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. [email protected], Lake Louise Mountain Resort, and Sunshine Village)
Check out the Sunshine Village website for more information.
Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort, 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 Ski Resort, 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 Ski / Snowboard 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 Ski / Snowboard Resort, 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.