Set in the North Thompson region of British Columbia, Sun Peaks is something of an anomaly. You’d think that the second-largest ski resort in Canada—home to Olympic legend Nancy Greene Raine, epic in-bounds backcountry and 2,000 hours of annual sunshine—would be one of the province’s busiest hills.
But it isn’t. In fact, lift lines are usually short, it’s easy to get a seat at local eateries and the overall vibe of the European-feeling ski village is low-key and accessible. Which brings us to five reasons we love skiing at Sun Peaks:
We’re Number 2!
Sun Peaks/Sam Egan
With more than 1,700 hectares of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks is quietly the second-largest ski hill in Canada (only Whistler Blackcomb is bigger). In this expansive ski area, you’ll find three peaks: Mount Tod (2,152 metres), Mount Morrisey (1,675 metres) and Sundance (1,730 metres). The latter two’s Morrisey Express and Sundance Express chairlifts access some great groomers (plus some tougher stuff). For the truly epic steeps and glades, head to Mount Tod’s Burfield, Crystal and Sunburst Express lifts. Variety is the keyword here—from the in-bounds backcountry (see below) to an eight-kilometre-long green run imperially called “5 Mile.”
Ski With a Legend
Sun Peaks/Sam Egan
If you grew up ski racing in Canada you likely wore a jersey with Nancy Greene’s name on it. Or if you’re an Olympic and World Cup aficionado, you know all about Nancy Greene’s reign in the late 1960s—winning gold and silver at the 1968 Winter Olympics as well as the World Cup that year and in ’67. And if you’re a gearhead, you probably know that her early adoption of the Lange plastic ski boot legitimized the material when most other companies were using leather—catapulting ski boot tech forward into the modern era. So wouldn’t it be cool to ski with her, even getting some tips? Make sure your Sun Peaks getaway includes a Sunday—she’s often on hill, as the Director of Skiing at the resort, offering free tours and tips.
Get to Gil’s
Sun Peaks/Sam Egan
Long loved by locals as a backcountry powder stash, in 2014 Sun Peaks incorporated an area known as “Gil’s” (named after one of the resort’s founders, Gil Marini) into the in-bounds area. It’s 200 hectares of hike in, hike out terrain—so you have to earn your turns, but the pristine powder, kept light and fluffy by the evergreen trees, is worth the sweat. If you have the skills but are nervous about delving into this world of snow ghosts and glades, the resort offers guided Gil’s excursions. Get there from the Burfield or Crystal chairs on Mount Tod.
Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures is the brainchild of Taryn and Chris Schwanke. With their staging point just outside of Sun Peaks Village, this duo takes groups of tourists on daily sled runs up some 150 vertical metres of subalpine terrain to picturesque Little McGillivray Lake and back. “The dogs are so happy doing what they’re doing—their passion and drive is impressive. It’s hard not to smile while you’re out here,” Taryn will tell you. True words—one run and you’ll see these canines are pleased to pull a sled. They whine when at a stop, yet dial-in a silent laser focus while running through the twisty, treelined path. In fact, it’s impossible not to smile.
Snowshoe After Dark
Just because the sun has set doesn’t mean the adventure stops. The Moonlight Snowshoe & S’mores Hike will treat you to a different side of Sun Peaks (and reward you for your effort). Don snowshoes and headlamps and tromp across the nordic trails, through the woods, over billowy fields and eventually to a forested picnic stop. Your guide will light a fire and dole out those three magic ingredients: graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Chow s’mores, sip cider, count stars and appreciate the serenity of the mountain after dark. Plus, the return trip offers a stunning vista of the village glowing orange against a trio of shadowy massifs.
If You Go
Stay: The luxurious Sun Peaks Grand Hotel and Conference Centre offers ski-in convenience and convenient walking access to all restaurants and shops.
Eat: Voyageur Bistro crafts the village’s best eats with classic Canadian staples like bannock, bison, game and regional fish.
Info: Buy tickets, reserve accommodations, book tours and more at sunpeaksresort.com.