Why you never forget your first snow trip to British Columbia, Canada

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the Eagle's Eye Restaurant. Photo credit: Kootenay Rockies Tourism/Mitch Winton

Canada’s snow-laden province of British Columbia is full of people who meant to come for two weeks and ended up staying a year. Five years. A lifetime.

Go once, and you’ll see why.

As the western province of Canada, it’s just a hop over the pond for those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere. BC, as it’s known, is the kind of place that winds itself around your snow heart, keeping you coming back time and time again.

We’ve got five reasons why.

 1. So. Many. Ski. Resorts.

Downhill skiing at RED Mountain Resort. Photo credit: Destination BC/ Kari Medig

With 13 destination ski resorts scattered across the province, the trickiest part of your trip to British Columbia may be working out where to ski and snowboard first. Each resort boasts extensive terrain, and you’ll want more than just a couple of days at each to find all the secret powder stashes.

Our tip? Choose two or three different resorts that best suit your group or family and spend five to seven days at each. Then expand your adventures in future trips (because we all know you’ll be coming back for more).

Families and those travelling with a mixed ability group will love resorts such as Big White, SilverStar, Sun Peaks and Panorama. With extensive ski-in, ski-out villages and great on-mountain dining and activities, they’ve also perfected terrain that covers everyone, from beginners to the more advanced skiers and boarders.

Looking to get into the wilderness and have the runs all to yourself? Try Fernie, Whitewater, Kimberley, Apex or RED Mountain Resort. Each is on the doorstep of beautiful ski towns, with quirky shops lining the streets and even quirkier locals ready to have a chat. Make sure your ski legs are ready, because you’re unlikely to ever stand in a lift line.

Thrillseekers are also well-catered for in British Columbia, with some of the steepest terrain to be found in-bounds. Hit up Revelstoke and Kicking Horse, and you may just discover an all-new meaning to the world gnarly.

And last but certainly not least – there’s North America’s biggest resort ready and waiting for those who want a little bit of everything. Whistler Blackcomb, just a short drive from BC’s largest city of Vancouver, has something to suit every kind of skier, snowboarder and even non-mountain lovers.

2. The ease of getting there – and around

Once you’ve chosen your destination resort in British Columbia, it’s easy enough to get there, even when travelling from the Southern Hemisphere. Multiple airlines, including Qantas, fly direct to Vancouver from the east coast of Australia, with the flight time taking about 14 hours.

Once in Vancouver, connect easily to one of the province’s airports for quick access to your ski resort of choice; both Kelowna and Cranbrook are popular options, with shuttles direct to resort or car hire available for the perfect road trip.

3. The pure wilderness

Backcountry skiing near Smithers. Photo credit: Northern BC Tourism/Mattias Fredriksson

British Columbia is home to 10 mountain ranges with nearly 8000 named peaks. It’s big, really big. Resorts are remote and serviced by cute-as-a-button country ski towns.

Step into the mountains here and you start to feel tiny. And not in a bad way. In the kind of way that reminds you that there’s a big world out there, and there are many spectacular things to see, and maybe whatever was troubling you at home starts to feel that little bit… insignificant.

4. The friendly locals

Whistler. Photo credit: Destination BC/Rick Collins

Be careful what you say to a British Columbian: express any interest in eating a meal, and you might just find yourself at their dinner table, saying no to a second serving of whatever they’re offering. Or if they’re not hosting you, they’ll at least be offering to walk you to the nearest top-rated restaurant to introduce you to the owner and explain their favourite dishes on the menu.

Those who have made their homes in British Columbia are beyond polite, kind and generous with their knowledge, eager to share their favourite place to ski, hang out and après.

5. All the cherries on top

Snow that falls by the metre load, snow so dry you can’t make a snowball. Poutine and Bloody Caesars. Axe-throwing as a leisure sport. The obsession with ice-hockey. Cat skiing. Heli boarding. Snow mobiling. Alpine distilleries, breweries and wineries. The list goes on.

From high-end, fancy-pants luxe resorts to lakeside destination spas to humble huts in the snow-laden woods – British Columbia knows how to woo you. Don’t fight it, it’s best to lean in.

Ready to experience British Columbia for the first time? Click here to get planning your trip, or get started with five must-do ski trips. 

10 things you didn’t know about skiing and boarding in British Columbia

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