Ah, the “Great White North” – Canada. Rather than dwelling over the frigid winter weather, many Canadians embrace it by participating in outdoor winter sports. When dreaming about the best places to go downhill skiing, the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta often come to mind, like the world-class ski resorts in Whistler and Banff. Even Mont Tremblant in Quebec is a popular choice with awesome skiing conditions. Though those are all excellent choices, don’t overlook the province of Ontario when it comes to skiing or snowboarding. There are ski hills in Ontario that are great for beginners and the experienced; ski resorts that are truly getaways with fine dining restaurants and relaxing spas. Many of these are within driving distance of major cities like Toronto and Ottawa, making for the perfect weekend escape. Here are the best places to ski in Ontario, Canada.
Blue Mountain Resort
Blue Mountain in Collingwood is one of the most popular ski resorts in Canada; in fact, it is the third most popular after Whistler-Blackcomb and Mont Tremblant. There are 42 runs, 16 chairlifts, and 3 freestyle terrains, with a vertical terrain of 720 feet. The ski hills range from beginner to expert, with seven double black diamond runs. The resort really is a self-contained community with a pedestrian village, condos, meeting areas for conferences, an indoor-outdoor spa, pubs, restaurants, and nightlife. As Blue Mountain is very popular, be sure to book your stay well in advance.
Mount St. Louis Moonstone
Mount St. Louis Moonstone in Barrie is a great choice for anyone traveling from Toronto as it takes only about an hour to drive there. There are 40 runs and 13 lifts, with a vertical terrain of 550 feet. There are several hills for beginners, intermediate skiers, and those who are advanced (6 hills are rated as black diamond). I can tell you from my own experiences that this is a great place to learn how to ski – I learned how to ski at Mount St. Louis Moonstone! My middle school used to take a field trip here once a year, and I learned how to ski when I was back in grade six. This is a great destination for the entire family.
Calabogie Peaks is a ski resort closest to our nation’s capital, Ottawa. Though Calabogie Peaks may have fewer runs (29 in total) than Blue Mountain and Mount St. Louis Moonstone, it does feature the highest vertical drop of public ski hills in Ontario at 761 feet. Though there is a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs, Calabogie features the longest green trail in Ontario that would be ideal for beginners. If you choose to stay at the resort, it also has a spa, an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor hot tub, and a fine dining restaurant.
Searchmont Resort is located near Sault Ste. Marie, offering some great skiing and snowboarding for those visiting Northern Ontario. There are 18 runs here ideal for beginners and experts, with a 750 foot vertical drop. Similar to many other resorts, night skiing is offered here for a unique experience (just make sure you bundle up!). If you’re truly new to the sport, you can take lessons here. Since Searchmont is farther north, you might find more real snow here earlier in the season if you’re dying to ski as soon as possible. Over the last 10 years, the region has an annual average of 132″ of real snow – that’s a lot!
Horseshoe Resort near Orilla is also a popular choice with residents of Toronto, as it is a little over an hour away from the city. Horseshoe Resort has 29 runs and 8 lifts. The mountain is only 308 feet tall, making it a great place for beginners or those just looking for a fun outing. The resort is known for more than just skiing and snowboarding – there are activities all year round like treetop trekking, segway tours, mountain biking trails, snowshoeing, an Ogo run (zorbing), zip lines, and a rock climbing wall. Justin and I visited here back in 2012 for the afternoon. While we didn’t go skiing, we had a thrilling experience going snow tubing! There were four tubing tracks and we had an absolute riot flying down the hill. Believe me, those tubes go FAST!
While it’s fun to go skiing for the day, why not make it a weekend? There are some fantastic ski resorts and accommodations you can choose for a fun-filled escape with friends, family, or a romantic getaway. After an invigorating day on the slopes, you can curl up by the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate. Sounds like a great idea to me.