Tips for selecting your next ski trip
Here are the top 10 mountains in BC to help you choose the right mountain for your next ski trip.
Whistler Blackcomb has the most skiable terrain in North America. It’s legendary thanks to the snowfall, terrain, and lively pedestrian village. It helps that Whistler is only a 2-hour drive from Vancouver and has two world-class mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. Whistler has lots of infrastructure with ski school and activities for all ages. It also has four gondolas from the three main villages – Upper Village, Whistler Village, and Creekside. It has the best Apres ski in North America, with an abundance of fire pits and patios. It’s also a growing foodie destination, visitors can have a world-class meal, a night partying until 2 am, or a private chef at their chalet.
Mountain Personality: Jet Setting Skier
Suited for: Everyone!
Pros: 2nd for snowfall, biggest terrain, part of the Epic Pass by Vail Resorts, amazing infrastructure, and great food options in a lively village.
Cons: Costly day passes, long lines, and accommodation prices keep rising. In short, it can be busy and expensive, especially during holidays and weekends.
Where to stay: The Benchlands and Upper Village is the best area for ski-in/ski-out access, close to the action of the village.
Luxury: Four Seasons & Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Budget: Pangea POD, HI hostel
Revi was slated to be the next Whistler when it expanded a decade ago. There was a lot of money invested into a gondola, new lifts, and carving out extensive runs. It’s quite remote, which has kept the Whistler-style crowds away. The skiing is unreal with bowls and glades galore. Revi has also recently added more intermediate and beginner terrain. The town is a classic BC ski town that’s getting cooler all the time.
Mountain Personality: Grizzly Mountain man.
Suited for: Serious skiers and snowboarders. Revi is steep and deep!
Pros: Excellent terrain, 3rd for snowfall, never too busy, reasonably priced with a great lift/gondola system.
Cons: Remote location, not much of an apres vibe.
Where to stay: Most visitors stay in town as there is more going on, there are limited options to stay on the mountain. The Sutton Place is ski-in/ski-out mountain luxury but there’s not much going on after dark. The Stoke is a cheap and cheerful option in town.
Fernie is another iconic ski resort in a remote location, 3-hours from Calgary. Fernie is a fun town with a surprising amount of great restaurants and a lively party scene. Fernie traditionally has heavy snowfall, and also offers incredible terrain made up of 5 bowls. It can get very cold and windy, so be sure to bring your best thermals!
Mountain Personality: Snowboard season warrior
Suited for: Advanced riders looking for a big mountain or a fun party town
Pros: Terrain, conditions, a fun town, reasonably priced, not too busy.
Cons: Gets pretty cold with strong winds. Not located near a major airport.
Where to stay: Stay in town as the mountain is sleepy after dark. Historic 901 Fernie is a nice hotel in town. There are a few luxury lodges on the mountain, like Alpine Lodge and Lizard Creek.
Big White is a popular resort outside Kelowna. It’s family-friendly and famous for ‘champagne powder’. It’s a good size mountain with mostly intermediate terrain. The village has lots of ski-in/ski-out accommodation and one of the best ski bars in BC, Snowshoe Sams. Big White is popular with Okanagan locals and families and is busy during holiday times.
Mountain Personality: Family Ski Trip!
Suited for: Families, intermediate riders
Pros: Snowshoe Sams, ski-in/ski-out condo accommodation, easy access from Kelowna airport (1 hour).
Cons: Nicknamed ‘Big White Out’ for having poor visibility, advanced riders may be bored.
Where to stay: On Mountain. Most condos and houses are booked through Big White accommodations.
Silver Star is a picturesque resort with a tiny European village, complete with a horse-drawn sleigh. The village is mid-mountain and most accommodations are ski-in/ski-out. It’s a great place to learn with lots of beginner and intermediate terrain, but there’s a ‘backside’ of double black diamonds. This makes Silver Star a great resort for families of all abilities. It’s picturesque and has the ‘champagne powder’ that the Okanagan is famous for. The village is small with a handful of bars and restaurants.
Mountain Personality: European ski family.
Suited for: Families, couples, riders of all abilities.
Pros: Charming village, varied terrain, ski-in/ski-out accommodation. It’s a great option to combine with a trip to Revi or Big White.
Cons: Small village, lacks nightlife, the closest airport is Kelowna, a 90-minute drive.
Where to stay: Most accommodation is ski-in/ski-out and there isn’t a bad location, mostly booked through Silver Star lodging. For luxury try Snowbird Lodge (below).
Kicking Horse is another of the big mountains known for being steep and deep. It’s just outside Golden and under 2 hours from Banff. Kicking Horse is huge and has a reputation for big-mountain freeskiing, with lots of chutes and bowls. It has exceptional back-country access and limited beginner runs. While lines for the gondola can be quite long on a powder day, there is a lot of terrain to spread out across, so stashes can still be found late into the day. For a meal with a view, splurge on lunch at the Eagle Eye.
Mountain Personality: Steep and deep!
Suited for: Advanced riders and skiers, back and side country lovers
Pros: Champagne powder, moderate prices, advanced terrain, long runs
Cons: Most runs go back down to the gondola base which can create long lines. It can be a brutal mountain if the conditions aren’t great.
Where to stay: There are quite a few ski-in/ski-out options, and also lots of options in Golden.
Whitewater is the ski resort of Nelson, a hippy town that’s also popular in the summer. Whitewater has featured in countless ski videos since it’s not far from Baldface, a cat skiing lodge favoured by Travis Rice. There are lots of cliff areas and trees to navigate, and a very accessible side country. The best thing about Whitewater is that it gets the highest annual snowfall of any mountain in BC. Nelson is also an unreal town.
Mountain Personality: Local shredders
Suited for: Shredders and lovers of the backcountry
Pros: Ranked 1 for snowfall (13.5m), Nelson is a fun town, affordability.
Cons: Busy on a powder day! The closest airport Castlegar is nicknamed ‘Cancelgar,’ as flights are so frequently canceled due to weather. No ski-in/ski-out accommodation.
Where to stay: In Nelson. There are a couple of excellent luxury hotels, including the Hume and Prestige Lakefront. For boutique hotel lovers try Tremont Loft or the Cloudside.
Red Mountain is 15 minutes from Rossland, a small town in southern BC, close to the US border. Flights are available into Trail and it’s close to Nelson, so it’s a good idea to combine with a visit to Whitewater, or even Fernie. REDs lifts are being continually upgraded and the mountain has beautiful views, lots of tree runs and never tends to be busy. This is a hidden gem for those looking for something off the beaten path. The recently opened Josie Hotel has brought ski-in/ski-out luxury to RED for those wanting to splurge.
Mountain Personality: Old school rules!
Suited for: Everyone!
Pros: Short lift lines, spectacular views, great tree runs, good prices.
Cons: Remote location, lack of infrastructure.
Where to stay: In Rossland, or at the Josie Hotel, on the mountain.
Sun Peaks is another family-friendly mountain within 5-hours of Vancouver. It has a lovely village with ski-in/ski-out accommodation and the second-largest terrain in Canada. There are many beginner and intermediate trails, but also many black runs. Although, the steep runs tend to be a bit short.
Mountain Personality: Family road trippers
Suited for: Families, couples, Vancouver weekend getaway.
Pros: Proximity to Vancouver and Kamloops, cute village, ski-in/ski-out accommodation, large terrain.
Cons: Lack of steep and deep terrain.
Where to stay: In the village. Sun Peaks Grand is the best luxury hotel.
Mount Washington is the ski resort on Vancouver Island. Its visitors are mainly Vancouver Island locals, as it’s a bit of a haul from the mainland. Mt Washington is known for its varied snow conditions, in 2016 it didn’t open and in 2017 and 2018 had the most snowfall in BC. It has a good mix of beginner to advanced runs. The biggest downside is the location, Comox is the closest airport, and Victoria is a 3-hour drive away. The mountain is beautiful with epic views and some of the deepest snow in BC in a good year.
Mountain Personality: The Islander
Suited for: Families, adventurers.
Pros: Moderate prices, ski-in/ski-out accommodation, a mix of beginner to advanced runs, family-friendly, views across the water.
Cons: Remote location that might include taking a ferry, inconsistent snowfalls, moderate size.
Where to stay: On the mountain. Wood Mountain Lodge, Bear Lodge.
Unless you’re on a tight budget, you can’t beat Whistler for location, terrain, and a world-class village. For shredders who have time to travel; Revelstoke, Fernie, and Whitewater are my top picks. For families or learners who love a beautiful village; Silver Star, Big White, and Sun Peaks are for you. For those who have seen it all and are looking for something different, visit Red Mountain or Mt Washington.
For more on BCs mountains, have a read of my many Whistler articles: