Canada is home to many ski resorts, and choosing the very best among them is, of course, subjective. However, we believe a combination of factors sets a few resorts apart. What exactly makes a ski resort the best? The amount of skiable terrain is important because it spreads skiers and riders across a swatch of wide territory on weekends and holiday weeks. Same holds true for the number and kinds of lifts, and how many people can travel uphill in a precious hour of your time. We like resorts with a good amount of beginner and intermediate terrain, but still plenty of challenge for the best among us. Accessibility is important, too. It does indeed take a village to satisfy our list, or at least a ski town very close by with plenty of all-budget lodging, dining and après-ski options. Oh, and the snow is important too.
Here are our choices for the best Canada ski resorts.
Whistler tops our list
British Columbia’s Whistler-Blackcomb tops everyone’s list of the best of the best ski resorts in Canada. This is the largest ski area in North America and one of the top ski resorts in the world. Whistler is easy to get to as it is under two hours from Vancouver. Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains with more than 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, 16 alpine bowls and 3 glaciers combined, receiving an average of 465 inches of snow annually. Big enough for you?
There are 36 lifts of all configurations and the Peak-to-Peak Gondola tops them all off. Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier even boasts summer glacier skiing. Whistler Village sits at the base of the mountains and it’s one of the best of its kind in the world for accommodations, dining, après-ski fun and shopping.
British Columbia has a number of other great ski resorts, including Big White, Sun Peaks, Panorama and Kicking Horse, among many others. Revelstoke is among B.C.’s standout ski resorts.
At Revelstoke you’ll play in more than 34 feet of snow annually, so finding fresh tracks will be easy. The skiable terrain covers 3,121 acres, including 4 wide-open alpine bowls and spaced out glades with 75 runs. Lifts include an 8-person gondola and 3 quads. One serves beginner terrain. Best bet for lodging is Sutton Place, the only ski-in/ski-out hotel, steps away from The Revelation Gondola. There are 200 condo suites, ranging from studios to three-bedroom family perfectos. Some compare the Town of Revelstoke in southeastern BC favorably with Telluride. Fly into Kelowna International Airport (YLW) and catch the Stoke Airport Shuttle, running 7 times per day.
Ski The Big 3 in Alberta
The best in Alberta is a threesome known as Ski Big 3. Simply stay in one of the coolest (sometimes literally) mountain towns in the world and ski or ride all three mountains. Mt. Norquay is the smallest of the three, and it’s the locals fave. Don’t be fooled by the size of the ski area, for the scenic beauty is that of a postcard. It is a perfect introductory mountain to Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise. Mount Norquay is the birthplace of skiing within the Canadian Rockies. Banff Sunshine is high on the Continental Divide in the heart of Banff National Park, 15 minutes from town. Sunshine’s three sprawling mountains spreading over 3,300 acres of skiable terrain provide amazing views. Sunshine has gentle slopes to extreme big mountain runs. Delirium Dive is a great off-piste destination.
Lake Louise is renowned for its awesome scenery and versatile terrain. Play on more than 4,200 acres spread across four mountain faces on one of the largest ski resorts in North America. The World Ski Federation almost always opens both its men’s and women’s World Cup season at Lake Louise with downhill and gate races, garnering worldwide television coverage. The Big 3 earns its name.
» Check out lodging options for Ski Big 3 in Banff.
Our picks among Ontario’s 60 choices
Canada’s “Midwest” or Central region – think Ontario – has plenty of skiing and compares quite favorably with the American Midwest to the south. In fact, there are some 60 ski areas in the province. But the best is Blue Mountain in Collingwood, the biggest ski resort in Central Canada. It is located in southwest Ontario on the shores of South Georgian Bay. This is an excellent family mountain with 364 acres of skiable terrain and 42 trails served by 11 lifts. Blue Mountain, Collingwood, Thornbury and the surrounding region are home to a wide assortment of restaurants, bakeries, eateries, cafes, nightclubs, bars and accommodations of all kinds. If “best” means “closest to you,” then those living in Toronto will choose Mount St. Louis Moonstone, an hour north of the big city. Be sure to get up early to enjoy the perfect corduroy here after a night of grooming.
» Check out lodging options in Ontario.
The best of Canada East
Canada East also offers plenty of choices with 70 ski areas. Elevations are lower, deep powder very rare, but high quality, extensive snowmaking just about guarantees a good ski trip, similar to the New England experience. Still the kingpin is Tremblant, a four-season destination ski resort in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, some 81 miles northwest of Montreal. Tremblant has newly updated mountain facilities and a European-style cobblestone-paved pedestrian village with lots of lodging choices (1,900 units) and amenities, restaurants (go for A Mano Trattoria), boutiques and things to do. It features four slopes, and 102 trails spread over 754 skiable acres.
» Check out lodging options in Quebec.
Giving Tremblant a run is Mont Ste. Anne, about 25 miles northeast of Quebec City. Mont-Sainte-Anne’s 70 trails stretch across 3 mountains with 547 acres of groomed mountain terrain for skiers and boarders. Lifts are fast and include a base to summit gondola and four high-speed quads.
While these represent some of the best Canada ski resorts, there are so many choices. You won’t have a bad day skiing in Canada.