If the 118 runs and 16 lifts aren’t enough to satisfy your appetite for powder, maybe the glades will. Like metal shavings to a magnet, the trees attract an (almost) intimidating amount of powder, just begging for fresh tracks from adventurous thrill-seekers. “Snow Ghosts,” the endless array of snow-encased trees scattered across the mountain create a labyrinth of exhilarating chutes down the slope, just don’t get caught in the tree wells. Speaking of off-piste, the resort occasionally catches flack for being too easy, but those haters clearly weren’t looking hard enough. Just over the northeastern peak, the Cliff Chair provides access to a collection of bowls that test the fortitude of those daring to try. With that being said, Kelowna’s powder paradise is perfect for skiers of all capabilities. With routine grooming on a third of their diverse terrain, there are no limits to what you can get up to in a day.
Big White is Canada’s largest ski-in/ski-out resort village, which means you’ll be on the slopes in on time! Off the snow, luxurious chalets and rooftop hot tubs are only minutes from the endless supply of après-ski options. From late night snow tubing, to fine dining, night clubs and everything in between, their off-hill offerings are almost as diverse as their trail selection.
On a bluebird day, Big White’s champagne powder coated terrain is unparalleled by any other mountain in its proximity. While the mountain is known for some of the most spectacular conditions and views of the west coast, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows; if there’s any mention of the words overcast or foggy, run. Given the self-explanatory nickname “Big Fog,” the mountain becomes nearly impossible to enjoy once the fog sets in. If you’re unlucky enough to get stuck at the top of a run, prepare yourself for a frustrating, time-consuming descent. Like an uneventful family vacation through the prairies, everything appears flat. Between the bumps, the humps, the drops, and the rocks, it’s tough to distinguish up from down - not exactly a fun predicament when you’re hundreds of feet up a mountain.
Tucked between The Coast Mountains in the Okanagan Valley, Big White is located just west of Canada’s powder highway where the southeastern flank of British Columbia is said to have the highest concentration of ski options in the world; Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Fernie, Panorama, the list goes on. Despite its proximity to some of the world’s best resorts, Big White’s incredible 7,606 feet elevation boasts some of the most diverse and unique skiing in the country. Between the breathtaking backdrop of The Okanagan Lake from the top of the Gem Lake Express and the never-ending entertainment on and off the mountain, Big White truly needs to be experienced first-hand.
Anticipation rises as you climb up the 8:45am lift, hoping to be the first to dive into the fresh coating of crisp champagne powder. With 65 miles of marked runs and plenty more to be explored, the possibilities at Big White are endless; their 118 designated trails are serviced by 16 lifts across a whopping 2,765 acres of patrolled terrain.
The main village and majority of the lifts are located on the east side, including the most advanced runs on the mountain underneath The Cliff Chair. If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds and often-icy terrain of the east side, make your way towards the Gem Lake Area which is packed with blue and black runs and the odd green trail. You’ll also find Big White’s longest and with the most vertical run is also over here; Kalina’s rainbow spans 2.5 miles and has a vertical of 2,116 feet! At the base there is Westridge Lodge, with lift tickets, warm food and beverages, and more seasoned locals than the often-touristy east side. If you’re looking to rally for more action after dinner, you’ll be stoked to know that Big White is home to Western Canada’s largest resort night skiing area, with 38 acres of glorious terrain illuminated by the starry night sky (and flood lights).
When to Go
While a standard season at Big White spans between November and April, the most pristine conditions align in February and March. Late winter and early spring visits will prevent you from losing the feeling in your toes despite them being completely submerged in light, fluffy powder. The days are a bit longer, so you’ll get a little more bang for your buck, and the holiday crowds have already petered off. With that being said, don’t think you’ll be the only one taking advantage of these immaculate conditions. Prepare for rowdy folks in the village and swarms of fresh faces on the hill, as spring break usually attracts hoards of likeminded powder junkies during the first weeks of each month. Early February and March are high season for visits from families of tourists, meaning you may find yourself waiting a little longer in lines, especially if you hang around the east side and main village.
Unfortunately, the champagne powder, unforgettable scenery, and of course thigh-shredding powder surfing all come at a pretty steep price. Like many resorts of its size, there are peak and off peak prices; full-day tickets will usually run you $75-$85. However, afternoon tickets are a more reasonable $57-$65, while night skiing tickets come in at $19-$27. If you want to make the most of it, you can grab an afternoon and night pass for $74-$82. Big White does offer discounts for those planning on staying longer, like their 5-day pass for $327-$361 or various deals on travel packages.