Where to ski and snowboard in B.C.
It's the height of ski season, and in between turkey and family reunions, many people are aching for a chance to hit the slopes. But where are the good places to ski in B.C.? Here's a short guide of some of the best ski and snowboarding options.
- Take our survey and WIN a ski weekend at The Westin Whistler and lift tickets for Whistler Blackcomb.
Closer to home
It's practically cliche, but if you live in Vancouver, chances are you've visited or are captivated by the idea of going to the legendary Whistler-Blackcomb mountains. The famed site is consistently named one of the world's top ski resorts. As its website points out, Whistler's skiable terrain simply dwarfs those of other venues in North America.
Whistler has 8100 skiable acres, and 37 lifts, and more than 200 marked trails. It gets nine meters of snowfall per year, and the Whistler village provides plenty of shopping and entertainment.
Whistler is consistently packed, and prices are more expensive than most: $96 for an adult day pass, $81.50 for youth (13 – 18 years) and seniors (over 65) and $48 for children (7-12 years). Beginner skiers who don't want to spend that much money (and have to factor in ski rental costs to boot) may want to consider Cypress or Grouse Mountain instead.
Grouse Mountain is probably the best option if you want to ski but don't have time for much traveling. Grouse has 212 acres of skiable terrain, five lifts, and 10 km of snowshoe trails. It's small, but also that much easier on the wallet: just $58 for an adult day pass. Youth and seniors pay just $45, while children get in for $25. The down side is that snow is a lot less reliable here, even though it does have a state-of-the-art snowmaking system. If you're a regular Grouse grinder who has never seen the mountain during the winter, now's a good time to see a whole other side to nature's stairwell.
Cypress Mountain is a gorgeous venue just 35 minutes from downtown Vancouver, and attracts loads of locals and tourists every winter. It's bigger than Grouse Mountain, with 600 acres of skiable terrain, nine lifts, and 53 trails. The cost, like Grouse Mountain, is cheap – a mere $59 for a full-day pass for adults, $45 for youth and seniors, $25 for children. The only drawback that it's fairly crowded because of its proximity to Vancouver, and the bunny hill is fairly close to intermediate and advanced runs.
It's a four to five hour drive from Vancouver, but the skiing at Big White is well worth the journey. Famous for its smooth and dry “Champagne powder” snow, Big White is a respectable size, with 2,765 acres of skiable terrain and 16 lifts. The cost for a full-day pass is $75 per adult, $63 for youth and $39 for children. If you want to keep costs low, you can buy a night pass and get skiing from 3:30 p.m. to night for a mere $25 per person. The facilities aren't as great as Whistler, but it's often much less crowded as well.
It's like the shy younger sister of Big White and Whistler, but Silverstar is a popular favorite among skiers in the Okanagan. It has 3,065 skiable acres, 12 lifts, and 115 marked trails, and has some excellent trails for the intermediate to advanced skier or snowboarder. The fast-moving lifts and lack of crowds makes it one of the most satisfying skiing experiences in the province. Its village is family-oriented and quaint: it lacks the options of Whistler Village, so non-skiers/snowboarders would do well to bring their own entertainment.
If for whatever reason you're traveling out near the rockies, try to stop by Fernie Alpine Resort. It has 2,504 acres of skiable acres, 142 trails and 10 ski lifts. Fernie is consistently ranked among the top ski resorts in North America, and with good reason: abundant snow, majestic scenery, good runs for advanced and intermediate skiers, and outside hot tubs to relieve aching muscles.