Incredibly light powder and untamed terrain, along with epic scenery and some of the world’s best glades. Hardcore skiers and snowboarders head to Canada in their droves for all this and more, and we're lucky enough to call the mountains here home. If you’re in search of a Canadian winter, make sure these eight resorts are top of your bucket list, and come ride 'em with us.
Fernie Alpine Resort
Where: Lizard Range, Rocky Mountains, British Columbia
In short: One of the world’s best powder destinations with five epic bowls and the biggest vertical in the Rockies.
A steep and deep resort, Fernie has a cult reputation for the best powder in the Rockies – it’s light, dry and plentiful, with up to 10 metres falling each season. You’ve also got the biggest vertical in the Rockies (3,550ft) to contend with, and more than 2,500 acres of terrain across five famous bowls: Siberia, Timber, Currie, Lizard and Cedar. Many of Fernie’s 142 marked trails are ungroomed, and 75 of these are rated black or double black. Expect to push yourself through endless trees, steep chutes and open fields.
Must ski: Traverse Currie Bowl to access ‘The Saddles’ – a series of steep, narrow chutes which drop you into a giant powder field. One of these, Corner Pocket, requires you to lower yourself down a section of tyres using a rope. On a powder day, head into Cedar Bowl and over to the far side to access Snake Ridge – a small boot-pack will get you to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with a huge vert of steep powder turns through trees, gulleys and ridges – all in one run.
It special because… the soft snow is what truly separates Fernie from many resorts – it’s so light and fluffy, it makes riding the steeps surprisingly accessible. The horse-shoe shape of the bowls traps weather systems from the coast – and they unload on the Lizard Range.
Nonstop courses here: Our home resort, we’ve a range of instructor courses and all-mountain camps, including our famous 11 week instructor course, 4 week ‘master the mountain’ camp and 2 week ‘ready to heli’.
RED MOUNTAIN RESORT
Where: Rossland, Monashee Mountains, British Columbia
In short: A remote, unspoiled hill with some of the best tree runs in the world.
A real favourite of ours, we love Red Mountain for its endless, playful terrain and hardcore vibe. Made up of three peaks – Red, Granite and Grey – with 360° skiing, the hill offers 28 black and 28 double black runs. Another stop of the World Freeride Qualifying Tour, you’ll find soft pillows, steep pitches and epic tree skiing – regarded as some of the best in North America. Don't be fooled by the shorter runs on the Red side, they will quickly turn legs of steel into jelly. With 2,919 vertical feet, 110 marked runs and 3,850 skiable acres, there are plenty of fresh lines to be had.
Must ski: War Eagle on ‘Red Mountain’ is a steep, super fun pitch with trees spaced the perfect distance apart for beautiful flow and rhythm.
It’s special because… a rarity in the snowsports world, this is a true mountain-lovers resort with a genuine local vibe and a lack of commercial development. One of the oldest ski hills in North America – the roots still hold true.
Nonstop courses here: You can ride Red Mountain on snow safari along the Powder Highway – second stop.
Where: Mount Mackenzie, Monashee Mountains, British Columbia
In short: Wild, unmarked trails and vast heli-drop terrain.
A heli-skiing hub with the longest lift-serviced vertical in North America (5,620 feet), Revy serves up more than 3,000 acres of rugged terrain. Many of its trails are unmarked, with only 69 signed runs across four alpine bowls. Ten of these are graded black or double black, while the rest is a free for all – there’s plenty to get your adrenaline pumping here. This is also a prime heli-ski playground, with half a million acres of drop terrain. Packed with gnarly features, there’s a reason the World Freeride Tour stops at Revy for their qualifier rounds.
Must ski: The longest black run in North America, Pitch Black is 5,500 vertical feet of thigh-burning goodness.
It’s special because… Revy is the world’s only resort to offer lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing from one base.
Nonstop courses here: Revelstoke is the third stop on our snow safari through BC.
Where: Banff National Park, Rocky Mountains, Alberta
In short: Epic scenery, open terrain and some of Canada’s toughest freeriding.
One of three resorts accessed from Banff, ‘The Shine’ boasts 3,358 acres of terrain and a vertical rise of 3,514 feet. Its 115 marked trails range from cruisy groomers to death-defying steeps, and more than 67 of the trails are graded black or double black, and there are plenty of intermediate trails for easier days. At 8,954 feet, this is the highest resort in North America, which means top-quality snow and jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain scenery.
Must ski: The Delirium Dive freeride zone is seriously steep and, once you're in, there's no turning back. Rated as one of the world’s top 10 off-piste destinations and one of the “The World’s Scariest Ski Runs” (The Telegraph).
It’s special because… Sunshine’s high elevation gives it the best snow in Banff and one of the longest seasons in Canada.
Nonstop courses here: Our 11 week instructor course in Banff will have you riding all SkiBig3 resorts, including Sunshine Village. We also run our famous all-mountain camps here and use the epic parks for our freestyle course.
Where: Banff National Park, Rocky Mountains, Alberta
In short: A vast and varied resort with challenging terrain a real feeling of wilderness.
Powder bowls, World Cup downhills and panoramic views. The biggest resort in the Banff trio, Lake Louise has more than 4,200 acres of open terrain and 3,250 vertical feet. A staggering 106 runs are rated black or double black, and the expert terrain has a heap of gnarly features that includes rocky bowls, cliff drops and cornice-capped chutes. The Paradise Chair gives endless Rocky Mountain views and is a great vantage point of the terrain – you can map-out your line as you ride up, and claim rock star status on the ride down. Lake Louise is also a great resort for progression, with intermediate and expert runs descending from every chair.
Must ski: The remote Back Bowls are the place to go if you’re hunting for powder and steeps. You’ve also got the notorious men’s and ladies’ World Cup downhill runs to get your thighs burning – where the fastest ski racers in the world kick of their World Cup season every winter.
It’s special because… Canada’s third largest ski area, Lake Louise serves up a real mix of terrain, epic top-to-bottom runs, plus the best views in the Rockies.
Nonstop courses here: Our 11 week instructor course in Banff will have you training at Lake Louise. We also ski here on our all-mountain camps and freestyle course.
Where: Purcell Mountains, British Columbia
In short: A hardcore resort that puts even the toughest riders to the test – only the brave ride the Horse.
A natural stop on the World Freeride Qualifying Tour, the Horse boasts 4,133 vertical feet and more than 2,825 skiable acres. A staggering 99 of its 128 runs are rated black or double black, and they sweep through no less than 85 inbound chutes. With 60 double blacks in total, this is the only resort on our list where double blacks outnumber blacks. Chairlifts are few (there are four) but one of these takes you right to the summit, giving you easy access to the best bowls and ridges. The scope for adventure is huge and, with hardly any crowds, finding freshies on a powder day is always achievable.
Must ski: Brave the ridge walk hike to Terminator 1 and you’ll be rewarded with a choice of 10 incredible double black chutes, all lined up and ready for the taking. You’ve also got ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – a boot-pack to access a backcountry-like bowl with a mandatory cornice-drop in and insane views.
It’s special because… a champagned powder paradise. this rugged resort’s ridges and bowls keep the snow stashed deeper and longer.
Nonstop courses here: Kicking Horse is the final stop on our snow safari through BC.
Where: Coast Mountains, British Columbia
In short: A mega resort with endless powder options and a village to rival the best in Europe.
Get ready for 8,100 acres of varied terrain and 12 alpine bowls, full of West Coast powder. This world-famous resort is unbeatable in North America for its size, infrastructure and vast ski area. The skiing is across two mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb – and its 200+ marked trails and 33 lifts will keep your legs pumping for weeks on end. Experts can work their way through in-bounds double-black diamonds, glades and couloirs. For guaranteed freshies on a powder day, just remember to set your alarm early to beat the crowds.
Must ski: Blackcomb Glacier should be first on the list for confident riders. Access is via a short hike, and the snow quality here is excellent.
It’s special because… Whistler is the biggest winter resort in North America and the world’s largest ski area outside Europe.
Where: Nelson, Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia
In short: A no-frills resort that’s a mecca for life-accessed backcountry, with some of Canada’s best tree skiing.
An insane 12 metres of snow falls annually at Whitewater, and there are no crowds to track it out. What started out as a local community hill has started gathering momentum as an unmissable powder mecca. Our advice? Go now, before everyone else does. There are 82 marked trails within its 2,367 skiable acres but the big draw is its backcountry glades, chutes, steeps and bowls. More than half of the terrain is aimed at expert and advanced riders, but there’s a good range of intermediate runs too. Known locally as WH20, this Powder Highway resort and town have a laid-back, no-frill feel.
Must ski: Diamond Glades is one of the best tree runs for advanced riders.
It’s special because… this backcountry paradise is authentic, uncrowded and overflowing with powder.
We look forward to speaking with you.