Skiing on Vancouver Island
Have you considered a skiing vacation on Vancouver Island? Surfing, hiking, kayaking, sailing, camping…these are the things most people think of when they dream up their Vancouver Island vacation, but with two ski resorts to choose from, Vancouver Island makes a great ski destination.
The beauty of visiting Vancouver Island in the winter is that you can plan a ski vacation AND a surf vacation all in one! Plus, the added bonus is that it's MUCH more affordable than some of the larger ski resorts on the mainland of BC while still offering great terrain.
Ski Resorts on Vancouver Island
There are two ski resorts located on Vancouver Island. Mt. Washington Ski Resort is located in the Comox Valley nestled beside Strathcona Provincial Park near the community of Cumberland. Mt. Cain is located further north near the community of Woss.
Mt. Washington Alpine Resort
The larger and most easily accessible is Mt. Washington Alpine Resort located 30 mins north of the Comox Valley near the towns of Courtney and Cumberland. From Highway 19, take the Strathcona Parkway up 20 km to the resort. Winter tires are required and depending on road conditions, chains may be required as well. Come prepared and check drivebc.ca for current road conditions.
There are free parking lots near both the Alpine Lodge and Raven Lodge. There is also a free base parking lot located just past the junction of HWY 19 and the Strathcona Parkway. From the base lot, you can catch The Mount Washington Shuttle Bus that runs to and from the Alpine Lodge.
The resort is home to both an Alpine Terrain Park and a Nordic Terrain Park.
The Alpine Terrain Park spans 1,700 acres and 505 vertical metres of alpine terrain including 5 chairlifts, 3 training carpets and a terrain park. There is also a Tube Park which is fun for the whole family! What makes it unique? Skiing and snowboarding with alpine and ocean views at the same time! It’s extraordinary!
The Nordic Terrain Park offers 55kms of cross-country skiing trails, 25kms of snowshoeing trails and 15km of cross-country fat biking trails along with a dedicated Nordic lodge called Raven Lodge.
Season’s Passes and Day and Night passes are available for both the Alpine and Nordic terrains. There are often special rates for lessons and pass combinations. A great one is the Learn to Turn program which saves you 50%. You can purchase your ticket ahead of time online and then pick up your pass from an outdoor kiosk at the lodge on arrival.
Mt. Washington Alpine Resort also runs a snow school. Rentals, group lessons, private lessons and group camps are available. We’ve booked a private one hour lesson to work on specific techniques and it’s been amazing!
Mt. Cain is more remote, but what it lacks in infrastructure it makes up for with rustic charm and wicked powder! Mt. Cain is located in North Vancouver Island near the community of Woss. From the Highway 19 turnoff to the Mt Cain parking lot is 16km on a gravel road; about 30 minutes by vehicle.
The resort has 21 ski runs, two T-bars and one beginners handle tow.
Lift passes can be purchased either online or in person at the lodge.
Mt. Cain also offer lessons and rentals. Private and half-day lessons can be booked for beginners and more advanced juniors can join the Wolfpack, Mt Cain’s Junior racing/free-skiing program.
If you are planning to make the most of your time and want to find accommodation at Mt. Washington for your visit, you'll want to plan ahead and book your stay ahead of time as rentals quickly fill up.
Condo rentals are available within the Mt. Washington Alpine Village which has an incredibly high "quaint factor". It feels like you have stepped into a European ski village with a combination of ski chalets and ski condos. No cars are allowed within the alpine village creating a super family-friendly environment.
There are 2 lodges, Deer Lodge and Bear Lodge, that are literally "slope side" and offer a ski in and ski out location directly onto the slopes. Definitely the most convenient location to stay! Although the units are privately owned, rentals are booked through the management company Slopeside. Check Mt. Washington's website for bookings.
Just beyond the Alpine Lodge is the quaint Mt. Washington Village. Small pedestrian/ski lanes weave through chalets and condos that make you feel like you skied into Europe. This location is also ski in/ski out, but there may be some walking involved depending on the location.
These chalets and condos are also privately owned, but most are rented out privately by the owners. Listings are usually posted on Airbnb or VRBO or on the unit's own website. Sometimes, it takes a bit of digging to find units to rent, but the quaintness of the village is worth the effort!
Overnight Camping is permitted on a first come first serve basis at the Sunrise Parking lot for a maximum stay of 2 nights. There is no power, sewer or water, but it's free!
All of the accommodation options mentioned are full units with either a kitchen or kitchenette, so self catering is an option. Bring groceries with you as there is not a grocer on the mountain!
There are dining out options at the Alpine Lodge including Ted's Bar and Grill, Eagle View Bistro and an Alpine cafeteria. Snack food items can be picked up at the Lodge Store.
Skiing on Vancouver Island is a fun way to add to your winter travels around the island. Combine your trip with a visit to the west coast beaches of Tofino and Ucluelet for winter surfing and you've got a Vancouver Island Classic!
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