Canada’s 10 Coolest Ski Hills and Resorts
Hit the slopes, carve some powder and discover Canada’s biggest and best ski hills and resorts.
1. Whistler-Blackcomb, B.C.
Why it’s special: To put it simply, Whistler’s big, and you’ll find endless places to eat and things to do both off the hill and on. For something special, plan ahead and book a special tour, like the Fresh Tracks Mountain-Top Breakfast, which gives a limited number of people early access (think 7:15 am) to the Whistler Village Gondola, a buffet breakfast at the top and the chance to ski fresh runs before many other patrons are out of bed.
Single-day lift ticket: $102 for adults, $51 for kids, with a small discount if you buy ahead.
Ease of access: Fly into Vancouver and drive two hours up to Whistler, or go car-free and take the shuttle from the airport or downtown Vancouver.
Runs run-down: Whistler and Blackcomb – two side-by-side mountains accessed from the same village and linked with a peak-to-peak gondola (line up for the intermittent cars with glass floor for the best views) – offer more than 8,000 acres of terrain, including more than 200 marked runs accessed by 37 lifts (plus a new one slated to arrive for the 2013 season). On Whistler, the split is 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced; on Blackcomb, 15% beginner, 55% intermediate, 30% advanced.
Besides the downhill: Five terrain parks, a super pipe and a snow cross track to start with, plus snowmobiling, sleigh rides, tubing, heli-skiing, dogsledding, ziplining, cross-country, cat skiing, ice skating, backcountry tours… need we go on?
2. Marmot Basin, Jasper, Alberta
Why it’s special: Jasper National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit for any Canadian who loves the mountains. Plus, laid-back Marmot Basin has the highest base elevation of all Canadian ski resorts, at 1,698 m (5,570 ft), and you can ski from November through May.
Single-day lift ticket: $79.95 for adults, $29.20 for kids.
Ease of access: The closest major airport is Edmonton, 370 km away. You can drive or shuttle into Jasper, and another shuttle will take you to the hill. Got a little more time? Take Via Rail into Jasper for an unforgettable trip. It’s about 18 hours from Vancouver, five from Edmonton or – why not? – two days and 17 hours from Toronto.
Runs run-down: 86 runs across 1,675 acres: 30% beginner, 30% intermediate, 20% advanced, 20% expert.
Besides the downhill: One full and one mini terrain park on the hill; in Jasper, winter experiences include ice skating, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, snowshoeing, ski touring, the Maligne Canyon ice walk, ski touring and helicopter tours.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr/El Dubb)
3. Revelstoke Mountain Resort, B.C.
Why it’s special: Revelstoke boasts North America’s most vertical lift-service, at a whopping 1,713 m (5,620 ft), and is the only place in the world to offer lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing all in one resort. “Revelstoke Mountain Resort is pretty much proof that if there’s a God he’s a skier – and he loves powder,” says one of our sources.
Single-day lift ticket: $76 for adults, $27 for kids.
Ease of access: Fly into Kelowna International Airport and rent a car or catch the mountain shuttle, which takes about two-and-a-half hours.
Runs run-down: 59 runs (the longest is 15.2 km): 7% beginner, 45.5% intermediate, 47.5% advanced.
Besides the downhill: Tubing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, paragliding and kids’ centre.
(Photo by Kevin Manuel)
4. Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec
Why it’s special: Night owls rejoice: Mont Sainte-Anne offers the most night skiing in the country, with 19 lit-up trails covering more than 15 km open Wednesday to Saturday from 4 to 9 pm. Kids and kids-at-heart won’t want to miss the resort’s own sugar shack, perfectly situated halfway down blue run La Pichard for a quick maple taffy refuel.
Single-day lift ticket: $68 for adults, $36 for kids.
Ease of access: Less than an hour’s drive from Quebec City, with multiple shuttle options.
Runs run-down: 67 trails across almost 70 km on three mountainsides: 23% easy, 45% intermediate, 18% advanced, 14% expert.
Besides the downhill: XC skiing, dogsledding, snowshoeing, paragliding, ice canyoning, ice skating, tubing, a ski museum and three Nordic spas.
(Photo courtesy of Mont Sainte-Anne)
5. Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie, B.C.
Why it’s special: Snowmaking is laughable in this part of the world. “Up to 37 feet of snow falls in Fernie each year,” proclaims the resort website. “That is enough snow to cover a three-story building.” Besides that, notes ski blogger and powder junkie Matt Mosteller, author of new book Adventurer’s Guide to Living a Happy Life, Fernie is “a real hip town with craft everything – beer, cheese, chocolate and local organic fresh food.”
Single-day lift ticket: $83.95 for adults, $25.95 for kids.
Ease of access: Fly into Calgary (3.5 hours away), Cranbrook, BC (1.25 hours away) or Spokane, Washington (4 hours away).
Runs run-down: 142 named runs – 30% novice, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced – plus five alpine bowls and tree skiing, across more than 2,500 skiable acres and over a kilometre of vertical.
Besides the downhill: Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ziplining and kids’ and family après-ski activities.
(Photo by Henri Georgi)
6. Lake Louise, Alberta
Why it’s special: Apart from its spectacular scenery, Lake Louise is big, second only to Whistler among resorts in this country, with “more terrain than can be skied in a week,” according to the website.
Single-day lift ticket: $82.95 for adults, $29.95 for kids.
Ease of access: Drive two hours from Calgary to Lake Louise; a free bus will take you to the ski area from your hotel. Or shuttle in from Banff, which is 45 minutes closer to Calgary.
Runs run-down: 991 m (3,250 ft) of vertical on 4,200 skiable acres. 139 named runs: 25% beginner, 45% intermediate, 30% advanced.
Besides the downhill: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, terrain park and snowcross course.
(Photo by Henry Georgi)
7. Le Massif, Quebec
Why it’s special: Part of Quebec’s Charlevoix region, Le Massif and nearby town Baie-St-Paul are renowned for their cuisine. Book a meal at one of the many fine restaurants, meet a local cheesemaker or hop on board the train for a round-trip excursion with gourmet meal included.
Single-day lift ticket: $72 for adults, $31 for kids.
Ease of access: Drive from Quebec City in under an hour; shuttle and train options are also available.
Runs run-down: 52 trails and glades on more than 300 acres: 15% easy, 30% intermediate, 20% advanced, 35% expert. 770 m (2,526 ft) of vertical, the highest in eastern Canada.
Besides the downhill: Where do we start? On the ski hill, you’ll find a terrain park and a rodeling trail, where you can cruise for 7.5 km down a specially designed sledding route. Other nearby activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter kayaking, ice skating, a Nordic spa and helicopter rides.
(Photo by Le Massif de Charlevoix/A.Blanchette)
8. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Golden, B.C.
Why it’s special: Kicking Horse offers the fourth-highest vertical in North America when it comes to the slopes; dining-wise, it comes out on top – literally. Eagle’s Eye, sitting at an elevation of 2,350 m (7,705 ft), is the country’s highest-elevation restaurant.
Single-day lift ticket: $83.95 for adults, $25.95 for kids.
Ease of access: Head 270 km/2.5 hours west of Calgary, by car or shuttle.
Runs run-down: 120+ runs: 20% beginner, 20% intermediate, 45% advanced, 15% expert. More than 2,800 skiable acres and 1,260 m (4,133 ft) of vertical, the fourth-highest in North America.
Besides the downhill: Tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating, telemark, cross-country and gondola sightseeing – plus indoor rock climbing, snowmobiling, heli-skiing and even an interpretive Wolf Centre in nearby Golden.
(Photo courtesy of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort/Andrew Mirabato)
9. Marble Mountain, Newfoundland
Why it’s special: Marble boasts Atlantic Canada’s highest vertical, and nearby Corner Brook is the snowiest city in the country. Plus, you’ll get a chance to sample that famous Newfoundland hospitality.
Single-day lift ticket: $59 for adults, $32 for kids.
Ease of access: Marble Mountain is in Corner Brook on Newfoundland’s west coast, just a 30-minute drive from Deer Lake Airport.
Runs run-down: 519 m (1,700 ft) of vertical on 39 runs: 19% beginner, 36% intermediate, 32% advanced, 13% expert.
Besides the downhill: Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, ziplining.
(Photo courtesy of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism)
10. Mont Sutton, Quebec
Why it’s special: Mont Sutton is known best of all for its glades, covering 45% of the trails and for every level of difficulty. The ski experience is designed with respect for the forest and they plant up to 1,000 trees each season to improve the intimacy of the trails. images have been requested
Single-day lift ticket: $64 for adults, $36 for kids.
Ease of access: About a 100-km drive from Montreal, 300 km from Ottawa and 400 km from Boston.
Runs run-down: 60 trails across 230 acres: 16 easy, 19 intermediate, 10 advanced and 15 expert.
Besides the downhill: A terrain park and nearby cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus plenty of scheduled events.
(Photo courtesy of Mont Sutton)