This post by Margo Pfeiff was originally published on the Hello BC website.
Just because you don’t ski or snowboard doesn’t mean you can’t immerse yourself in British Columbia’s winter—there are, in fact, seemingly countless ways to play in the snow while your friends and family hit the slopes in Canada’s westernmost province. Here are a few.
Note: This story was originally written in 2018 and updated in October 2021, specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2021. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability and familiarize yourself with their COVID policies.
Sometimes, outdoor play beyond the chairlifts can be just as alluring as on-slope pursuits. Case in point? Head to Grouse Mountain, where you’ll find the only mountaintop outdoor skate pond in BC’s Lower Mainland and the enchanting Light Walk, an illuminating experience that lights up nightly at dusk.
Soar above snow-covered rainforest on a Whistler-Blackcomb zipline, or bungee jump over a glacial river. Grab a fat-tire bike and ride through the snow in Fernie and Whitewater Ski Resort, or give your adrenaline a workout by tubing—whizzing down a track on an inner tube—at nearly all BC ski resorts, including The Tube Zone at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
If you want to learn about dog sledding in Canada, head out for a heart-thumping tour at Sun Peaks, or for an experience that’s decidedly more chill, go ice fishing atop one of many frozen mountain lakes surrounding the resort and try your luck at landing a few hard-fighting, great-tasting wild rainbow trout.
Snowshoeing is offered at most ski resorts, and on Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington, routes wind through alpine meadows and towering forests; here, fondue outings, often using headlamps, are popular on snowshoes treks. On Vancouver’s North Shore, take an easy one-kilometre (0.6-mile) snowshoe trek to the historic Hollyburn Lodge at Cypress Mountain, along a self-guided trail shimmering with LED lights in the cedar, fir, and hemlock trees.
To explore the Callaghan Valley, closer to Whistler, team up with Canadian Wilderness Adventures for a Snowshoe + Scandinave Spa outing (walks through the forest are capped with plunge pools, steam baths, and Finnish saunas) or a Canadian Campfire Cookout (a snowshoe to an old trapper’s cabin is rewarded with s’mores and live entertainment). Want to amp up the adrenaline? Take a snowmobile ride with the Canadian Wilderness crew (fresh tracks!) on Callaghan Valley backcountry trails to their rustic cabin on Sproatt Mountain for a full Canadian breakfast cooked on an old-fashioned wood stove.
For a quicker wander of the forest, glide along Apex Mountain Resort’s one-kilometre (0.6-mile) skating loop that is magically lit at night (the track is maintained by the Apex Zamboni). You can also lace up for a skate on the one-acre, naturally-frozen Brewer’s Pond in the middle of the forest at SilverStar Mountain Resort—a true Canadian experience.
Eager for a horse-drawn sleigh ride? Listen to the clattering of hooves and the soft murmur of sleigh bells ringing through forests and quaint villages like Sun Peaks. Or cozy up under a blanket with a hot chocolate at Big White for a ride in an old-fashioned sleigh drawn by Clydesdale horses. And what could be better than meeting up with your group for an après-ski sleigh ride under the stars to dinner in a rustic cabin in the woods?