Kathmandu ambassadors Alesha and Jarryd are professional photographers, writers and founders of adventure travel blog NOMADasaurus. They’ve been exploring the world together since 2008, searching for culture and adventure in off-the-beaten-path destinations.
For young skiers and snowboarders, it’s almost a rite of passage to head to the fields in BC and Alberta to carve down some of the biggest and most extreme hills in the world.
Whether you’re hitting up the bunny slopes or planning on hucking yourself off of 60 foot cliffs into fresh powder, we’ve got you covered on where to plan your next ski trip.
We spent three years living and working the ski resorts in Canada, and made it our mission to explore as many winter destinations as possible there. Here’s what we discovered:
1) Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Revelstoke, or Revy as it’s known to locals, used to have one tiny chair lift and a number of heli-skiing operations to get skiers into the mountains. That all changed in 2007 with the opening of Canada’s best and most extreme resort.
Today Revy has a large capacity gondola and two high speed chairlifts that carry riders 1713 metres (5620 feet) towards the top of Mount McKenzie, giving it the highest vertical drop in North America.
Even with the low number of lifts, the terrain is unrivalled, with more than 3000 acres open to the public, Revy is not for the faint-hearted. The runs are so extreme that they had to downgrade the classifications to not include any double-blacks, or else risk not being able to label anything a green run. If you want steep and deep, this is the place to be.
With more than 12m of snow falling on the mountain every year, this is a Mecca for hardcore shredders. Some of the best ski and snowboarding movies, including Art of Flight, were filmed right here at the resort, so it’s not uncommon to be sharing the lift line with pros either.
Not an experienced rider? Don’t worry! The resort has been working hard to create some beginner and kid-friendly runs, while cat-skiing and heli-skiing operations leave straight from the village for the parents that want to shred untracked powder all day long.
2) Big White
Located just outside of British Columbia’s large interior city, Kelowna, Big White has been attracting travellers for decades.
Big White is a very diverse ski field, with wonderful glades, steep bowls, mellow groomers and more fun lines than you can throw a stick at.
If you’re the kind of person that is into terrain parks as well, Big White has one of the best setups in Canada. Expertly tended by some of the best riders in the province, the park caters for all levels, and they even have a half pipe.
In terms of staying at the resort, Big White is near-perfect. Most of the lodges are ski-in/ski-out, and the village is filled with excellent restaurants, lively bars and great shopping.
3) Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Blackcomb is the best known ski resort in the entire world, and for good reason. The twin-mountain resort has more terrain than you could tackle in an entire season, and no matter if you’re a complete beginner or a sponsored pro, you’ll find plenty of runs to suit your style.
The trees are superbly gladed to be steep, spacious and fun, while the groomers are impeccably maintained all season.
If you like to ride freestyle then you’ll be right at home, and this is the resort where dreams are made of. Park rats and big mountain riders alike could never get bored with all the options available.
One thing that sets Whistler Blackcomb apart from the rest is the village, which is more like a decent-sized town at the bottom of the mountains than a typical ski resort. There’s enough restaurants, bars, shops and accommodation to almost never leave.
4) Lake Louise
One hour from Banff is Lake Louise Ski Resort, which boasts not only the best slopes in Alberta, but also some of the most picturesque views in the entire country.
Lake Louise is most famous for the lake you’ve seen on a million postcards, but the nearby ski field is the kind of place that has kids and adults screaming with joy at every turn. If going fast is your specialty you’ll be in heaven, as the front side of the mountain has incredible, steep groomers.
It’s the back bowls though that makes Lake Louise really stand out. It doesn’t snow a lot in Lake Louise (compared to some of the BC resorts), but when it does it comes down deep, dry, and light. The champagne powder is some of the best in the country, and if you have the abilities to drop into the bowls on a pow day, it might be the most epic day of shredding you have in your entire life.
Want a fun challenge? Don’t miss the Summit Poma to the top of the mountain, which is one of the steepest in North America.
5) Kicking Horse
In between Revelstoke and Lake Louise is the little town of Golden, known for the infamous Kicking Horse Ski Resort.
Leave the kids at home if you plan on hitting up Kicking Horse — the runs are steep and gnarly, guaranteed to get your heart pumping and your legs burning. The long gondola ride drops you at the top, but from here it’s best to boot pack it up to spots like Terminator Ridge to really experience what makes Kicking Horse such a legendary spot for expert riders.
If the idea of dropping 40-foot cliffs and sliding into narrow chutes sounds like a perfect day out for you, then make a beeline for Kicking Horse on your next trip to Canada.
6) Red Mountain
Red Mountain is one of those places that BC locals love, but few tourists ever make it to. The fact that it gets overshadowed by the bigger names in Canada is a good thing, because here you’ll find world class terrain with few people on it.
The little town of Rossland, where Red Mountain Resort is located, is an awesome spot to spend a few days, and Red provides the perfect playground.
Red Mountain is quite unique in that it is a 360-degree resort, meaning that once you get off at the top of the hill you can point your skis in pretty much any direction and head down. A cat track circles the bottom of the resort, so no matter where you pop out you can traverse back to a ski lift and ride it back to the top.
Fernie is a popular resort for young travellers looking to do a winter season in Canada thanks to its funky country town and big terrain that just never seems to end.
Polar Peak and Currie Bowl provide expert slopes that are as fun as they are difficult, while below the alpine is like being in a giant winter playground, with kickers, glades, pillows, groomers, natural half pipes and drops around every corner.
It’s a wide resort, so give yourself a few days at the very least and focus on a different section to find the hidden gems under each chairlift.
8) Castle Mountain
If you want a true local’s mountain that will quickly become your favourite resort in Canada, then do yourself a favour and head to Castle Mountain.
Not too far from Fernie and across the border into Alberta, Castle Mountain Resort is big, steep, deep and quiet. Very quiet. In fact, it’s not run by a corporation or a rich family. Castle Mountain is a non-profit resort funded by locals, maintained by skiers and loved by all who make the journey out to this little-known paradise. Lift lines? You won’t find them here at Castle Mountain, even after 30cm of fresh snow on a weekend.
It snows a lot in Castle Mountain and the runs are epic, so make sure legs are ready for the onslaught before you make the trip out here.
Nelson is Canada’s equivalent of Byron Bay without the commercialism. A relaxed, hippy-vibe and pleasant town surrounded by stunning mountains is the kind of place you come for a day and stay for, well, forever.
And for those that love winter, the nearby Whitewater Ski Resort is a dream come true. It doesn’t have vertical drop of places like Revelstoke and Whistler Blackcomb, meaning the runs are shorter, but the terrain is phenomenal. If you duck into the trees, you’ll be rewarded with endless pillow lines and small boulders to launch off.
If you’re planning on doing a trip around Southern BC in the winter make sure you spend a good chunk of your time in Nelson and Whitewater.
10) Mont Tremblant
While BC and Alberta undoubtedly have the best ski resorts in Canada, perhaps the world, those that hang out in the east of the country are also spoiled with slopes that are sure to get the adrenaline pumping.
Ontario and Quebec have some excellent resorts, boasting world-class facilities, and the best one on the east of Canada is Mont Tremblant, a few hours from Montreal. Being in Quebec gives it a distinctly French atmosphere, and the views of the Laurentian Mountains are gorgeous.
Don’t expect huge powder days in Mont Tremblant, but what you will find is expertly groomed runs, next-level park hits and fun terrain for the whole family.
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