Canada's skiing rivals that of the United States and Europe, with awesome scenery and varied resorts from big to small with efficient ski resort infrastructure, good hospitality and international cuisine, but there are not nearly as many other skiers to share the mountains with.
While Whistler-Blackcomb is Canada’s most famous ski resort, Canada is also special for its wonderfully preserved mountain environments. For great skiing amidst breathtaking scenery and wildlife The Rocky Mountains of Alberta are the jewel in the crown, with Banff and Jasper and National Parks attracting millions of visitors annually. Most come in the summer months, so the ski resorts of Banff Lake Louise and Jasper are off-season in winter, making them even better value.
Canada’s strong multicultural base is reflected by the amazing choice of international cuisine, and in a laid-back kind of way-it’s very friendly. Québec City, Montréal and Quebec resorts such as Tremblant, Mont St Anne, Le Massif and Stoneham offer a more European flavour while the strength in depth British Columbia resorts such as Whistler-Blackcomb, Big White/Silver Star, Sun Peaks and (yet to be featured) Panorama, Kicking Horse and Red Mountain are more international. Mount Washington, a relatively young resort having started in 1970, is maturing into a year-round resort offering a world-class experience. The skiing is good and the ocean to alpine scenery is spectacular.
Compared to many European resorts, Canadian ski resorts offer many advantages – orderly lift lines and generally responsible skiers (or at least, better policing), high-quality tuition (with no language barrier for English speakers); immaculate grooming; and, particularly for advanced skiers, an abundance of “off-piste” (ungroomed terrain) in-bounds and made safe for skiing that in Europe would be classified and require a guide to experience. And for experts both British Columbia and Alberta ski resorts offer plenty of deep powder and steep skiing, and some of the biggest and best heli-skiing operations in the world, notably CMH, Mike Wiegele’s and TLH
Most of the skiing in Canada shares the same Rocky Mountains that stretch north to south through the continent of North America. Though the peaks are not as high as in the USA, the skiing starts at lower altitudes, so they still offer as many if not more vertical feet to be skied
The type of terrain and the range of skiing, from groomed cruisers to untouched deeps, is as varied as in the USA with terrain to suit all ability levels from novice to expert. And thanks to a unique combination of northerly latitude and large mountains, many of which are perfectly placed to catch Pacific storms, ski resorts in Canada typically enjoy exceptional snow conditions without too many skiers to spoil the view, or more importantly, your fresh tracks.
Though the country is huge, the population is small and mostly centered in Ontario and Québec far away from some of the best skiing. Even allowing for visitors from abroad, it all adds up to good news for skiers who like to ski untracked snow. A simple calculation of ski lift capacity divided by the size of the ski area reveals a lower skier density, and in most of Canada’s ski resorts, you can expect to clash poles with fewer skiers per acre than in the USA or European ski resorts.
There has been heavy investment in technology and infrastructure, which is ongoing in many resorts to provide more high-speed lifts and improve mountain bases. Though some of the smaller resorts have further lift improvements to make, ski area management in Canada is driven by strong competitive instincts, with a focus on service and efficiency. It’s leading to improvements for skiers year after year, with the advantage that Canadian resorts are in less danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg- driving skiers away through overcrowding with high regard for sustainable tourism.