From a Pacific island co-op to a Québec hill known for its perfect glades, here are the secret ski destinations we love. They’re hidden gems where the locals are friendly and the cafés are independent, where the views look out to some of the most beautiful places in the country, and where the lack of lift lines leaves those bluebird days wide open for skiing some of the best powder on Earth. Some of these resorts are brilliant for families; others are better suited to those who’ve been riding for a few years. Which spot would you love to ski?
Head to Northern BC’s Skeena Valley in the Coast Mountain Range and expect no lift lines, just the kind of deep, consistent snowpack more famous resorts can only dream of; Shames gets 12 glorious meters of powder every season.
This community-owned resort is open on weekends only, but worth the trip as it provides an unrivalled 7,800 acres of unpatrolled backcountry powder. There’s a kid-friendly ski school, 28 runs and natural glades.
35km east of the slopes — and home to 11,000 Kitselas, loggers, and ski bums — you’ll want to make the town of Terrace your base. It’s really laid-back, a bit like Nelson or Canmore before word got out and housing prices skyrocketed.
Day pass: $52.38, though check the website as prices are subject to change.
Mount Cain Alpine Resort
Who wouldn’t want to go skiing on a Pacific island? A few hours north of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island’s Mount Cain Alpine Resort has a peak elevation second only to Whistler-Blackcomb’s, and the views from the slopes — all jagged peaks and tangled forest — are amazing.
With no chairlifts — just a couple of T-bars and a beginner’s tow — this is a low-key but great resort. Built by loggers 35 years ago and run by a local co-op today, Mount Cain’s open weekends and select Mondays only, which means you’re practically guaranteed fresh powder on its 21 runs.
To make a holiday of your Vancouver Island stay, you could mix up your ski destinations with stays at both Mount Cain and Mount Washington Alpine Resort, or spend midweek surfing in Tofino; the swell’s typically at its best and most consistent in winter. Just remember your booties.
Don’t expect mediocre $20 burgers on the hill. Head to the Cain Cafe for housemade huevos rancheros, organic coffee, and locally-brewed kombucha. Friday night is jam night at the lodge. Stay by the hill one of the half dozen cabins, or at the hostel-style accommodations to get in on the action.
Day pass: $49.50, though check the website as prices are subject to change.