Three must-do British Columbia road trips for skiers and boarders

Driving on highway 95 near Fairmont Hot Springs. Photo credit: Destination BC/Kari Medig

There’s no better way to experience British Columbia, Canada than with a road trip.

With so many ski resorts scattered throughout the province, it’s easy to ski and snowboard multiple destinations within just a couple of weeks – all while taking in the most incredible scenery, hitting up the coolest ski towns, and getting to experience it all just as the lucky locals do.

For those ready to take on the open road, we’ve got three of the top road trips for snow lovers below. All you’ll need is your sense of adventure, your powder skis and a rental car with winter tires.

1. The Sea to Sky highway to take your breath away

For those who want to spend less time in the car but still experience some of the most incredible scenery British Columbia has to offer – you can’t go past the Sea to Sky road trip from Vancouver to Whistler Blackcomb.

The scenic drive will take you through the most jaw-dropping coastal landscapes, with views of mountains, the Pacific Ocean and a spectacular fjord which forms the centrepiece of the Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region. It’s worth a stop by the Sea to Sky Gondola to properly take in the views, along with a lunch break in the town of Squamish, where you can taste fresh, local ingredients at boutique restaurants.

Your journey will then reward you with your arrival in Whistler – the biggest ski resort in North America, with a massive 8000+ acres of skiable terrain, including a vast variety of runs for all skill levels and world-class terrain parks. There’s also a base village with so much on offer, you’ll never find yourself at a loose end – from the spectacular Scandinave Spa set among the trees to seemingly endless restaurants, shopping, art galleries and bars for après fun. Plus snowshoeing, bobsleigh rides at the Whistler Sliding Centre, ice skating, axe throwing, tubing, dog-sledding, the list goes on…

2. The Powder Highway to burn the thighs

Freestyle Skiing at Whitewater Ski Resort. Photo credit: Destination BC/Kari Medig

The Powder Highway is a legendary route through the Kootenay Rockies region of British Columbia. There are eight resorts in total on the route but you can do as many or as few as your schedule allows for – and get ready for the steep and deep, as there’s plenty of it to be found here.

Start at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, which offers the highest vertical in North America at over 1760 metres. With over 3000 acres of skiable terrain offering the most incredible thrills across the mountain, this is the place to be on a powder day, lining up for the gondola with the locals on their fat skis. The town of Revelstoke is also great fun, with craft breweries and distilleries lining the streets alongside restaurants and bars.

The excitement continues at the next stop, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. With deep powder bowls, steep chutes and long runs making up the 3400 acres of skiable terrain, your heart will be pumping over the 120 runs. This is also the place to access great backcountry terrain with a local guide to point you to those untouched spots.

From there, you can change the vibe up a little at Panorama Mountain Resort, a picture-perfect resort offering 3000 acres to play across 129 runs. The village has everything you need, including on-mountain hot springs to rest those weary legs after a huge day on the slopes – and the town of Invermere, just a short drive from the resort, boasts the Whiteway, the world’s longest skating path.

Continue south to Kimberley Alpine Resort, where 1800 acres of terrain are waiting to be discovered. Don’t let the family-friendly nature of the front side of the mountain fool you; the back side offers plenty of challenges and tight tree runs with incredible views over the Kootenays.

You’ll then carry the fun over to Fernie Alpine Resort, which has five distinct bowls to ski and snowboard across 2500 acres of skiable terrain. Choose your challenge between the five, and look up to the chutes if you want to see people really going for it. Bonus: one of the province’s best-looking ski towns is just down the street from where you’ll be making your turns.

From there, the final stretch awaits you. Head to Whitewater Ski Resort, where you’re unlikely to wait in a single lift line, and there are more tree runs than you could ever hope to do across the 1200 acres. You can bed down in the nearby town of Nelson, home to incredible local food and a thriving arts and music scene.

And if you’ve made it this far on your loop, you’ve earned a drink or two. Your last stop is the town of Rossland, home to RED Mountain Resort with a huge 3800 acres of skiable terrain to explore. With in-bounds cat skiing to enjoy alongside all the powder runs, you’ll love finding your favourites before making your way into one of the many local businesses serving up craft brews.

There’s an option to loop all the way back up to Revelstoke from RED, or head back to Kelowna to fly out and rest those ski legs for the next adventure.

3. The Okanagan road trip – a trilogy for snow lovers

Chalets at SilverStar Mountain Resort with the Monashee Mountains in the distance. Photo credit: Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is home to resorts known for their welcoming atmospheres, cute-as-a-button villages and what they call ‘Okanagan Champagne Powder’: the light, dry, fluffy stuff that makes the skiing and snowboarding so good.

Start in the city of Kelowna, where you can rent a car and explore the local offerings. Your first stop will be SilverStar Mountain Resort, where you can check in to a range of their ski-in, ski-out accommodation options at the base of their 3200 acres of skiable terrain and 132 runs.

With a frontside and a backside to the mountain, there’s something for everyone here – from beginner getting comfortable all the way through to expert skiers hunting for those chutes and gullies. By night, wander through the colourful, storybook-style village to find restaurants, bars and ten pin bowling, or go ice skating, fat biking and tubing.

When you’ve had your fill, head straight over to Big White Ski Resort. With 2700 acres of skiable terrain and 119 runs, they get an average of 750cm of snowfall every year – making for incredible skiing and boarding across the mountain, including in the glades, bowls and double-black-diamond area of the Cliff chair lift.

When not on the slopes, you can go dog-sledding, take sleigh rides through the snow-clad trees of the forest, try your hand at ice-climbing, or wander through the restaurants and shops of the ski-in, ski-out village.

Your third and final stop is Apex Mountain Resort. The most low-key of the three Okanagan resorts, Apex has just over 1100 skiable acres and 79 runs that you’ll likely have all to yourself. The off-snow highlight here is the ice-skating loop that winds its way through the forest, and the legendary après to be found at the Gunbarrel Saloon.

Ready to gear up and hit the road? Click here to find out more about British Columbia and start your planning.

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