Gliding in Champagne Powder at Big White Ski Resort, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

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The Big White Ski Resort is known as Canada”s family ski resort. Situated one hour away from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, the resort is known for it’s on hill “ski in ski out” town. The resort takes it to quite another level, offering a full on hill experience spread across several rolling mountains. It’s the perfect place for a family get away and with the right accommodation, you can be well positioned to access the hill, restaurants and some ski in and ski out skiing.


This post is one chapter on our trip through the mountains of British Columbia, Canada. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status and Hertz President’s Circle. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Gliding in Champagne at Big White, Canada’s Family Ski Resort, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, during a Pandemic.


Planning a Visit to Big White:

The Ski Resort of Big White is situated approximately one hour away from the central Okanagan city of Kelowna, British Columbia. The nearest airport is the Kelowna International Airport (Airport Code: YLW), which is serviced by Air Canada, Westjet and occasionally Alaska Airlines and Canadian Low Cost Carrier Flair Airlines.

On our trip, we opted to stay in Kelowna, British Columbia at the Delta Grand Resort Okangan by Marriott Hotels – Kelowna. On this particular visit, we received an Marriott Bonvoy Titanium upgrade to a large one bedroom condominium. We’ve reviewed the Delta Grand Okanagan before, so please see there if you are interested in the stay at that hotel property.

From the city of Kelowna, we had a one hour drive up to Big White. On our morning drive, we had a two lane rural farm road that had snow on it. Although the road was sanded and tracked in upward lane, it had snow overnight and was not tracked in the southbound lane. It wasn’t 4WD material and was comfortably driven in the front wheel drive Jetta. We had a mature growth forest views thick with trees.

On the day we were to ski at Big White Ski Resort, we booked a lift ticket on line. While there were capacity controls, we had pretty good availability and had no difficulty securing a preferred date. The prices were much more reasonable than Whistler Blackcomb at only $89 CAD per person (compared to $167 CAD).

Big White Ski Resort Trail Map

Arriving to Big White:

On arrival, we parked at the Happy Valley parking lot. It was a massive parking lot which was pandemic deserted on our visit. There was space for probably about one thousand cars but there was less than fifty in the lot on our visit.

We took the short gondola up and had a little difficulty locating the lift ticket counters. It was a bit of a confusing layout on how to get to around initially. Big White offers an intertwined ski in / ski out village it took a few guesses to identify the ticket windows in order to exchange our printed emails for a lift pass.

Skiing Big White:

We started off skiing on the east side of the mountain on the Black Forest Express. The Black Forest Express didn’t remind me of Bavaria Germany in any way. The hill was mostly deserted.  We had some grey conditions in the morning, which made the visibility a little flat. The hills on Black Forest were gently rolling and weren’t too steeply pitched.

Traces of Powder on The Black Forest Express
MrsWT73 at the start of our day
Completely Empty Hills

The Black Forest Area also offered a real beginners area with lots of glades and terrain that is suitable for gladed skiing. Thanks to the fine snow, there were no concerns with treewells here.

We headed over to the middle mountain area, which was completely untouched. The powder was super fine, dry and low in water content.

Empty Slopes & Empty Chairs
Stormy Skies lead to interesting contrasts of grey

We eventually made our way over to the far west of the mountain, Ridge Express. The Ridge Express offers the most advanced skiing that Big White has to offer. The slopes are substantially steeper pitched than the rest of Big White.

The Ridge Express
More Deserted and Isloated Slopes
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Food and Beverage at West Ridge Warming Hut:

We eventually stopped for a late lunch at the West Ridge Warming Hut. After placing our name on the list, we had a 15 minute wait before we could get seated. It was pretty austere inside, and consistent with being a smaller ski area. We struck out on getting alcohol at this location; another casualty of the health pandemic.

The West Ridge Warming Hut
The Small West Ridge Warming Hut

It was nearing the end of the day, so we hit up the slopes for a few more runs. It was much snowier on the Ridge Express side of the resort, as evidenced by the trees.

A Snowed Over part of the Hill

We eventually made our way back towards the main resort area. We stopped to take in the view of the Big White Resort town.

The Big White Resort Panoramic
The Big White Resort Village

I went up for a few more runs. MrsWT73 was going woman down by the end of the day, thanks to all the runs we had done.

MrsWT73 taking a short “rest”

Finally, towards the end of the day, the grey weather broke and the blue started to show in the skies.

The Snow Ghost Express
Finally seeing some clear blues

I paused for a funny photograph next to a popular run sign entitled “Perfection”.

We had a fully day of skiing with the day starting at 8:45 and ending at 4:00 PM. While the skiing was enjoyable with terrific snow, I didn’t find the ski area to be all too challenging or advanced. It would be perfect for families or those learning how to ski.

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Apres Ski:

Finishing the day at Snowshoe Sam’s

After the day’s skiing, it was time for an apres ski beer. At Big White, the place to be was at Snowshoe Sam’s. Snowshoe Sam’s was officially rated by Ski Canada magazine as the number one ski bar in North America. I had never heard of the place before our visit.

The Snowshoe Inn was located in the pedestrian oriented resort town of Big White. The blue skies were very short as the snow started to come down just at the end of the day.

Locating Snowshoe Sam’s
Snowshoe Sam’s Bar under the Snow
The Plaque to Prove it: #1 Apres Ski Bar in North America

The Snowshoe Inn ski bar was pretty standard fare for a ski bar; funky stuff on the wall and a great selection of Canadian draft beer.

Beer Taps Across the Ceiling
Snoeshow Sam’s Bar

It was apres ski nachos and a crisp Kokannee for me. I certainly can’t complaint with a colorful plate like this.

After Snowshoe Sam’s, we popped on the skis and headed back to the car. We had a short ski through town, to get back to Happy Valley Parking Lot.

Skiing Out after an Apres
Passing the Local Luxury Houses

We were able to ski right to the car rental. This was a bonus for MrsWT73 as it meant no carrying of skis. This was always a bonus.

The End of a Ski Day

Summary: Our day at Big White Resort:

Our day at Big White Ski Resort was an enjoyable and deserted experience. The snow was excellent, although I didn’t personally find the skiing to be all to challenging. It was a more more economical version than Whistler Blackcomb. While some of the other features usually associated with skiing – such as beer and wine were cancelled. The visit to Snowshoe Sam’s was also a neat artifact and worthy of a visit if you happen to be at Big White.


If you’ve travelled to Big White, did you experience the terrific champagne powder?

3 Comments on “Gliding in Champagne Powder at Big White Ski Resort, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

    • Kicking Horse has been on my return visit list for a while. It’s been about fifteen years since I’ve had the opportunity to make some turns there!! Maybe this winter season if the borders remain closed…

      Like

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