The Okanagan ski resorts, which consist of Big White, Silver Star and Sun Peaks, may not have the same renown as other British Columbia ski resorts, but in fact pack a serious punch for the ski vacationer looking to go somewhere new and experience a ski destination off the beaten path. Scroll down to read more about our 7 favorite things about the Okanagan ski resorts.
1. Large amount of skiable acres and few crowds
If you’ve dreamed of skiing a new run every chairlift ride sans hordes of eager skiers or snowboarders, then the Okanagan ski region will become your new favorite ski destination.
Sun Peaks has added 500 additional acres of lift-accessed sidecountry terrain for the 2014/15 ski season, which bumps its total to more than 4,200 acres. Silver Star increased their acreage last season with the addition of the Darkside—an expert skier’s paradise—bringing its total to 3,000-plus acres. Big White offers 2,565 acres of incredible intermediate to advanced glades and wide-open blue cruisers. The Okanagan ski resorts are lesser known and don’t see large crowds, making it possible to enjoy fresh tracks all day long. This is especially true during the weekdays.
2. Canada’s best ski in, ski out base villages
The Okanagan ski resorts may not be internationally renowned like Whistler Blackcomb, however, the resorts are acclaimed within Canada as having the nation’s best ski in, ski out accommodations and base villages. In fact, Ski Canada dubbed the Okanagan resorts the “best choice for lazybones who like to ski straight from their doors.”
Nearly every Okanagan lodging option can offer ski in, ski out or slopeside access. Big White boasts Canada’s largest fully ski in, ski out base village and is a favorite among families for its convenience, children’s programs and facilities, and welcoming beginner and intermediate terrain.
Watch the video below to learn more about Big White and its world-class base village.
3. Lots of sunshine
Located just above a high-alpine desert and inland enough to avoid the moisture-rich clouds that hang over Vancouver and much of the coast, the Okanagan resorts enjoy as much as 2,000 hours of sunshine annually. This bounty of Vitamin D is another factor that makes the Okanagan Valley a successful wine-growing region. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!
4. Terrain for every level
From Silver Star’s and Sun Peaks’ terrain additions to Big White’s picture-perfect intermediate terrain, Okanagan ski resorts have awesome terrain for every skier or snowboarder. Silver Star’s Darkside offers challenge-seekers 37 black and double-black runs and is likened to heli-skiing for the price of a lift ticket. Sun Peaks’ new Tod Mountain terrain, known as Gil’s, offers skiers long, lift-accessed glades, and the new terrain off of West Morrissey provides steep and deep lovers with some incredible high-alpine skiing. Big White is lauded as family-friendly resort for a lot of reasons, but its terrain offerings take the cake. Big White’s gentle, gladed runs and 25 feet of annual snowfall provide intermediates with a unique opportunity to learn to ski powder in a comfortable manner.
5. Uber close to airports
Stress-free traveling is among the Okanagan’s biggest draws. Big White and Silver Star are just 45 minutes from Kelowna International Airport and Sun Peaks is just 45 minutes from Kamloops Airport and 2.5 hours’ drive from Kelowna. This kind of convenience provides the opportunity to maximize your time on the slopes by skiing half days on travel days. Unless you’d like to explore multiple Okanagan ski resorts during your stay, you won’t need a rental car as there are plenty of ground transfer options to and from the airports.
6. Lots of activities and attractions
From Silver Star’s 100 kilometers (62 miles) of Nordic trails, snowmobiling and ice skating to local winery tastings and convenient, hassle-free dining in the the base villages, the Okanagan resorts provide no shortage of activities. Aerobic and outdoor adventurers alike will enjoy sliding and gliding on Silver Star’s world-class Nordic trails. Before 2010, the trails served as training grounds for Olympic athletes. Sun Peaks offers an unforgettable guided snowshoe tour followed by a fireside dinner. Big White’s Mega Snow Coaster Tube Park is a favorite apres-ski activity of the young and young at heart.
7. Receives 25 feet of snow annually
If buttering some soft powder turns are high on your list, the Okanagan resorts are no slouches in the snowfall department. Boasting about 300 inches annually, the ski resorts can hold their own against most of the popular Colorado resorts, while enjoying fewer crowds. Imagine floating through two feet of fresh snow without competing for that perfect line you eyeballed from the chairlift. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
We tapped Mountain Travel Expert Christine Connolly to share some of her favorite things about the Okanagan region, too.
Mountain Travel Expert Since 2001
Sun Peaks is also a great family destination. It’s situated at a lower elevation and it still has one of the steeper verticals that you would get at some higher elevation resorts, not to mention all of the ski in, ski out accommodations! I love the ski-through village, too!
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.