BC’s Four-Season Resorts Promise Sunny Adventures

Posted Friday, May 06, 2016

Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Coast & Mountains, Vancouver, Whistler, Culture & Entertainment, Outdoor Adventure / Ecotourism, Touring & Attractions

Skis and snowboards may reign in winter, but BC’s four-season resorts keep the adrenalin pumping when the weather turns fine.

The summit at Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington Alpine Resort is an excellent starting point with its view of Strathcona Provincial Park, Mount Baker, Mount Arrowsmith, the Comox Glacier and the Strait of Georgia. It’s also a grand spot for identifying the area’s native flora and fauna during self-guided exploration, or pushing further into the alpine along Strathcona Park’s many marked trails. (The resort’s Ride & Dine, July through August, adds an edible element to the outdoor mix, pairing chairlift rides with menus at family-friendly Ted’s Bar + Grill.) Mountain bikers can take it up a notch at the Island’s only lift-accessed bike park, complete with an array of downhill trails, from beginner to expert, alongside dedicated cross-country (XC) trails. mountwashington.ca 

For all-out access, Whistler Blackcomb’s PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Pass leads to more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of alpine, hiking and walking trails, the Samsung Alpine Theatre in Rendezvous Lodge, the PEAK 2 PEAK Viewing Gallery on Whistler Mountain and rides on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Top-of-the-line bikes are stabled at two village locations, while Blackcomb Aviation guarantees a bird’s-eye view of the village’s twin mountains. At day’s end, the resort’s Mountaintop BBQ Series at the Roundhouse Lodge serves up spit-roasted menus in the alpenglow. whistlerblackcomb.com     

Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains offer sunny adventure mere minutes from the city. Cypress Mountain, northwest of Vancouver, promises hiking for all levels within an old-growth expanse, complete with scenic spots to picnic in the alpine. Variety is on the menu at nearby Grouse Mountain where enthusiasts can hike the trails, zipline in the trees, paraglide among the clouds, check out the wildlife refuge and more. A quick ride up North America’s largest aerial tramway whisks keeners to the top of the mountain, while the more adventurous choose the Grouse Grind, a brag-worthy three-kilometre (1.8-mile) scramble to the top. For more family-friendly activity, Mt Seymour, further east, beckons young adventurers with a host of Eco-Adventure Camps, each espousing education, self-awareness, skill development and meaningful connections to the environment. cypressmountain.com; grousemountain.com; mtseymour.ca       

Festival fans can bookend the season with two major, free-performance weekends during the Sun Peaks Summer Concert Series, near Kamloops. The Sam Roberts Band kicks things off July 8, while Alan Doyle and The Beautiful Gypsies bring down the house, August 19 - 21. Downhill mountain biking, cross-country biking trails, lift-accessed hiking (with extended chairlift hours throughout the summer) and golfing at BC’s highest-elevation course round out the on-mountain adventure at the Thompson Okanagan resort. sunpeaksresort.com 

Big White Ski Resort, further southeast near Kelowna, is home to easy-does-it terrain and more difficult pathways that lead to an afternoon in the wild. (A scenic ride on the Bullet Chair Lift offers a relaxing perch from which to take in the area’s natural setting.) On-mountain exploration is encouraged, but so too is celebration that goes hand-in-hand with a day’s play, including Big White’s spirited blend of local libations during the Craft and Country Beer Mountain Fest and the Sip, Hike + Seek Ciderfest. bigwhite.com/mountain-info/general/summer   

Nearby SilverStar Mountain Resort’s Bike Park welcomes riders with progressive trails that combine the best of XC and downhill track. From beginner terrain that winds through wildflower meadows to expert runs that showcase berms, jumps and heart-thumping features, riders are spoiled for choice thanks to more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of downhill mountain bike track and more than 30 kilometres (18 miles) of XC trails, complete with amazing views of the Okanagan valley. skisilverstar.com/summer/activities-events/mountain/downhill-biking

In late May, Revelstoke Mountain Resort will unveil North America’s first Brandauer Mountain Coaster. The single-track coaster will launch from the resort’s Revelation Lodge, travelling 1.4 kilometres (.8 mile) and dropping 279 vertical metres (915 vertical feet) through ski runs, thick forest and a tunnel. Thanks to its cutting-edge monorail construction — technology popular in Europe — fans are in for more than an average ride; unlike the typical dual-rail mountain coasters, this sleek design is built close to the ground, allowing enthusiasts to feel a rush similar to mountain biking. As an added touch, participants can control their speed, which can clock in as high as 42 kilometres (26 miles) per hour. The coaster joins an expansive summer lineup of activity, including on-mountain hiking and sightseeing alongside heli-adventures in the Selkirk and Monashee mountains. revelstokemountainresort.com

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s via ferrata, with its series of cables, ladders and bridges, offers amateur enthusiasts a fixed-route ascent in BC’s Purcell Mountains as taxing as hardcore climbing routes. A thorough initiation primes keeners before they clip in to explore two routes along the north face of Terminator Peak, near Golden. Besides the scramble, Kicking Horse’s summer adventure includes mountain biking, hiking and lunch in the clouds at Eagle’s Eye, Canada’s highest-elevation restaurant. kickinghorseresort.com  

Panorama Mountain Resort’s cosy village is a gateway to outdoor play: leisurely mountain biking trails meld with fast, technical steeps and features all a chairlift away. For a slower pace, on-mountain hiking combines elevated exploration with a sightseeing ride on the Mile 1 Express chairlift, backed by Mount Nelson. In September, fans of foliage can take a Tamarack Ridge Walk that reveals the summit alpine landscape’s dramatic transformation from green to gold. panoramaresort.com     

RED Mountain Resort may be revered for its stellar vertical, glorious glades and powder days, but come summer, this varied terrain beckons mountain bikers. On offer? Enthusiasts can shuttle from the base of RED to the trailhead of Seven Summits, a 30-kilometre (19-mile) point-to-point single-track traverse of the Rossland Range. For a change of pace, adventurers can shuttle or pedal the designated up-track to Pay Dirt, the resort’s featured downhill trail on Granite Mountain, where bridges, jumps, drops and rock faces offer plenty of opportunity to shred. redresort.com/getlost

Surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Selkirk and Rocky Mountains in Southeastern British Columbia, Kimberley Alpine Resort is a popular destination for the view alone. It makes sense then that the resort hosts its Mountaintop Kidz Festival, June 26, from the top of Northstar Mountain, where little ones can seek treasure during scavenger hunts, listen to live music, get vertical in a bouncy castle and dig into themed crafts. A petting zoo and a mountaintop barbecue round out the day’s play. skikimberley.com  

At Fernie Alpine Resort, campers can pitch a tent for the first time at the top of the Timber Chair, near the Lost Boys Café. It’s the perfect base camp for tackling the resort’s activity lineup, including the adrenalin-thumping challenge at the Aerial Park and Zipline, the fast track of the resort’s mountain bike trails and the sky-high views of lift-accessed hiking. Kids Adventure Camps and the Nature Bob Interpretive Centre offer outdoor education for the little ones, too. skifernie.com/summer


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