When You’re No. 2, The Saying Goes, You Try Harder.

Skiers and snowboarders rise above the clouds on the Crystal Chair at Sun Peaks. Credit: John Nelson

That’s true of Sun Peaks Resort, Canada’s second largest ski area behind behemoth Whistler-Blackcomb 200-plus miles away in the coastal mountains.

This excellent resort near the British Columbia city of Kamloops offers three mountains to ski, a well-designed, bustling village and even a fair bit of off-piste, side country powder to hike. Add to that a sunnier climate, lighter snow and lower prices and Sun Peaks looks better and better compared to its rival to the west.

You’ll find bargains here as well. Seniors 65 and older receive a 20 percent discount on ticket prices at Sun Peaks, and that’s on top of the favorable exchange on the strong U.S. dollar.

A snowboarder shreds fresh snow on the Crystal Chair at Sun Peaks. Credit: John Nelson

Snow, terrain and more

  • Location: Sun Peaks is about 35 miles from Kamloops, a city of 85,000 in what’s known as “Thompson Country” of B.C.’s inland mountains. It is the closest inland resort to the Vancouver metro area (about five hours away by car), and the Kamloops airport gets several daily flights from major Canadian cities.
  • Snowfall: The mountains here receive far less snow than the coastal range, but Sun Peaks still gets more than 230 inches a year. Snowmaking helps keep some of the lower slopes covered.
  • Terrain, lifts: The three mountains at Sun Peaks serve predominantly intermediate terrain on its whopping 4,270 acres. About 68 percent of the resort is rated beginning or intermediate, and 32 percent is rated expert. The Gil’s Zone side-country area offers expert skiers the chance to find untracked lines after a short hike off the top of the Crystal and Burfield lifts.
  • Vertical: 2,893 feet from a village base at 4,117 feet. The hikable summit of Tod Mountain (7,060 feet) adds few hundred vertical for those willing to sweat for their freshies.

Lot to lift access

  • Parking: Parking is scattered in several lots near the bases of each mountain; in addition, accommodations generally offer heated parking garages.
  • Public transportation: A bus service operates on weekends from Kamloops. In addition, an airport shuttle runs from Kamloops to Sun Peaks, and an inter-resort shuttle operates between Whistler, Big White and Sun Peaks.
  • Accommodations: The village at Sun Peaks is well designed; you can ski among the shops, condos and hotels to the lifts. Several ski and stay deals are offered by the resort.


  • The vibe: This is the friendly interior of B.C., so you won’t find any of the Whistler-Blackcomb snobbery here. As with many resorts in Canada, a strong Australian presence is apparent nearly everywhere you go among workers and vacationers.
  • Dining: 22 dining spots are scattered around the resort and village. Several restaurants deliver great meals, including the excellent Voyageur Bistro and the rocking Bottoms Bar and Grill.
  • Mountain life: Winter activities abound, with Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skating. Of the interior B.C. resorts, Sun Peaks has the best four-season set-up, with a golf course and excellent mountain biking during the summer.

Bottom line

  • Sun Peaks has a robust village scene that delivers a resort experience at the fraction of the cost of skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb..
  • Canada’s second largest ski area has ample terrain to explore over the course of a ski stay.
  • With 2,000 hours a year of sunshine, your chances of getting a goggle tan are pretty good.

Trail Map click here

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A well-designed village offers dining, shopping and accommodations at the base of Sun Peaks. Credit: John Nelson


John Nelson is a freelance outdoors writer based in Seattle. Follow his blog at skizer.org.


One Comment

  1. Gunnar Baldwin says:

    I am turning 80 in May and am hearing about places I might be able to ski free! Since I never ski without some children or grandchildren or younger friends with me it seems like a smart policy for ski areas to try to attract the older skiers (with their families!).
    I am also a level 3 PSIA instructor interested in giving private lessons to seniors. I love to teach.

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