Canada has earned its reputation as one of the premier ski destinations in the world, thanks to its long winters, picturesque landscapes, and state-of-the-art facilities. Canada's famed ski resorts attract not only countless tourists every year, but have also hosted two separate Winter Olympic Games.
While all of Canada's provinces offer some type of skiing, the most well-known and accessible mountains are located in British Columbia and Alberta in the west, and in Quebec and Ontario in the east. The ski season varies depending on the region you're in, but it generally begins in November and lasts until April of the following year, although some areas are open through May.
Skiing in British Columbia
British Columbia is legendary in the skiing and snowboarding world not just because it has the most ski destinations of any province in Canada, but because it also boasts the largest ski resort in all of North America, Whistler Blackcomb. Less than two hours from Vancouver, Whistler is easily accessible in your own vehicle or by bus, and with over 200 trails, it feels more like a ski city than a resort. Even when it's busy, you can always find a place to ski away from the hoards of people. Whistler was also the location for several of the 2010 Winter Olympics, a testament to the fact that this world-class resort offers both quality and quantity.
If you're visiting Vancouver and want something even closer, Grouse Mountain is only 20 minutes from downtown. The mountain has a limited number of trails, but it's perfect for those looking to hit the slopes just for a few hours while staying local. Grouse is also open late, so night skiers can enjoy themselves while taking in the twinkling view of Vancouver down below.
Head farther east in British Columbia to reach the famed Powder Highway, a circular route through the Kootenay Rockies that passes through eight major ski resorts, such as well-known destinations Whitewater and Panorama. The truly adventurous can stop in one of the several backcountry lodges along the loop for pristine slopes with fresh, untouched powder.
Skiing in Alberta
Alberta features the Canadian Rocky Mountains, which have one of the longest snow seasons in the country and also block out coastal overcast—that means you'll have more sunny days on the slopes. The most popular places to ski in Alberta are Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Mt. Norquay, all located in Banff National Park and colloquially known as the "Big 3." While each park has its own pros and cons, the SkiBig3 pass lets visitors ride the lifts at all three of these neighboring resorts for a discounted price. Calgary is only about an hour and a half from Banff National Park, and these world-famous slopes were used for the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Outside of Banff, Marmot Basin is another popular spot further north in the Canadian Rockies in Jasper National Park. You need to drive about four hours from Edmonton to get there, but the tree-lined slopes, groomed runs, and four mountains make it worth the trip.
For those who enjoy exploring the backcountry, many local companies offer services to bring skiers to the most remote parts of the mountain either in a snowcat or a helicopter. Get dropped off in your own private stretch of mountain and experience the thrill of riding down untouched snow without worrying about hitting another skier—just watch out for trees.
Skiing in Quebec
Quebec does not have mountain ranges as towering or expansive as those in British Columbia or Alberta, but you can find some of Canada's best ski resorts in this province. Plus, you can't beat how accessible it is to people living on the East Coast. Whether you're traveling to Montreal or Quebec City, you'll find plenty of top-grade destinations within driving distance of either location.
Mont Tremblant is perhaps the most well-known ski resort in Eastern Canada, located in the Laurentian Mountains outside of Montreal. You'll feel like you're in the Alps as soon you step into the charming ski village at the base of the mountain, with its quaint French village architecture and European plaza filled with cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
If you're around the Quebec City area, you'll have even more options. Mont Sainte-Anne is only 30 minutes outside of the city, and you'll get breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River while gliding down one of the 71 trails. Many skiers at Mont Sainte-Anne also spend a day at Le Massif de Charlevoix just a little farther north, which features the highest vertical drop in Eastern Canada for true thrill-seekers.
Quebec doesn't enjoy the same temperate climate that you'll find in Western Canada, so definitely bundle up. The wind can be especially harsh and icy, so pack items that won't leave any exposed areas of skin.
Skiing in Ontario
Ontario doesn't have any major mountain ranges, so none of the provincial hills have the same dramatic heights as those to the east and west. The highest vertical drop is 780 feet and located at Calabogie Peaks outside of Ottawa, but Toronto has its own share of local mountains for skiing as well. Even though they're modestly sized, they're great for a day trip of skiing as well as for beginner or intermediate skiers who want more practice on the slopes.
Blue Mountain, Ontario's largest ski resort, is about two hours north of Toronto and contains the province's second-highest drop. It's frequently cited as one of Canada's most family-friendly resorts due to the number of off-the-slope activities that are offered, like snow tubing, ice skating, and snowshoe tours.
Mount St. Louis Moonstone is another popular spot with Torontonians, a family-owned resort with 36 trails for all levels, but especially beginners and intermediate skiers. Only 10 minutes away, Horseshoe Resort is a smaller mountain but has more black diamond trails for advanced skiers.
Ontario's lower elevation means the ski season is shorter, normally beginning in mid-December and lasting until mid-March.