At Ski.com, we know well that a lot of thought and planning goes into finding the ideal destination for a family ski vacation. The resort must provide terrain options for everyone in your brood, a variety of off-mountain experiences, easy accessibility to the slopes and affordability, as the cost of a family ski vacation adds up quickly with airfare, lift tickets, equipment rentals and lessons. In our experience, which spans 40-plus years, few other resorts can offer families what British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley ski resorts—Big White, Silver Star and Sun Peaks—can. Here’s why:
1. It’s affordable
If you were to compare the cost of a spring-break ski vacation to Sun Peaks for a family of four to one to Keystone, which is one of the most budget-friendly ski destinations in the U.S., the cost of similarly rated lodging is around 50% less. Thanks to favorable exchange rates, U.S. skiers can add an extra 20% off this season. That works out to about 70% less than what you pay for ski-vacation accommodations in the U.S.
2. There’s a ton of terrain
Last year, Sun Peaks added 500 acres of lift-accessed sidecountry terrain, bumping its total to more than 4,200 acres and making its terrain offerings comparable to Vail. Silver Star also 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, wide-open blue cruisers and gentle, beginner-friendly offerings. Every stripe of skier or rider in your family will find their slice of paradise in the Okanagan Valley.
3. There are few crowds
The Okanagan ski resorts are lesser known and don’t see large crowds, which is undoubtedly a plus for families. For powder-hungry parents, it’s possible to enjoy fresh tracks all day long. Plus, you don’t need to worry about throngs of speeding skiers and snowboarders racing by your little ones.
The lack of crowds ensures your kids can learn to ski or ride in a comfortable, safe environment.
4. Abundance of ski in ski out accommodations
Outside of Canada, the Okanagan ski resorts fly under the radar, but within the country they are renowned for having some of the best ski in ski out accommodations. For parents, easy access to the slopes eliminates the schlep factor and the potential for too much ski-boot walking, which is especially challenging for small children.
Nearly every Okanagan lodging property can offer ski in ski out or slopeside access, but Big White boasts Canada’s largest fully ski in ski out base village, making it uber popular with families who crave convenience.
5. Terrain options for everyone
Of all the Okanagan resorts, Big White is lauded as the most family friendly for several reasons, but its variety of terrain options is at the top of the list. Experts have plenty of short, but sweet runs that are perfect for lapping all day. Big White’s gentle, gladed runs and 25 feet of annual snowfall provide intermediates with a forgiving opportunity to learn to ski powder. Plus, Big White’s excellent ski school and topnotch children’s facilities offer a world-class learning experience for beginner adults and children alike.
Providing a larger array of advanced and expert-centric terrain, Silver Star’s new Darkside area offers access to 37 new black and double-black runs. This new terrain is comparable to what you would experience on a heli-skiing or cat-skiing trip. Additionally, teens and the aspirational jibbers in your family will enjoy cruising through Silver Star’s 10-acre Rockstar Energy Terrain Park. Sun Peaks’ new Tod Mountain terrain offers lift-accessed glades, and the new terrain on West Morrissey provides steep and deep lovers with some incredible high-alpine skiing.
The three resorts are within a two- to three-hour drive from one another, so it’s easy to check out the other resorts’ terrain for day or book a couple nights at each resort.
6. Plenty of activities
If you have young children who aren’t used to skiing day after day, non-alpine skiing activities on hand are key to keep everyone happy and entertained. If your family is adventurous and willing to try something new, Silver Star’s 62 miles and Sun Peak’s 12 miles of Nordic trails provide a unique experience, sure to illicit smiles and laughs.
Other local options include snowmobiling, ice skating, dog sledding and snow tubing at Silver Star’s tubing hill or Big White’s Mega Snow Coaster Tube Park, which is wildly popular among families.
7. It’s easy to get to
Spending half your vacation just getting to your destination with a gaggle of tired, cranky little ducklings in tow is not fun for anyone, nor a great way to start your family getaway. That’s not a problem on a family ski vacation to the Okanagan Valley. Big White and Silver Star are just a 45-minute drive from Kelowna airport and Sun Peaks is a 45-minute drive from Kamloops airport. Kelowna is serviced by 66 non-stop daily flights, so you can get there easily from many major cities.
Experience your most relaxing, affordable, fun and easy family ski vacation yet in the Okanagan Valley. Our 65+ Mountain Travel Experts can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more. They’re standing by at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a form for a free custom quote.
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.