Chances are if you’re living in Calgary or Vancouver, at least part of your reason for staying is the mountains in your backyard.
And if the mountains are keeping you here, we’re assuming you’ve ventured into (or onto) them in the winter and experienced the unparalleled joy that the winter wind in your ears can bring when you’re flying down the mountain on a plank or two.
No matter your experience, there’s nothing like that first run of the season, knowing that there are many more to come. So this season we say skip the all-inclusive and plan your winter vacation at one of these incredible resorts that might have flown under your radar.
Kimberley Alpine Resort (Cranbrook, BC)
Set in gorgeous southeast B.C., the team at Kimberley isn’t just gunning for Western visitors. They’ve designed a package specifically for mountain lovers from Toronto that includes five days of skiing and seven nights in a studio suite starting at $1,200 including airfare. With an average temperature of -5, that means more manageable conditions than you might experience in the Banff region on most days, which means more open runs to explore. Night skiing and nightlife are also a draw, so put this on your powder highway checklist for the season.
Whitefish Mountain Resort (Whitefish, Montana)
A five-hour drive from Calgary and a border crossing will bring you straight to a party trip paradise. The resort is known for being a haven for blue-run skiers, while the gorgeous little town is known for professional-grade wild nights out. Listed as one of North America’s top resorts, take advantage of corduroy runs between the snow ghosts and amazing views of Whitefish Lake, so clear you can see to the Canadian border. There are plenty of on-mountain lodges and private homes to rent for the night, but we recommend the iconic Lodge at Whitefish Lake situated right between the resort and the town for the true Montana experience.
Castle Mountain Resort (Pincher Creek, AB)
Spend the same amount of time driving from Calgary to Lake Louise, but spend noticeably less money and time waiting in lines by planning your adventure at Castle. A mountain for skiers and boarders looking to spend more time on the slopes than in the lodge, this one’s for the serious amongst you. When your long day of shredding the 7,500-foot summit is over, you can stay over in the small on-mountain lodge, or head to Pincher Creek for a small town night out. If we’re honest, it won’t matter either way; you’ll be so tired from all the runs you just got in.
White Water (Nelson, BC)
Set near the midway point between Vancouver and Calgary, this one may be a bit harder to get to than the rest, but there’s so much to do that the trip will be worth it. Plan your stay in the historic hippie town of Nelson, where the healthy locals mix nicely with the ski bum party crowd right on beautiful Kootenay Lake. Besides your impeccable powder resort skiing, check out their vacation packages. With hot springs to visit and cat skiing to try, give yourself a few days here (reserving at least one morning for nursing a hangover).
Fernie Alpine Resort (Fernie, BC)
Ask anyone who’s been in Calgary for a few years and loves the mountain air, and they’ll list Fernie as one of their very favourite places to shred. The real appeal here is the sheer size of the resort. With 142 runs (that is, ones with names), plus endless options for tree-skiing and five massive alpine bowls, it’s nearly impossible to do the same run twice. We suggest renting a ski-in, ski-out condo over staying in town; but either way, you’ll find a great way to spend your après-ski hours.
Canadian Mountain Holidays (12 Locations in Alberta and BC – based in Banff)
We’re including this one exclusively for the ballers and/or the adventurers, as this is definitely the trip of a lifetime. Heli-skiing can be found on many a bucket list, and thankfully the originators of the sport in Canada are making the glacier views and untouched powder more accessible this season. You won’t find it on their website, but according to this piece, CMH is offering a rare deal for anyone willing to be flexible about the destination of their trip. It’s still not cheap, but no one said your dreams would be – so this is your season to check this off.
Cover from: istock.com/dell640