winter sports and where to do them featured

Even more renowned for its monstrous mountains than its weed, British Columbia boasts some serious backcountry. When choosing which slopes to shred or trails to blaze, we’ve singled out the six greatest snow sports and the best places for them in this glorious Canadian province, primed for winter fun. Ride on, friends. 

Downhill skiing

Where: Big White, Kelowna 
Season Opening: December 3
Rentals: $43 CAD/$32 USD per day
Passes: $91 CAD/$68 USD per day

If schussing through fluffy powder is what your winter dreams are made of, then Big White Ski Resort is for you. The multi-award winning destination is located in the Okanagan Valley and has exceptional amounts of fresh, dry snow thanks to the protective shield of the Coast Mountain range. The resort is easily accessible by car, but if you end up packing light and taking a shuttle, you can rent equipment once you arrive. Available for single or multi-day packages, rental rates get better the longer your visit, adding a little extra incentive to stick around. Once you're decked out and on the slopes, the majority of the trails are intermediate, while black diamond trails like Shakey-Knees, Grizzly, and Surprise promise speed-demons and experts plenty of challenging options.

Downhill snowboarding

Where: Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler
Season Opening: Open
Rentals: $46 CAD/$34 USD per day
Passes: $278 CAD/$207 USD for two days

Whistler Blackcomb checks every box for snowboarders seeking an endless shreddable playground. With two massive mountains cradling Whistler Village, the options include a vast park, plenty of pipes, and endless backcountry. Avoid the insane weekend and holiday line-ups by visiting during the week — it's pretty easy to do considering the resort is just a two-hour drive from Vancouver. Should you need them, you can hire basic board and boot rentals, so you can access the famed Blackcomb Glacier. It acts as the gateway to the iconic black diamond run, Spanky’s Ladder, which in turn drops into expansive Ruby, Diamond, Sapphire and Garnet bowls.

Snowshoeing

Where: Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish
Season Opening: December 1
Rentals: $22 CAD/$16 USD per day
Passes: $40 CAD/$30 USD per day

The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish is a really accessible snowshoeing destination, just a 50-minute drive from Vancouver. Once you've grabbed a pass for the gondola, ride to the top of the mountain where you'll find five different trails (ranging in difficulty) with mind-blowing panoramic views of pristine peaks and surrounding waters. Between these trails, the gorgeous backcountry, and high-performance snowshoe rentals for less than the gondola pass, you can easily make a day of exploring Squamish's backyard. For serious snowshoers, the Skyline Trail is 10-and-a-half miles of sweeping vistas, meadows and unbelievable alpine access.

Sledding/tubing

Where: Cypress Mountain, Vancouver
Season Opening: December 15
Rentals: $22 CAD per person
Passes: Included in tube rental

Yes, Cypress Mountain has a children’s sliding area, but it also boasts Gnarly’s Tube Park which is the adult version of the thrill-seeking winter hobby. Cypress has six chutes at roughly 328 feet in length and a tube tow to bring you back to the top so you don't have to sweat it out. A mere 30-minute drive from Vancouver, this convenient destination makes sledding and tubing an easy afternoon fix with tube park tickets and rentals all rolled into one. 

Cross country and skate skiing

Where: Mount Washington, Vancouver Island
Season Opening: December 9
Rentals: $23 CAD/$17 USD per day
Passes:
$22 CAD/$16 USD per day

BC is a renowned haven for cross-country skiing and Mount Washington Alpine Resort is one of the reasons why. This highly-reputable resort attracts everyone from beginners to Olympic athletes in training, with 34 miles of breath-taking trails conveniently split between beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. If you’re visiting from Vancouver, you can road trip the Trans-Canada Highway, ferry to Nanaimo, then drive to the resort in under two hours. The Raven Lodge offers lessons from beginner skate ski techniques ($59 CAD/$44 USD each) to group classic ($29 CAD/$22 USD per person) and private lessons ($79 CAD/$59 USD).

Snowmobiling

Where: Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Revelstoke
Season Opening: December 3
Rentals: $290 - $399CAD/$215 - $297USD per day
Passes: $99CAD/$74USD for one hour - $399CAD/$297USD for a day

Whether you’d rather a guided trail tour or to hit some seriously deep powder on your own, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a sure thing for all snowmobilers. The resort is home to Great Canadian Snowmobiling Tours, a company with over 20 years of snowmobile experience in the Revelstoke mountains. They have various packages available such as The Sledder tour (think mountain snowmobiling on Frisbee Ridge) and Summit Ride (a full day of deep powder with lunch and avalanche gear). Daily rentals cover eight hours complete with fuel, while multi-day rentals include accommodation, all meals, your sled rental, fuel and trail passes. Revelstoke is a seven-hour drive from Vancouver (winter tires a must), so a direct flight from Vancouver or Calgary to Kelowna is the most efficient way of getting there. Less time in transit, means more time snowmobiling.

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