Western Canada offers skiing at its most adventurous, with North America's highest verticals long runs and spine-tingling skiing above the tree line. Canadian ski resorts are easy to get to by modern highway links, and frequent direct flights to major Canadian cities make them close to practically anywhere.
Cypress boasts the most challenging terrain of the three resorts within a half hour of downtown Vancouver. Though beginning and intermediate skiers will find plenty of undulating runs, Mount Strachan claims eight black-diamond runs -- and that's only one of three mountains covered by Cypress.
Still, Cypress Mountain is probably best known for its spectacular views. Ride to the top of Mount Strachan on a clear day, and you'll see the Gulf and Vancouver islands to the west, the mountains of Whistler to the north, and the city of Vancouver to the south.
VEC Activities Coordinators frequently lead groups on skiing and snowboarding adventures. If you wish, you can also take a Cypress Bowl shuttle from Vancouver. It leaves from four locations throughout the day: the Park Royal Shopping Centre, Horseshoe Bay (B.C. Ferries parking lot), Caulfield Shopping Centre in West Vancouver and the Seabus Terminal in North Vancouver. For details, call:
Cypress Bowl Sports: (604) 878-9229.
Look north from downtown Vancouver at night, and chances are you'll see Grouse Mountain all lit up for night skiing (flanked by Cypress to the west and Mount Seymour to the east). Look south from anywhere along Grouse's Cut, a gradual, one-mile descent, and you'll have panoramic views of Vancouver -- just watch out for bumps. Visitors to Vancouver love the fact that terrific slopes are a mere 20 minutes away from downtown.
Grouse appeals to non-skiers, too: Skyride, a 100-passenger aerial tram, carts the slope-disinclined up to Peak Chalet, the area's lodge, at 3,700 feet. There visitors will find three restaurants (Grouse Nest for fine dining, Bar 98 Bistro for more casual eating, and Lupins Cafeteria for munching on the go), a skating rink, even a high-definition cinema showing the film "To Fly." Other activities include sleigh rides and snowshoe tours.
Consistently ranked as North America's Number One ski resort, Whistler rests high in British Columbia's spectacular Coast Mountains, just north of Vancouver. This charming European-style village is home to Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the two greatest vertical rise ski mountains and the largest ski area (7,000 acres) in North America. Whistler is a ski-in, ski-out village, full of vibrant nightlife, gourmet restaurants and upscale boutiques, and this year features even more new runs, new high-speed lifts and the exciting new Snow Adventure Centres.
Rated by visiting skiers as the most scenic ski resort in North America, Banff/Lake Louise is surrounded by the breathtaking Canadian Rockies and the protected wilderness of Banff National Park and World Heritage Site. Experience the famous dry Rocky Mountain powder snow at three superb ski resorts - Banff Mount Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village - all easily accessible with one interchangeable lift ticket. For the truly untracked snow try an exciting heli-ski excursion.
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