Top 7 Ski Resorts in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Canada’s mountainous terrain is famous for some of the best snowboarding & skiing in the world. Whether you’re looking for back country powder, or a well groomed trail to learn on, you won’t have to look far to find some of the best mountains in Canada. The Rocky Mountains, found in Alberta and British Columbia, have dozens of resorts which cater to snowboarders & skiiers alike. Each with it’s own massive terrain parks, tons of kickers, along with bars, restaurants, and pubs, it’s pretty tough to not have an awesome time in the Rocky Mountains.

Sunshine Village, Banff National Park, Alberta


Sunshine village is located a short 15 minute drive from Banff, it’s one of the most popular ski resorts for Albertans, due to it’s close proximity to Calgary. Sunshine Ski & Snowboard resorts spans the continental divide, which defines the Alberta-BC border in the Rocky Mountains. In order to access Sunshine village, an eight person high-speed gondola transports guests from the Car Park all the way up to Upper village in 18 minutes. Once at upper village, you have your choice of ten chairlifts, and a grand total of 107+ trails around the alpine valley, formed by three mountains. Goat’s Eye Mountain, Lookout Mountain, and Mount Standish. All of which make up Sunshine Village.

Sunshine Village covers 3, 358 Acres (or 13.6 square kilometers) of skiable terrain in Alberta, and B.C. The highest point of elevation is at a cozy 2, 730m (or 8, 957 ft). However, the primary skiing and snowboarding area around Sunshine Village is based at 2, 160m (7, 087 ft) which provides roughly 570m (1, 870 ft) of vertical terrain to the top of Lookout Mountain.

Average annual snow fall is up to thirty-three feet (9+m). Ski season at Sunshine Village begins in early November, and typically finishes in late May, on Victoria Day long weekend. The majority of travelers stay in the City of Banff and drive to Sunshine in the morning. There is a $15 bus to all guests staying in Banff, or you can take that bus for free with a “Tri-area lift ticket”. That bus ticket is good for three nearby resorts as well. Banff@Norquay, Lake Louise Mountain Resort, and Sunshine Village)

Check out the Sunshine Village website for more information.

Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia


Nestled in Whistler, British Columbia, this resort is one of Canada’s most famous. At one point, these two mountains were seperate ski operations, however in 1997 they merged and have been in full operation with one another since 2003. Combined, they are the largest ski area in North America, offering 8, 171 acres (33 square kilometers) of ski and snowboarding area. That’s a whopping 54% larger than Vail, the second largest. Whistler Blackcomb has some of the largest vertical Skiing in North America. Blackcomb proudly boasts having the most at 1, 565m, but they like to round it up to an even Mile.

As you may or may not know, Whistler Blackcomb will be hosting the alpine skiing events for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which includes Downhill, Super-G, Giant slalom, super combined, as well as slalom. In addition to the great skiing and snowboarding, Whistler Village is found at the base of Whistler Mountain. The Village has tons to offer. Including shops, entertainment venues, restaurants, hotels, condos, and a handful of different bars. The perfect place to experience a weekend out in Canada.

Check out the Whistler-Blackcomb website for more information.

Panorama Mountain Village, British Columbia


Panorama is a ski and golf resort, found in the Purcell Mountains of BC. Founded in 1962 by a group of friends, it has since grown into a popular tourist destination for British Columbians and Ski and Snowboarding Tourists. In terms of size, Panorama ranks somewhere in the top ten, with 2, 847 acres (11.52 square kilometers) of skiing area. As for vertical drop, it ranks 5th behind Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Whistler-Blackcomb, Jackson Hole, and Kicking Horse.

At the bottom of the hill are countess condos, a golf coarse, restaurantes, bars, and a small grocery store. Snowfall at panorama isn’t quite as high as some of the other mountains, with roughly 189 inches per year, however, it makes the best out of every inch of snow it gets. The terrain park is top notch, and there’s always some hidden runs to find. Panorama Mountain Village is found 18 kilometers from Invermere.

Check out Panorama Mountain Village website for more information.

Revelstoke, British Columbia


Revelstoke Mountain Resort is the up-and-comer in Canada. Located on Mount Mackenzie, found just out of Revelstoke BC, the resort is currently about the same size as other major resorts, such as Vail and Panorama. However, upon completion, this Mountain Resort will have 10, 000 acres, which will make it the largest in North America. The mountain receives an average of 1, 200cm (472in) of snow per year, roughly 20% more than whistler. So all you powder-junkies should remember that. Due to its higher altitude and location, the snow here tends to be a better, more consistent quality of snow. Construction has been continuous for the past few years, however, despite the minor detours you may encounter, this mountain is definitely one to check out when traveling Canada.

Check out the Revelstoke website for more information.

Fernie Alpine Resort, British Columbia


Despite it’s smaller size compared to some of the other Mountains in this list, it makes up for it in snowfall alone. Fernie is famous for it’s powder skiing, and that alone is enough to drag out thousands of skiiers and snowboarders each year. Annual snowfall is roughly 875cm (28.7ft) Fernie has 10 lifts, operating 112 different trails. Each as awesome as the next. Fernie has always been an underdog, but it has begun to grow in popularity over recent years. If you’re in and around Fernie, be sure to grab a lift ticket and check this one out.

Check out The Fernie Alpine Resort website for more information.

Kicking Horse Resort, British Columbia


With a mean name like that, one can only expect this mountain to rock. Thankfully, it does. Kicking Horse Resort is one of the newer ski resorts in BC, located 14km outside of Golden, BC. It currently ranks fourth highest in Vertical Drop in North America, 6 feet shy of Jackson Hole. It includes 2, 750 acres (11.1 square km) of skiable terrain.

The name derives from the nearby Kicking Horse River, which is famous for it’s white water rafting. Something you should definitely do if you’re in the area. Kicking horse has some great backcountry, along with two bowls, Crystal Bowl, and Bowl Over. Crystal bowl is large and open, it’s more intermediate, and is the easest way down from the gondola. Bowl Over is pretty open, but much seeper, and usually peppered with moguls. However, in 2007, a trail was made to give some more advanced skiing and snowboarding into Bowl Over.

Kicking Horse is a snowboarders paradise, there are plenty of hidden trails only accessible by some serious hiking. So pack some water, perhaps some munchies, because the further you hike, the more expert these runs become. Kicking Horse also has a Grizzly Bear Refuge, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot Boo, one of two orphaned cubs who were brought there in 2003. Boo’s sister however, didn’t make it past her first winte. Bear tours are offered during the summer.Kicking Horse continues to add chairlifts and furthers the amount of runs accessible by lift. They’re currently installing 9 more lifts, which will expand the skiable areas by another 4, 000 acres.

Check out the Kicking Horse Resort for more information.

Big White, British Columbia


Big White Mountain is a bit of a secret spot for many skiiers and snowboarders. While the crowds flock to Banff or Whistler, many seek to find trails less crowded, without sacrificing the quality of the experience. Big White fills that niche perfectly. It has a village very similar to Whistlers, full of restaurantes, pizzarias, bars, steak houses, bakeries, but on a smaller scale. Big White is a very family friendly mountain with all the extra’s to provide people any age a good time. Keen on ice skating? They got that. Wanna feel the rush of a tube park? They got that too. One thing you might notice is Big White is a sort of a “Nouveau Australia”. Many South Pacificers (New Zealanders & Australians) call this placehome during the winter. Some for work, some for training, others just there to ride.

Big White gets some of the best snow in Canada, sporting a mean 750cm of powder falling annually. They’re a completely “Ski-in Ski-Out” Resort. No matter if you’re skiing on a budget, or spending some serious John A MacDonalds, you’ll get this convenience included in your accommodation. Big White is also super easy to get to, with Kelowna International Airport being only one hour away from the mountain, you can fly in and be skiing before lunch. This mountain comes highly recommended by locals.

Check out Big White’s website for more information.

Am I missing some of your favourite mountains in Canada? Please comment, I’d love to check them out.

sunday-canadian-travel-video

, , , , , ,

  • http://angryredhead.wordpress.com Candice

    Damn I wish I could snowboard. Totally headed to Banff, probably once the snow melts though.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..Candice tries to pick up doctor sugar-daddy at fundraiser, fails =-.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Candice – Lol give it a go this winter! Good lookin gal like you shouldn’t have a problem finding a free snowboard instructor. Honestly, with a good teacher you could be carving in two days of riding. It’s mega easy to get the basics down, but tough to be really awesome at. Banff is the bee’s knees. Lots of clubs to get fall-over drunk at. Plus the serene beauty and what not, always a bonus. lol thanks for reading Candice

  • Daver

    Whistler isn’t in the Rockies, but it’s still probably the best in Canada. There are some good ski packages at the hostels in Banff and Lake Louise. I think the Fernie hostel does one too.
    http://www.hihostels.ca/648/canadian_hostels___travel__ski___ride.hostel

    Never been to Sunshine, hope to go this winter!

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Daver – Thanks for reading! Being a prairie boy I can honestly say I didn’t know Whistler isn’t technically considered to be in the “Rockies”. I can’t remove it from the list however, as you said, it’s one of Canada’s best, wouldn’t seem fare to not include it. Was poking through those packages, very cool! Next backpacking trip out west I’m going to look into those. Seems like a good deal. Have fun at Sunshine if you make it! Look into hiking up further than the chairlift takes you. There’s usually a path of boarders climbing for some fresh powder. Heckuva workout, but you’ve got nothing but room & powder the further you hike. I think it’s Norquay that a lot of boarders head to for this, don’t quote me on that. Haven’t been in 2 years. Have fun thoe!

  • http://www.snowjamshow.com/preferred_card_home.htm Craig Roofson

    I’m mega stoked because it just started pouring at my home and that translates to snowboarding in the mountains! Plus I purchased a discount lift tickets membership for a bunch of resorts!

  • http://www.okanaganvacationguide.com/ski-areas-canada.html Erika

    I totally agree that Big White is one of the best places to ski! And it’s location near Kelowna makes it so accessible. One of our favorite places to ski in the Okanagan is Apex Mountain Resort; it’s not as big as Big White, but it’s still a great family resort. Another place comparable to Big White is Silver Star in Vernon. Really, we do have it made here when it comes to winter sports!

    Cheers!
    .-= Erika´s last blog ..Easy Peach Dessert Recipes – Recipes For Fresh Peaches – Okanagan Fruit =-.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Erika – Thanks for reading Erika! I agree with you, we’ve got so many great mountains around. I’m always blown away when I find out some people only ride one or two mountains and stick to them every year. I like getting out there and trying out different resorts. Looking forward to getting back out there.

  • powder sam

    Hard to beat this list from what we have been told by ski patrol friend who taken many trips out west…so had to choose and we tried Fernie for our first trip to the Canadian Rockies as he said it had the best snow. He was right…not only incredible snow but we think it has immense terrain. Contrary to size noted in this story, Fernie skis BIG! We skied all 5 Alpine Bowls and even enjoyed some sidecountry powder! Stayed on mountain at lowest cost lodging- Wolf’s Den Lodge- nothing fancy but ski to your door and next to the Griz Bar. We found some great images on Fernie Alpine Resort, and other ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies at http://www.skircr.com/matts-blog

  • http://jkarhu.wordpress.com Jaakko

    I’m trying to make decision in between Banff and Kicking Horse… too bad I have to make it fast since I have to book hostel very soon. I’m planning on going on Christmas break.

    But thanks for the great post anyways!

  • Brandon

    I have been looking at different Quebec city packages… any tips? I am coming from California (I want to as much as I can by train thanks to you!) and I have already been to Fernie Alpine Resort a few years back, so I know I love what Canada has to offer, just looking to check a different area out. Thanks for any insight you can give me.

advert