*Source: The village at Sun Peaks Resort. Photo by: Sam Egan, Courtesy Destination BC
In Canada, winter is as much an experience as it is a season. The snow, the skiing, the frost-nipped noses — they’re as integral to life in Canada as maple syrup. These qualities are best enjoyed in British Columbia, Canada’s picturesque westernmost province.
Old-growth forests draped in snow, awe-inspiring mountain ranges shimmering in the winter sun, and crystalline rivers and lakes aplenty equip this province with a natural superiority for all things frosty and white. Because of these elements, ski trips to British Columbia are an unforgettable experience.
Whether your family’s trip to BC is a few days or a few weeks long, there’s plenty around to keep you and yours enchanted. Here are four tips for making the most of a family ski vacation in Western Canada.
1. Seek Out Uncrowded Slopes
Canada is a massive country, with just over 80% of the country’s inhabitants living in urban centres. That means there’s a whole lot of wilderness out there with no one around; it’s unspoiled, just how we like it.
Since many ski bums flock to the resorts closer to the coast, your family can have a less crowded, more tranquil vacation in the Interior. The mountain at SilverStar Mountain Resort, just 40 miles away from the Kelowna International Airport, is a hidden gem in BC’s downhill scene. You and your family will have tons of diverse terrain and breathtaking mountain-top views almost all to yourself. The same goes for Big White Ski Resort and Sun Peaks Resort: fewer people and expansive terrain means you’ll rarely have to wait in lift lines. In fact, Sun Peaks Resort offers Canada’s second largest amount of ski terrain, which means you can spend more time on the slopes and less time waiting for a chair up the hill.
*Source: Wide-open spaces at SilverStar Mountain Resort. Photo by: Destination BC
2. Come to Play, Stay to Learn
The mountains in BC are the perfect place to learn new skills or challenge yourself to refine old ones. Thanks to Interior BC’s comfortable climate, ski resorts like Sun Peaks, SilverStar, and Big White have some of the world’s fluffiest (and most forgiving) powder around. They also offer plenty of family-friendly slopes with dedicated learning areas and both entry-level and intermediate runs, making them the perfect practice areas.
The Sports School at Sun Peaks has program options for skiers and boarders, from kids to adults, while Big White’s Kids’ Centre and Ski School offer award-winning family and individual ski coaching, plus youth lessons that include transportation to and from the ski hill so mom and dad can stay in their pajamas. After all, playing as a family builds affection — but learning as a family builds connection.
*Source: Sun Peaks Resort’s youth lessons. Photo by: Sam Egan, Courtesy Destination BC
3. Opt for the Ski-In, Ski-Out Experience
To take a family ski trip to the next level, truly immerse yourself in the surroundings with a ski-in, ski-out experience. This means you can commute via ski directly to and from your doorstep — a thing some Canadians actually do in the winter. For example, Silver Star offers plenty of on-mountain accommodations for those seeking a seamless ski-in, ski-out experience, including hotels, condos, and holiday homes. Not only is this the pinnacle of convenience (no need to scrape the ice off your car’s windshield in the morning), but it makes for a cozier family environment, too. Think The Shining, but way less Jack Nicholson and way more family-fun board games in the comfort of your own chalet.
*Source: Big White Ski Resort’s snow-dusted village. Photo by: Destination BC
4. Explore Canadian Winter Off the Slopes
When you’re immersed in the Canadian winter, there’s no shortage of things to do. In fact, your family will probably struggle to fit in all the activities on your list. From snowshoeing on moonlit trails to once-in-a-lifetime dog sled rides (who needs Six Flags?), the off-hill entertainment at ski resorts in BC rivals the downhill sports that bring you there in the first place. Sun Peaks boasts an NHL-sized skating rink for the hockey hopefuls, while Big White’s Adventure hub features ice climbing, snow tubing, and horse-drawn sleigh rides. If you have any aspiring adventurers in the family, try snowshoeing through SilverStar’s 34 miles of daily groomed XC trails or fat biking down 10 miles of dedicated fat bike trails. These are only a sample of the fun off-slope activities you’ll find at these winter playgrounds.
The vast array of sunny slopes in British Columbia cater to the needs of skiers and snowboarders big and small, while the off-mountain activities will keep your family busy from dawn to dusk. Plus, you can top off each day with a steaming plate of poutine (and maybe something maple syrup-based for dessert) in true Canuck style.