Whistler Mountain, Whistler, B.C. Image by: Getty Images
We asked readers and ski aficionados for their favourite ski destinations in Canada, and then we factored in some of our own preferred resorts. Whether it's alpine, cross-country or heliskiing, there's something for everyone at most ski resorts–even for children and non-skiers.
1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia: Together, the adjacent Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer more than 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers over 3,200 hectares of incredibly beautiful terrain.
For the non-skier: dog-sledding, tube park, zip trek, snowcat tours, and visits to the trendy shops and eateries in Whistler Village.
For the kids: in addition to ski lessons catering to all levels and ages, there are special kids and teen programs and the Whistler Kids Snow School. Plus, there’s also outdoor skating at Olympic Plaza and the thrilling Coca-ColaTube Park.
For more information visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
2. Sun Peaks, near Kamloops, British Columbia: At 1,500 hectares, Sun Peaks is the second largest ski area in British Columbia and is the third-largest in the country. This destination is popular with families and seasoned skiers with its opportunities for alpine and Nordic skiing.
For the non-skier: Sign up for a guided mountain tours of any of the 124 trails with a local Sun Guide or with Olympic ski champion Nancy Greene. Other options for non-skiers include snowboarding, snowmobiling, tubing and snowshoeing.
For the kids: skating, dog-sledding, aqua centre programs, ski lessons and time on the special bungee trampoline. Teens enjoy the Mascon Hangout at Sun Peaks Sports Centre where they can entertain themselves with Xbox, Wii and movies.
For more information visit www.sunpeaksresort.com.
3. Banff/Lake Louise, Alberta: Skiers have long been coming to this region in the heart of the Rockies where the skiing is offered in three main resorts: Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Mountain Resort. Banff National Parks is a UNESCO World Heritage site popular with tourist year-round, though in winter it becomes a 6,641-square kilometre playground. (Lake Louise alone offers 139 runs.)
For the non-skier: winter trekking, dog-sledding and tubing top the list. Lake Louise in winter morphs into a 2.5 km-long skating rink. Plus, there are plenty of culinary and spa opportunities in and around Banff. Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a popular way to warm up on a winter’s day.
For the kids: almost all area lodges have kid-friendly programs and activities, including snowshoe tours, tobogganing, bonfires, winter hiking and trivia nights.
For more information visit www.banfflakelouise.com.
4. Mount Tremblant, Tremblant, Quebec: This busy ski destination is nestled in the Laurentian Mountains about 130 kms from Montreal. Most of the skiing revolves around the well-appointed Mount Tremblant Ski Resort.
For the non-skier: non-ski options include tours of nearby Quebecois villages, tubing, dogsledding, spa treatments, Scandinavian baths and snowboarding.
For the kids: younger children (ages 1 to 6) enjoy the special programs at the Kidz Club, located in the Sommet des Neiges Hotel in the pedestrian village.
For more information visit www.tremblant.ca.
5. Le Massif, Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec: Le Massif in Charlevoix is the highest point east of the Canadian Rockies. Picture a 770-metre vertical drop. There are 40-plus runs, the longest of which is about 5 km long. The best way to get there is a leisurely one-hour train ride from Quebec City, during which passengers can enjoy incredible views of the St. Lawrence River. In addition to alpine, there-'s cross-country, snowboarding, ice-climbing and lots more.
For the non-skier: You must try rodelling, which is a form of sledding, on the specially designed 7.5 km trail on Mont à Liguori. There are also gourmet tours of the Charlevoix area, plus excursions to the art scene in Baie-Saint-Paul. The culinary delights at La Ferme are without equal in the region.
For the kids: The Youth Program offers a beginner package that includes a ski lesson, day lift ticket and equipment rental for the entire day.
For more information visit www.lemassif.com.
6. Fernie, British Columbia: “Awesome,” “adrenaline-packed” and “thrill of a lifetime” are how some of our readers have described the skiing at the Fernie Alpine
Resort located in what-'s known as Lizard Range. Fernie, possibly the highest resort in the Canadian Rockies, is world-famous for its powder skiing. Skiers choose from more than 140 runs and 5 alpine bowls. Annual snowfall in the area gets as high as 11 metres.
For the non-skier: winter activities include dog-sledding, geocaching, snowshoeing, and special fitness programs. In the town of Fernie there's fine dining, spas, local museums, curling, a climbing wall and more.
For the kids: Fernie offers a Kids Apres Ski program, with games, movies and themed holiday activities.
For more information visit www.skifernie.com.
7. Kicking Horse Resort, Golden, British Columbia: This popular resort boasts the fourth-highest vertical drop in North America – at 1,260 metres. Take your pick of alpine and Telemark skiing to cross-country skiing and heliskiing.
For the non-skier: in the town of Golden there's the Wolf Center, hot springs, a climbing gym, snowmobiling, tubing, orientation tours and a lot more. Gourmands will want to reserve at the highest elevated eatery in Canada, The Eagle's Eye Restaurant. Take the gondola up to 2,410m above sea level and be treated to a 360-degree view of the Rocky, Selkirk, and Purcell mountain ranges.
For the kids: Kicking Horse Kidz Zone offers individual or group ski and snowboarding lessons.
For more information visit www.kickinghorseresort.com.
8. Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood, Ontario: Ontario skiers flock to the Collingwood area for daytime and nighttime skiing on Blue Mountain’s 36 runs and 3 freestyle terrains. It’s the third most popular ski resort in Canada, after Whistler Blackcomb and Mount Tremblant though the vistas are much less dramatic.
For the non-skier: slide down the escarpment in the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster at more than 40-km-per-hour, or opt for skating at the Mill Pond Rink or toboggan tours.
For the kids: The Kids at Blue Mountain Ski Program fills up so book early.
For more information visit www.bluemountain.ca.
9. Martock, Nova Scotia: Not on the same par as many of the top ski establishments in British Columbia or Alberta, ski-lovers in Atlantic Canada do have a few options, one of which is the Martock Ski centre, a short drive from Halifax, which offers a mix of cross-country and alpine trails.
For the non-skier: Martock's 'Park & Pipe' program is a magnet for anyone into snowboarding. Snow shoeing, biathlons and skate programs are also popular.â€¨
For the kids: Bartock offers private lessons for kids to introduce them to skiing or snowboarding.
For more information visit www.martock.com.
10. Crabbe Mountain, New Brunswick: The Crabbe Mountain ski hill in Central Hainesville, 50 km from Frederiction, is the highest spot in New Brunswick (at 260 metres). Crabbe Mountain offers more 30 km of nordic ski trails. Nighttime skiing is popular with visitors and locals.
For the non-skier: snowshoeing and snowboarding.
For the kids: Ask about the affordable Kinderski (3 to 5 years old) and Polar Bears Ski & Snowboard (6 to 12 years old) packages.
For more information visit www.crabbemountain.com.