There’s one thing you’ll never run out of in Canada, and that’s space. The country's massive size, relatively small population, and consistently cold, continental climate mean its one of the best places in the world to find fresh powder. Canada also benefits from a long history of skiing, which has allowed it to develop its own, deep-rooted, skiing culture that's distinct from what you'd find skiing in France, or even in the ski resorts of the USA, Canada's nearest neighbour. Heli-skiing and cat-skiing were both pioneered in western Canada, for example, which is famous for its vast expanses of backcountry, and challenging terrain. But the country's ski resorts are as varied as its provinces, and ski resorts in Canada offer plenty for beginners and intermediates, too.
Canadian ski resorts range from tiny backcountry operations British Columbia, to ultra-modern, mega-resorts like Banff in the West, or Mont Tremblant in the East. You won't find the huge, multi-valley lift-systems that you'd get skiing in Italy, or the biggest ski areas of the French Alps, but you will find huge variety—from "mom & pop" ski hills in Saskatchewan to the sophisticated, French-speaking ski resorts outside Quebec City.
If you're new to skiing in Canada—and especially if you're making the long journey over from the UK—it's best to head to one of the larger ski resorts, which is why we've opted to include many of the biggest Canadian resorts here, but we've also recommended a couple of hidden gems in case you're looking for something a little different. This year, we've gone heavy on recommending ski resorts in British Columbia, because we believe the province's combination of climate, ski terrain and infrastructure give you the best chance of enjoying the archetypal Canadian skiing experience.
While we can't possibly encompass everything that's best about Canadian ski resorts in a single list, we can recommend ten excellent places to start your search. These, according to our team of well-travelled experts, are the best places to take a ski holiday in Canada this winter.
Big White, British Columbia
Big White turned 60 in 2023, and we reckon it’s high time to show this fantastic Canadian ski resort some love. You’ll find some brilliant ski terrain here, but it’s also a resort which retains a small-town feel. How many other ski destinations, for example, offer free daily tours of the mountain? Here, the resort’s ski hosts gather a guided group outside Dizzy’s, across from the Village Centre Mall, every morning. There's also free ice skating on Canada's highest ice skating rink, and a free weekly fireworks display. Great for the kids.
For the adults (and older kids) it’s Big White's powder which has the biggest pull – more specifically Okanagan Champagne Powder, which is famously dry and light. Ski here and you’ll have access to nearly 3,000 hectares, served by 16 lifts. 54 percent of the runs are suited to intermediates while beginners get 18 percent and experts get 22 percent. The final six percent is expert-only terrain, guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping. If you're into night skiing, Big White boasts western Canada’s largest night skiing area, with 15 gorgeous hectares of floodlit terrain to explore when the sun goes down.
Read our full Big White ski resort guide for more details.
Fernie, British Columbia
Fernie, wedged into British Columbia’s south-eastern corner, isn't Canada's biggest resort, but it's famous for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it has a long ski season—typically you’ll be able to ski from early December to mid-April here. Secondly, it's famously snow-sure—an average of snow falls on the resort every year. It also boasts nicely diverse terrain, covering everything from open pistes, to tight couloirs (or "chutes" as they call them in Canada) to twisting tree runs across its five powder-filled bowls. Ten ski lifts serve the resort’s ski area, which has runs for all skill levels – 30 percent of the runs are best suited to beginners, 40 percent to intermediates and 30 percent to advanced skiers.
Another great thing about Fernie? The weather. Expect regular snow dumps, while the temperature hovers just below zero – the sweet spot when it comes to keeping snow soft while preventing icy patches from forming. The town itself, a 10-minute drive from the slopes, was once referred to by Rolling Stone magazine the “coolest town in the world”, but is entirely without pretension.
The après ski is pretty famous, too. Make sure you check out the legendary Griz Bar, which opened in 1962. We suggest ordering the Mogul Smoker - a blend of Appleton’s Estate VX rum, Kahlua, coffee and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Drink it on the decking, soaking up the view of the slopes and soaking up the alcohol with a plate of the bar’s famous nachos.
Read our full Fernie ski resort guide for more tips and further details.
Kicking Horse, British Columbia
Love long descents? Kicking Horse’s 1,416 hectares of skiable terrain includes the fifth-biggest vertical drop of any North American ski resort, and if you head there for the 2023/24 season you can guarantee its pistes will be in tip-top condition – the resort recently expanded their army of snow cats to ensure the slopes are immaculately groomed. Known for its dry, light powder (it’s often referred to as Canada’s champagne powder capital) Kicking Horse is one of Canada’s best resorts for extreme skiers – 44 per cent of its runs are black. Generally, the easiest runs are in the heart of the ski area, whole the tougher ones are nearer the edges.
Some of its most famous pistes are ungroomed and require a serious hike. One example is Ozone, an exposed slope previously used by Freeride World Tour competitors. We’re also huge fans of Rudi’s Bowl, to the side of Ozone. You’ll fly down this powder-blanketed steep in the shadow of the resort’s most spectacular rock formations. The area’s ability to hold snow for months on end means it’s doable throughout the season.
Accommodation-wise, there are two large lodges – Glacier Mountain Lodge, which is the in heart of the resort, and Palliser Lodge, which is a little further out but still offers ski in, ski out access – and plenty of condos to rent. A fun fact? Almost all of the condos have their own hot tubs. Perfect for a relaxing wind-down after a day in one of the best Canadian ski resorts going.
Check out our Kicking Horse resort guide for more info.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Comprising a 1,600-hectare ski area, Lake Louise is a beautiful resort known for its varied terrain. Head here for your Canadian ski holiday and you’ll find everything from terrifyingly steep couloirs and remote bowls to easy-going tree skiing and fun parks. In 2021 the resort underwent a massive expansion which included the addition of 195 hectares of terrain in the West Bowl area, beneath the spectacular summit of Whitehorn Mountain. Other recent additions include the Summit chairlift, while the Juniper Express chairlift opened in early 2022.
Lake Louise is one of the best ski resorts in Canada when it comes to spectacular backdrops – come skiing here and you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of glaciers, forests and some of the country’s tallest peaks. It’s also the largest ski resort in Banff National Park, with 145 pistes and plenty of options for all skill levels, although intermediate and advanced skiers are especially well catered for. It’s especially popular with skiers who love to combine multiple destinations, because if you opt for the SkiBig3 pass, you’ll get access to the three ski resorts, with Sunshine and Mt Norquay included on the pass too.
You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation here, but it’s hard to beat the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This legendary lakeside hotel, which started life as a single-storey log cabin owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, offers spectacular views of the Victoria Glacier.
Check out our guide to the Lake Louise ski area for more insight into one of the very best ski resorts in Canada.
Panorama, British Columbia
One of Canada’s best resorts for beginners and intermediates, Panorama has 1,203 skiable hectares and plenty of powder. It’s a small resort perfect for anyone taking to the slopes for the first time, with a brilliant beginners’ area just a few metres from ski-in, ski-out accommodation. Intermediates will find the best runs off the Champagne Express, Sunbird and Summit Quad lifts, although freeriders with a love of deep power should also consider checking out the Sun Bowl and Founder's Ridge.
Although it’s probably not the best resort for expert skiers, there’s some seriously challenging off piste here. The legendary Taynton Bowl has 750 acres of off piste tree runs, chutes and cliffs, and the energy you’ll need to exert to get there (you’ll need to hike or heli-ski) will definitely be worth it. You’ll also be able to end a session there with a 10-kilometre run straight back down the mountain to the resort.
The majority of visitors fly into Calgary International Airport, although the Canadian Rockies International Airport, in the city of Cranbrook, is another option, and just a two-hour drive from the resort.
Check out our Panorama ski resort guide for the full lowdown on one of the lesser-known resorts in Canada.
Marmot Basin, Alberta
Proof that the best things really do come in small packages, Marmot Basin, which was founded almost 100 years ago, is a ski resort known for its stunning views, fantastic back country and wonderfully diverse terrain.
While some of the world’s top skiers and snowboarders flock here for the brilliant off-piste terrain, there’s plenty of fun to be had on the slopes, whether it’s at the two snow parks or at the runs which streak down from the Eagle Ridge and Knob chairs (which, by the way, are the lifts you’ll want to take if stunning views are a priority). There are 91 runs serviced by seven lifts (three of which are high-speed quads), and it’s incredibly snow sure – the resort usually opens in early November and stays open until early May.
The downside is that there’s not really any accommodation – most visitors stay in Jasper, which is just 21 miles away and has somewhat superior après ski and culinary offerings. There is, however, an easy shuttle bus, called the hop on the Sundog Shuttle, that travels between the two. This is the smallest of the Canadian ski resorts that we've listed here. But to reiterate, if you’re all about the powder skiing, and you want uncrowded slopes, Marmot will do you proud.
Check out our Marmot Basin ski resort review to find out why this small ski area rivals the best ski resorts in Canada.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Famous for its big mountain terrain, but equally well known for its beginner and intermediate-friendly slopes, Revelstoke, a two-hour drive from southern British Columbia's Kelowna airport, was once a hangout for the super rich, who came here to heli-ski and pootle down the resort’s slopes (served by a single lift).
The construction of a new gondola and new chairlifts kick-started a transformation which turned it into one of Canada’s top ski resorts. It boasts the biggest vertical drop in the country (1,713 metres, to be precise), and there’s now a much wider range of accommodation on offer – we’re particularly excited about the Lodge at Cabot Revelstoke, 150-room property due to open in early 2024.
But back to the skiing. The best terrain for beginners and intermediates is accessed via the Stellar chairlift, although this is still a resort best suited to those with a love of off-piste – much of the terrain is deliberately left ungroomed, and heli-skiing is still one of the resort’s most popular activities. Although there’s a wide range of accommodation (almost all of which offers great views of either Mt. Begbie, Mt. Revelstoke or the Selkirk or Monashee mountain ranges), the Sutton Place Hotel is the resort’s only ski in, ski out property, so book early if easy access to the slopes is a priority. Further afield, there’s a great range of accommodation in Revelstoke town itself, ranging from boutique hotels to condos.
Make sure you take time to do some exploring – Revelstoke is a fantastic town with plenty to offer, including the BC Interior Forestry Museum, a number of art galleries and several craft breweries.
Check out our full Revelstoke review for the complete lowdown on one of the best ski resorts in Canada.
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
This small but perfectly-formed ski resort is incredibly popular with beginners and intermediate skiers. Located to the north of the British Columbia city of Kamloops, it offers an easy-going mix of wide open bowls, glades and thrilling steeps in the shadow of Tod Mountain.
Sun Peaks has recently undergone several enhancements, including the addition of 211 hectares in the so-called Gils area and a new chairlift to cement the ski in, ski out status of the resort’s East Village area. In early 2024 the West Bowl will gets its own ski lift, the West Bowl T-Bar. Previously, getting to this legendary spot involved a rather arduous hike. Another of our favourite areas (due to its fantastic powder skiing opportunities) is the Crystal Bowl, accessed via the chairlift of the same name. The resort’s vibe is both laidback and incredibly welcoming – there are complimentary ski tours offered by locals (get lucky and you’ll be able to join one hosted by Olympic skier Nancy Greene) and a range of ski camps for skiers of all abilities.
Activities off the pistes include snow cat rides, first tracks breakfasts, snowshoe tours, dog sledding and snowmobiling, and you’ll also be able to check out an ice hockey game or two (getting to the rink is easy, thanks to the Kamloops Blazers Hockey shuttle). The resort’s modern centre has plenty of accommodation, ranging from hotels and chalets to rentable condos. For unbeatable access to the slopes, consider the Coast Sundance Lodge, next to the Sundance Express chairlift.
Check out our review of Sun Peaks ski resort for the full lowdown.
Sunshine Village, Alberta
Fancy kicking off ski season early in 2023/24? Consider Sunshine Village, which has one of the longest seasons – ski lifts typically open in November. It’s a pretty ski resort perched on the Continental Divide in the centre of Banff National Park, and a brilliant option for families and mixed-ability groups, with 1,350 hectares of terrain, ranging from gentle slopes for beginners to steep black runs. There’s plenty of terrain for fans of off piste too, including excellent tree skiing and the legendary Delirium Dive, regarded as one of the of the world’s best off piste destinations.
There are lots of exciting developments in store, too. These include new ski lifts in the Goat’s Eye area (one of the three mountainsides covered by the resort), a new mountain lodge at the top of the Wolverine and Jackrabbit chairlifts and increased chair capacity on the TeePee Town chairlift. Skiers visiting Sunshine Village tend to combine the resort with others, and will often stay in Banff. However, if you’ll be spending most of your time on Sunshine Village’s slopes, consider the Sunshine Mountain Lodge, a beautiful three-star boutique hotel with unbeatable views over the Canadian Rockies.
Check out our full Sunshine Village guide for more info on one of the most famous ski resorts in Canada.
Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Just in time for the 2023/24 season, Mont Tremblant will become one of the member resorts of the Ikon Pass scheme, which means serious savings for skiers and snowboarders – including on lift passes - along with perks such as early access to slopes and discounts at retailers and restaurants. And while Intrawest-owned Mont Tremblant isn’t the highest resort in North America (it tops out at just 875 metres), for beginner-friendly terrain, it’s hard to beat. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to aesthetics too, with slopes leading down to a picturesque European style village which looks like it was designed by Disney – think cobbled walkways and communal fire-pits.
The resort’s après ski offering defies its size – you’ll find everything from cosy brew pubs to chic cocktail bars, and there’s no shortage of fantastic restaurants either (poutine and sugar-crusted beaver tails are amongst the most popular delicacies). The majority of the accommodation is in the resort’s centre – stay here and you’ll get easy access to the slopes, more specifically 95 trails and three snow parks. Head to the higher runs for breathtaking views over the Laurentian mountains.
Another reason to head to Mont Tremblant? There’s rarely any shortage of the white stuff – on average, average the resort gets 12.47 feet of the white stuff every year. But a word of warning – you’ll need to wrap up warm. Between December and February the mercury regularly plummets to below minus 30ºC, so make sure you’ve packed your thermals.
Read our full Mont Tremblant resort guide here to find out more about one of the best Canadian ski resorts.
Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia
Getting from Vancouver to Whistler, arguably the most famous of the ski resorts in Canada, involves just a two-hour drive, and a spectacular one at that – you’ll cruise along the Sea to Sky highway, famous for its awe-inspiring views.
Once you arrive, you'll find supersized ski resort with terrain to suit skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, whether it’s adrenaline junkies keen to carve up the 16 alpine bowls and fun parks, or intermediates dreaming of honing their skills on the 200 trails, spread over 3,300 hectares. The Peak 2 Peak gondola, which opened in 2007, means it’s easy to whiz between the Blackcomb and Whistler ski areas, and if you get your timing right you’ll enjoy a ride in the glass-bottomed gondola.
Whistler is justifiably famous for its powder skiing and this year, getting the resort’s best bits will also be even easier. The four-seater Fitzsimmons Express chairlift, which departs from Whistler Village, will be replaced by an eight-person high speed chair in time for the 2023/24 season.
Fancy a spot of heli-skiing? You’ve come to the right place. The resort offers a number of packages, although this isn’t an activity which comes cheap - expect to pay around £5,000 for six runs. The good news is that sticking to the pistes is almost as much fun, thanks largely to the resort’s snow sure reputation: on average, Whistler gets 11.7 metres of snow every year.
Make sure you take the time to check out Whistler Village too. It's a brilliant base for those who are keen on easy access to the slopes but also love a bit of après-ski. It’s where you’ll find the resort’s best luxury hotels and restaurants, along with some fantastic galleries and museums.
Check out our full Whistler resort guide for tips on where to go in one of Canada's top ski resorts.