When it comes to choosing a ski resort holiday in Canada, British Columbia stands above the rest. There are nearly 40 ski resorts in the province, from the biggest ski area in Canada, Whistler, to small community-oriented ski hills like Manning Park. The interior region of the Okanagan has three major family-friendly ski areas, and its smallest and quirkiest has become one of our favorites. This comprehensive guide to SilverStar Mountain Resort will help you see why its skiing, attractions and amenities deserve a Gold Star.
SilverStar Mountain Resort
The charming, colourful and distinctive Victorian architecture of SilverStar’s compact village was inspired by the “Silver Queen” mine and locals’ first ski turns in the early 1930s. Boarded sidewalks and brightly colored storefronts add a unique western flavor. The ski resort officially opened in 1958, and has been growing at its own quirky, fun pace ever since.
Where is SilverStar Mountain Resort?
Centrally located in the heart of BC’s Okanagan Valley, SilverStar Mountain Resort is in the Monashee Mountain Range, only 22km from Vernon and 65km from Kelowna airport. It’s the fastest Okanagan resort to access from Kelowna International Airport (YLW).
If you’re driving from Metro Vancouver, the trip takes about 5 hours via the Coquihalla Highway 5 and 97C from Merritt, an additional 60 minutes via Highway 97 through Kamloops.
Skiing at SilverStar Ski Resort
SilverStar is home to magnificent dumps of 100% all-natural champagne powder snow. The white stuff comes down in light, fluffy flakes to the tune of 7 m or 23 ft of annual snowfall spead across 3,000 acres. The snow coats the trees and turns them in snow ghosts, creating epic ski conditions even on groomed runs.
If you think all that powder makes for incredible skiing and riding, that’s just the half of it. Combined with a lack of crowds and no pesky lift lines, SilverStar gets you on the mountain faster so you can cruise down wide-open trails, weave through the glades or charge down double blacks straight from your mountain chalet door.
More than once during our visit, I felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves. It always pays to get on the hill early, but even in the middle of the day, the ski runs were never packed, nor the lift lines longer than 5 minutes. That’s a major ski win in my book.
SilverStar has a bit of a split ski personality. The frontside of Vance Creek and Attridge are sunny with greens, blues and blacks to warm up and play on. You can reach the mountain village easily by following the Main Street Skiway from most of the frontside runs.
The backside of the mountain is where you drop into Putnam Creek for a large cache of intermediate, advanced and expert runs. The double blacks here are no joke. Steep narrow chutes of moguls and trees will get your heart pumping.
SilverStar also has a terrain park on the Vance Creek side that is popular with all ages who want to have fun on the rails and jumps. Tip: If you or your children need lessons or a skills tweak, the SilverStar Snowsports School is fantastic. The lessons and rentals are reasonably priced, and the instructors are great and enthusiastic teachers.
Cross country skiing at SilverStar
SilverStar is home to North America’s most expansive cross-country trail network. There are 105 km of nordic trails that connect from the top of SilverStar Mountain Resort to Sovereign Lake down in the subalpine below. Silver Star’s portion of the network is 55 km, more than enough continuous groomed trails to get a real workout and enjoy the beauty of the landscape.
For race fans, the annual Sovereign2SilverStar Ski Marathon happens in spring (usually April) and is a point to party event with two of everything: two styles (classic and free), two distances each day (42km and 21km), and two ski areas (start at Sovereign Lake and finish).
Want to take poochie out for a XC ski? Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre offers a pooch pass with the “Zuma’s” trails dedicated to the four-legged family members who want to keep up with their humans. The multi-use 16 km of dog-friendly trails make the mountain accessible for as many folks (and four-legged friends) as possible.
Snowshoeing at Silver Star
Enjoy walking softly through the crisp air and enchanting forests of Silver Star’s Mountain scenery. There are 30 km+ of trails to enjoy at your own pace and level. The singletrack trails weave in and around the forest and lower cross-country trails, offering varying difficulty and adventure.
Hand-carved wooden signs and reflective markers mark the trails, and the snowshoe trail map marks warming huts along the route. Access is from the Village and Adventure Park areas. At Silver Star Provincial Park, there is a section of trails where snowshoeing is free and dogs are allowed.
For those looking for a bigger workout, hike between snow laden Douglas Firs and get the heart pumping to Black Prince Cabin. Enjoy your lunch with a wood stove inside to warm hands and bellies.
Other winter activities
Feel the thrill of winter zipping down the groomed runs of Tube Town in a truck-sized inner tube. A tube lift brings you easily back up the hill for another run (or four). Slide, spin, and swerve down the hill without ever hiking back to the top – a big plus for little (and big) legs.
Lace up the skates and glide across Brewer’s Pond. This 2.5-acre natural ice rink is located in the heart of the village. Skaters can try their hand (and fancy footwork) at some old-fashioned pond hockey. Enjoy a romantic skate or watch from the sidelines with a hot chocolate in hand around the fire from Tube Town Cafe.
A successful day on the slopes can mean sore muscles and stiff knees. Work out the kinks at Elevate Spa, SilverStar’s full-service Aveda day spa. Get a mani, pedi, facial or a soothing massage to get you ready and able to hit the runs bright and early the next day.
Where to eat at SilverStar Ski Resort
As of winter 2023, there are 18 eateries to choose from at SilverStar Mountain Resort. Everything from flaky pastry to Indonesian, Italian and authentic Japanese ramen dishes. You’ll easily find the perfect choice of cuisine and food to end perfect ski days on the mountain.
Black Pine Social
Enjoy an elevated dining experience at Black Pine Social. The food is always prepared fresh, with a regional focus for locally sourced and sustainable products. The menu features dishes from all the great alpine regions of the world. Delicious bread, appies, meat and cheese-forward dishes of the Alps and other European ski locales. Black Pine also follows traditional ramen techniques used in the mountains of Japan, including broths steeped for days. Well known mixologist, Jacob Sweetapple, a longtime friend and colleague of owners Brandon and Melanine Loughery, has developed the cocktail program that complements Black Pine’s alpine cuisine. You’ll also find a Whiskey Wall and the clearest ice cubes you’ve ever seen. So clear you can scan the QR code through it.
Bugaboo’s Bakery Café
A Silver Star institution. This is a coffee and pastry lover’s dream, boasting bread, buns and delish coffee drinks. Owner, Frank Berkers is celebrating 25 years in business and continues to hand roast his own small-batch coffee beans. He’s also mastered the art and science of turning out picture perfect cream puffs at mountain top elevations, thanks to advice from a pastry chef pal in the Pyrenees Mountains. Must try treats include; cinnamon buns, cream puffs, apple strudel and the croissant sandwiches.
The Bulldog’s Grand Cafe is an extension of The Bulldog™ Amsterdam, a renowned Dutch establishment. Many parts of the interior like the Bar, tables and wall art have been brought over from Holland. The menu offers a wide selection of dishes, mostly focused on Dutch and delicious Thai-Indonesian cuisine with flavours from the West Coast. All the menu items are prepared from the freshest ingredients and all baked items are homemade in the on-site bakery.
Chute 5 dishes up classic breakfasts, avocado toast, waffles, vegan options, and pastries. All paired with specialty coffees. Breakfast is considered one of the most important meals of the day, which is why Chute 5 serves it all day long.
An upscale and intimate (there are just ten tables) mountain-casual Italian dining restaurant in SilverStar’s village. The menu features fresh, hand-made pastas and classic sauces with a delicious assortment of thoughtfully curated dishes like roast chicken, pillowy gnocchi and seafood risotto. It all hits authentic with this half-Italian ski girl! The menu has been designed by SilverStar Mountain Executive Head Chef, Scott Sanderson.
Paradise Camp is located at the top of Powder Gulch on the backside of SilverStar. If you’re shredding the Gulch, there’s no need to head back to the village for lunch. Paradise Camp is the only full-service restaurant on the slopes. It’s the perfect place to take a break, enjoy hot breakfasts, lunches, baked goodies, bevvies and an unforgettable cinnamon bun.
Pizza Gratta serves locally sourced, organic sourdough pizza dough which is naturally low to no gluten. These tasty pizzas in SilverStar ski resort are topped with an abundance of toppings ranging from classic Margheritas to meat-forward Il Toscano, as well as vegan and vegetarian options.
A local favorite, Red Antler serves Canadian cuisine and après faves like chicken wings, nachos and burgers, in a cosy rustic atmosphere of exposed brick walls, lounge areas and open booths. The restaurant is home to the mountain’s largest selection of beer on tap.
A popular and ideal stop for a hot breakfast or quick lunch break in the village. Town Hall offers fast service and great food, from an array of snacks, freshly baked cookies and treats to affordable meals including burgers, fresh chili, and freshly made sandwiches.
Where to stay in SilverStar
Accommodations offer ski in, ski out access at village condos and hotels. We rented a two-bedroom slopside suite in a unique Victorian-style vacation home in the Alpine Meadows area. Check out SilverStar Stays for 100+ condo and house rental options.
Of the three interior mountain resorts we’ve visited – Silver Star, Big White and Sun Peaks – we’d have to say that SilverStar Mountain Resort has been our favorite so far. Its great snow quality, terrain diversity, quirky charm, and great personal service have ensured a return visit – and hopefully soon.
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Photo Credit: Claudia Laroye
Disclosure: The writer thanks Destination SilverStar for hosting her stay at SilverStar Mountain Resort. As always, her opinions and love of champagne powder are honest and her own.
Have you enjoyed winter fun at Silver Star Resort? Share your experiences in the comments below.