Sun Peaks is incredible for skiing and snowboarding, but it has way more to offer both on - and off - the slopes.
I am waiting on a ridge on the side of a powder-topped run at Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia, Canada. One by one, my husband Matt, my eldest son Josh (28) and his girlfriend Brigette join me, before my youngest son Alex (25) skids in, spraying us all with light, fluffy powder snow. We throw a snowball or two back at him, all talking and laughing about how good the conditions are, how beautiful it is and how lucky we are to be here, before heading down the mountain to the chairlift to do it all again. We have created so many memories and had so many wonderful experiences, even just thinking about Sun Peaks makes me smile.
Sun Peaks Resort stole our hearts on our first visit back in 2010, when the boys were 16 and 12. We have been back numerous times since, most recently in March 2023, when we added some more experiences to our Sun Peaks treasure chest. Here are some of our favourites.
Our heads spin like meerkats as we walk across the frozen Heffley Lake, eyes darting from the ice beneath our feet to the ethereal forest of snow-covered trees on the shore, two bald eagles watching us from a tree. The guide sets up not far from the shore, making holes in the ice then setting up a tent over them. We sit inside on folding chairs, tiny little rods in hand, warm as toast thanks to the heater, but also fish outside to take in more of the view. We catch four rainbow trout but let them all go.
Do: Elevated Fishing Adventures, elevatedfishing.ca
The family that plays together, stays together, even if axe throwing is the task at hand. After a briefing at Cleavage Axe Co, a lovely stroll or shuttle bus ride from Sun Peaks village, we learn the three methods of throwing the razor-sharp axes and then play a round robin-style competition in groups of two. There is a lot of banter/sledging as we play, along with plenty of laughter and one epic fail (no blood was spilt). My kids are pretty impressed when I manage to hit the bullseye several times with a very satisfying thwack. Not bad for an old chook.
Do: Cleavage Axe Co, cleavageaxeco.com
There is such a magical quality to being pulled through beautiful snow-sprinkled forests and over meringue-like fields by nothing but puppy power on a dog-sled adventure. The huskies love what they do, and their joy is contagious. We did the 1.5 hour Into the Wild tour that takes you up for scenic views over Little McGillivray Lake, all snug under blankets in the various sleds. You might even get to have a go at driving the sled, learning how to mush the dogs - with owner Chris watching on of course.
Do: Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures, mountainmanadventures.ca
Skiing or snowboarding by headlamp under the stars is epic, and that is only part of the Alpine Fondue and Starlight Descent that Sun Peak offers. We ride the chairlift up to Sunburst Lodge at dusk where we indulge in a delicious fondue feast. Afterwards, we are split into small groups, given headlamps, and ski down the mountain on the freshly groomed Five Mile run. Towards the bottom our guide (waving his LED-lit poles) stops at a crest, and we see the village down below, lights twinkling. Just gorgeous.
Do: Sun Peaks Resort, sunpeaksresort.com
Snowmobiles sometimes try to buck you off. I learned this while lagging behind my carefree kids on a two-hour snowmobile tour in beautiful backcountry. After a briefing on how to drive, steer and stop, off we set driving on trails ranging from roads to narrow. bumpy tracks with snow walls. We stop for breathtaking views overlooking Lake McGillivray, and someone (no names) pushed everyone into the deep snow with a pile of Hayes ensuing. I was glad for the heated handlebars afterwards. So much fun.
Do: Sun Peaks Adventure Tours, sunpeaksresort.com
Ice hockey is a Canadian obsession and you can see why by watching the local ice hockey team play at the Sandman Centre Arena in Kamloops, on a tour organised by the resort (tickets and transport included). The Blazers play in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for juniors 16-20, and we are always impressed with their incredible skill level - and fitness - as the action switches from end to end at lightning speed. You will feel like a Kamloops local by the end of the game. Go Blazers!
Do: Sun Peaks Resort, sunpeaksresort.com; blazerhockey.com
For those who can't ski, the Snow Limo is the perfect way to experience what it is like carving down the slopes, without moving a muscle. Mike Pfeil - my "chauffeur" - tucks me into the sled, snug as a bug, and then we go up the chairlift (without having to get out of the sled) and Mike gracefully steers me down several groomed runs (it varies depending on which package you choose), while I did absolutely nothing. The other big plus is that other family members or friends can ski or snowboard down with you.
Do: Snow Limo Tours, snowlimotours.com
We love, love, love the slopes at Sun Peaks. The second biggest resort in Canada, Sun Peaks has three mountains with 1728 hectares of terrain with beautifully groomed slopes, steeps and plenty of glade skiing. Each mountain - Tod, Sundance and Morrisey - feeds down to the ski-through village where there are many excellent restaurants, shops and bars. Some of our favourites are the Steakhouse, sushi at Oya, Bottoms Bar & Grill, Bollaco for fresh pastries and the 5Forty Cafe & Cantina for coffee, food or apres.
There are so many memories from our Sun Peaks trips. We had a white Christmas there, failing miserably at the Gingerbread House competition at Bottoms. We have been tubing, jingled on the horse-drawn sleigh ride, been ice skating and, mostly, just loved being together. We still haven't been snowshoeing, fat-tire biking or cross-country skiing, and with a new chairlift going into the West Bowl in the 2024-25 season, there are ample reasons to go back.
Not that we need an excuse.
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Getting there: Sun Peaks is a 45-minute drive from Kamloops which is less than an hour by air from Vancouver. Shuttles can be arranged from the airport to the resort.
Staying there: There are many hotels, lodges, houses and condos to choose from including Fireside Lodge and Sun Peaks Grand.
Explore more: sunpeaksresort.com
The writer skiied with the assistance of Sun Peaks Resort.