Canada’s Best Ski Resorts
If you’re planning on hitting the slopes this winter, it’s time to think about where to go, and Canada’s a great place to start. We’ve rounded up the country’s best ski resorts, including a few hidden gems which should definitely be on your radar.
Tamara Hinson is a Surrey-based freelance travel journalist who writes for newspapers such as the Telegraph and Guardian, along with in-flight publications and travel websites. She’s especially interested in getting off the beaten track and some of the more unusual destinations she’s visited include North Korea and Benin.
Banner Image Credit: Red Mountain Resort
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Image Credit: Revelstoke Mountain Resort
If you’re no longer sticking to the nursery slopes, Revelstoke is for you. It’s the only resort in the world to offer lift, snow-cat and heli-skiing from one base, and last winter the resort unveiled a massive new 11-acre snow park. There’s also a new Ski Federation-certified slalom course which you can test your skills on. Much of the terrain at Revelstoke is ungroomed and steep, so if you’re heading there it’s worth signing up for the ski school’s Inside Tracks sessions, designed to help newbies get their bearings. A shiny new resort village offers direct access to the slopes, but we recommend making nearby quaint Revelstoke town your base – it’s just a five-minute drive away.
Blue Mountain, Ontario
Image Credit: bluemountain.ca
Blue Mountain is Ontario’s largest resort, and it’s nestled on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay. It’s easily accessible (just 90 minutes north of Toronto) and family-friendly – the pedestrianised village has everything from art galleries to pottery painting workshops. But there’s plenty to challenge more accomplished skiers and snowboarders, too. The resort’s 364 acres include a snow park, and in recent years, millions of dollars have been spent upgrading the ski lifts and carving new runs out of the mountainside. Our verdict? Blue Mountain is definitely one to watch.
Red Mountain, British Columbia
Image Credit: Red Mountain Resort
If you hate standing in lift queues, you’ll love the blissfully crowd-free Red Mountain. Its recent accolades include “eighth best place in the world to visit” (New York Times), “most underrated resort” (Skiing Magazine) and “best upcoming ski resort” (World Snow Awards). It’s a small resort which the pros have been heading to since 1896, when Red Mountain’s first downhill ski race took place. In 1947, the second chairlift in Canada opened at the resort and in 1968 Canada’s first skiing World Cup was held there. In recent years, more Canadian ski team members have come from this area than anywhere else in Canada. Today, the 4,200 acres include pistes for all abilities, although the resort is best suited to intermediate and advanced skiers.
Marmot Basin, Alberta
Image Credit: Ski Marmot Basin
If you’re after diversity, Marmot Basin ticks all the boxes. There are 86 runs spread over four mountain faces, and over 3,000 feet of vertical terrain to explore. It’s also got the highest base elevation in Canada, which means there’s rarely any shortage of snow. It’s relatively small, with just three lodges and a handful of restaurants, but this is part of its appeal. We recommend the Eagle Grill & Lounge – it’s the resort’s oldest building and inside, you’ll find roaring log fires, tables made from antique chests and black and white photos documenting the resort’s history.
Big White, British Columbia
Image Credit: bigwhite.com
Big White is regarded as Canada’s most family-friendly ski destination. It’s a ski-in, ski-out resort (which means no long treks to and from the hotel) which enjoys consistently high snowfall. There are 118 runs serviced by 15 lifts, and the snow park was recently ranked as one of North America’s best by USA Today. It’s also the ideal place to try something new; you can sign up for dog-sledding and snowmobiling excursions and there are 15 miles of Nordic skiing trails to explore. The resort is also home to Canada’s highest outdoor ice rink. And the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down either – Big White has Western Canada’s largest night skiing area.
Panorama, British Columbia
Image Credit: Panorama Resort Canada
There’s a reason this resort’s called Panorama. Its location, nestled in British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains, makes it one of the more spectacular resorts, and from the higher slopes the views over the Canadian Rockies are breathtaking. Skiers and snowboarders flock here for the famously dry, fine powder snow – no slushy, ski-sucking mush here – and although it’s popular with beginners, it’s one of Canada’s top heli-skiing destinations, too. It’s a ski-in, ski-out resort with a great range of accommodation, ranging from budget hotels to rentable townhouses. The slope-side cuisine is fantastic too – expect rustic mountain restaurants serving up alpine delicacies like fondue and raclette.
Fernie, British Columbia
Image Credit: Fernie Resort
Fernie is a small resort with a reputation for challenging, tough terrain. This former mining town can be found in south east British Columbia, which is known for its powder-covered steep descents. It’s got one of the longest slopes in the Canadian Rockies (1,082 metres) and its challenging backcountry terrain attracts some of the world’s best skiers, snowboarders and snow-mobilers. The resort is ski-in, ski-out and Fernie town, which has some fantastic bars and restaurants, is just a couple of miles away.
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
Image Credit: sunpeaksresort.com
Crystal Ski recently added this fantastic resort to their portfolio, making it easier to get to than ever before. It’s the second largest ski area in Canada, with 4,270 acres of terrain spread over three mountains. It’s a family friendly resort, with huge bowls and challenging backcountry runs alongside groomed gentle slopes ideal for beginners. It’s also an incredibly environmentally friendly affair, and is the only resort in Canada to receive the ISO 14001 designation, awarded to resorts which go above and beyond in terms of management of environmental and social impacts, reduction of resource consumption and pollution prevention.
Image Credit: Nakiska
Known as the Gateway to the Canadian Rockies, this seriously underrated resort hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. Although experts might find themselves craving more challenging terrain after more than a few days at this beautiful resort, it’s a great place to learn the ropes. State-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming systems mean the pistes are always kept in top condition, but if you do fancy heading off the beaten track there are some brilliant tree runs to explore. This year, getting to the resort’s highest point is even easier, thanks to the new Gold Chair Express, which takes skiers to the summit in under five minutes.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Image Credit: Eric Berger
In 1997 Whistler and nearby Blackcomb merged to become one enormous resort – the largest in North America, in fact. Exploring the two areas is easy, thanks to the Peak 2 Peak, the world’s highest gondola (it’s 436 metres off the ground, if you were wondering). Even if you don’t ski, head to the top to admire the spectacular views over the surrounding mountains. On average, this resort gets a whopping 12 metres of snow every year, and there are over 200 ski runs to explore. Despite its size, Whistler, which has 10,000 permanent residents, has a homely vibe, and 80 per cent of employees are locals.