British Columbia knows a thing or two about winter snow sports. This is, after all, where the world’s best athletes took to the slopes during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The fantastic and celebrated Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is often the focus of attention when it comes to winter sports in British Columbia. And those mountains deserve hefty praise. But this snowy province is home to a smattering of other outstanding ski resorts that get less attention—and fewer crowds. And visitors won’t feel like they’re sacrificing on experience; as these smaller resorts punch above their weight when it comes to excellent skiing and snowboarding, dining, and other winter activities. Here are a few that should be on your radar as winter approaches.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Parked above the town of Golden, in eastern British Columbia. The resort sits on the Powder Highway, which loops through BC’s Kootenay Rockies and links several ski resorts, small towns, and other points of interest. Kicking Horse stands out for its long downhill runs, heli-skiing opportunities, and expert slopes. The resort is home to the fourth-highest vertical drop in North America, with plenty of black diamond and double black diamond terrain. But beginners won’t feel left out—Kicking Horse has space for those still honing their skills. The small village here is easy to navigate, and there are lots of ski-in, ski-out accommodations. For food, Eagle Eye Restaurant is a stand-out option: it’s perched atop the mountain, with alpine views stretching for miles.
Panorama Mountain Resort
Just down the Powder Highway from Kicking Horse, near Invermere, you’ll find Panorama Mountain Resort. This gem may be overshadowed by its neighbors, Banff and Lake Louise, but it’s a worthwhile spot in its own right. The runs are long here, so you’ll definitely get your workout. The resort recently opened up its former heli-skiing area, Taynton Bowl, for in-bounds skiing, and added new developments. But the resort feels intimate, with an accessible village boasting slope-side accommodations. At the center is the Panorama Springs Hot Pools, where you can relax after a long day on the slopes. The pools are large, so there’s plenty of room to spread out.
Sun Peaks Ski Resort
The biggest ski resort in British Columbia’s interior, Sun Peaks is a destination for families, and a great place to learn to ski. The ski school facilities are robust, and there are plenty of activities to keep the kids busy while parents are out on the slopes. This place often feels uncrowded, and there’s plenty of terrain to spread out—Sun Peaks is the second largest ski area in all of Canada. The majority of the slopes here are rated for intermediate skiers, though there’s good terrain for experts and beginners, too. Visitors can take a break from the slopes with activities like tubing, ice skating, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Big White Ski Resort
Big White is another great destination for families—it’s easy to get around here, and there are plenty of activities geared toward the whole family at the Kid’s Centre. Big White also has a car-free village that’s designed to be walkable and accessible on skis. This resort’s runs cover a lot of ground, with most of the terrain geared toward intermediate skiers. Experts won’t be disappointed, though—there’s some serious double black terrain here, too. A major draw is the resort’s ice climbing wall, if you decide your forearms need a workout after all the downhill.
Red Mountain Ski Resort
Back on the Powder Highway, Red Mountain flies definitively under the radar. But that means you’re more likely to have the slopes to yourself. This quiet resort is known for its friendly vibe and low prices, proving your ski vacation doesn’t have to drain your savings. Advanced skiers will feel most at home here, as most of the terrain is on the expert side of the spectrum. The nearby town of Rossland retains its gold rush-era charm and makes a great launch point for outdoor adventures in the area.