As far as incredible skiing and snowboarding is concerned, British Columbia is truly blessed. Skiers do not have to travel far to reach amazing slopes and ski conditions.
Case in point, the Okanagan Valley.
The interior of the province is dotted with amazing ski resorts, epic champagne powder conditions and charming ski villages. One of our family favorites is Sun Peaks Resort, located north of Kamloops. Only a five hour drive from Vancouver, Sun Peaks is Canada’s second largest ski resort (after Whistler), and is consistently voted as one of the top ski resorts in the country. With three mountains, a quaint pedestrian village and family-friendly amenities both on and off the slopes, we’ve got the low down on why you should plan a winter visit to Sun Peaks Ski resort with kids.
Sun Peaks Ski Resort with Kids
The Ski Resort
First things first, Sun Peaks Resort is made up of three connected mountains – Tod, Sundance and Morrisey. There are 137 trails and 17 gladed areas in total, and each mountain offers a variety of terrain that will appeal to every skier and rider in the family. You’ve got deep steeps for the black diamond lovers, long cruisers for riders like me, glade zones for the family, powder stashes, and corduroy groomers, all of which can be found within 4,270 acres of skiable terrain.
And if you didn’t know, Sun Peaks and all the ski resorts in the Okanagan Valley enjoy the most incredible dry champagne powder conditions. This is due to the dryness of the high desert climate in this valley regions. The champagne powder is some of the fluffiest and most fun in which to ski and ride. If you’ve never had that chance, you’re in for a true skiing treat here.
During our visits to the resort, we’ve spent nearly equal time on all three hills. Some of our personal favorite runs were on Mount Morrisey, which has a great mix of wide glade runs and steep, mogul-filled, double black diamonds. If you make lists, here are our picks; CC Riders, Mid-Life Crisis, I Dunno, Spin Cycle, and Cover Shot. Other great choices on Tod and Sundance Mountains were Crystal Bowl/Run, Blueline, 5 Mile, OSV, Grannie Green’s, and Three Bears.
The three mountains surround a European-style, ski-through village filled with quaint shops, cafés, and eateries. The two main lifts – Sunburst Express and Sundance Express – are located in the main village area, which is where you’ll also find the Village Day Lodge, Sports School and bunny hill for the learners.
The Sports School offers a great range of lessons, all with accredited and enthusiastic instructors. Plus you get to bypass any lift lines, though they are rare. Speaking of, if signing up for lessons, remember to book them well in advance as they tend to fill up fast, especially during school breaks and holidays.
Ski with an Olympian
Sun Peaks Resort has something other resorts do not; an in-house Olympic Champion that you can ski with.
Olympian and Sun Peaks’ Director of Skiing, Nancy Greene makes her winter home at the resort and enjoys skiing with guests. Look for signage at the bottom and top of the Sunburst chairlift to see if she’s skiing or check with Guest Services. Tours are free and depart from the top of the Sunburst chairlift. Everyone is welcome, provided you can ski green and blue runs.
We had the honour of meeting and skiing with Nancy during our last family visit. After a few runs, she took off down the hill with our teenaged boys behind her and left us in the dust. She can still rip it up and they had the time of their ski lives.
Alpine Fondue and Starlight Descent
I dream of cheese, so the thought of enjoying an alpine fondue on the mountain followed by a run down to the village by the light of the stars has great appeal. This evening begins with a ride up the Sunburst Express chairlift to ‘The Alps’ where a hearty three course fondue meal is served. After dinner, guests get to enjoyed a guided ski or ride down a freshly groomed 5 Mile run all aglitter in the moonlight. Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Activities Desk in the Village Day Lodge by 10:00am on the day of the activity. Guests must be 13 years and older.
The European-style village at Sun Peaks is the heart of the resort. The buildings are done in chalet style, with arcades to shield pedestrians in bad weather as they dart into shops, cafés and restaurants. Everything is in walking distance and compact, including the hotels and small grocery store. The resort hosts events and entertainment in the village during the winter season, as well as a farmer’s market in the summer months. Which is also a great time to visit Sun Peaks by the way.
Tube Park and Bungee Trampoline
The Sun Peaks Tube Park is and Bunge Trampoline open to all ages and tickets can be had at Guest Services in the Village Day Lodge. The tube course is a fun and winding path down the hill, and getting back up is easy with the lift-assist system. And the joy of jumping up and down on a trampoline speaks for itself.
Sun Peaks has three great terrain parks for the daring and acrobatic. Our kids enjoyed doing jumps, tricks and riding the rails at the terrain park located at the base of Sundance Mountain, accessible via the Village Platter. It’s open to adults daring (or crazy enough) to try as well. Just remember if you wipe out it’s in full view of the entire village!
Want to take a ski break? No problem. Sun Peaks has lots of snowplay activities for guests to enjoy. Try snowmobiling in the beautiful backcountry along trails, wide open frozen lakes and clear meadows. Both the two hour and four hour tours are offered seven days a week. You can also sign up for a nightly wiener roast, where you will get to go on an evening tour made complete with a campfire cookout at the McGillivray Lake Cabin. Passengers do not require a valid driver’s license. Tot passengers must be approved by the guide.
Or go for a walk in the woods. Explore the extensive snowshoe trail system at Sun Peaks Resort with a snowshoe day trail pass and snowshoe rental (or wear your own). A complimentary trail map will help you choose the trails to match your level of expertise and describes points of interest such as the snow cave, bird feeding station, and identification of animal tracks.
Where to Eat in Sun Peaks with Kids
There are several excellent restaurants in the village offering a variety of eating options for families. From fast food to pub-style fare and finer-though-still-casual dining, you can find our full list of where to eat in Sun Peaks here.
But quick tip: If you want to eat lunch on the mountain, Sunburst Lodge offers good self-serve selections of soup, chili, and sandwiches. And do NOT miss their cinnamon buns. You can smell them coming up the Sunburst Express quad chair, and yes, they’re big enough to share.
Photo Credits: C. Laroye, Shutterstock
Have you spent time at Sun Peaks Resort? Share your experience in the comments below.