Eastern Canada may not seem like a hotbed of skiing – not with the likes of Banff and Whistler out west. But with a favorable combination of topography and lake effect snow, the region around Canada’s national capital has plenty to keep skiers and riders busy! Here are our 8 favorite places to ski near Ottawa!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the Ontario and Quebec provinces which impacted the 20/21 ski season for resorts near Ottawa. These included mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces, social gathering restrictions and limited indoor and outdoor dining. In the Ontario Province which is home to Calabogie Peaks Resort, ski resorts were required to temporarily close during the four week provincial stay-at-home order in January/February 2021. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
Just over 30 minutes from the heart of Ottawa, it’s tough to beat the convenience of Edelweiss. With only 20 runs and four lifts, it may seem small, but it boasts more than a 650 ft vertical drop along with a well-regarded terrain park. Nearly half the runs are rated for beginners, making it a great place to learn, and the mountain’s amphitheatre shape funnels all the slopes to a central spot to meet in front of the lodge. Many of the trails are lit for night skiing, making Edelweiss a natural choice for hitting the slopes after work!
Located less than an hour from Canada’s capital city, Calabogie Peaks serves up 24 diverse runs and 780 ft of vertical drop, the most anywhere in Ontario! Its convenient location makes it an easy day trip, but it also offers the kind of dining, après, lodging options and off-slope activities that make for a lovely weekend getaway on the slopes. The destination-style amenities, variety of terrain, and convenient location make Calabogie Peaks a consistently popular choice for Ottawa-area skiers and riders, but the resort’s quad lifts help keep the crowds moving.
About thirty minutes from downtown, Mont Cascades is another convenient choice for skiers in and around Ottawa. Even by local standards it’s on the small side, but its 20 runs offer a good selection of terrain (15 of them are lit for night skiing) and snowmaking covers almost the entire mountain. The mountain features two sides, each with a distinct character and its own lodge. The east side features most of the mountain’s advanced terrain, including a double black diamond run, while the north face includes a dedicated and separate beginner's area where novices can learn in safety and comfort.
Just under two hours from Ottawa and 90 minutes from Montreal, Tremblant offers the unique blend of European and North American atmospheres (and flavors!) that is Quebecois culture! Along with more than 2,000 ft of vertical, over 100 runs, and plenty of options for skiers and riders of all ability levels, Mont Tremblant won’t disappoint! Off the slopes, the village might make you think you’re in the Alps, offering a diverse selection of dining, drinking, and shopping. It’s not hard to see why Ski Magazine rates it as one of the best resorts in eastern North America, and even though it’s not as close to Ottawa as some of the others on our list, we think it’s worth the trip!
Ski Vorlage advertises itself as the place for families, featuring excellent terrain for young skiers (and older beginners). Although the size and number of runs are limited, there are options for intermediate and expert skiers and riders as well. There may be only 18 short runs, but 13 of them are lit for night skiing six days per week, and the mountain manages to pack in 466 ft of vertical as well as a terrain park. Its location next to the beautiful riverside village of Wakefield, a half-hour from Ottawa, means that dining, shopping, lodging, and a fun après scene are a short walk away from the slopes.
Only 20 minutes away from Parliament (and next to a popular Nordic skiing park if you’ve got friends who have a different definition of skiing), Camp Fortune is hands-down the closest ski and snowboard area to Canada’s capital. Despite its convenience, it doesn’t tend to be very crowded. The resort has 627 ft of vertical, and its 23 trails are divided across three distinct areas so that runs of similar difficulty are generally grouped together. The only downside is that navigating between the areas involves some flat stretches, meaning skiers will have to pole or “skate,” and snowboarders may have to walk a bit.
At just over an hour north of Ottawa, Mont Ste-Marie may not be quite as convenient as some of the other resorts on our list but with 1,250 ft of vertical, the highest in the area aside from Mont Tremblant, it’s worth the trip to check out! The trails are spread over two peaks, with beginner and intermediate terrain clustered together on Vanier Mountain and more ambitious intermediate and expert trails on Cheval Blanc. The resort is also the first in the area to offer a skier/snowboard cross course, so you have a chance to try your hand at this relatively new twist on the sport with big rollers and big banked turns.
Mount Pakenham may not have many trails or much vertical, but it’s a low key and family-friendly place for relaxed skiing and for newbies to get their start. A 45-minute drive from the capital through eastern Ontario farm country, Mount Pakenham is more a place for families to have some fun on the snow than it is a place to shred. Still, it’s an excellent place for beginners to carve their first turns without having to spend too much, complete with a good ski school. There’s not much in the way of advanced terrain, but there is a terrain park and, for those non-skiers in the family or anyone who could use a break, tubing runs and snowshoeing.