Canada is the second largest country in the world by area, home to mind blowing scenery, wildlife, natural beauty and of course amazing skiing and snowboarding in winter. Canadian ski resorts are generally located in Canadarsquo;s two most prominent mountain ranges, the Pacific Coast Ranges, and the Rocky Mountains. The Pacific Coast Ranges hug the west coast of North America from Alaska through Canada and the US all the way to New Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains stretch from western Canadarsquo;s British Columbia to New Mexico.
Home to some of the most well-known ski resorts in the globe - Canadarsquo;s ski resorts attract international visitors in vast numbers each winter. There is terrain and resort facilities to suit all abilities and types of travellers – from families, friends, groups, and everyone else, you will undoubtedly fall in love with the hospitality and winter wonderland that is Canada!
Canadarsquo;s combination of incredible scenery, magnificent wildlife, friendly locals, exceptional service, vast range of activities and consistent snow, make it a bucket-list destination for Aussie skiers and snowboarders. If that is not enough to get you booking a flight, other selling points include Poutine, Tim Hortons, Ice Wine, The Northern Lights (aka Aurora Borealis) and Ice Hockey.
Where to ski in Canada:
Canada is home to several world-class ski resorts with the majority being location in British Columbia and Alberta. We have included a brief overview of resorts below. Starting in British Columbia, closest to Vancouver Airport, Whistler Blackcomb is only a 2-hour drive away, and the largest skiable area in North America! Boasting huge terrain and an extensive lift network, including the Peak 2 Peak Gondola joining Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, Whistler is a must experience for all.
Heading into the interior of BC, you will find family friendly ski resorts such as Sun Peaks, Big White, SilverStarandPanorama. The key advantage of these ski resorts is ski in ski out accommodation, and tonnes of family friendly activities! Each resort has beginner to advanced terrain, and outstanding ski school facilities so the little ones will be skiing circles around their parents in no time!
Further into BC are ski resorts offering more advanced terrain, and smaller villages. For those who are keen to get deep into exploring mode, try Red, Revelstoke or Kicking Horse, and for the wild at heart try a week in the wilderness with Mike Wiegele! Getting to these ski resorts will take a little longer, but they are well worth it for the avid ski and snowboarder!
Crossing over the border into Alberta can be done either by road or via the main gateway airport of Calgary, which has international as well as domestic flights arriving daily. In our opinion, while visiting Alberta, a stop at Banff and Lake Louise during the winter should be on every personrsquo;s bucket list. Asides from being phenomenally picturesque, the frozen lakes are perfect for ice skating and hockey, and the area offers expansive terrain for skiing and snowboarding. For the luxurious Albertan ski experience with truly jaw dropping views, we recommend the Fairmont Hotels, rich in history and grandeur. Make sure you have plenty of time in your itinerary to take in incredible outdoor activities such as dog sledding, sleigh rides and ice walks. If you are after a magical White Christmas experience, Banff and Lake Louise are our top pick!
Heading further into Alberta yoursquo;ll find Jasper National Park, and Marmot Ski Resort. Jasper is absolutely worth the trip for its spectacular scenery and the quiet experience of the mountain wilderness.
If you happen to be on the East Coast of North America, and skiing is an essential part of your itinerary, then Mt Tremblant in Quebec is our top pick destination! With spectacular scenery and high-end hotels, Mont Tremblant provides is an idyllic European inspired ski resort in the heart of North America.
Things to do in Canada:
There are so many incredible things to see in do in Canada, so we have limited it to the absolute top 10 Things to do in Canada in Winter (off the ski slopes):
Go dog sledding
Go to a game of ice hockey
Take a dip in an outdoor hot tub
Ice skate on a frozen lake
Try ice fishing
See the Northern Lights
Taste some ice wine
Enjoy a winter festival
Experience ice climbing
Wherever you are in Canada, make sure you cover your pancakes AND your bacon in maple syrup, get a photo with a friendly Mountie, and toast a Caesar with your crew! Although the bears will be hibernating during the winter, watch out for wildlife like elk, caribou, lynx and cougars!
Getting to Canada's Ski Resorts:
Flying into Canada will most likely land you in Vancouver, the capitol of British Columbia, which happens to be home to most of the international ski resorts. Easy access to central BC ski resorts is via a connecting flight from Vancouver, on to a regional airport such as Kamloops or Kelowna.
If Alberta is your jam, you can fly into Calgary International airport and Banff & Lake Louise are only a 90-minute journey from there. Another option is Via Rail or splurge on The Rocky Mountaineer for a one-in-a-lifetime luxury rail experience. If you want to visit Jasper, fly into Edmonton Airport, which is 4 hours by car or Calgary Airport is 5 hours away.
When is the Best Time to Ski in Canada?:
Generally, Canada's ski season lasts from October to May however each resort has a slightly varied open dates and, as resort are spread across a vast area - weather is varied.
Whistler is only a few hours from Vancouver, so weekends and peak holiday dates attract city-dwellers to the mountains. To avoid these crowds, mid-week is a good option or wait until mid-January after the majority of Canadianrsquo;s have gone back to work. Due to its protected inland location, Banff and Lake Louise has one of the longest seasons in Canada, which makes it a great option for an incredibly good value ski holiday.
Another really popular day on the slopes is “Family Day” which is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February in both BC and Alberta, this weekend is usually really popular especially at resorts like Big WhiteandPanorama who really cater to families.
Weather in Canada:
Due to the shear size of Canada, itrsquo;s weather is best broken into areas.
The average annual snowfall at Canadian ski resorts ranges from about 9 metres to 13 metres. Some of the ski resorts with the best snowfall are Whistler Blackcomb, Revelstoke, Sunshine Village Banff, and Fernie.
Location and altitude play a large part in the temperature at each resort, wind also comes into play. To give you an idea, the average temperature in Whistler is 0°C to -5°C, Banff gets down to as low as -15°C and Big White can get down to -20°C.
The key to packing for a Canada ski holiday is LAYERS, its easy to add more or remove them if the weather is warmer or cooler during your stay. Make sure to wear a buff to keep you face from freezing!