Steeps slopes, bountiful snow, stunning sights and exotic wildlife are all hallmarks of Canada’s most memorable winter adventures. Whether you chase virgin powder or opt for a hot tub view of the Northern Lights, Canada has a cool winter experience for you. Here are five awe-inspiring Canadian winter adventures to add to your bucket list.
Polar bears image via Shutterstock
For: Nature lovers and the wild at heart
Winter never ends in Churchill, Manitoba, the ideal destination for meeting the King of the Arctic. Hop on a tundra buggy (think Star Wars storm trooper transport) with Adventure Canada, and venture out into the sub-Arctic glory to spot polar bears as they migrate to winter hunting grounds. Thousands wait on the peninsula’s shore in October and November until the Hudson Bay freezes and they can cross to seal territory. Some misguided bears even venture into the town; repeat offenders are incarcerated into “polar bear jail” until weather is suitable for release.
Image: Yusaku Tanaka/Whistler Heli-Skiing
For: Advanced and adventurous skiers with disposable income.
While you have heard all about heli-skiing, the holy grail of downhill, you probably didn’t know that 90% of the world’s heli-skiing takes place in BC. Every international powder hound craves the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to venture into our vast glacial wilderness. How much wilderness are we talking about? Whistler Heli-skiing has access to 432,000 acres, making it over 50 times the size of Whistler Blackcomb. Ski your pick of 173 glaciers and 475 runs. The cheaper version is backcountry skiing: where you climb the mountain yourself.
Image: Northern Lights Resort & SPA
For: Romantics who like to experience wonder with a side of wellness.
It’s the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, but you’re not asleep. You’re filled with awe and wonder sitting in a steamy outdoor jacuzzi gazing up at the Northern Lights tap dancing on the horizon. Northern Lights Resort & Spa (near Whitehorse) treats guests right with cozy log chalets, Finnish spa facilities, hearty three-course European-style dinners and opportunities to snowshoe and dogsled.
For: Powder hounds with thighs of steel.
Described as Canada’s Telluride and one of the top 25 ski towns worldwide by National Geographic, Fernie has a winning combination of snowfall, scenery and small town charm. But it’s mostly about the powder: a joyous 37 feet of deep white covers steep mountainsides making this ski terrain ideal for hardcore adventurers. Fernie Alpine Resort has five distinct bowls to ski/snowboard. Don’t miss the new chairlift to the summit of Polar Peak which accesses a 3,497 foot vertical drop. Adrenaline junkies who need even more thrills should check out the Fernie cat skiing scene.
For: Novelty seekers and honeymooners.
In this scenario, the weird and wonderful accommodation made entirely of ice and snow is the winter adventure. Every year, the Hôtel de Glace is redesigned and built around a theme. In 2014, the theme is international origin myths. Guests come from far and wide for the chilly novelty. You can even sip cocktails in ice tumblers at the hotel’s ice bar. Open from January 3, to March 23, 2014, the ice palace expects to receive over 100,000 visitors this year. Check it out, 15 minutes outside of Quebec City, before it melts.
Looking for short term rentals in Canadian winter destinations? Check the vacation rentals in the online classifieds. In need of budget-friendly transportation? Check a local rideshare board to find another ski bum heading your way.