As far as incredible skiing and snowboarding is concerned, British Columbia is truly blessed. Skiers do not have to travel far to reach incredible resorts and amazing ski conditions.
Case in point, the Okanagan Valley.
The interior of the province is dotted with fantastic ski resorts, epic champagne powder conditions and charming ski villages. One of our family favorites is Sun Peaks Resort, located north of Kamloops. Just a five hour drive from Vancouver, Sun Peaks is Canada’s second largest ski area (after Whistler), and is consistently voted as one of the top ski resorts in the country. With three mountains, a quaint pedestrian village and family-friendly amenities both on and off the slopes, our guide to 11 super fun things to do at Sun Peaks Resort with kids will help you plan an unforgettable family ski holiday at one of BC’s best ski resorts.
11 super fun things to do at Sun Peaks Resort with Kids
Ski at Sun Peaks Ski Resort
Wintertime is ski time! Sun Peaks Resort is made up of three connected mountains – Tod, Sundance and Morrisey. They are connected via ski lifts, gondolas and ski ways. Each mountain has its own pros, cons and quirks, and sometimes that can be weather-dependent. For example, if it’s foggy at the top of Tod Mountain, try heading to Morrisey’s treed runs, which will likely have clearer conditions.
There are 137 ski runs and 17 gladed areas in total, and each mountain offers a variety of terrain that will appeal to every skier and rider in the family. There are ‘deep steeps’ for the black diamond lovers, long cruisers and wide glade zones, and corduroy groomers, all of which can be found within 4,270 acres of skiable terrain.
During our visits to the resort, we’ve spent nearly equal time on all three hills. Some of our personal favorite runs when we visit Sun Peaks are on Mount Morrisey, which has a fabulous mix of wide glade runs and steep, mogul-filled, double black diamonds.
If you like lists, here are our fave runs; CC Riders, Mid-Life Crisis, I Dunno, Spin Cycle, and Cover Shot. Other great choices on Tod and Sundance Mountains were Crystal Bowl/Run, Blueline, 5 Mile, OSV, Grannie Green’s, and Three Bears.
Sun Peaks champagne powder
Sun Peaks Resort and its fellow ski resorts in the Okanagan Valley enjoy the most incredible champagne powder snow conditions. This is due to the dryness of the high desert climate in this valley region. The champagne powder is some of the fluffiest in North America, and makes for epic ski days. If you’ve never had the opportunity to ski dry powder conditions before, you’re in for a real ski treat.
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Explore Sun Peaks Village
Sun Peaks Ski Resort is centered on a European-style pedestrian village. The village is filled with quaint shops, cafés, and independent restaurants. You can even ski through the village on the way to the resort’s two main ski lifts, the Sunburst Express and Sundance Express.
The village is the heart of the resort. The buildings are done in chalet style, with arcades to shield pedestrians in bad weather. Everything is in walking distance and compact, including the hotels and the small grocery store.
Sun Peaks hosts events and entertainment in the village during the winter season. During the busy summer season, enjoy the Sun Peaks golf course, epic mountain biking, the Sun Peaks market, elevated fishing adventures, festivals and concerts.
Enroll in ski school
The main village area is where you’ll find the Village Day Lodge, Sports School and the bunny hill and tow rope for the learners.
The Sports School offers a great range of lessons, all with accredited and enthusiastic instructors. If you sign up for lessons, you’ll get to bypass any lift lines, though they are rare.
If you plan to enroll your kids or yourself in ski lessons or need rentals at Sun Peaks, remember to book them well in advance. Sun Peaks’ Sports School programs tend to fill up fast, especially during school breaks and holidays.
Ski with an Olympian
Sun Peaks Resort has something other resorts do not – an in-house Olympic Champion that you can ski with.
Olympian and Sun Peaks’ Director of Skiing, Nancy Greene, makes her winter home at the resort. She loves skiing with guests, who can ski for free with this legendary Olympic Champion.
Just check the signage at the bottom and top of the Sunburst chairlift to see if Greene is skiing on the day of your visit. Or check with Guest Services. Tours are free and depart from the top of the Sunburst chairlift. Everyone is welcome, provided you can ski green and blue runs.
We had the honour of meeting and skiing with Greene during our last family visit. After a few runs, she took off down the hill with our teenaged boys, and left us in the dust. She can still rip it up, and our kids had the time of their ski lives.
Savor alpine fondue and a starlight descent
I dream of cheese, so the thought of enjoying an alpine fondue on the mountain followed by a run down to the village by the light of the stars has great appeal.
The evening begins with a ride up the Sunburst Express chairlift to ‘The Alps’ where a hearty three course fondue meal is served. After dinner, guests get to enjoyed a guided ski or ride down a freshly groomed 5 Mile run all aglitter in the moonlight.
Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Activities Desk in the Village Day Lodge by 10:00 AM on the day of the activity. Guests must be 13 years and older.
Enjoy an moonlight snowshoe tour
Sun Peaks has an extensive snowshoe trail network. A trail pass allows you to wander the network during the sunshine, but book a Moonlight Snowshoe Tour for a truly magical winter experience.
The tour involves a guided two-hour walk along a 1-km loop that’s fairly flat and easy. The tour includes snowshoes and a headlamp, as well as a delicious campfire treat of s’mores and hot apple cider. This is one of favorite outdoor activities at Sun Peaks, BC.
If you’re a thrill seeker you’ll want to try snowmobiling at Sun Peaks’ beautiful backcountry along trails, wide open frozen lakes and clear meadows. Both the two hour and four hour snowmobile tours are offered seven days a week. You can also sign up for a nightly wiener roast, where you will get to go on an evening tour made complete with a campfire cookout at the McGillivray Lake Cabin. Passengers do not require a valid driver’s license. The guid must approve any underage passengers.
The tours take you on a ride through the backcountry where you’ll get to ride on trails, past open frozen lakes, and clear meadows. Plus, you’ll get to take in the stunning views of the Thompson Nicola region, too. The question is, can you handle a two or four-hour tour? If you sign up for the nightly wiener roast, you’ll get to complete your evening with a campfire cookout at the McGillivray Lake cabin.
Try ice skating
Sun Peaks Ski Resort has an NHL-sized skating rink within walking distance of the village. Head over for drop-in public skating or pick up ice hockey. Didn’t bring your skates? Skate and hockey stick rentals are available at the rink. Family Fun Nights are held Tuesdays with extra games and complimentary hot chocolate.
Tear down the tube park
Littles tired of skiing? Take the kids to the Sun Peaks Tube Park. You can purchase tickets at Guest Services in the Village Day Lodge. The tube course is a fun and winding path down the hill, and getting back up is easy with the park’s lift-assist system. It’s open for all ages and adults will have just as much fun as the kids.
Tackle the terrain park
Sun Peaks has three great terrain parks for daring and acrobatic skiers and riders. The terrain park is located at the base of Sundance Mountain, accessible via the Village Platter. It’s open to kids and adults daring (or crazy enough) to try as well. Just remember that if you wipe out, it’s in full view of the entire village.
Explore the stunning backcountry of Sun Peaks Resort on a guided Mountain Man Dog Sled adventure. Snuggle down into the sled and enjoy the ride as powerful Alaskan husky dogs take off along the trail. You may even get the chance to drive the sled yourself!
Dress appropriately – that means gloves, mittens, a warm hat or a helmet for this unforgettable ride.
Where to eat at Sun Peaks Resort with kids
There are many excellent restaurants in Sun Peaks Village, offering a variety of eating options for families. From fast food to pub-style fare and finer-though-still-casual dining, you can find our full list of where to eat at Sun Peaks here.
Quick tip: If you want to eat lunch on the mountain, Sunburst Lodge offers good self-serve selections of soup, chili, and sandwiches. And DO NOT miss their cinnamon buns. You can smell them coming up the Sunburst Express quad chair. And yes, they’re big enough to share!
In case Sunburst Lodge sells out of their cinnamon buns (which they will), ski down to the Village Day Lodge. They have a supply of the sweet, sticky buns too. Shhhhhh!
Where to stay at Sun Peaks Resort
Sun Peaks has a wide variety of hotels, private homes and accommodation choices for families. There are many ski in, ski out options in the village centre, either at hotels like the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel, Nancy Green Cahilty Creek Lodge, or at condos that can be rented by the week or weekend. You can find our picks on where to stay at Sun Peaks Resort here.
Sun Peaks Resort FAQ
Sun Peaks ski resort is located in the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia, approximately 50 kilometers northeast of the city of Kamloops.
If you are traveling to Sun Peaks ski resort by car, there are a few different routes you can take depending on your starting location. Here are some general directions:
From Vancouver: Take the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) eastbound towards Kamloops. Once you reach Kamloops, take Highway 5 northbound towards Sun Peaks. Follow the signs for Sun Peaks, which will take you onto Tod Mountain Road. It’s about an 4 to 5 hour drive, depending on road conditions.
From Calgary: Take the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) westbound towards Banff, then continue on Highway 1 towards Kamloops. Once you reach Kamloops, take Highway 5 northbound towards Sun Peaks. Follow the signs for Sun Peaks, which will take you onto Tod Mountain Road. It’s about 590 km (366 miles), and the travel time can vary depending on traffic and road conditions. Generally, it takes about 7 to 8 hours to drive from Calgary to Sun Peaks.
From Seattle: Take Interstate 5 northbound towards the Canadian border, then cross into Canada and take Highway 1 eastbound towards Kamloops. Once you reach Kamloops, take Highway 5 northbound towards Sun Peaks. Follow the signs for Sun Peaks, which will take you onto Tod Mountain Road.
The driving distance from Seattle to Sun Peaks is approximately 550 kilometers (340 miles). The driving time can vary depending on traffic, weather, and border crossing times.
Assuming you take the most direct route via Interstate 5 and Highway 1, the driving time is typically around 8-9 hours. However, this can be longer if there is heavy traffic or delays at the border crossing. It’s a good idea to plan for extra time and check the current border wait times before you depart. Additionally, make sure to have all necessary travel documents and identification for crossing the border.
The closest major airport to Sun Peaks Ski Resort is the Kamloops Airport (YKA). It’s located approximately 55 kilometers (34 miles) south of Sun Peaks. There are daily direct flights to Kamloops Airport from several major Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
Once you arrive at Kamloops Airport, there are several options for getting to Sun Peaks ski resort, including:
Rental Car: You can rent a car at Kamloops Airport and drive to Sun Peaks on your own. The drive takes approximately 45-60 minutes, depending on road conditions and traffic.
Shuttle Service: There are several shuttle services that provide transportation between Kamloops Airport and Sun Peaks ski resort. Some of the shuttle services require advance booking. Be sure to check their schedules and prices in advance, and book accordingly.
Taxi or Private Car Service: You can also arrange for a taxi or private car service to take you from Kamloops Airport to Sun Peaks ski resort. This option is generally more expensive than the shuttle service. But it can be more convenient if you have a lot of luggage or prefer a private ride.
The opening date for the ski season at Sun Peaks Resort can vary from year to year depending on weather and snow conditions. Typically, the resort opens for skiing and snowboarding in late November or early December, and the exact opening date is announced closer to the start of the season.
Sun Peaks Ski Resort is located in a mountainous region of British Columbia, and in winter, Sun Peaks weather can vary. Factors include including elevation and proximity to weather systems. In general, the winter weather in Sun Peaks is characterized by cold temperatures, excellent snowfall, and periods of clear weather. It’s not called ‘Sun’ Peaks for nothing!
During the winter months of December through February, temperatures in Sun Peaks typically range from around -10°C to -1°C (14°F to 30°F). The coldest temperatures usual occurring at night. Snowfall is common throughout the winter season, with an average annual snowfall of over 6 meters (20 feet) in the alpine area.
All that champagne powder makes for excellent skiing conditions, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
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Read more about BC’s amazing ski resorts
Photo Credits: C. Laroye
Have you spent time at Sun Peaks Resort? Share your experience in the comments below.