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by Talia Boettinger
Is skiing better in Europe or Canada? It's a big question. There’s no shortage of skiing in Europe: from Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy to Zermatt, Switzerland, the mountain ranges across the continent are both beautiful and expansive. However, if you’re looking for something a bit different, maybe a bit farther away, it may be time to take a look at some ski resorts in Canada.
Full of life, heart and passion, you can’t go wrong when visiting any ski resort in Canada, but maybe to help you narrow down the list I’ve compiled some of Canada’s most renowned ski resorts, and also some of its hidden gems, for your perusal.
We’ll start with the big one. If you’ve ever thought of skiing in Canada, then I’m sure Whistler was top of mind. At a whopping 8,171 acres, Whistler wears the crown for the biggest ski resort in North America. If you don’t believe me, just pull up the trail map. Spanning both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola runs between the two offering expansive views of the runs, and of the surrounding terrain which is nothing to scoff at either.
With no night runs and the hill closing at 3pm, Whistler Village comes alive when the sun goes down, so I suggest getting your runs in from 8:30am when the gondolas start to run. After hitting the slopes, get in your après ski at the cafes, restaurants and nightlife that is the stuff of legend in Canada. With people coming here from not just all over Canada, but all over the world, it is the perfect place to surround yourself with some fun-loving skiers and snowboarders.
From a private helicopter ride to a dose of adrenaline on a dog-sled; the luxury travel experts, Black Tomato, have curated the ultimate Whistler: An Exclusive Winter Adventure itinerary. And this is one winter adventure you won’t want to miss out on. Whistler is a mecca for winter sports, its dramatic snowy landscapes the perfect playground for all manner of alpine activities. This trip will see you celebrating the very best of this inspiring destination’s outdoor experiences, all with an edge of exclusivity. For more details, visit Black Tomato now
If you enjoy skiing while looking at some of the most spectacular views Canada has to offer, look no further than Lake Louise Ski Resort. I’d say Google a photo if you’re not familiar but that doesn’t do it justice. With it’s high climate and cold temperatures, Lake Louise makes the most of its more modest 15 feet average snowfall.
While there are no ski-in, ski-out accommodations at this resort, the quaint town of Lake Louise has some great accommodation options including the Fairmont right on the banks of the lake. If you don’t mind staying a little bit further, Banff is about a 45-minute ride away from the resort and an absolute gem of Canada. A morning walk here could have you stumbling across a herd of elk, and your drive to the mountain in the morning could have you waiting for a bear to cross the road.
While we’re on the subject of Lake Louise, the slightly lesser-known sister, if you will, would be Sunshine Village. At this resort, you’ll be greeted in the parking lot with a 4.6km gondola ride to the village at the base of the runs that offers 360 degree views of Banff National Park. From here, hop on a chairlift that takes you above the treeline, and drop into some bowls filled with 23 feet of snow each season and incredible views of Canada’s famous Rocky Mountains.
Located about 20-minutes from the town of Banff, staying in town is a great option to enjoy the nightlife, shopping and wildlife it has to offer. However, if you’re more of a wake up and roll out of bed onto the slopes kind of person, Sunshine Mountain has the only ski-in, ski-out accommodation in Banff National Park.
Skipping back over to British Columbia, Sun Peaks is Canada’s second largest ski area after Whistler with 4,270 acres. However, even when boasting these credentials, it still flies under the radar in Canada, and is largely unknown outside of it. Spread out across three skiable peaks, and seeing on average six meters of snow annually, the runs boast light, dry powder that is famous to the interior of BC.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, the European-style village at the base of the runs offers ski-in, ski-out accommodations. If you’re comfortable with a bit of a commute, Kamloops is located about 45 minutes away. A quick tip from a Canadian: Kamloops is home to BC Wildlife Park which is a great place to get up close to some of the most amazing wildlife Canada has to offer. With many of the animals at the park having been rescued, the park is a great place to go for adults and kids alike.
In the interior of BC, there is no great place to ski. If you crave powder, this is home. Revelstoke holds the record in Canada for the most snowfall in a single winter at 2,438cm, and every winter the slopes are blanketed in an average of 10.5 meters of snow. Balancing big mountain slopes (and the longest descent in North America) with the small town charm, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a local legend with Canadians.
Now a little about Revelstoke itself. It is located in the world’s only inland temperate rainforest, and when you’re not on the slopes, you have got to take in the old growth rainforest nearby. If you’re looking to plan your après, Rockford Bar’s Monday night wings come with a pretty great view and are an institution in Revelstoke. If you’re looking for some laid-back ski town vibes, hit up the Village Idiot for live music and a late night beer.
Fernie is a small town on the border of BC and Alberta but don’t let its size fool you; this town is full of heart. Nestled into the Canadian Rockies, Fernie is perfect for a family vacation, a week-long getaway with friends, or you can out and out park yourself here for the entire winter to hone those ski skills. With an average of 11 meters of snow per season, you’ll have no shortage of fresh runs.
At the base of the mountain is one of the most charming ski towns you could hope to find. Many people that come to Fernie choose to stay close to the town because this is where most of the restaurants, hotels and après-ski spots are. This is the kind of ski town that always has winter events on, and if you like some spring skiing I suggest you plan your visit during Fernival, the festival they hold during closing weekend.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some east-coast skiing. Although Quebec produces some of Canada’s best skiers, skiing in this province is still largely a well-kept east-coast secret. Located about an hour and a half from Montreal and about two hours from Ottawa, Mont Tremblant is no stranger to the cold with average winter temperatures sitting at around -18 degrees Celsius.
The European-style village in Mont-Tremblant is unlike any other ski resort in Canada, and is a wonderful way to be introduced to the French-Canadian side of Canada. If you’re looking for après-ski, I’m going to point you towards P’tit Caribou. The list of accolades are long but I will summarise for you here: has held the title of “Best Mont-Tremblant Bar” for 27 years, voted best après ski bar in North America for 10 years in a row by Ski Magazine Canada, and ranked fourth best ski bar in the world by Forbes magazine. I suggest you get the poutine.
Ready to hit the slopes? Visiting Canada between December and March is generally the ideal time if you want the best skiing and snowboarding conditions.
While this is in no way an exhaustive list of Canadian ski resorts, and I definitely could add more as a lover of Canada, these resorts are a good place to start. All of them are worth a visit and have something different to offer than any resort in the world, but the one thing they all have in common is some world-class skiing, and people with heart that are excited to share the mountain that they love with you. Trust me, it’s the Canadian way!
The luxury travel experts, Black Tomato, have created The Rockies: A Canadian Heli-Ski Adventure. For the itinerary, they have hand-picked one of Canada’s most desirable mountain hideaways; Bighorn Lodge, nestled in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains at the foot of Revelstoke Resort. The birthplace of heli-skiing, British Columbia offers some of the world’s best ski opportunities and at Bighorn you’re right in the heart of it all, with North America’s greatest vertical descent just a gondola ride away. We mean it when we say every detail has been immaculately covered, from massages to a professional videographer compiling a highlights reel of your party’s ski runs. For more details on this once-in-a-lifetime Rockies ski adventure, visit Black Tomato now