are lined up way before the lifts open. The mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb are now connected by the world’s longest and highest gondola, creating over 200 runs to access from 39 lifts. No matter how busy it gets, there’s enough fresh snow for everyone.
There are three ski resorts located in Banff National Park, and as the second largest resort in the country, Lake Louise is the granddaddy. Skiing in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, immersed in the glorious Rockies, you have 139 runs to choose from, served by 9 lifts covering 4000 acres of terrain. High on a chair overlooking the famed Chateau Lake Louise in the distance, cradled by peaks, it’s pretty obvious why the resort’s stunning vista is its biggest draw card.
I never quite understood why the snow in these parts is referred to as “champagne powder”. Then I went to Big White, located 56km from Kelowna in BC’s Okanagan, the province’s second largest resort. Removed from the coastal conditions you’ll find in Whistler, the dry air creates snow as soft and fluffy as cotton candy. 16 chairs serve 118 named trails, many of which are open at night with Western Canada’s largest night skiing area. Better than any bottle of Brut.
For those who love their mountain high, Revelstoke has the greatest vertical drop in North America (1713m), with its longest run clocking in at a leg burning 15.2km. With this much vertical, the average visitor rides a gondola less than twice a day. Favoured by more advanced skiers, Revelstoke’s peaks receives 20% more snow than Whistler, and with expansion plans still underway, Revelstoke’s ambition is nothing short of becoming one of the world’s top ski destinations. It is also world renowned as the capital of heli-skiing.
A 45 minute drive north of Kamloops, the third largest ski resort in Canada is known for its dry snow, family-friendly atmosphere, and uncrowded runs. You can ski-in-ski-out of its colourful village, with 11 lifts serving 122 runs. Many accommodations offer the convenience of ski-in ski-out as well, and the resort’s simple layout makes it easy to get a handle on.
East of Quebec City, Le Massif has the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Unusual for ski resorts, you arrive at the top of the mountain and then ski down to the St Lawrence River. Six lifts serve 52 runs covering 401 acres, although that will increase as the mountains last remaining peak is scheduled for development, including the addition of new hotels. Le Massif is known for its sweeping views, and is particularly attractive to beginner-intermediate skiers.
Together with Lake Louise and Norquay, Sunshine completes the Big 3 resorts located in Banff National Park, all available on a single interchangeable ticket [link Ski Big 3]. 90 minutes drive west of Calgary, 12 lifts serve over 100 runs on what many regard as the best snow in the Rockies. Located at the top of the mountain, the luxury Sunshine Mountain Eco-Lodge is the only ski-in-ski out lodge in Banff, located right by the lifts.
The first ski resort to open in Canada, Tremblant is the best-known ski destination in eastern Canada. Located on one of the tallest peaks in the Laurentians, the resort has 95 trails over its 654 acres, with four distinct mountain faces to explore. Its pedestrian village (not to confused with the town located a short drive away) is lined with twinkling lights, elegant restaurants, and old world charm. With over 1000 snowmakers, there’s always enough snow.
North of Vernon BC, Silver Star is a small, Disney-esque ski resort with a one-street village lined with Victorian storefronts. Quiet and contained, it gets praise for its dry powder and family-friendly runs. A world apart from the busy nightlife of other resorts, Silver Star has won awards as a family destination. 12 lifts serve 115 runs, ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers, while the resort is also known for its excellent Nordic trails.
10. Red Mountain, BC
BC’s Powder Highway kicks up the pow once more for this skier’s mountain, 4200 acres of magic including the recent addition of a new peak, Grey Mountain. 300 inches of annual snowfall, a huge vertical, and a 360 degree drop in from some of the peaks. The resort, located close to Rossland, has won all sorts of awards for its terrain, snow and runs, but it’s the sparkle you see in the eyes of hardcore powderhounds that put Red on the list. Red Mountain is uncrowded, undeveloped, and unbelievable.
– Robin Esrock