It's time to start thinking about your plans for ski season. Luckily, if you're anywhere close to Western Canada (or planning to visit), you automatically have access to some of the best ski resorts in North America. Here are the top seven ski resorts in Western Canada that should be on the top of your "to-ski" list.
1. Whistler Blackcomb, BC
Whistler Blackcomb is continuously named one of Canada's best ski resorts. In fact, this is the largest ski resort in North America with the greatest uphill lift capacity. It also has the second-largest vertical drop in North America. People travel from all around the globe to get an opportunity to ski here. Approximately two million visitors come to Whistler Blackcomb every year.
A Peak 2 Peak gondola at the top helps skiers go in between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Between the two mountains, skiers have thousands of acres to explore. And for anyone looking for a unique experience, heliskiing takes you away from the crowds and lets you ski in uncharted areas. In total, Whistler Blackcomb has five terrain parks with 90 rails and over 40 jumps.
When you're not breaking a sweat on the mountain, you'll love the apres-ski options in Whistler. This mountain is British Columbia's party town and people love to flock here for a great time. You'll have countless bars, fantastic restaurants, and even nightclubs to fill your post-ski nights.
2. Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise Ski Resort is Alberta's stunning resort located in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. With over 4,200 skiable acres, the resort has everything you could want from alpine bowls, groomed runs, steeps, and chutes.
Of all the ski resorts in Alberta, Lake Louise is particularly popular with families, as it offers so much versatility. You'll find something here for all levels of skiers, from beginners to experts. Recently, a new chairlift was installed to give people access to the West Bowl area. This opened up 480 new acres to explore, but this area is recommended only for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Lake Louise Ski Resort doesn't have onsite lodgings, but you can find plenty of places to grab food and a drink when you're done conquering the mountain.
3. Sun Peaks, BC
After Whistler Blackcomb, Sun Peaks is probably British Columbia's most popular ski resort. Sun Peaks is Canada's second-largest ski resort with 137 runs and 4,270 acres of skiable terrain. The runs are broken up to be 10% for beginners, 58% for intermediate, and 32% for expert skiers, so there's something for everyone!
You also have 13 lifts at Sun Peaks, so even at peak busy season, you're never waiting too long for a ride. The most adventurous skier may want to go off the guided trails and explore the 19 kilometres of backcountry trails on the resort.
If you're visiting here, you have to stay directly on the resort at one of the many hotels offering ski-in, ski-out accommodations. Picture getting up in the morning, having your coffee, and immediately getting out on the slopes!
4. Big White, BC
Big White is like BC's not-so-well-kept secret. Most tourists flock to Whistler and Sun Peaks, leaving Big White for the locals. Not that they're complaining, this is a great resort, and it's honestly surprising it's not more well-known.
In total, Big White has more than 2,700 acres of ski terrain and 16 lifts. There are 119 designated trails broken up as 18% beginner, 54% intermediate, 22% expert, and 6% extreme. A section of the resort is lit up at night, allowing for night skiing.
And, if you ever need a break from skiing, you have plenty of other winter activities to choose from on this mountain, including snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice climbing, and tubing.
Similar to Sun Peaks, Big White offers plenty of ski-in, ski-out accommodations right on the resort. If you don't want to stay in the resort, charming Kelowna is only a short drive away and has many hotels to choose from.
5. Sunshine Village, Alberta
Located in Banff Regional Park, Sunshine Village Ski Resort is as breathtaking as it is fun. The resort promises to have something for all types of skiers, ranging from runs that are easy greens to challenging double backs.
With more than 3,300 acres across three mountains and 12 lifts, you can easily explore everything Sunshine Village offers. And, you'll get to explore in comfort as the resort has Canada's only heated chair lift!
While the resort has plenty of options for beginners, it's definitely a fan favorite with extreme skiers. The run known as Delirium Dive has been named one of the top ten off-piste destinations in the world. And, approximately 50% of the runs at Sunshine Village are marked for intermediate skiers.
On average, the resort sees 30 feet of soft, white snow in a season, giving skiers plenty to work with. You can stay directly on the resort (at a ski-in, ski-out accommodation), but most people choose to stay in Banff, only 20 minutes away.
6. Fernie Alpine Resort, BC
Fernie Alpine Resort is another one of BC's magical winter getaways. This resort is said to get the most annual snowfall of all the resorts in Western Canada, giving skiers the powdery ride of their dreams. In total, Fernie has over 2,500 acres of terrain, 142 runs, and five alpine bowls. You get access to seven chair lifts, with the longest run being five kilometers.
Fernie isn't the mountain for extreme skiers but is excellent for families and beginners. Another benefit is that you don't have to deal with the same crowds you get in resorts like Whistler or Sun Peaks.
A small ski village at the base of the mountain is perfect for accommodations and grabbing apres-ski food and drink. If you don't want to stay at the resort, you can opt to stay in the nearby town of Fernie.
7. Kicking Horse Resort, BC
Located approximately 6.4 kilometers outside of Golden, BC, Kicking Horse Resort is the sixth-largest ski resort in North America. Skiers get access to almost 3,500 acres of terrain and 120 trails. The mountain has three large bowls that converge down into a more gentle terrain, where skiers have options for intermediate and beginner runs. This resort also has the fifth biggest vertical in North America!
Kicking Horse has beautiful landscape views and offers accommodations onsite. It makes for a great weekend getaway on a quieter resort. You won't have to fight for chair lifts and you'll get in all the routes that you possibly want.
These seven ski resorts are some of the best Western Canada has to offer - honorable mentions include Revelstoke, SilverStar, and Apex. The hardest part is choosing just one to visit every winter!