So you don't ski or snowboard, but don’t want to be left out of a winter trip? As a snowboarder who suffered a serious past injury, I started to wonder what a winter getaway would look like without shredding a ski hill—even if my friends and family still did.
Adventure should be inclusive. Even if you don’t downhill ski or snowboard, even if you can’t hike as much as you once could, I don’t think you should stay home. I travelled to Sun Peaks Resort, just outside of Kamloops, BC, to see what winter activities are on offer beyond skiing and snowboarding.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
I filled a weekend with crisp air, mountain views and sweaty adventures without once strapping into my snowboard. Keep reading for some of my favourite alternative winter activities in Sun Peaks.
I met Mike at the Activities Desk in the Day Lodge for our snow limo tour Saturday morning. He explained the basics: I’d snuggle in the sleigh, while he stood on the back to maneuver us down the hill. “It’s a bit like dog sledding,” he noted. “Except without the dogs.”
We took the lift to the top of the mountain. I sat down and was buckled in. A few skiers looked at me curiously, likely wondering if I was being carted down the mountain after an accident. Been there, done that, I thought. “Okay, just relax,” Mike told me as he pushed off.
I started laughing and screaming almost right away. Gliding down the mountain—closer to the snow than usual, thanks to the low-lying limo bed—was a strange sensation. I felt vulnerable and not in control, because, well, I wasn’t.
But Mike was. On our next run, icy slopes forced us to pick up speed. My helmet blew back as we zoomed down the intermediate run. My heart was pounding when we skidded to a stop.
“This is a great option for moms who don’t ski but still want to get out with their kids and ride down the hill next to them, for example,” Mike explained. I can see why non-skiers would be interested. The snow limo is a unique way to get a taste of skiing, without the responsibility of getting down the hill yourself.
After a delicious lunch of chicken pie drenched in mustard and pickles at Bolacco (if you think it sounds gross, trust me, you have to try it), I met Sharn for a guided snowshoe tour in the alpine. We rode the lift to the top of the mountain, disembarked and clipped on our snowshoes.
Ducking in and out of the forest, the hour-long snowshoe trek featured educational nature lessons and expansive views of the resort and surrounding snow-capped mountains. We stopped in the silent wilderness for a cup of hot apple cidre and a cookie (or two). It was a beautiful, tranquil way to see a different side of the ski hill.
My Nordic guide, Ellen, was incredibly patient with my trepidations when it came to classic Nordic skiing. I’d only tried it once before as an adult and, as a snowboarder, having my legs apart felt unnatural.
Ellen helped raise my confidence level in just an hour and a half. We began our training on a flat area by walking with poles to get used to the motion. Then, we clicked in. I awkwardly followed her motions until they started to flow—at which point she took me onto the golf course and down a few small hills.
I was initially hesitant, but Ellen coached me down the slopes. Feeling more comfortable, we moved to the trails. Keeping my skis in the grooves, I worked up a sweat pushing myself across the snow. Skate skiers zoomed past me. Ellen chatted amiably with fellow skiers we passed along the trails. Her countenance convinced me that the main reason explorers should visit Sun Peaks in winter isn’t for the ski resort at all—but for the people who make it so special.
Bonus: Explore the community
With over 4,000 acres of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks boasts the second largest ski area in Canada—but with only 750 permanent residences in the village, it maintains a cozy feel.
If you have time, wander the streets and shops. Grab a slice at Mountain High Pizza, then indulge in dessert at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. If you're searching for a place to sleep, try the Sun Peaks Grand. The hotel renovated their guest rooms in December 2018, and the results are modern, sleek, clean and bright. Although I do encourage you to get outside, spend a bit of time unwinding. After all, this is still a weekend getaway—relax a little and enjoy it.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many non-skiing/snowboarding winter activity options are available at Sun Peaks. Here are just a few more, some of which I had the opportunity to try:
- Relax with the Ultimate Après Ski Massage
- Explore the Valley Trail
- Soak in a hot tub at the Grand
- Go ice skating
- Take a Cat Trax Groomer Ride
- Slide down the tube park
- Bounce on the bungee trampoline
- Take a snowmobile tour
- Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride
- Go dog sledding
- Go ice fishing
For more information and to book, contact the Activities Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: some activities, accommodation and meals referenced in this article were provided through Tourism Sun Peaks. All opinions are my own.