Overview of Big White, British Columbia
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Looking for big mountain skiing, big snow, and a beautiful base village…check out Canada’s Big White. Big White Ski Resort is British Columbia’s third biggest ski resort, after Whistler Blackcomb and Sun Peaks. Located in the wine-laden Okanagan Valley, just an hour from Kelowna airport, near the snowy Monashee Mountains, Big White offers long fall-line runs, modern lifts, a fun central village mid-mountain, and serious natural snow - nicknamed Big Whiteout and puffing the motto "It's the Snow."
Big White has almost 1,000-acres in bounds of long rolling groomers, 118 runs all tolled, with a respectable 2,500’ of vertical. The ski terrain sprawls East to West for miles, from an ideal beginner area - Happy Valley, and Black Forest's well-spaced glades. High speed lifts The Bullet, Snow Ghost and Ridge Run serve two dozen beautiful blue trails where you can “cruise the bluz.” Big undulating runs Speculation, Paradise, and Perfection embrace the fall line for super fun skiing. Big White’s upper mountain has crustier classic lifts - The Falcon, Powder, and Cliff fixed grip chairs and the Alpine T-Bar are old school, serving earthier more challenging terrain, despite the locals “Big Flat” moniker. We found plenty of interesting glades and some gutsy terrain at the 7,608’ summit. The snow ghosts, rime-caked pines are otherworldly. Big White has big snow fields and some steeps out in the double black diamond Cliffs and Parachute Bowl. But for novices, Big White has a Green trail from each lift. Finally, the Gem Lake Express area has fantastic long runs, like 2.5-mile Blue Sapphire – a favorite, served by a 2,300’ vert high-speed quad far skiers’ right. Park skiers will love The Telus Park with its own designated chair, and lights for night skiing. Big White boasts Western Canada’s largest night skiing weekends and holidays.
Big White only has snowmaking in the terrain park, they typically get plenty of natural snow given its north-west locale, so go Big on a powder day or during a big winter.
Staying in Big White village, you have plenty of lodging, in fact, the resort has a staggering 17,000 beds, most condos and hotels offer underground parking, giving the Village a nice open alpine feel with the quintessential Clock Tower. We stayed at Chateau Big White, not uber luxurious but perfectly located with nice fireplace suites, ski lockers, a Spa, and rooftop hot tub poised for Alpen glow over the Okanagan Valley at sunset. You can ski or walk to après ski in the Village at The Woods, Snowshoe Sam’s, or Canada’s highest Irish owned Blarney Stone Pub with spectacular views and often live craic. Grab provisions at The Market or Wine shop, go tubing or dog sledding or just drink local wine or ale and dine at one of a dozen restaurants. Big White’s village has everything you need, including entertainment and festivals winter long.
Kids in tow? You won’t find better Kids Programs – Big White's Family Channel sponsored Kids Adventure Center is center stage along with Daycare. Big White tags itself “Canada’s Favorite Family Resort” and they entertain kids from small to tall, from lift opening and ski school to night skiing, Carnival nights and fireworks. Parents will love that their kids have a snow flake GPS that tracks their runs, and is downloadable at day’s end.
Big White Ski Resort has a great vibe, from the big variety of skiing and beautiful views to the self-contained village, and the fun influx of Aussies – Big White is Australian owned since 1994. Consider a ski trip to Big White, combined with a few days cat skiing at Monashee Powder Cats, or a side ski trip to Revelstoke.