Older than Whistler, Sun Peaks Resort recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. With the charm of a European ski resort, Sun Peaks in beautiful British Columbia has a Mayor, celebrity ski queen, a slopeside grade school called the Discovery Centre for Balanced Education and endless winter activities for the entire family. Sound like a slice of heaven? There’s more. BC’s interior is blessed with a unique kind of snow that is fluffy, smooth and dry and is referred to as champagne powder.
This gem of a resort town is Canada’s second largest ski area with 4,270 acres and not one, not two but three mountain peaks. Just 45 minutes north of Kamloops, Sun Peaks offers guests multiple transportation options including an airport shuttle. Kick back and let someone else do the driving as you soak up the scenery en route to the kingdom of champagne dreams.
To Canadians, Nancy Greene-Raine is a celebrity ski icon and the mountain mama of Sun Peaks Resort. An Olympic gold medalist and Canadian Senator, Greene-Raine says that “Sun Peaks offers great terrain, trees, gullies, powder…but ultimately it’s about who you are with.”
Nancy handpicked and named a special blue run “Grannie Greene’s” in honor of her own Aerial Olympian Mother. This run offers terrain that both generations can enjoy together. Nancy loves the rockin’ rollers for rippin’ Grandmas and says there are plenty of “whoopee” trails for the grandkids. She is living proof that the key to staying young is being active.
Her best Sun Peaks workout is skiing nonstop down the “Intimidator” (a black diamond run on Mt. Tod) or a long bump run. Star struck by Nancy Greene-Raine? Then you’ll love the fact that as Director of Skiing, she personally welcomes guests to Sun Peaks. Check with guest services for Nancy’s schedule as her Complimentary Mountain Tours are a popular attraction.
If a mountain size breakfast followed by the solitude of a fresh powder run sounds like the ultimate experience, don’t deprive yourself. Make the Fresh Tracks Breakfast experience a MUST on your I-only-live-once list. Once you try it, the craving for more will persist.
Nothing wakes you up quite like a fresh tracks run. That feeling of letting go of all your cares as your complimentary guide leads you down the best of what Sun Peaks has to offer. Squeals of joy are common as you coast down the mountain high above the sleepy resort. This is good news if you’re on a budget. Sun Peaks charges $35 for adults and $25 for kids (including grub) so splurge at least once.
Since snowshoeing is in popular demand, it is important that resorts offer exciting program options for guests. At Sun Peaks there is no shortage of snowshoeing adventures.
All tours have scheduled times. Reservations and Faber snowshoe rentals can be made at the Adventure Centre in the Village Day Lodge.
Here are a few magical options:
The Moonlight Snowshoe & S’mores is a 1km tour along wilderness and forest trails to a roaring campfire complete with S’mores, the ultimate in Canadian out-in-the-wild treats. Cost is $45 per adult/youth/senior and $24 per child (all prices listed are in Canadian dollars).
Two new additions to the Sun Peaks snowshoe adventure menu are the Sunrise Snowshoe Tour and the Valley of the Lynx Explorer. The Sunrise is an option for early risers looking to enjoy a fresh tracks experience on snowshoes. The route takes you to winter Camp for a warm-up including freshly baked goods to fuel your return. Cost is adult $45, youth/senior $40, child $24. Perfect for the nature lover or bird watcher, The Valley of the Lynx Tour focuses on wildlife with a visit to the secret Sun Peaks snow cave to top it off.
Seeking greater heights? Try the Alpine Snowshoe Experience. On a big powder day, blaze your own trail through champagne snow. This two-hour tour will find you mid-mountain crossing over groomed runs to make your way into untouched territory at higher elevations. Take the roundtrip chair lift with snowshoes in hand. Expect five-star service from the lift staff as they roll out the red carpet to make your ride enjoyable and safe. Expect a few treats like hot cider and cookies on this alpine sampler. Cost is adult $49, child $35.
For beginners, the Winter Wonderland Tour is the best option. Complete with a basic lesson, guide and all the snowshoe history you can consume, this tour guarantees a snowshoeing taste test that proves it is a sport to be enjoyed throughout life.
For die-hard adventurers who are up to the challenge, the McGillivray Lake Full Day is for you. With 12kms of trails from the resort to the lake, this is for seasoned veterans looking to push themselves physically. With more than 500 feet of elevation gain, expect to sweat it out and be knackered at the end of the day. You’ll get your money’s worth and then some. Group of 3, $285 CDN, additional people $95 each.
One of the most important components of a memorable snowshoe experience is your guide. Sun Peaks has it nailed. Going above and beyond the call of duty, guides like Gordon McKay have extreme passion for and knowledge of the outdoors, guaranteeing that your experience will be anything but average.
So after you’ve had your fill of snowshoeing, fresh air and champagne powder, you’ll be ready to enjoy the après scene at Sun Peaks. Number one with locals is Bottoms Pub. This hub keeps buzzing until the wee hours and is the perfect place to meet and mingle with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts.
Sun Peaks will surprise you with the plethora of dining options available. From steaks to pizza and sushi at OYA, make sure you give yourself enough ski days to work up your après-snowshoe appetite. Don’t be surprised if you see Nancy Greene-Raine at the table beside you indulging her post-skiing appetite at Mantles Restaurant. For Canadians and International resort guests alike, The Voyageur Bistro is as Canadian outback as it gets. Even the Kookaburra Lodge smells of beavers, canoes and old fur traders. Soak up some history while you contemplate menu options reminiscent of days gone by like bison, salmon and bannock. Have the sommelier help you pair the wines to your choices.
From grandiose hotels to private chalets and European-style inns like Sun Peaks Lodge, accommodations are plentiful and will suite any budget or Nordic fancy. The skiable run right though the heart of the village means ski-in/ski-out happiness is right at your ski tips.
The snow gods refer to Sun Peaks as the Promised Land. You just may want to permanently relocate when you see firsthand the local kids heading off to school on skis and boards. As Nancy Greene-Raine says, “In Canada, God gave us snow and ice, flats and hills.” Go play in it!
For a full list of BC Playcations visit www.hellobc.com.
Triple your mountain pleasure with this deep and delicious interior resort – locally produced with the finest natural ingredients and unlimited champagne powder.
Gear Essential: Columbia Out Dry Gloves
Whether you’re Sun Peaks adventures include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skating, tubing dog sledding, skiing or riding, you’ll want to pair that “champagne powder play” with a pair of Columbia Out Dry gloves. Waterproof, windproof, constant insulation and a snug fit, Columbia Out Dry gloves give you total protection from water and cold air, the key to gearing up extensive time spent outdoors. Staying warm and dry is an essential part of powder play and it all starts with your extremities.