A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
So, you've heard about resort after resort in Canada that sends skiers and riders home raving. A huge selection of mountain resorts span the country, and the snow and terrain in British Columbia and Alberta is among the world's best, while small to medium size mountains do the trick for families in Ontario and Quebec to the east. The apres ski activities are excellent at many ski areas.
Canada has long been high on skiers and riders "must do sometime" lists. There's good reason for that even after visiting the world-renown resorts in the American Rocky Mountain states. The late, great filmmaker Warren Miller put it like this: "Do it now or you'll be one year older when you do." That's sage advice when it comes to skiing and snowboarding in Canada.
Getting around is easy in Canada with English spoken nationwide (except for the patois of French-Canadian in Quebec). All U.S. visitors flying or driving into Canada must have passports or a passport card.
Let's ride across this vast country and the best canadian ski resorts.
British Columbia outranks all Canadian provinces in terms of the number of mountain resorts. No wonder: steep mountain ranges start at the coast and line up one after the other all the way to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Its location north of the 49th parallel causes wet Pacific storms to collide with arctic temperatures resulting in huge amounts of snow.
Head north of Vancouver, B.C. to discover Whistler Blackcomb and Canada's biggest terrain. More than 8,000 acres on two mountains contain long groomed cruisers, steep chutes, big bowls and glades -- all buried with an annual snowfall that totals around 33 feet. You can ski here for days and still not hit the same run twice. East of Kamloops, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, however, claims Canada's largest vertical at 5,620 feet from summit to base.
Other B.C. areas cluster with resorts. The Thompson-Okanagan Valley, in the middle of the province, is known not only for its wines, but also for its dry snow. At the south, find Red Mountain Resort and Apex. The central valley area is home to Big White and Silver Star, while Sun Peaks sits in the north. Access any of these resorts in less than two hours from Kelowna or Kamloops.
Farther east, a series of mountain ranges stack up adjacent to the Canadian Rockies. These contain Revelstoke, Whitewater, Panorama and Kicking Horse — reached easily from Kamloops, Calgary or Cranbrook. Two resorts—Kimberley and Fernie — sit within an hour of the borders of Montana and Idaho. Kimberley maintains a reputation as a family area while Fernie attracts big mountain skiers for its giant bowls of off-piste terrain.
B.C. is also home to most of Canada's heli-ski and cat-ski operations. You'll find these at Whistler Blackcomb, Revelstoke and Kicking Horse, plus a host of independent companies in the inland mountains not associated with lift-served ski resorts.
Alberta lays claim to the Canadian Rockies and for extraordinary long ski season with several ski resorts running their lifts well into May. Banff National Park is home to "The Big Three" resorts: Sunshine Village, Lake Louise ski resort and Mount Norquay. These areas, located within two hours of Calgary, provide for gawking at the stunning rugged scenery on the Continental Divide. Marmot Basin, the only resort in Jasper National Park, is reached best from Edmonton or Calgary.
Ontario, in central Canada, is home to smaller mountains than British Columbia or Alberta, but still packs in plenty of ski resorts - most clustered in southern Ontario, where U.S. skiers can reach by car within a few hours. Blue Mountain, accessed in two hours from Toronto, is the province's largest mountain resort with 13 lifts and 720 feet of vertical.
Quebec's most popular mountain resorts surround Quebec City and Montreal. Le Massif, Mont Saint-Sauveur, Stoneham and Mont Sainte-Anne are close enough to Quebec City that you can taste each with day trips and still enjoy the European flavor of the city or stay at the resorts for the full mountain experience. At Mont Sainte-Anne, for example, the scenery, its long groomed trails and family-friendly activities keep it high on the popularity list.
Le Massif offers amazing views of the St. Lawrence River and has the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies. Ski Bromont is most famous for its illuminated trails. Of the 142 ski trails, more than 100 are lined by massive lights for night skiing available until the early morning hours.
Mont Tremblant is the largest, best-known and most popular ski area in the province.The resort has runs of all difficulty levels. The trails lead to the valleys through long and often wide forest glades. Experts will find challenges in long mogul-bumped, difficult runs. Beginners will feel very comfortable on flat, long, wide slopes. In fact, newcomers to the sport need not worry about speedsters zooming by because of the innovative slope design.
Mont Tremblant is actually a small city in the Laurentian Mountains, a 90-minute drive north of Montreal. Mont Tremblant—the highest peak in the Laurentians—and Mont Blanc, make up the 755 acres of skiable terrain with four mountain faces. There are 95 trails and three snow parks, all with amazing views. There are 14 lifts including a cabriolet (open air gondola).
Mont Tremblant Pedestrian Village is locatedat the base of the mountain. This picturesque European-style ski village is divided into two sections, upper and lower. From the upper area skiers can access the top of the mountain by riding the open lift-style gondola. The old village is also a nice place to stay on the shores of Lake Mercer between the mountain and downtown.
So grab your passport. It's your ticket to ride.
The easiest answer is in the vast western part of the nation in British Columbia and Alberta where resorts such as Whistler-Blackcomb, Revelstoke, Panorama and Sun Peaks attract skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. That's a good answer to the question, but the smaller and mid-sized ski resorts in central and eastern Canada serve residents of those provinces well with plenty of family-friendly offerings as well as an extra amount of intermediate terrain. Those resorts are fairly easily accessible by car from the American Midwest and East. So the "best skiing" is the kind you're looking for. It's the direction that counts.
Canada is home to hundreds of ski areas ranging from massive Western mountains in British Columbia and in the Canadian Rocky Mountains of Alberta to the more modest, but fulfilling ski hills and resorts throughout Ontario and Quebec. Snowmaking covers a huge swath of all mountains so when not enough falls from the sky (a very rare occurance), you're covered.
There are 275 resorts that serve those who live here, but also the 19 million visitors who come to Canada every year, looking for a different ski and snowboard experience. There are many ski resorts in Canada that are great for beginners and those just learning to ski.
If one is looking for the most snow in Canada, then head to B.C. where Whistler Blackcomb (419 inches), Fernie (376 inches) and Revelstoke Mountain Resort (367 inches) reign supreme. But, no matter where you go in central or east Canada, snowmaking prevails, natural snowfall is generally just fine and you should find good snow conditions.
Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia, owned by Vail Resorts, is by far the largest ski resort in Canada with 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, which can accommodate any level of skier, from beginners to extreme skiers. Whistler as one of the best ski resorts in Canada offers world class skiing, extreme terrain, tree skiing options and après ski activities, too.
Toronto is about 2.5 hours from Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, and there are several ski resorts in this area, including Blue Mountain Resort (2 hours and 45 minutes); Horseshoe Resort (2 hours and 15 minutes); Chicopee (1 and a half hours) and Glen Eden (1 hour and 10 minutes).
Beautiful, historic Quebec City is a perfect jump-off base to ski and ride resorts such as Le Massif, Stoneham, Mont Sainte-Anne and Mont Sainte-Saveur. Try to match up your calendar with the Quebec City Winter Calendar in February. It'll be a trip you won't soon forget.
Mont Tremblant is probably the most popular resort in the eastern part of Canada -- and with good reason. The new and old villages are welcoming, the mountain is fun to ski and ride with plenty of terrain for all levels of experience. Its proximity to the city -- 90 minutes -- also means you can base there if you are a city-lover.
It's cold. That says it all. But, temperature in Canada varies widely from region to region. Winters are harsh in many parts of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, where daily average temperatures are near −15°C (5°F), but can drop below −40°C (−40°F) with severe wind chills. In non-coastal regions, snow can cover the ground for almost six months of the year, while in parts of the north snow can persist year-round. Coastal British Columbia has a temperate climate, with a more mild and rainy winter. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30°C (77 to 86°F), with temperatures in some interior locations occasionally exceeding 40°C (104°F).
As of April 26, 2022, lawful permanent residents of the United Statesmust show these documents for all methods of travel to Canada: a valid passport from their country of nationality (or an equivalent acceptable travel document) and a valid green card (or equivalent valid proof of status in the United States). You must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel and public health information before and after your entry into Canada. ArriveCAN is not only keeping travellers safe, but is part of the country's ongoing efforts to modernize cross-border travel.
Planning on flying in? You have lots of choices relatively close to ski resort destinations including Vancouver International; Calgary International; Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier; Toronto Pearson and Montreal-Trudeau. Driving across the U.S./Canada border is usually a pretty straight-forward experience, though with COVID still recurring, that can change quickly. Tips including pre-downloading the ArriveCAN app, having documents ready, know what times the border opens and closes if not 24 hours and know what you are bringing across, including food.
It doesn't matter what skill level of a skier or rider you or members of your family may be, because all Canadian ski resorts have terrain for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. However, the big western mountains offer much more of it. You won't go wrong skiing up north. Just grab your passport and go.