Then and now: Vista Ridge

Like Our Facebook Page


Vista Ridge’s modern-day riches are skiing and all-season fun

Covered rink and air-filled pillows for wipeouts, anyone?


FORT MCMURRAY - When Peter Pond came west looking for furs for the North West Company in 1788, he met with the First Nations Chipewyan and Beaver communities who lived off the lands rich with wildlife and timber. They’re likely the ones who taught Pond how to waterproof his canoes with the gooey tar-black substance that oozed from the ground.

Peter Pond was an early explorer of Canada
Photo by the Peter Pond Society

Two hundred years later, The Great Canadian Oil Sands (now Suncor) decided to set up camp and use the thick bitumen for more than water-proofing canoes.

Jump to present day and the city of Fort McMurray is home to thousands of families who work directly or indirectly with the oil sands projects operated by international companies. Located 435 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, with the average age of 31 years old, the city needed to provide stimulating activities for the families - especially during the long winter season.

With an average of 160 cm of snowfall each year and the potential to make snow, the city set out to create a ski resort. Ingenuity and hard work has created Vista Ridge - one of the largest non-mountain ski resorts in Alberta.

Vista Ridge has become one of the largest non mountain resorts in Canada.
Photo by Vista Ridge

Within walking distance of some acreages on the edge of Fort McMurray, eight trails were cut into the thick boreal forest as it dips into the Clearwater River Valley. The resort opened with a single chairlift but due to instant popularity, another was added in 2012. The original lodge at the top of the slope also felt the pressure of the overwhelming success so it was improved to hold more skiers and more boarders with more dining and pub space. Hey - après ski pub-grub is important with or without a mountain.

Enjoy the slopes of Vista Ridge
Photo by Vista Ridge

Along with the two chairs, three carpets transport beginners and tubing enthusiasts on the easiest slopes and the tubing park.

The trails cater to every level of skier and snow boarder with nearly a 50/50 split between easy and difficult terrain. To keep the terrain park users stoked, an airbag landing pillow was added in the last few seasons.

The airbag keeps the terrian park users happy!
Photo by Vista Ridge

Every winter the resort hosts many local club events and brings in participants from the rest of the province. Freestyle competitions, downhill races and seasonal festivals, including spring time slush cups, Aussie Day’s and Family Day Weekend festivities makes it the hub of the community.

Being an all-season facility, Vista now has a covered skating rink and just recently added “WildPlay Wood Buffalo,” a treetop obstacles course for the summer months.

Test your skills at Wild Play Wood Buffalo
Photo by Wild Play Wood Buffalo

People on skis, flipping onto jumbo air-filled bags, climbing through the trees and skating on indoor skating rinks - could Peter Pond even imagine such wonderful leisure activities? All because of that black goo.   

For more information, head to the official Vista Ridge website

Become a SnowSeekers member and get exclusive access to deals and more.

Learn how Sun Peaks Resort brings out the happy in people.

Ready to learn more about how you can #SkiNorthAB? Learn more here.

Show your stoke for the awesome history of Vista Ridge by sharing this page with your friends!

For the latest deals, snow reports and contests, sign up today to our SnowSeekers e-newsletter.

Like Our Facebook Page