Aprés ski at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo by: Reuben Krabbe, courtesy Destination BC
Skiing

The Ultimate Places to Ski, Sip, and Soak in Western Canada

Destination B.C. gives us the lowdown on the perfect ski trip in Western Canada.

Western Canada, and British Columbia in particular, is home to some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world—but it’s not all stunning landscape clichés and classic Canadian hospitality.

There are so many things that make exploring this region rewarding. In addition to world-class ski resorts, B.C. is renowned for its achievements in wine making, its booming craft beer industry, and the creatively designed cocktail programs at restaurants and bars across the province. Even better, there are numerous natural hot springs throughout B.C. that are the ideal way to relax sore muscles in between hitting the slopes and ordering the perfect après ski drink.

As the colder weather sets in, those who live for winter sports are already dreaming of opening day at their favorite mountain—but this is also the best time to discover a few new favorites. Take advantage of everything our neighbor to the north has to offer by visiting these three ski resorts this winter: Whistler Blackcomb, Kicking Horse, and Whitewater.

 

A couple enjoying the falling snow on Blackcomb Mountain

A snowy day at Whistler Blackcomb. Photo by: Andrew Strain, courtesy Destination BC

Ski

Just two hours from the Vancouver International Airport lies the premier ski resort in North America, Whistler Blackcomb. Boasting more than 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers, this pair of mountains is connected by the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and has such an active village life, it’s regularly visited by non-skiers all year round. Want to do Whistler like a local? Travel 10 minutes away from the village to Function Junction for a line-up-free Purebread bakery breakfast or try a tasting flight at Whistler Brewing Co.

One of Canada’s youngest ski areas has quickly become an international ski destination. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, so named because a horse turned his hooves on an explorer back in 1858, offers a ski-in, ski-out village with fantastic food and beverage options and warm hospitality everywhere you go. We recommend riding up the Golden Express Gondola as soon as you arrive; it’ll give you the best views of the endless Rocky Mountain summits, plus the snaking Columbia River a vertical mile beneath your feet.

If a family-friendly mountain with a distinct local vibe is what you’re after, Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson, B.C., is the answer. This spot in the Selkirk Range of the Columbia Mountains is part of the Powder Highway, a stretch so named because it’s home to the highest concentration of skiing and snowboarding in the world and an average snowfall of more than 60 feet of fresh, dry powder each year. This resort is unique in that the only accommodations are in nearby Nelson, making it impossible to avoid the charm of this food-focused, culturally rich town.

 

Wild BC Albacore Tuna Tataki. Photo by: Araxi

Wild BC Albacore Tuna Tataki. Photo by: Araxi

Sip (or Snack)

There’s certainly no shortage of excellent après options in Whistler Village, but none compare to the award-winning Araxi. Whether you prefer a unique single malt, a cocktail crafted from fresh ingredients, or a stellar bottle of wine with friends, The Bar at Araxi is the ideal spot for a casual drink and perhaps a selection of West Coast oysters.

If you find yourself near Golden at Kicking Horse, your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant—but be sure to make a reservation to avoid disappointment. While Eagle’s Eye does offer some breathtaking views, their extensive wine list is bound to leave you speechless as you peruse the selection from local wineries and beyond.

Nestled in the historic Hume Hotel & Spa, the Library Lounge is more than just a bibliophile’s dream come true—it’s also a cozy and inviting room to enjoy a local craft beer, glass of wine, or cocktail by the fireside and take in a bit of live music. Located in the artsy mountain town of Nelson, B.C., the Library Lounge is a great option for a bevvy after a day at Whitewater.

 

Relaxing at Scandinave Spa Whistler. Photo by: Jessie Byrne, courtesy Destination BC

Soak

When your muscles tell you it’s time to take a break from all of the outdoor adventure, head to Scandinave Spa Whistler. Experience traditional Scandinavian hydrotherapy, which involves immersing oneself in soothing hot and cold baths, while surrounded by mountains and woods. The spa also offers a variety of traditional massages, and every massage booked gives you access to the baths as well—you may want to cancel your plans and stay awhile.

The Kootenay Rockies region of B.C. plays host to several gorgeous, natural hot springs. If your winter holiday brings you to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, rest your weary bones at Radium Hot Springs. The mineral water at Radium is uniquely odorless and crystal clear and there’s a cooler pool nearby that’s ideal for kids. Since the springs are located in Kootenay National Park, you may well spot one of the bighorn sheep that call the park home.

Just 40 minutes from Whitewater Ski Resort and nestled in by Kootenay Lake, Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort has been welcoming guests since the 1930s, but has been valued for its restorative power by the Ktunaxa First Nation for far longer. Explore the natural cave hot springs or relax in the modern pool, where the heat and minerals will ease your tense muscles.

British Columbia features 10 mountain ranges, 13 ski resorts, and innumerable other brilliant winter attractions, making it a perfect destination for your next getaway. Whether you choose to go big at Whistler Blackcomb or get off the beaten path and explore the Kootenay Rockies region, there are piles of fresh powder waiting for you, exceptional spas and hot springs to relax in, and welcoming rooms to kick back with your après of choice in all three of these Western Canadian resorts.