The Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia, is surrounded by the coastal BC mountains, which offer protection from the cold arctic climate. Not only does this create hot and dry summers, it also makes for beautifully mild, ideal for outdoor recreation, winters as well. If you're looking for destinations for Canada ski vacations, consider the beautiful Okanagan in the south central Interior British Columbia.
The Province of British Columbia covers almost a million square kilometres, which makes it about ten times bigger than the United Kingdom. In addition, approximately 75 percent of BC is covered in mountains, and thanks to the westerly winds that blow in off the Pacific Ocean, it snows hard here all winter long.
Vernon BC, Kelowna and Penticton are all situated within about 2 hours of each other. And within that region are a number of ski areas, and resorts that accommodate family ski vacations very nicely. Although the Okanagan Valley is primarily a summer vacation destination, it is often overlooked when considering winter ski vacations.
Ski resorts in the Okanagan Valley include:
Silver Star Resort: Located near the city of Vernon, BC, Silver Star offers world class skiing and snowboarding in a picturesque, family orientated mountain village. With an annual snowfall of over 23 ft., 6 lifts, 115 runs, a tube park, and cross country terrain, Silver Star has absolutely everything one could ask for when considering Canada ski vacations. The daytime temperatures average -3 C (27 F)!
Silver Star Mountain resort operates from November to mid April for winter vacations. The village is a beautiful Victorian style inspired community, with retail shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, vacation homes and a hostel. Much of the village is ski-in, ski-out access. If you prefer a vacation where you can stay right at the hill, this is one of the most beautiful in British Columbia.
Big White Ski Resort: Located just 45 minutes from the city of Kelowna, Big White is considered the second largest resort in the province, and caters to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. With a mild average temperature of -5C (23 F), 750 cm (24.5 ft) of snowfall, and 118 runs, it is quite comparable to Silver Star, and truly accommodates family vacations. It's got a huge terrain park, Nordic trails, and snowmobiling for outdoor adventure off the slopes. Big White is centrally located in the Okanagan, making it perfect for those who want to spend a day there, and then try out other resorts as well.
Big White is just 56 km (35 miles) from Kelowna to Village Centre, making staying in Kelowna an easy option for accommodations. Like Silver Star, Big White runs from November to early April.
Apex Ski Resort: Although it is much smaller than Big White and Silver Star, Apex is a full service ski destination located 33km/21 miles west of the city of Penticton BC. With an average temperature of -4°C, Apex receives about 600 cm of dry "Okanagan" powder each season. Among the locals, Apex is well known for it's steep 2000 feet of vertical drop in a short time. But it's also got a great variety of ski and snowboard trails for every level of skill, with a total of 68 trails.
A total family ski resort, Apex is affordable, fun, and ideal for those looking for quality and comfort. Accommodations at the resort are convenient and cozy, and there's a variety of activities for kids and families during time off the hill. Nickel Plate Nordic Center offers cross country ski trails. And an outdoor hockey rink of regulation size is the center of activity after the runs close, so bring a stick and a pair of skates along. You'll also enjoy an outdoor skating loop for those who want to do some outdoor ice skating. Apex operates from late November/early December until early April.