British Columbia's Big Three: The Top Spots to Ski and Snowboard

BC Sun Peaks ski
Murray Foubister / Flickr
Murray Foubister / Flickr

You travel far to spend a long-anticipated dream week at a fabulous ski resort, only for certain aspects not to work out. Maybe it’s the village vibe or the accommodation; perhaps dining options are too limited; or the terrain is either too challenging or too tame. But you stoically make do, putting up with these imperfections and returning home dissatisfied, not to mention noticeably poorer.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. And in the Okanagan, it isn’t. British Columbia’s wine country serves up three vintage ski resorts at Sun Peaks, Silver Star and Big White. They are varied and vast enough for a memorable week-long ski holiday, and together they form a terrific trio, allowing for a ski safari through all three resorts.

First stop: Sun Peaks

Start at Sun Peaks, less than an hour’s drive from Kamloops and the closest interior resort to Vancouver and Seattle. Synonymous with Nancy Greene, the iconic Winter Olympian turned senator who still patrols the runs here when she’s not negotiating Ottawa’s bumps, this ever-expanding four-season resort recently opened more than 500 acres of new terrain and two new alpine zones, making it officially Canada’s second largest ski area. Its 4,270 acres of in-bounds ski terrain offer plenty of steep and deep powder turns.

Second stop: SilverStar

A photo posted by Kristen (@chaletski) on

Silver Star, BC’s third largest ski area, is a 20-minute drive from Vernon and just a couple of hours from Kamloops. While Sun Peaks boasts 2,000-plus hours of sunshine each year, Silver Star aficionados brag about its legendary Dark Side. A vertiginous playground of super steep fall lines, monster moguls, abrupt troughs and thigh-high, untracked pillowy white stuff, the extensive Putnam Creek area draws advanced skiers and boarders looking for serious downhill thrills. Its 13 double-black-diamond runs are blanketed by over 23 feet annually. The comfortable daytime temperatures (average -5°C) make it cold enough to keep the snow light, fluffy, and perfect for skiing.

 

After testing their mettle on Putnam Creek’s steep chutes and pillow lines, many seasoned skiers opt to explore the more than 62 miles of nordic trails that make up the recently combined Silver Star – Sovereign Lake cross-country ski area. A favourite of Canadian Olympic champions Chandra Crawford and Beckie Scott, Canada’s largest daily groomed cross-country trail network regularly hosts athletes from around the world as they prepare for international competition. 

Third stop: Big White

The final stop on this whirlwind Okanagan ski safari is Big White, a self-styled family-friendly resort 34 miles from Kelowna. Featuring over 118 trails and annual snowfall of over 23 feet, Big White has plenty to offer skiers of every skill level.

 

With 15 dining and nightlife options, its compact mid-mountain village definitely won’t leave you hungry for more. A culinary highlight is Globe Café & Tapas Bar, with its tantalizing menu of globally inspired tapas dishes. Other foodie favorites include The Woods, located in the heart of the village across from the Village Centre Mall, and the Kettle Valley Steakhouse, nestled into the Happy Valley Day Lodge at the bottom of the Lara's Gondola. Both establishments will leave you well fuelled and primed for another full-on day on Big White’s slopes.

Head into BC's interior and experience a true Canadian ski vacation. All three of these resorts will deliver in snow, atmosphere, and of course, terrain.

Photo: Murray Foubister via Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

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