Canada is a huge country with four seasons of weather, including freezing winters. Add in numerous mountain ranges, such as the Canadian Rockies, Coast Mountains, and Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, and you get plenty of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. There are just shy of 300 ski resorts estimated to operate each winter in the Great White North.
The area near Montreal is home to many ski resorts including quite a few not more than an hour away from Quebec’s largest city. The two primary areas for skiing are the Laurentian Mountains and the Monteregian Hills. Both have a variety of skiing options including touring, racing, glades, and moguls. The Laurentian Mountain ski …
Featured Canada Ski Areas
With ten provinces and three territories, getting around Canada typically involves airplanes if trying to cover vast distances. Otherwise, there’s nothing like a good road trip to experience some of its world-class winter playgrounds. Ski resorts in the west such as Whistler-Blackcomb and the in the east, such as Mount Tremblant, welcome skiers and snowboarders from all over North America and beyond.
Featured Canada Skiing and Snowboarding
Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding in Canada
Skiing is one of Canada’s most popular sports, and the country has plenty of ski areas with everything from double black diamond runs to simple hills accessed by tow ropes. Canada claims nearly 300 ski resorts and close to 2,500 total miles of downhill skiing.
Each province and territory of Canada has at least one downhill skiing area except for Nunavut, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a place to ski. Instead, skiers who visit this territory can experience the world’s northernmost heli-skiing location.
Where Skiing in Canada Began
Canadian Pacific Railway Workers and Swiss mountaineering guides were the first to ski in Canada during the country’s railroad rush in the late 19th century. They skied at Banff, the country’s first national park, and today a world-renown ski destination. After a skiing boom in the 1920s, ski resorts spread to the east and west across the many mountainous regions of Canada.
Over the past several decades, Canada has hosted two winter Olympics and several of the country’s ski resorts were competition sites. Today, the ski areas in Canada can be challenging enough for an expert skier or have easy slopes for beginners to learn and improve. Skiers and snowboarders just have to know where to look.
Skiing and Snowboarding East to West
Canada has three primary mountain ranges, with the Laurentian Mountains near the eastern coast and the Rockies and Coast Mountains to the west. Although central Canada doesn’t have dramatic peaks and high vertical drops, there are even several dozen resorts in this section of the country.
The most exciting slopes can be found further west. The provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have a high concentration of ski areas, where the Rocky Mountains extend from the United States. The Coast Mountains running along the Pacific Coast have a few smaller resorts as well as Canada’s largest resort, Whistler Blackcomb.
Many ski areas in eastern Canada tend to be a bit smaller than their western counterparts. Many of the downhill resorts in the Laurentian Mountains are within driving distance of Quebec City. The hilly area around Toronto offers smaller ski areas for learning to ski.
The Laurentian Mountains
In the southern part of Quebec, the Laurentian Mountains run along the St. Lawrence River and are home to more than a dozen ski resorts. Many have been compared to European resorts, with quaint villages and an Alpine feel.
Resorts like Tremblant and Vallee Bleue are family-friendly with activities in the winter and summer months. Both resorts have popular ski schools and a wide variety of runs for all ages to learn and improve.
The Canadian Rockies
The Rockies are home to the country’s first national park, Banff, and it’s where to find the popular ski areas of Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine Village, and Mt. Norquay. Skiers can access the Olympic slopes of all three resorts with a SkiBig3 pass.
The area has a long history of skiing in Canada. Mt. Norquay Ski Resort opened in 1926 as the country’s first resort. Banff Sunshine opened as a summer resort a few years later and eventually expanded into a ski area. The resort has some of the most challenging runs in the world including Delirium Dive, a black diamond slope prone to avalanches.
Further north in the Rocky Mountains, several remote resorts incorporate backcountry and heli-skiing. These isolated areas are perfect for being dropped into the wilderness and schussing down untouched snow.
The Coast Mountains
Additional skiing can be found in British Columbia’s Coast Mountains to the far west. The mountains extend from Vancouver to the Alaskan border, with some of the snowiest and most remote ski areas in the country.
Though many resorts are on the smaller side, the Coast Mountains are home to the country’s largest resort, Whistler Blackcomb. This premier resort, which hosted Olympic skiing competitions, is well-known for its incredible views and challenging alpine skiing.
Snowfall and Ski Season
The ski season in the Canadian Rockies can last until May, thanks to high altitude and consistent precipitation. At Whistler Blackcomb, located on a glacier, the season extends into the summer. In fact, the ski season at many Canadian resorts often extends from mid-November to mid-April.
Canadian ski areas are more likely to measure snowfall in feet or meters rather than inches and centimeters. The eastern resorts usually receive up to 17 feet of snowfall each year, often with a chance of mixed precipitation due to proximity to the coast.
The mountains to the west receive the most snow from the Canadian ski resorts. Whistler alone averages more than 35 feet of snowfall annually. The Rockies aren’t far behind. Whitewater Ski Resort a few hours from Idaho receives nearly 40 feet of snow annually.
As the world’s second-largest country there are plenty of places to find skiing and snowboarding in Canada. While the two coasts have premier ski resorts, the country’s northern location and cold temperatures usually ensure good snow even for ski areas in between.
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