When you think of snow, skiing, and white Canadian winters, Vancouver isn’t typically the first place that comes to mind. Our winters are mild and the city doesn’t usually see much snow, but surrounding this city are some incredible ski hills that attract visitors from all over the world. Within a 2 hour drive of Vancouver you can get to 5 different ski mountains where you can enjoy all the snow, crisp air, and winter activities you wouldn’t find in the city.
Located in North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is about a 25 minute drive from downtown Vancouver. The mountain is a popular site for hiking and exploring in the summer but during the winter it comes alive with skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and those just looking to enjoy the scenic winter sights. While on the mountain you can grab a bite from Altitudes Bistro to take in some incredible views of the city or head over to the Observatory to enjoy a 5-star meal.
Book a zipline tour for an 80km/hr ride over snow capped trees and forest floors blanketed in pure white. If you’re visiting with kids, the sliding zone is a must, not to mention a skate on the 8,000 square foot ice skating pond. For little ones who’d like to hang out in Santa’s workshop, take the Light Walk around Blue Grouse Lake, or watch some Christmas movies on the Theatre in the Sky, check out the Peak of Christmas schedule of events.
Your mountain admission ticket provides you with round trip access to the mountain on the SkyRide gondola as well as most of the other amenities, but an additional lift ticket is required if you’ll be doing any skiing or snowboarding. Take a peek at their mountain map for more info about the trails and runs. Full day lift tickets for adults are $72 for the 2019/2020 ski season.
Also located in North Vancouver but a bit further away than Grouse, you’ll find Mt. Seymour. Seymour is a 45 minute drive from Vancouver, close enough to be convenient yet far enough away to feel like you’ve travelled out of the city and into the mountains. Skiers and snowboarders can rent equipment, book lessons, or head to one of the four terrain parks to catch some air. Full day ski and snowboard tickets are $69 for adults for the 2019/2020 season.
Families visiting with kids, or those who just need a break from the slopes, can have some fun at the snow tube park, toboggan park, or on the snowshoe trails. When it’s time to refuel you can grab a quick snack from Harold’s Cafe, warm up with a hot meal from the Grillworks cafeteria, or relax with a drink in the Rock Chute Bar & Grill.
Cypress Mountain is a 35 minute drive from Vancouver and can be found within Cypress Provincial Park. They offer rentals, lessons, and 4 different terrain parks to cruise on, as well as the Big Bear Sports store if you want to shop for some new gear. Full day lift tickets range from $45-$75 for the 2019/202 season, depending on what date you’re purchasing your tickets for. Check out the trail maps for the 3 mountains, Mt. Strachan, Black Mountain, and Hollyburn, to get an idea of what the slopes are like.
Cypress also has plenty of places to unwind, get some grub, or share a drink with your friends. The Crazy Raven Pub features scenic views and a gas fireplace. Grab a burger or a snack from Cypress Creek Grill and Hollyburn Lodge. For coffee, bagels, and quick bites, head to the Gold Medal Cafe or the Nordic Cafe.
As one of the most popular ski resort destinations in North America, Vancouver locals and visitors alike are fortunate to have Whistler-Blackcomb located within a 2 hour drive from the city. The drive up there will take you along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway which is a breathtaking journey in and of itself. Whistler-Blackcomb is a phenomenal mountain for skiing and snowboarding, but a visit to Whistler Village can be an unforgettable experience even if you never touch a ski, board, sled or tube. The hotels, restaurants, pubs, and shops within the Village are enough to keep you busy for an entire weekend.
Lift ticket prices can vary depending on how early you buy them and for which date, but they’re usually going to be around $140-$160 for the day, with better deals available when purchased before the season starts. The mountain is huge, so study the trail maps to get a feel for the mountain. These maps include ski runs, hiking trails, bike trails, as well as a map of the Village.
Outside of just skiing and shopping, there are countless other winter activities to enjoy. The Ziptrek Ecotours will send you flying over snow covered valleys and walking amongst the treetops on suspension bridges. The Coca-Cola Tube Park and Magic Castle & Tree Fort are always a favorite for kids and families. The mountain also offers dog sledding adventures, snowshoe trails, snowmobile tours, and a ton of other winter activities.
Travelling 2 hours out of Vancouver towards Chilliwack and Harrison Lake, you’ll find Sasquatch Mountain. Previously known as Hemlock Valley Resort, this mountain was renamed to Sasquatch Mountain Resort in 2017. They offer full day lift tickets for $59-$69, depending on which day of the week you visit. They also offer $30 discount days for men, ladies, students, and first responders, or 2-for-1 deals every Tuesday.
You can go on a guided snowshoe trek, or opt for a non-guided option that allow you to explore on your own. The Yeti Tube Park features 8 lanes to cruise down as well as a carpet lift to transport you back up the slope. The Sasquatch Mountain Cafeteria offers quick and easy favorites such as burgers, fries, pizza, and hot chocolate. Molly Hogan’s Pub is a great place to grab a drink after a long day of hitting the slopes, and if you plan to stay overnight, check out the Snowflake Resort Chalets.
Choosing a Ski Hill
The city of Vancouver itself may not be a winter wonderland during the holiday season, but you’ll definitely have your choice of ski resorts to visit if you’re looking for some snowy fun. With this many mountains so close to the city it’s easy to pick the spot that suits you best. Some mountains are popular and crowded, some offer the peak of luxury and may be more expensive, and some are quieter, less expensive, or feature more activities for the perfect family day on the hill.
Depending on the time of year and the recent weather conditions, the quality and quantity of the snow can vary from one mountain to the next. Each mountain’s website provides forecasts, snow reports, and often even streams a live webcam feed so you can check out the conditions for yourself. If you’re heading out for a day of skiing, snow quality will be a huge factor, but if you’re just looking to do some shopping and relax in a slope-side pub, choose a hill with the most appealing amenities. Every mountain is quite different from one another so check out what each one has to offer to plan your perfect snow day.