For those of us who love snow-covered mountains, skiing and snowboarding in Canada is another experience you should add to your wish list. You can choose between the ski areas located in British Columbia and Alberta in the West or Quebec in the East.
There are many different destinations to choose from and to give you a taste of what you can expect, here is a whistlestop tour of some of the ski and snowboard areas better known to the British Market.
Banff National Park in Alberta offers the trio of Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Mount Norquay. You can choose to stay in the charming town of Banff itself, which has a variety of après ski venues, and use this as a base to visit the three areas of Lake Louise, Sunshine and Mount Norquay. Or choose to stay in, or closer to, one of the resorts which each have their own unique atmosphere.
Lake Louise, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offers a diverse range of slopes catering to all skill levels. The panoramic views of the turquoise-blue Lake Louise and towering snow-covered peaks add a majestic backdrop to the area.
It is a great destination for families, but if you prefer pushing your limits you can hire a guide and make the long hike with skins on your skis up the mountain and spend the night at Skoki Lodge where British Royals Prince William and Princess Katherine stayed during their honeymoon.
Sunshine Village, renowned for its breathtaking vistas and exceptional powder, has more than 3,300 acres of skiable terrain, with challenging slopes for advanced skiers and snowboarders, and gentle runs for beginners. One of its most famous runs is the iconic ‘Delirium Dive’. This is an expert-only zone of steep chutes. Sunshine’s high-altitude location guarantees a long season.
On the mountain, it is also possible to stand with one ski on each side of the great divide from where water from snow melt flows down into rivers and eastward to the Atlantic Ocean or westward to the Pacific Ocean.
Canada has a host of small ski areas and Mount Norquay is one of the best. These smaller resorts tend to be known as ‘Mom and Pop’ areas because of their unique family-friendly atmospheres. You can usually ski or snowboard the whole place in a day, but they are still well worth a visit.
Mount Norquay was established in 1926, making it one of Canada’s oldest ski areas. It now has more than 60 runs and a variety of winter activities. Plus, stop and have a drink or a meal at The Cliff House, a former meeting place for skiers to grab a warm-up, which has been refurbished into a bistro at the top of the historic North American Chairlift.
This purpose-built European-inspired village caters to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The abundant natural snowfall means the pistes can be kept in tip-top condition and regular grooming makes them a pleasure to ski and snowboard on.
Beyond the slopes, Tremblant’s pedestrian village includes quaint shops, cosy cafes, and lively après-ski spots. The village also includes an arena which hosts free music concerts and other events.
As well as the snow-covered mountains, the pistes and village are surrounded by the natural beauty of lakes and forests.
Whistler, in British Columbia, was already attracting skiers and snowboarders from all over the world even before it became even more well-known after hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Its link with the neighbouring mountain of Blackcomb enables the area to claim it as the largest in North America with 8,171 acres of terrain, more than 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers.
The two areas were originally under separate ownership and eventually combined under one lift ticket in 1997. Then in 2008, the Peak 2 Peak gondola was opened between the two areas making them even more accessible for skiers and snowboarders.
Visitors to the Quebec region can choose between several ski areas, a few of which overlook the St Lawrence River that flows through the historic city of Quebec and out into the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the newest and most impressive places to stay is the Club Med Quebec Charlevoix which gives skiers and snowboarders access to the Le Massif ski area. It is unusual in that Le Massif is an inverted mountain – visitors arrive at the top and then ski down to the banks of the frozen St Lawrence River.
Le Massif started as a ‘locals’ ski hill in the 1940s when there were no lifts. After getting a lift ticket at the top of the slopes, visitors skied down through the trees to the bottom where a bus would be waiting to take them by road back to the top again.
The area was taken over in the 1990s by Daniel Gauthier, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil. His investment and vision saw Le Massif install modern lifts and update facilities, plus new terrain has been opened up. Skiers and snowboarders can now choose between a variety of on and off-piste runs throughout more than 400 acres of terrain which this season sees the return of a snow park.
The views over the frozen St Lawrence River are truly spectacular and offer a completely different beauty to the mountain views in the Alps.
In North American ski areas, the focus is very much geared towards customer service and satisfaction and Canada typifies this approach.
You’ll find little touches to make your stay more enjoyable, and in places like Lake Louise for example there is an army of volunteers who will give you a tour of the best places to suit your ability as a free service.
There are new menus and dining experiences, plus a different kind of après ski as this starts in the base area when you come off the slopes and then continues in the town bars and cafes.
Getting there does involve an Atlantic crossing, but the experience is worth it.
Skiing And Snowboarding In Canada: A Summary
Canada offers an enticing array of ski and snowboarding experiences across provinces like British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. From Banff’s trio of Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Mount Norquay to the breathtaking vistas of Sunshine Village and the historical charm of Mount Norquay, each area offers unique skiing adventures. Tremblant’s European-inspired village, Whistler’s vast terrain linked by the Peak 2 Peak gondola, and Quebec’s Le Massif, with its unique inverted mountain setting, all promise exceptional experiences. These destinations prioritize customer service, providing personalized tours, diverse dining options, and lively après-ski activities, making the Atlantic crossing to Canada’s snow-covered mountains a worthwhile journey for enthusiasts.
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