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Winter isn't just a season we have to get through to make it to summer. Canadians embrace the cold weather season, celebrate it.

There's nothing more quintessentially winter than blinding sunlight drenching powder-dusted hills, framed by an expansive azure sky. It's a vision that warms the hearts of shivering powder hounds. For many of us, blazing down a steep incline on skis, or snowshoeing in the depths of white woods are the fantasies that get us through long grey work weeks. Luckily, there's usually a ski hill not more than a few hours drive from most major Canadian cities. With so many to choose from, you may wonder which are considered the best. It depends what you're after, whether it be champagne powder, trackless backcountry, double black diamond runs or a rowdy resort village, but here are ski destinations we count among the nation's best.

 

Stay Safe

backcountry
Credit: DPC

Whether you're up in the alpine or venturing into the backcountry, wandering off the grid any time of year can be dangerous. Now factor in winter conditions. Rapidly changing weather and risk of avalanche post a constant danger. Be prepared:

  • Be avalanche aware - check conditions before you leave. Know the warning signs and always remain in visual contact of your partners.
  • SPOT / Satellite Communications: SPOT Gen3 is a rugged and portable satellite GPS messenger which provides a critical, life-saving line of communication when your adventures take you beyond the reach of cell service. SPOT lets family and friends know you’re OK or sends emergency responders your GPS location coordinates, all at the push of a button. You can also send pre-programmed text messages or an email with a link to Google Maps tracking your adventure. SPOT is lightweight and can be easily fastened to a pack or jacket. For skiers, snowboarders and outdoor adventurers, SPOT is essential safety gear. 

  • Pack proper gear, wear layers and reflective clothing.
  • Carry rescue equipment and know how to use it. If you're venturing into the backcountry, know how to self-rescue from a crevasse and have avalanche training.
  • Never go alone and pick partners who have skills, fitness and experience.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. 

 

Whistler Blackcomb

British Columbia

whistler moutnain
Credit: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler

Address: 4545 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, British Columbia

Dates of operation:  November 26th through April 17th
Hours: Monday - Sunday - 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $72 / $96
Student - $62 / $82
Senior - $62 / $82
Child - $24 / $48

Websitewhistlerblackcomb.com

The Slopes

Even before it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler had earned world-wide acclaim as a first class ski destination. Between the two namesake mountains there are 200 exciting runs and trails. They range from gentle beginner bunny hills to double black diamonds with challenging descents and rewarding views. The slopes are serviced by 37 lifts including the PEAK 2 PEAK which whisks visitors between Whistler and Blackcomb. It's worth a ride for the view alone. While there are opportunities for Nordic skiing around the village and in the foothills of the mountain, few will be able to resist the extensive backcountry. Find untouched snow in spectacular Garibaldi Provincial Park where opportunities for snow shoeing, cross country skiing and winter camping abound. Trust us, those who venture in are rewarded in spades. 

 

Après-Ski

Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
Credit: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler

Whistler Village's après-ski options are both glamorous, rowdy and unparalleled. Whether visitors are interested in sampling saké and sushi, cuddling up by the fire in a rustic lodge, or table dancing in ski boots after a long day on the mountain, visitors are serviced by more than 170 different restaurants, cafes, lounges and bars. Non-athletes can shop 'til they drop, soak in the relaxing ambiance of the Scandinave Spa or people watch in the buzzing pedestrian streets of Whistler Village.

As British Columbia's premier ski destination, Whistler Blackcomb is a magnet for events. Throughout the ski season, visitors enjoy the Whistler Film Festival, the IBSF Intercontinental Cup and BC Cup races, and the Kokanee Valley Race Series.

 

Big White

British Columbia

Big White Ski Resort'
Credit: Big White Ski Resort

Address: 5315 Big White Rd, Kelowna, British Columbia

Dates of operation: November 13th through April 10th
Hours: Monday - Sunday - 7:30 am - 5 pm

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $67 / $87
Student - $57 / $74
Senior - $57 / $74
Child - $38 / $49

Websitebigwhite.com


The Slopes

Tucked away an hour's drive beyond Kelowna, Big White is consistently lauded as one of the best family-friendly ski destinations. But that's not to say the hill is free of challenging descents. Across Big White's 118 runs, intermediate and expert trails outnumber beginner trails two to one. Throughout the park, 15 state-of-the-art lifts transport skiers and boarders to runs and the TELUS terrain park. Those looking to cross country ski will enjoy 25 kilometres of groomed Nordic trails. While lesser known, there are also opportunities for backcountry adventures in Big White, just off the East Hill. If you think the slopes have awesome powder, just wait until you get off the grid. If you prefer a guided adventure into the backcountry there are plenty of snowshoe, ski and snowmobiling operators. 

 

Après-Ski

Big White Ski Resort'
Credit: Big White Ski Resort

Although not as large as Whistler Blackcomb, visitors will taste more than just champagne powder in Big White. With 18 restaurants, cafes, and bars tucked into a cozy village, visitors can enjoy a true ski in-ski out experience. The area even offers a grocery service to assure that your chalet is well stocked.

While skiers come to Big White for the snow, it doesn't mean they have to miss out on the wines the Okanagan is famous for. In December and March, Big White plays host to the Big Red and Big White festival, respectively featuring the varietals grown in the valley.

 

Sun Peaks

British Columbia

sun peaks
Credit: Andrew Danyluk, Sun Peaks Resort

Address: 1280 Alpine Road, Sun Peaks, British Columbia

Dates of operation: November 21th through April 10th
Hours: Monday - Sunday, 9 am - 3 pm

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $70 / $86
Student - $56 / $69
Senior - $56 / $69
Child - $35 / $43

Websitesunpeaksresort.com


The Slopes

Sprawling across three mountains, Sun Peaks Ski Resort is home to the second-largest skiable area in Canada. (1,728 hectares!) A total of 12 lifts allow access to 135 runs. Slopes accommodate all levels but Sun Peaks is especially well-suited to the intermediate skier and boarder. Visitors will also find groomed Nordic ski trails, a terrain park and access to the park's 17 kilometres of rugged backcountry. When the snow is deep enough, venture right of the Burfield boundary or further past the Gil's. Check conditions before heading into the backcountry. 

 

Après-Ski

Sun Peaks Resort
Credit: Adam Stein, Sun Peaks Resort

The Sun Peaks ski village is quaint and quiet. While it has all the amenities, this destination really provides the perfect escape from the rest of the busy world. Whether visitors crave locally roasted coffee or award-winning cinnamon buns, après-ski experiences are enjoyed in over 15 restaurants, cafes, lounges and bars. After you've eaten, soak taut muscles in any of the four different spas.

Visitors planning a January getaway to Sun Peaks, they will be privileged to enjoy the 18th annual Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival. Savour the wine culture of British Columbia at what has been named one of the best winter parties in Canada.

 

Jasper (Marmot Basin)

Alberta

Jasper (Marmot Basin)
Credit: Ski Marmot Basin


Address: 1 Marmot Rd Jasper, Alberta

Dates of operation: Open early November through early May
Hours: Monday - Sunday - 9 am - 4 pm

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $70 / $89
Student - $60 / $71
Senior - $60 / $71
Child - $32 / $32

Websiteskimarmot.com


The Slopes

Located in the expansive Jasper National Park and framed by the Rocky Mountains, Marmot Basin is prized for powder-filled bowls and challenging slopes. Marmot Basin's seven lifts service 86 groomed trails that run a near even split between beginner to expert. While the park features two terrain parks, those looking for the backcountry experience will find it in abundance. With four points of entry that allow access deep into the Athabasca Range, skiers will have no shortage of expert terrain to tackle. There are also endless opportunities for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. 

 

Après-Ski

Jasper (Marmot Basin) alberta night
Credit: Jeff Bartlett, Tourism Jasper

Tucked at the base of the enveloping mountains, Jasper has managed to maintain its small town authentic feel. Views from the town's main throughfare are gorgeous - panoramic Rocky Mountain vistas. Tucked among its charming rustic architecture are dozens of restaurants, cafes, and bars catering to the après-ski scene. Any visit demands a stop at the famous Jasper Brewing Company, an attraction in and of itself.

Visitors arriving in December will be able to enjoy the town's twinkling Festival of Christmas, as well as the eclectic food and drink focused 'Jasper in January' festival.

 

Lake Louise

Alberta

lake louise ski snowboard
Credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Address: 1 Whitehorn Rd Lake Louise, Alberta

Dates of operation: Open November through April
Hours: Monday - Sunday - 9 am - 4 pm

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $75 / $92
Student - $60 / $72
Senior - $60 / $72
Child - $29 / $35

Websiteskilouise.com


The Slopes

Banff National Park maybe a UNESCO World Heritage Site but Lake Louise is its crowning jewel. Its claim to fame? Lake Louise features the largest skiable terrain in Canada. Ten lifts whisk visitors to this ski destination's 145 marked trails, which offer exciting back bowls, gnarly chutes and glades. Aside from the Showtime Terrain Park and family-friendly tube park, Lake Louise is also home to an extensive Nordic skiing trail network. Views from the track are iconic Canada; picture-perfect scenery often found on posters and the covers of guide books. Those looking to get off the grid will find a wild and stunning backcountry. Prefer some expert advice? Consult your resort for a guided adventure. 

 

Après-Ski

lake louise
Credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Throughout the town's five lodge areas, visitors can enjoy après-ski opportunities no matter where they end up. Take in everything from quaint mountain cafes and cafeteria-style restaurants to exciting bars that never seem to wind down.

Aside from hitting the slopes, the festivals of Lake Louise make it an excellent place to enjoy the winter. Winterstart Festival kicks things off with a bang in November. Restaurants in Banff and Lake Louise flaunt their menus with the special creations for Bon Appétit Banff. The beginning of December marks the Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup, while January brings the area's most famous winter festival: the Ice Magic ice sculpting event.

 

Mount Tremblant

Quebec

Tremblant sunrise sunset
Credit: Tremblant

Tremblant

Quebec


Address
: 1000 Chemin des Voyageurs Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

Dates of operation: Open November 26th through April 10th 
Hours: Monday - Sunday - 9 am - 4 pm

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $63 / $84
Senior - $56 / $74
Child - $37 / $49

Websitetremblant.ca


The Slopes

Named the "mountain of spirits" by native Algonquin tribes, the imposing Mont Tremblant still maintains an air of mystery. This gem of the Laurentians crosses four distinct mountain faces and has 96 trails serviced by 15 lifts. While Mont Tremblant has beginner and intermediate alpine skiing options, this is one destination for those of expert skill level. Nearly 50% of all trails earn an advanced recommendation or higher. While there is no backcountry access from the resort, Mont Tremblant is lies within a national park of the same name. From here, outdoor enthusiasts can find excellent ski touring. 

 

Après-Ski

tremblant village quebec
Credit: Tremblant

The village of Mont Tremblant is enjoyed in all seasons, but the European-inspired architecture truly shines when the snow falls. With ski in-ski out hotels and scenic mountainside condos, the accommodations couldn't get more luxurious. Meanwhile, the charm of the village's collection of bars, cafes, and restaurants is undeniable.

While the village is likely to keep visitors as engaged as the mountain, winter marks the beginning of festival season for Mont Tremblant. The IF3 Tremblant festival shows off internationally and locally produced ski movies. The 24h relay sees a weekend of activity as teams fundcraise over a full day of walking, skiing and running. After countless holiday events and rail jams in December, visitors can get serious ski tips at the Rando Alpine Ski Festival in January, or watch a show like no other: February's Snow Polo event.

 

Blue Mountain Resort

Ontario


Address
: 156 Jozo Weider Blvd, The Blue Mountains, Ontario

Dates of operation: Open November 26th through April 10th 
Hours: Monday - Sunday - 9 am - 4

Passes (half day/full day)
Adult - $45 / $66
Student - $39 / $49
Senior - $39 / $49
Child - $10 / $10

Websitebluemountain.ca


The Slopes

Spanning across the scenic Niagara Escarpment, Blue Mountain is not only Ontario's most famous ski resort, but an exciting four season destination. Compared to Canada's other ski resorts, the 42 trails and 15 lifts may make it seem small. However, the versatile terrain makes the park seem three times larger. Part of Blue Mountain's allure is the variety of activity off the mountain. Its exciting Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, tube park, terrain park, and Mill Pond ice rink all provide excellent family-friendly attractions for those who haven't yet found their snow legs.

22 kilometres of cross country ski trails serve as accessible way to admire the scenery. Although there are a number of backcountry opportunities in the area around Blue Mountain, the resort itself offers no direct access.

 

Après-Ski

First time visitors to Blue Mountain Village are in for a real treat. Carriage and sleigh rides, cobblestone streets and architecture dripping with Old World charm provide a feast for the eyes. 25 bustling restaurants, bars, and cafes keep visitors fed and watered after a day on the slopes.

 

spot

This best Canadian slopes round up was brought to you by Globalstar Canada Satellite Co., distributors of SPOT Gen3SPOT Trace and SPOT Global Phone. SPOT will keep you connected to the people and things that matters most, including emergency services, using the world's most modern satellite network. For peace of mind wherever the slopes or backcountry adventures take you, including beyond cellular, there's never been a better time to pick up a SPOT satellite device. For SPOT product and pricing information visit findmespot.ca.

     

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