Ski the SilverSun: SilverStar to Sun Peaks on a BC ski road trip
From the summit of SilverStar Mountain Resort, Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes sparkle in the valley below. My gal pals and I point our tips toward the shimmering beacons and carve wide turns into Christmas Bowl. Our trio of die-hard, middle-aged chicks on sticks is on a road trip between SilverStar in the Okanagan Valley and Sun Peaks near Kamloops, two of BC’s best resorts.
The distance between SilverStar and Sun Peaks is just 188 kilometres—about a 2.5-hour car ride—making for an easy drive between a pair of iconic ski areas that boast light snow, varied terrain and excellent Nordic networks.
WATCH: #SkitheSilverSun: preview your BC ski road trip connecting SilverStar to Sun Peaks in 60 seconds
Yep, our love of sliding on snow extends to skinny skis, so we’re mixing up downhill thrills with cross-country chills for the ultimate outdoor getaway.
Skiing & snowboarding at SilverStar
On this weekday morning at SilverStar we have the resort’s 3,282 acres of groomers, glades and steeps mostly to ourselves, a common scenario, says marketing manager Doug Chimuk: "There’s so much terrain and everyone spreads out on the mountain.”
There are even fewer skiers on the mountain’s massive backside, where black and double black runs funnel into Putnam Creek. We get our quads firing down Sunny Ridge, a cruiser that alternates between steep pitches and flatter sections that give our muscles a rest.
Silver Star cross-country skiing expansive
Beyond the resort alone, part of what makes Silver Star special as a community is its friendly, active vibe. The compact Victorian-style village thrums with energy—everyone’s here to be active outside, whether they’re searching for powder stashes in Spruce Meadows or gliding along some of the 105 kms of Nordic trails that start right from the SilverStar resort village and connect all the way to Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre and back.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere, not typical ski hill pretension,” says my friend Euna Kang as we switch into Nordic gear for an afternoon ski to Mountain View Cabin.
We join Pat van Mullem, “chief rabbit” of the newly formed Silver Hares Nordic club, a group that aims to connect cross-country skiers for exercise and socializing. He glides us along the spruce-lined Sidewinder Trail as fat flakes begin to float down, coating the forest sentinels in a silver sheen.
We ski back into the village as dusk falls, just in time for some après festivities in the Den Bar and Bistro, a cozy spot with live music, and for me (the road trip designated driver), a non-alcoholic craft beer.
Ski BC road trip time
On any road trip, getting there is half the fun. The scenic route from Vernon to Kamloops on Hwy. 97 rolls past tidy farms, rolling ranchlands and the frozen expanse of Monte Lake. The snow picks up on the final uphill push into Sun Peaks, and we get excited about the promise of fresh powder.
Skiing, snowboarding at Sun Peaks
Is Sun Peaks bigger than Whistler? Under a blanket of fresh snow, it’s easy to underestimate Sun Peaks’ size. At 4270 acres spread across three mountains, it’s Canada’s second largest resort after Whistler.
On a powder morning, the best way to play and get a lay of this vast land of bowls, glades and groomers, is on a First Tracks Private Lesson.
“Try to stay balanced in the deeper snow,” coaches ski instructor Rachel Taylor before we plunge into the pow, whooping it up on OSV a full hour before the resort opens to the public.
We kick up plumes of cold smoke again on Exhibition and Broadway—every run leads back to the village, which is one perk Taylor loves about the resort.
My friends are all smiles, too, and Euna has turned into a bonafide powder hound.
Cross-country skiing at Sun Peaks
With our thighs quickly turning to jelly, we opt for an afternoon flatland ski on the resort’s 30-plus kms of groomed Nordic trails that start from East Village Centre.
We kick past a winter wonderland on Cotton Tail, with excellent views back toward looming Mt. Tod. With so much new snow piling up, we opt for a short jaunt and end the day early with nachos and beer at Cahilty Creek Kitchen and Taproom.
Apres with a ski legend
We’re joined by Olympian Nancy Greene Raine, 80, who lives in Sun Peaks with her husband, and who still skis with resort guests a few times a week.
Chatting with this female ski legend—whose goal is to carve turns until she’s 100—is truly inspirational.
My friends and I pledge to plan future #SkitheSilverSun road trips, and to rip it up on the slopes as long as we can.
When you go
Here's how to plan your #SkiTheSilverSun road trip.
Driving from Vancouver or Calgary (or anywhere in between), make sure your car has winter tires: they’re mandatory on most BC routes between Oct. 1 and March 31.
SilverStar Mountain Resort checklist
Ski: The resort’s My1Pass covers downhill skiing along with Nordic and snowshoe trails, plus tubing and ice skating.
Stay: Make Snowbird Lodge your base camp, with ski-in/ski-out access to the gondola and village.
Eat: There are so many great places to fuel up including the Den and Black Pine Social. Grab a coffee or latte at Bugaboos Bakery Cafe, plus some road snacks for the drive to Sun Peaks.
More info: head to the SilverStar website.
Sun Peaks Resort checklist
Ski: Access to the Nordic network is now included with alpine lift passes, making it seamless for skiers to enjoy both. If there’s snow in the forecast, sign up for the First Tracks experience that runs daily from 8-10 a.m.
Stay: Sundance Lodge is steps from Sunburst Chair, which will whisk you most of the way up Mt. Tod for first tracks.
Eat: Try the next-level nachos at Cahilty Creek Kitchen and Taproom. You may even bump into ski legend Nancy Greene Raine, the star of a new movie and whose Olympic gold medal is on display in the Cahilty Lodge lobby.
More info: head to the Sun Peaks website.
Season pass holders at both SilverStar and Sun Peaks can get two free days of skiing at the alternate resort, through a reciprocal program between the two. Find more info here for Sun Peaks pass holders, and here for SilverStar.