During the winter months, ski enthusiasts pack up their best gear and head to their favorite ski hills. Those lucky enough to live by a mountain don’t have to travel very far for spectacular skiing. However, for those of us who live near the ski hills that are under 600 feet high, ski resorts are the obvious destinations of choice. Canada really is a winter wonderland for ski enthusiasts, with ski hills nearby almost every major city in Canada, smaller than resorts, but the adventure is still nearby. The best ski resorts in Canada, in no particular order, include;
Whistler-Blackcomb. Whistler has a vertical drop of over 5,000 feet, and Blackcomb has over 5,280 feet of vertical heaven. The most popular trail, a triple-diamond (for professionals only) is righteously called “Heaven.” With over 100 trails each (there are two mountains, Blackcomb and Whistler, and they are connected by a tram line, buses and other means of transport), and the longest at each 7 miles long, these are not small ski hills.
The Canadian Rockies Express is one of the newest, most advanced and comfortable high-speed quad-chair lifts in the country at Marmot Basin ski resort in Jasper, Alberta. Climb 2,000 vertical feet in less than seven and a half minutes, the fastest vertical climb yet in North America. Open from late November until late April, Marmot Basin is nestled within Jasper Provincial Park, and has a 3,000 foot vertical drop with 86 trails and 8 ski lifts.
Big White, the second-largest ski resort in Canada, is a beautiful ski resort nestled among the Rocky Mountains. Located near Kelowna, British Columbia, Big White has an average of over 24 feet of snow per year. 118 Ski trails await, with a 2,550 foot vertical drop for the hard-core ski enthusiasts.
Banff, with three ski resorts in one, Lake Louise, Norquay and Sunshine Village, is a great place to ski for people wanting to see the Rockies from the edge. Banff offers a variety of activities, with runs at all three mountains being world-class ski resort destinations. There are over 4,200 ski-able acres of mountain runs in this resort haven, and it is a destination for many world-class skiers and celebrities alike.
In the prairie provinces, the Nighthawk Recreation Area is one rather interesting ski resort, in that there is winter skiing from December until late March, and summer water skiing, vertically, with aerial water skiing from May until late September. For a truly different skiing experience, try the Nighthawk Recreation Area in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Nine trails and two lifts await, but the summer aerial skiing is a must.
Mont Tremblant, about an hour’s drive North of Montreal, Quebec, is a picture-perfect ski resort. It almost looks as though it was taken from Switzerland and rebuilt in the mountainous regions of the south-central province of Quebec. It accommodates 2,700 skiers and snowboarders per hour, with 94 ski trails, north and south face skiing, with a gondola that takes skiers to the summit, where they can decide which side to go down. Mont Tremblant, about an hour’s drive north of Montreal, Quebec, has 94 trails, a vertical drop of 2,870 feet on the north face, and 2116 feet on the S=south face. Averaging 150 inches of natural snow, with hundreds of snow guns, Mont Tremblant is the jewel of Eastern Canada skiing.
Grey Rocks, on the shores of Lake Ouimet in Quebec, a five-minute drive from Mont Tremblant, is a gorgeous ski resort. A vertical drop of only 620 feet is more for the younger and less-advanced skiers, but Grey Rocks, with 24 runs and 4 lifts, is a beautiful mountain ski resort, one not to be missed in the skiing heartland of Quebec. Cheaper accommodations at Grey Rocks could see the skiers enjoying both Grey Rocks and Mont Tremblant during the same skiing vacation.
Mont Saint-Sauveur is one of the coolest ski resorts in that they have a half-million-watt lighting system that lights up the night for 24-hour skiing. Combining five mountains, Mont Saint-Sauveur is one truly unique and wonderful ski resort that is open later than all other ski hills in Eastern Canada, open until June due to the pristine snow conditions. A vertical drop of 700 feet awaits skiers, with 38 runs. Night skiers should most definitely put Mont Saint-Sauveur on their destination wish lists.
And what would a Canadian ski resort listing be without a showing from Newfoundland? Enjoy the camaraderie of the locals, the food and hospitality, and the wonderful winter playground at Marble Mountain, near Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Marble Mountain has a 1,700-foot vertical drop, quad-chair ski lifts, 24 runs, and a wonderful 15,840 foot ski run! Snowboarders will love the half-pipes, and there is an annual average of over 200 inches of fresh, virgin snow. Accommodations are plenty and rather inexpensive, friendly and more than accommodating. Food is like nowhere else!
Check each ski resorts’ websites, and make reservations for your next ski trip. You won’t regret it.