Big White Ski Resort

Discovering Big White's gentle side

RICK MACDONNELL

Big White Ski Resort, British Columbia Canada
The Boothe family, daughter, Sydney (left), mom Tracie, dad Chad and son, Casey are all smiles after a sleigh ride at Big White Ski Resort, British Columbia.
RICK MACDONNELL/SnowSeekers

BIG WHITE, BC — So much of what goes on at a ski hill is based around exhilaration. Whether its skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding, or tubing, the main goal is to get that adrenaline rush that you just can't find off the mountain. 

But in the midst of all this excitement, it's a good idea to take an afternoon (or evening) to relax and reinvigorate, while still treating yourself to the all the beauty the mountains have to offer.

Tranquil experience

At Big White Ski Resort, there's no better way to do that than by going for a horse drawn sleigh ride. Jim MacKenzie and his two horses, Tom and Jerry, can take you around the Big White backcountry on either a 30-minute or one-hour trip.

"Describing a sleigh experience is a hard thing to do," MacKenzie said. "It's something that you have to feel."

Before my own sleigh ride, I wouldn't really have know exactly what MacKenzie meant. But after spending an hour with the horses, and enjoying the tranquil, snow-covered backcountry, I completely understand now. The experience is more than just what you can see and feel.

Great meeting place

"It's a nice, relaxed trip through the forest, sure. It's a way to enjoy the scenery. But it's also about the old way of travel, the romance of the horses and the sleigh. 

Big White Ski Resort, British Columbia Canada
Gentle giants, Tom and Jerry take guests for sleigh rides at Big White Ski Resort, British Columbia.
RICK MACDONNELL/SnowSeekers

"It's a great place to be, Big White. You get to meet people from all over the world, you get to see families experience things that they haven't experienced in any other part of the world. It's just a great place to be."

Tom and Jerry (as well as MacKenzie's other two horses) are Clydesdales. In the past Clydesdales were used for "getting down the road." They got you from point A to point B. "As far as work horses go, you can't beat them." During a one hour sleigh ride, Tom and Jerry cover about five kilometres. 

Moonlight ride

If I can give any sort of advice to future sleighers, it's that the best time to go is after your day on the slopes, when night has fallen and there's nothing to light your way but the moon. 

"In the evenings when there's no cloud cover, when it might still be cloudy on the hill, you come down here and the contrast is amazing. There's no better time to see the forest. The snow's never more beautiful than when lit by the moon."

And a sleigh ride is just one of the many off-hill adventures at Big White. 

"Big White has something for everyone. It's got sleigh rides, dog sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, a tube park, and North America's highest skating rink."

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