Variety is the spice of life, and Canada’s ski resorts are no exception. From big steeps in the Rockies to crisp corduroy out east, we chose 11 that are each known for something different.
From hot après spots and night skiing to variety of terrain and driving time, there’s a lot to factor in when choosing where to ski or ride in the Great White North. Looking for a lesson? Head to Rabbit Hill outside Edmonton. Want to follow in the footsteps of three pro snowboarders? You might be surprised by the small but mighty Martock in Nova Scotia. Sure you can go after a massive bucket list, but if you’re seeking unique this season, these are the spots.
Photo courtesy of Mont Tremblant
Location: Nestled in the Laurentian Mountains just a 1 hour and 40 minute drive from Montreal.
Known for: Variety of terrain and activities, plus plenty of après delights.
This eastern Canadian skier’s paradise offers 96 trails and four sides to choose from. Beginners and families will be pleased with the variety of accessible terrain, while intermediate and advanced skiers can find plenty of slopes to fulfill carving desires. Make sure you get up early – you’ll definitely want to lay first tracks into the mountain’s meticulously groomed corduroy. Off-piste, be prepared to mingle with a large outdoor crowd out for ice climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, skating and tubing.
The colourful village at Mont Tremblant’s base is European-influenced in its design, and is lively, buzzing through the day and night with shops, restaurants, and Quebecois traditions like tire d’érable (maple taffy). A gondola traffics pedestrians between the split village with ease, making the 75 shops and restaurants incredibly accessible. Microbrewerie La Diable has your local craft beers, La Forge Bar & Grill your après nosh and Le P’tit Caribou your spin-ready DJ.
Top off your visit: Spend a night on the hill for perks like ice skate loans, first track access and free evening tube rides.
Photo by Olivier Croteau, courtesy of Stoneham Resort.
Location: A quick 30-minute drive from downtown Quebec City.
Known for: Night skiing, freestyle terrain and exceptional park design.
An Olympic-size half-pipe is just one of the impressive features of this night skiing go-to. Freestyle terrain is king at Stoneham – the XL 418 Park has modules designed specifically for experts and step-up jumps that minimize the impact of landing. It’s a favourite of professional snowboarder Jason Dubois.
Those newer to park and pipe can work their way up. Beginner and intermediate parks are primed for lots of practice hours with nighttime flood lights and an intermediate rail section. The three mountains offer a total of 42 trails that are sheltered from strong winds. Three quad chairlifts get riders up top in a flash, and one bubble-top chair offers extra protection from the chill.
Top off your visit: Make sure your après includes a visit to the 4-Foyer bar, which Ski Magazine lauded as “one of the best designed ski bars anywhere.”
Photo courtesy of Blue Mountain.
Location: On the shores of Georgian Bay, an approximate 2-hour drive from Hamilton, Mississauga or Toronto.
Known for: Holding the title of Ontario’s largest mountain resort and its family-friendly reputation.
Ontarians seem to charge “the Blue” at every opportunity, and with good reason. The hill boasts 42 trails with 15 lifts (including five high-speed six-person express chairs). Here, number of runs holds just as much cred as the number of days on your pass, and with night skiing, the laps can continue after the sun goes down.
The beginner-oriented Newbie program available through the mountain’s snow school includes lessons, gear, and access to a self-guided circuit aimed at developing your skills. Novice and advanced skiers and riders will find plenty of slick blue runs to charge and carve, plus glade runs to satisfy tree lovers.
The Ridge Runner mountain coaster makes for some seriously happy kiddos, and parents can find more to entertain young snow bunnies with skating, tubing or snowshoeing.
Top off your visit: Treat your tired muscles to a post-slope massage at the Scandinave Spa, a dunk in the Scandinavian baths and a session in the eucalyptus steam room.
Photo by David McColm, courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb.
Location: A 2-hour drive from downtown Vancouver up the stunning Sea to Sky highway.
Known for: Two mega mountains, sweeping views and powder days.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Whistler continues to be that bucket list ski vacation destination for Canadians and international skiers and boarders the world over. Host to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, these hills are what you might call the Big Time. The two side-by-side mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb – span 8,171 acres and are connected by the Guinness World Record-holding Peak 2 Peak Gondola, giving skiers of every ability several days’ worth of terrain to cover.
After a lengthy day of skiing or boarding, the village is the place to go for unconventional après like sushi and a variety of music, including 80s nights, house and reggae. Excessively garnished caesars at Merlin’s are a favourite.
Top off your visit: If ever there was a time to spend some money on a heli-skiing venture, this is it.
Photo courtesy of Camp Fortune.
Location: Only a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa/Gatineau.
Known for: Servicing the lunchtime and after-work crowds and some seriously crisp corduroy.
If you can duck out for some day laps during the work week, you’ll be one happy camper to find lots of terrain over five hills and virtually no lift lines. There are sweet lines all over the mountain and this is where you get to really lay into groomers. Sparks and Paradis are fantastic cruisers; North American and the still newish run Duffy are great on powder days (yes, they do exist) as they are all natural and have varied terrain; and Heggveit is the signature run and it is tonnes of fun to cruise down first thing in the morning.
The hill regularly takes the crown for the longest ski season in the region, has a terrain park with 12 hits, hosts well-lit night skiing and keeps the après crowd happy with two lodges.
Top off your visit: New for this season, an extreme glade run for advances skiers off of Heggtveit.
Photo by Joffrey Koeman, courtesy of Cypress Mountain.
Location: A 30–40 minute drive from downtown Vancouver.
Known for: The largest vertical rise on the North Shore mountains, great views of Vancouver and the ocean.
Cypress is a favourite among Lower Mainland residents. Canada’s first gold medals of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games were won on this mountain, giving it some hometown glory. The largest vertical in the area, great choice of terrain and several faces to explore make it the after-work or half-day no brainer. A total of 53 runs and four terrain parks will keep you interested until it’s time to duck into the lodge for a burger and a local brew.
Also home to 19km of groomed and track-set trails, the mountain is also popular with Nordic skiers (7.5km are lit for regular night skiing) and families looking to play in the snow tubing park.
Top off your visit: If you need to give your legs a bit of break, this is a great spot to try snowshoeing.
Photo courtesy of Rabbit Hill.
Location: Situated on the bank of the North Saskatchewan River, a 45-minute drive from downtown Edmonton.
Known for: Beginner-friendly terrain and accessible night skiing.
Small but mighty, Rabbit Hill has been a major snowsports hub in Edmonton for over 60 years. The snow making team at the hill keep the conditions fluffy, crisp and groomed regardless of what mother nature has in store. The hill is made for first timers and fast learners – magic carpets, tow ropes and T-bars sandwich a triple chairlift that caters to more advanced skiers.
Two terrain parks house a bunch of boxes and rails arranged in a progressive design so you can build your skills from ride-on to jump-on.
Top off your visit: Take a lesson – from group to private lessons, this is the place to learn and really nail down your technique.
Photo courtesy of Winsport COP.
Location: In the SW quadrant, a 20-minute drive from downtown Calgary.
Known for: Hosting the 1988 Olympic Winter Games and being Calgary’s only in-city ski hill.
You may find yourself asked to pose for a picture with tourists as you come off the top of the 88 Express Chair since the Winsport grounds are home to far more than just ski terrain. Ski jumps, Nordic trails, an Olympic-sized bobsled track, Canada Sports Hall of Fame, and an ice house for year-round winter training invite quite the crowd.
There are 14 hectares of skiable terrain on this little hill armed with two high-speed quad chairlifts and five magic carpets, including an impressive terrain park with a mini pipe and flow-optimized rail and jump system that build to western Canada’s largest pipe, a 22-foot tall, 60-foot wide super pipe. The hill is a favourite for after-school and work activity.
Top off your visit: Let an expert pilot whip you through 10 twists and turns at 100km/hour on the bobsled track.
Photo courtesy of Martock Resort.
Location: Neighbouring the Avon River, an hour drive from downtown Halifax.
Known for: Friendly staff and holding its own through humid Atlantic weather.
Forget fishing, summer beaches and the Bluenose. Martock is home to a vibrant outdoor winter community. The hill may be small in size (600-feet of vertical with eight trails) but it packs a lot into a small space: two terrain parks, a halfpipe, Burton Riglet Park, five kilometres of Nordic trails and a biathlon range. Plus, the grounds are host to ski, snowboard, cross-country ski and biathlon competitions from local levels to national championchips.
For 100 odd days a year, this is where Atlantic Canadians come to play. The friendly nature of the hill keeps it feeling very neighbourly, and people come back season after season, including pro and Olympic snowboarders Trevor Andrew, Sarah Conrad and Alex Duckworth.
Top off your visit: Pay homage to the spirit of snowboarding and take a lesson, even if you’re a skier. The Burton Learn to Ride program makes it easy for adults or kids.
Photo courtesy of Sunshine Village.
Location: In Banff National Park, approximately 90 minutes from downtown Calgary.
Known for: The longest non-glacial season in Canada, wrapping spring skiing with Slush Cup.
With skiers and boarders out and ripping well into May, you can bet on this resort lives up to its name thanks to a large number of bluebird days each season. Its unique location on the Continental Divide means that you can ski in two provinces in one run. This location also produces light, dry, champagne powder across three mountains (Goat’s Eye, Lookout and Standish).
They have varied terrain that caters to all skill levels to keep any ski- or board-bum happy. Now with the first chairlift in Canada with heated seats, the Teepee Town LX lift, novice blue and green run skiers stay toasty and reach the top in just 4.5 minutes.
Come spring, it’s worth sticking around the last day of the year to watch costumed snow lovers skip or swim in a pool of melted snow.
Top off your visit: For the expert skier, there’s the double-black monster Delirium Dive, which requires avalanche gear to ride.
Photo courtesy of Lake Louise.
Location: In the Canadian Rockies, a 2-hour drive from downtown Calgary.
Known for: A six-month ski season that ends in May and proximity to the stunning emerald lake of the same name.
One of North America’s biggest resorts, Lake Louise spoils skiers and boarders with 145 runs spread across nearly 1700 hectares of terrain. The resort’s unique layout offers beginner, intermediate and advanced runs from every chair, which allows groups to split up based on skill level and then meet back at the chair for another ride up. Whether you favour chutes, glades and gullies, gentle slopes, cruisers or remote bowls, the front and back sides have plenty to offer. The progressive design of the mountain continues in the Showtime Terrain Park and features varied levels of jumps, boxes and rails.
There are more than a few lunch and après options once your legs get tired. Highly recommended: dine on-piste and out in the sun on the wraparound deck at the Lodge of Ten Peaks.
Top off your visit: The Fairmont on the lake gets all the glory, but if you’re going all-out on a ski vacation, then the Post Hotel is a big bucket list check.