Tucked deep in the lush forests and vast mountains of E.C. Manning Provincial Park is Manning Park Resort, a charming recreational destination popular among locals and international travellers. The year-round resort offers seasonal fun, which includes skiing and snowboarding in the winter, snowshoeing in the spring, and camping and hiking in the summer.
It’s become an annual tradition for my family to go camping at this interior B.C. spot. Its multiple campgrounds are well maintained, with easy access to nearby facilities and activities. Some may even go as far as calling it a glamping experience (there are electric outlets in the washrooms if you want to bring a hairdryer), but we think it’s just a very rustic yet comfortable camping choice.
For those who don’t feel like they are well-versed with setting up tents and building campfires, we recommend checking out Manning Park’s cozy, wood cabins and chalets. New, premium cabins are also being added over the next few years. Don’t expect it to be a traditional camping experience with sleeping bags and air mattresses—instead, guests will get to sleep in clean linen and cook meals in a full kitchenette.
Pro-tip: be sure to bring your own barbecues, make s’mores by the campfire (or portable gas fire pits when the fire ban comes into effect), and stargaze—it will make the trip even more memorable.
We never leave Manning Park during our summer visit without a hike in nearby trails with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, or kayaking with the entire brood in Lightning Lake.
Rowboats, canoes, and stand-up paddle board rentals are also available. Single kayaks are our top pick because there’s nothing better than gliding through the glistening water at your own pace while basking in the true north.
It’s a completely different setting in the winter—you’ll hardly recognize the roads as you pull into the resort that will be covered in a blanket of crisp, white snow.
Besides Whistler, only a handful of easy-to-access ski hills comes to mind when Vancouverites want to hit the slopes: Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse Mountain. But what city-dwellers don’t realize is that interior B.C. is home to plenty of top-notch ski resorts, many of which are only a few hours’ drive away, such as Manning Park.
When we visited the resort on a mid-March weekend, the season was winding down but the conditions were still better than any we had seen at Vancouver mountains. Soft-packed and well-groomed, the slopes were ideal and crowds were nowhere to be seen. Quiet trips on the ski-lifts offered prime opportunities to capture photos and videos.
The Blue Chair took guests to the smaller of the two main slopes, which still offered a variety of runs, including Wagon Trail (green), Blue Face (blue), and Back Bowl (black). The iconic Orange Chair has since retired, and will be replaced by a new quad chairlift that will be in-place by the beginning of next season. It brought us up to the bigger mountain, which offered dozens of runs such as Horseshoe (green), Featherstone (blue), and Gully (black).
Varied and versatile, these slopes definitely impress those looking for a great ski and snowboard experience in southern B.C. We missed its peak season, but Manning Park is famous for its optimal powder conditions due to its prime location between coastal rainforest and the semi-arid Okanagan.
For those who don’t plan on getting acquainted with the alpine area, other winter activities like tobogganing, snowshoeing, and ice skating may catch your eye.
There’s no intense après-ski culture here, but guests staying at the resort can unwind at Loon Lagoon, an on-site indoor pool facility. Check out its 50-foot heated indoor pool, two hot tubs, sauna and steam room, and fitness room. Non-guests can access the building for $5.
Manning Park Resort self-bills itself as a four-season destination, and for good reason. We have always been summertime campers here, but there’s no doubt we’ll be coming back again in the winter for its exceptional and expanding ski and snowboard facilities.
Photo credits: Manning Park Resort, Robyn Barker, Simon Willan, Manny Lee, and Tammy Kwan.