Ski resorts in Canada don’t get a lot of attention outside of the iconic Whistler Blackcomb, but with a whole section of British Columbia nicknamed the Powder Highway, we’re pretty sure Canadian resorts will knock your socks off! So hang tight, here’s our list of the top Canadian resorts!
Due to COVID-19, various safety measures were put in place by all Canadian provinces which impacted the 20/21 ski season. International visitors were banned from entering Canada, however, local residents were able to enjoy the ski resorts with various restrictions in place. These included a reservation system to access the mountain at some resorts and capacity limits on chairlifts. Despite temporary lockdown orders in provinces including Ontario and British Columbia, most Canadian ski resorts were able to operate until the end of March. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
Whistler-Blackcomb combines the terrain of two mountains to become the largest ski resort in North America. With over 200 runs, serviced by 37 lifts, Whistler boasts 8,172 ac of skiable terrain that can accommodate everyone from first-timer skiers to extreme skiers. The resort is easily rated one of the best ski resorts in the world and offers a range of terrain from inbounds backcountry, bowls, glaciers, tree trails to 5 terrain parks! Whistler village also has an abundance of accommodation from condos to luxury hotels, packed along a pedestrian-only path lined with great dining experiences, shopping boutiques and art galleries.
Mont Tremblant’s biggest attraction is the experience of a cozy French alpine resort, conveniently located just 1.5 hours from Montreal and less than two hours from Ottawa. The trails at Mont Tremblant are not only extremely well groomed but offer an array of difficulty with around half of their 102 trails designated for experts. The picturesque European-style village at the base is equipped with a full range of luxury hotels, fine dining and shopping. Mont Tremblant is also extremely family-friendly, offering a great ski school, play centers and non-skiing activities such as snowshoeing, fat biking and cross-country skiing.
Lake Louise is the largest ski resort out of the 3 Banff resorts with an incredibly scenic view that is unparalleled. The resort is very family-friendly with a great variety of wide well-groomed trails that cater to skiers and boarders of all abilities. Being located 45 minutes from the town of Banff, you might want to consider renting a car for extra flexibility since you can ski the surrounding mountains of Banff Sunshine and Mount Norquay if you have a SkiBig3 pass.
Banff Sunshine has one of the longest ski seasons that span across early November to mid-May. Located 9 mi southwest of Banff Village, the resort has terrain for beginners up to steep terrain for expert skiers. Out of the three ski-areas, Banff has the best powder snow due to its high elevation. Banff lacks availability in ski-in/ski-out accommodation with the exception of Sunshine Mountain Lodge at Sunshine Village, however, you will be able to find many more options in Banff Village, where most visitors stay. If you want to further explore the region, you can ski all three interchangeable resorts in the Banff region on just one SkiBig3 lift pass.
Big White’s massive 2,765 ac of terrain makes it a great place to learn to ski powder. Many skiers visit Big White for its off-piste terrain because there is abundant snowfall and groomed trails that provide excellent conditions for tree skiing. The highlight of Big White would be its ski-in/ ski-out village which is important for those who want convenient access to the slopes. It is also the most accessible resort from Kelowna, just an hour drive away from the airport.
Mt Norquay is the smallest of the three resorts in Banff, which means you will barely find any lift lines given how busy the other Banff resorts can get. Norquay is ideal for beginners especially since you will be able to accumulate verticals quickly on the groomers. Although small in size, the resort still offers an undeniably breathtaking view of the region. In terms of restaurants and bars, you will be able to find a lively crowd in Banff town as there are not many options at Norquay. Equipped with a SkiBig3 lift pass, you will find yourself in the midst of 3 world class ski resorts that will allow you to explore a variety of terrain and history.
Sun Peaks offers an unparalleled family ski experience that is also relatively affordable in comparison to neighboring resorts. From its roots as a humble ski town, Sun Peaks has expanded to three mountains including Tod, Sundance Peak and Mt. Morrisey which are all connected through a well-organised lift system. The resort has plenty of open bowl skiing, as well as wide groomers runs and glades with around 68% of trails catered towards beginners and intermediates. You can find many ski-in/ski-out lodging options at the village base with a number of bars and restaurants to choose from. You can drive to Sun Peaks or catch a shuttle bus to the resort from Kamloops Airport or Kelowna Airport. Once you get to the resort, you won’t need a car as the village is all within walking (skiing) distance.
Revelstoke has solidified its reputation as a big mountain terrain with the biggest vertical in North America and as one of the hosts of the Freeskiing World Tour. There is limited beginner terrain at Revelstoke but intermediates and above will love the long, groomed tracks that course right back to the base. When staying at Revelstoke, it is recommended to stay in the town of Revelstoke itself, just a few minutes drive from the resort. In the town, you will find great accommodation and dining options that compliment the old-school ski-town vibe.
Fernie is known to have the best and reliable powder in the Rockies mountain range with a historical average of up to 36 ft each winter. Experts will find a variety of off-piste runs including alpine bowls, steep glades and slack-country options. Keep in mind that the options are limited at the base if you wish to seek out accommodation and dining. Instead, you can stay in the town of Fernie which is around 5 mi away or at Kimberley resort which is around 90 minutes away but many visitors like to combine the two in one trip.
Panorama offers a variety of terrain blanketed with light dry interior BC powder. While Panorama has a wide variety of terrain, powderhounds will be charging towards the extreme terrain at the top of the mountain, specifically Taynton Bowl. The small, mostly car-free village is purpose-built for the resort, and features an abundance of ski-in/ski-out accommodations. The village also has a skating rink and a pool complex that includes swimming pools, hot tubs, and water slides – great off-the-slopes fun for the whole family. As an added bonus, many lodging properties include the use of the complex in their rates!
Red Mountain is as local as it gets. With its legendary tree skiing, cliffs, and steeps, Red Mountain has established a big reputation for experts! Don’t fret if you’re not an expert, as expansion in recent years has opened up more intermediate terrain and you’ll hardly ever see crowds around the resort. The old mining town of Rossland, a short drive (or free bus ride) away, offers more options for dining and lodging than the resort’s base village. However, keep in mind that Red Mountain has a bad reputation as being difficult to get to from the major airports.