Whistler-Blackcomb, just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, is among the top-ranked ski destinations in the world but there are plenty of winter sports and activities closer to Vancouver proper. The North Shore Mountains have three excellent ski and snowboard areas: Cypress Mountain, 30 minutes away, is the largest of the local ski hills and was a venue for the 2010 Olympics; Grouse Mountain is particularly known for night skiing; and Mount Seymour is generally known as the most family friendly of the three. All have rentals, lessons, night skiing, and a variety of runs suitable for all skill levels. All three also offer snowshoeing and snow tubing, and Cypress Mountain has cross-country trails complete with a historic cabin, Hollyburn Lodge, that serves warm treats. Grouse Mountain can be reached using TransLink buses. Cypress and Seymour each run local shuttle buses.
Ski areas and trails are generally well marked; pay close attention to maps and signposts. The ski season generally runs from early December through early spring.
Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Snow-tubing
Cypress Mountain Ski Resort. Just 30 minutes from Downtown, the ski facilities at Cypress Mountain include six quad or double chairs, 53 downhill runs, and a vertical drop of 610 meters (2,001 feet). The resort has a snow-tubing area and snowshoe tours. This is also a major cross-country skiing area. Summer activities at Cypress Mountain include hiking, geocaching, wildlife viewing, and mountain biking. Cypress Provincial Park, 6000 Cypress Bowl Rd., West Vancouver, British Columbia, V7V 3N9. 604/926–5612; www.cypressmountain.com.
Grouse Mountain Ski Resort. A 15-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver, the Skyride gondola takes skiers up to the ski resort on a slope overlooking the city. The views are fine on a clear day, but at night they're spectacular, and the area is known for its night skiing. Facilities include two quad chairs, 26 skiing and snowboarding runs, and several all-level freestyle-terrain parks. There's a choice of upscale and casual dining in a handsome stone-and-timber lodge. Summer activities at Grouse Mountain include hiking, disc golf, zip-lining (in winter, too), wildlife viewing, and taking in sky-high views from inside The Eye of the Wind turbine. 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, British Columbia, V7R 4K9. 604/980–9311; 604/986–6262; www.grousemountain.com.
Mount Seymour Ski Resort. A full-service winter activity area, Mount Seymour ski resort sprawls over 81 hectares (200 acres) accessed from eastern North Vancouver. With three chairs for varying abilities; beginner's lifts, equipment rentals, and lessons; as well as toboggan and tubing runs, it's a favorite destination for families. Snowboarding is particularly popular, as is snowshoeing on ski hill trails and provincial park routes. The dining options aren't fancy. 1700 Mt. Seymour Rd., North Vancouver, British Columbia, V7G 1L3. 604/986–2261; www.mountseymour.com.
Robson Square Ice Rink. Rent skates and lace them up tight to enjoy this free ice-skating rink in the city center. It's the best of indoor and outdoor skating combined—with a glass dome covering the open-air rink. The season runs December through February. 800 Robson St., Downtown, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6Z 3B7. 604/646–3553; www.robsonsquare.com. Free.