Sun Peaks Resort
One of Canada's largest ski areas and in the top 20 of North America's 700+ resorts for vertical drop. Fine dry snow creates great powder skiing on the long trails.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Located 45 minutes from Kamloops in BC's Interior, Sun Peaks is easily accessible from both Vancouver (4 ½ hours) and Seattle (5 ½ hours) on the scenic (provided the fog lifts) four lane Coquihalla Highway, from Banff (6 ½ hours) on the Trans Canada Highway, and from Jasper (5 hours) on the Yellowhead Highway. Kamloops Airport is serviced by two airlines, and there are regular shuttles from other resorts in B.C.
- Sun Peaks has some of the most fun cruising terrain you will find anywhere. Lots of fast blue and blackish runs off all chairs. Mt Morrissey is like a giant Guthega.
- Almost all accommodation is ski in/out.
- Compact, convenient village with a large range of restaurants.
- It is the policy of the current owners to always ensure that the lifting capacity of the mountain exceeds the number of beds, so the mountain does not get overcrowded.
- The Sunburst chair is a bubble chair, meaning it has a somewhat clear bubble that can be brought down over the chair, affording protection from the elements.
- A smaller quieter version of Whistler. Similar pedestrian friendly town center with a fraction of the people.
- Sun Peaks has no really extreme terrain for those who seek it. There are black and double black runs, but the double blacks (mostly) do not deserve it, although there a couple of runs on the bottom half of the Burfield Chair that will give anyone second thoughts. The blue runs can be pretty steep and daunting compared to typical intermediate terrain.
- The Burfield chair (universally called The Burf) is quite possibly the longest slowest chair in existence. It serves some excellent terrain, but you need a cut lunch to ride it from the bottom. It is the only chair I know that makes the old Crackenback Chair at Thredbo seem express. There is a mid station which serves the best of the terrain. Most people use it.
- The grooming can really pack the snow down hard.
- The village pricing can be quite extreme (as you would expect with any super-resort).
Phone: +1 (250) 578-7222
Fax: +1 (250) 578-7223
Toll-free (North America): 1-800-337-3257 (33-PEAKS)
Postal: 1280 Alpine Rd. Kamloops, British Columbia, VOE 5N0, Canada
Flying or Bus
Fly or bus to Kamloops or Kelowna. There is a mountain shuttle that will meet flights if booked in advance. The shuttle from Sun Peaks down to Kamloops airport sometimes cuts things a bit fine for this worrywart's comfort zone.
Kamloops airport is notorious for closures because of weather. Kelowna is more reliable and is served by more airlines, but is a 3 hour shuttle journey away.
Greyhound buses serve Kamloops - the scheduled trip time from Vancouver is about 6 hours, but is dependent on weather and traffic. You will have to get from the Greyhound depot to the airport (~$20 cab fare) to meet a shuttle to get up to Sun Peaks. The Greyhond fare is around $80 (Jan 2011).
If you have a bad trip and arrive after the last shuttle, a taxi fare will be the equivalent of a night in a hotel. Ask the driver for a quote, January 2009 price $120 to $150 depending how hard it is to find you accommodation at 2am.
There is a shuttle from Big White via Silver Star that runs on Saturdays, and Wednesdays. It also runs the other way, from Sun Peaks to Big White.
There is a shuttle from Whistler Blackcomb that runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. There is also a shuttle from Vancouver airport on Wednesday and Saturday.
The availability and timing of shuttles can vary from year to year, so it is always wise to check. They all require advance booking so advance contact is also necessary for that reason. Central Reservations is always a good place to start to book shuttles.
Shuttle Contact Numbers, Prices and Times
Sun Peaks is about 4.5 hrs from Vancouver, and 7.5 hrs from Calgary, by car (assuming good road conditions). A two-lane road with a length of about 30km services the mountain from HWY5 north of Kamloops.
There is a range of accommodation available in the village, including hotel rooms, apartments and freestanding chalet style houses. Book through Central Reservations.
There is hostel style accommodation; Sun Peaks Hostel An character Gothic arc style property near the Burfield Base area; rates starting at $22 / per night Canadian.
An ideal ski-in / ski-out location is "Snow Creek Village", adjacent the Sun Peaks Sports Centre (swimming pool) and the Village Core. For fantastic chalets, condo's, town homes, suites, etc., check the listings on SunPeaksVacationChalets.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Another management company for self-catered chalets and townhomes is the Sun Peaks Accommodations Corp; Sun Peaks Accommodations Corp., or email@example.com
Almost all accommodation is ski in /out, and be sure to request a private hot tub (if needed) and correct bed configuration upon booking.
For off mountain accomodation there is always Kamloops. Many Kamloopies come up on weekends and it is said by them that the drive is reasonably short and definitely worth it.
There is a shuttle that operates from Kamloops on weekends, holidays and something called school pro D days.
Sun Peaks has a range of lift tickets. Adult day passes are CA$73/day for one or two days, or CA$69/day for 3 days plus. (2010-11 season)
There are various discounts for seniors and kids.
Sun Peaks has a great ski school. There are 5 levels (5 being the most experienced, 1 being beginners) each for adults and kids. SunKids meet at the bottom of the Sunburst Chair. SunKids does snowboarding and sking. The adult school meets just outside the kids school, they also do both snowboarding and sking. You can have 1/2 day, full day, and lessons that last a few hours. SunTots (3-5 year olds), is located besides the kids area inside the day care centre. Tots lessons are either 1 or 2 hours in length. There are group and private lessons but private lessons more commonly last a few hours. Another option is snowbike lessons. These are a mix between skis, snowboards, bikes and snowmobiles that have recently been popping up in Canada. Adults and kids share a class. All classes can be booked at the guest services office near Masa's Restauraunt.
Jardines, Elevation and McSporties rent skis and boards and the resort runs a hire operation in the day lodge.
Sun Peaks village is compact. It is easy to gain access to anywhere by walking although the village is expanding. Most accommodation is ski in/out. In 2009-10 Sun Peaks introduced a Resort Shuttle Bus
Most accommodation has underground parking. There is parking for daytrippers outside the base lodge, in parking lots up the road to the east of the village (serviced by shuttles) and at the base of the Burfield Chair.
Dog Sledding (where you can have a go at "mushing" the sled yourself), Ice Skating, Snowmobiles (including low powered snowmobiles for kids), Sleigh Rides, Snowshoeing, Tube Park,, Swimming pool. There are regular pick up hockey games on the skating rink.
It is worth a trip into Kamloops to see the mighty Kamloops Blazers play hockey. You can organise a package including bus transfers and tickets through the Activities Desk in the day lodge. The food at the stadium is a bit dodgy.
You can also hire, and get instruction on, snow bikes. These things are fun to ride, and easy to get the hang of.
For lunch it is worth exploring the small cafees in the village. Bolaccos, Vertical Juice, Altitude and Tod Mtn Cafe all do delicious soups, paninis etc. Bolacco does the best coffee in the village
Every year, towards the end of January, Sun Peaks has a Food & Wine Festival to showcase the of the local food and wine, including the extraordinary ice wine. As part of that event there is a thing called A Taste of Sun Peaks, at which local restaurants and local wineries showcase their food and wine. There are also other events based on showcasing wine and food. Both food and wine are extraordinarily good, and the locals are very friendly although at the showcase dinner half a glass of wine per course was a little light on. The Ice Wine Festival shows up on the Sun Peaks calendar, and is well worth taking into account when you plan your visit.
On mountain, there are food outlets at the bottom of the Burfield Chair, the top of Sunburst and near the bottom of Morrisey. At the base area there is Masas bar and grill, which is a relatively cheap table service restaurant, a cafe and Bentos which is a cafeteria in a tin barn. Bottoms Bar is also accessible from the slopes. There is an excellent, easily accessible sushi restaurant. At least one cinnamon bun per visit is compulsory. Expect a price of around $25 for a basic sirloin steak. Mountain High Pizza charges about $18 for a 14 inch pizza.
The Bluebird Market in the Delta complex is a large supermarket. Unfortunately the range available has not lived up to its promise, and there is limited choice. There were two grocery shops (with limited range) that may or may not survive the coming of the supermarket. Roxy's has metamorphosed into an organic grocery.
There is a liquor shop that, unfortunately, stocks a large range of Australian wines and a disappointingly small range of local Okanagan wines.
There are a couple of places that will deliver groceries to your hotel, chalet or hotel.
Sun Peaks Grocery Delivery. You can contact them on tel +1 250 574 3449 or fax +1 250 578 0310. They will also deliver liquor, and claim to give a value service.
Thistle Farm will deliver organic groceries.
Both services expect a knowledge of local brands, which is annoying when you are ordering from overseas.
There are large supermarkets in Kamloops. Sometimes, depending on loads, you can arrange to be left at a supermarket by the Airport shuttle on its way down, and collected again on the way up. This will give you about an hour shopping in town. On Saturdays and Sundays the resort organises shuttles down to Kamloops to shop. The schedule gives you about 3 1/2 hours in Kamloops. Price is $41.
Bars & Entertainment
Bottoms Bar & Grill is a popular apres venue. Mackdaddy's Nightclub underneath the Delta Hotel rocks on until late
There are a couple of ski shops and a boarding shop. They all let you demo.
The usual complement of tourist trap art galleries/kitsch souvenir shops, chocolate shops (Rocky Mountains Chocolate yum) and clothes shops. I bought skis from Jardines, downstairs from where I was staying who were pretty good, but McSporties also has an excellent reputation. Derek at Jardines is a very patient and careful bootfitter. His jokes are suss.
This contributor found that, after catastrophic rending on a 12 year old girl's ski pants, the range of replacement clothes was extremely limited. Do not expect to be able to buy clothes in resort.
There are many developments under way further up the valley from the current village centre, mainly condos & townhouses being beyond the Sports Centre & Ice Skating rink. A new East Village is planned, and the announcement sign has faded over the past few years. When the East Village is built, it will expand the Village and will decentralise it to some extent. Depending on your attitude, this may or may not be a good thing. Al Raine (Nancy Greene's husband, and an adviser to the owners of Sun Peaks) was one of the driving forces behind the development of Whistler. The Whistlerisation of Sun Peaks may be under way, and over the next few years the Sun Peaks experience may be different.
Best to wait and see if the East Village is built, and if future lifts are to be added at Sun Peaks Resort. Without sounding too pessimistic, the Sun Peaks Resort Corp. typically waits for real estate pre-sales, and would leverage dollars from external resort developers before they would commence with a new Village.... a new lift would be unrealistic. Only time will tell.
A new lodge development by Mr. Paul & Jim Farrel of Sydney, NSW is well underway. Kookaburra Lodge, meticulously planned apartments designed for easy, and carefree holidays.
Degree of Difficulty
Sun Peak's run gradings tend toward the cruisy end of the spectrum. There are a few black runs that are not really deserving of that grading. But there are a couple of double blacks that will keep you concentrating.
There is a run called the 5 Mile which goes from the top of the Burfield Chair around the back of the Crystal Chair to the bottom. It is a VERY LONG green run down from the top of the mountain to the bottom, and means that there is an easy way down from the top of each lift on the Tod Mt side. If it isn't 5 miles (8 km) long, it feels like it. It is a hoot for good skiers as it has several no-turn pitches. Wind chill can be a problem.
Over on Mt Morrisey there is a long looping green run called The Sticks. It is a fun run with some rolls and lots of tree islands to play with.
There are ungroomed open bowls of various degrees of difficulty off the top of all chairs except Morrissey and Sundance. Crystal Bowl is wide with a good intermediate/advanced pitch, but visibility can be a problem in bad light and it can develop a wind crust if it has been blowy. The Headwall area, accessible from the top of Crystal Chair, is steeper. It also develops bumps quite quickly after a fall. Terrain to skiers right of the Burfield Chair has some very interesting nooks and crannies.
There are also many gladed areas between marked runs providing excellent tree skiing.
The areas to skiers' right of the Burfield Chair do not seem to atract the traffic of other areas. There is some nice riding out there that does not get skied out as fast as other places. Look for a run called Round About, and the runs that drop off it.
Out of Bounds
There is some excellent terrain just out of bounds from the top of the Burfield and Crystal chairs. A short walk out will give access to lightly wooded terrain that runs down to a summer road that takes you back into the resort and joins the 5 Mile. The area is skied regularly so just ask a local about 'The Gils' and they'll help you out.
The out of bounds area within the resort below the Crystal chair and next to the Challenger run is fenced off for a reason. It is seriously steep and slides regularly, despite the dense forest. If you ski down the Ridge run you can drop into the area about half way down and join the Challenger exit run, but beware of hazards and the unstable snow pack.
As usual, if you plan on heading out of bounds take all necessary precautions!
Parks & Pipes
There are two parks - a beginner park serviced by a J-bar (Platter) and an advanced park serviced by the Sundance chair.
I did not notice many bumps. The blacks and double blacks off the Mt Morrissey Chair called the Laundry Room (Spin Cycle, Static Cling etc) are not groomed and develop bumps. These runs are reasonably steep but short. Headwall, off the Crystal Chair, can also develop bumps. Many of the blue runs are not groomed every night but all are groomed regularly.
Some of the black runs off Sunburst Chair also develop bumps, although these runs are groomed regularly so the bumps never get very big. Sting is generally left alone.
Generally, the bumps are soft and well shaped, but can get packed over time.
The gladed area off the Sunburst chair catch a lot of snow. Also try Chute and Green Door off the Crystal Chair after a dump.
There are lots of options to skiers' right of Burfield.
Most of Mt Morrisey is relatively narrow runs through trees. Those runs are generally protected. There are also treed runs off most of the other chairs. Mt Morrisey faces in the opposite direction to most of the other runs, so either Morrisey or the rest of the hill is likely to be sheltered.
An 11 year old's perspective:
The meaning of snowplay is still unsure so here are two possibilities; There are many areas perfect for snowman making and snowball fights. If the kids are restless at dinner and you're eating at Masa's there is a good area within view of the window on the villiage side of Masa's. In fact, many of the restauraunts have areas within view of the window. As a final comment for this definition of Snowplay; it's a good ski resort, everywhere is perfect! (apart from in the middle of a run)
Possible Definition 2;As previously mentioned there is a tube park, this is open until 7:00 at night and if you come in the last hour (6:00pm-7:00pm) the ticket is half price. It's one magic carpet ride to the bottom of the track and a 2nd to the top. At the top you buy your ticket and get a tube. There is a fast and slow track to choose from. The option of a spin before push, self push, stomach slide or back slide and a limit to maximum three people on a chain is available. The tube park is great fun and found near the Sundance Chair to the right of the Platter Lift. There is the more dangerous option of toboganning down a hill randomly swaying across your chosen slope. There are snowmobile (aka. skidoo) tours as well as mini-mobiles and a mini-mobile track for kids. Nearby is the (heated) pool, the outdoor ice-skating rink and the commonly snow-covered tennis courts. To get to these head out past the Nancy Green Chalet along the road for a while.
Skiing with Nancy
Nancy Green, Olympian, Sun Peaks Skiing Director, Canada's most popular 20th Century Athlete, regularly leads tours of the Resort. These are an excellent way to spend an afternoon. Nancy for all her success is very down to earth. There are plenty of signs showing when the tours are on, and they are suitable for all skill levels and ages. Nancy is an amazing skier for someone her age. She will also analyse your skiing in a second, and give you some great tips.
Sundance and Morissey open at 8-30, and the others at 9-00. The lifts close early, at 3-30. Last ride is usually 3:15.
Temperatures were between -5 and -10, mostly around -5. It was a warm year, and -10 to -15 is apparently closer to the norm. Colder than Whistler and warmer than Lake Louise. We had a fair bit of fog and overcast, but apparently this was also unusual. -20 and lower can happen.
This page, from the Sun Peaks site is a graphic showing snow falls and snow depths over a season.
Tod Mountain, Sunburst and Sundance are well linked to each other. Mt Morisey is across the valley. It is possible to ski to it from the top of Sundance (although the last bit to the bottom of the Morrisey chair needs a lot of momentum). If you take a short walk across a road and a bridge from the base area you can get to Morrisey without riding Sundance, but you have a short platter lift to get to the bottom of the chair. It is possible to ski almost back to the other chairs from the top of Morisey but you have to take a short walk across the bridge and road at the bottom. There is also a run from the top of the Morisey Chair to the bottom of the Burfield Chair, although you have a short walk and a road crossing at the bottom.
Mt Morrisey is on the opposite side of the valley to Sundance and Mt Tod meaning one side of the valley should be sheltered in poor weather.
Many local families decorate trees beside the runs and chairs with Christmas decorations. OK, so it's not a bra tree, but it looks pretty good.
The Burfield Quad Chair is the longest fixed grip quad in North America. It's a 22 minute ride from the bottom to the top!
Sun Peaks started life as Tod Mountain in 1961. The original chair was the Burfield chair. In 1993 Nippon Cable Company bought the resort, and started a plan of expansion and development. That plan has continued steadily.
The current philosophy of the owners and managers of the resort is to expand real estate development. However, they say that their plan is to ensure that lifted capacity expands ahead of the number of beds on mountain, so crowds should not be an issue. So far, this plan appears to be followed.
Australian Tour Groups
Some Australian teachers run tour groups with a real family orientation in Sun Peaks in January. They are called Master the Mountain. Clive and Andy are the masters in charge of the Scots Interschools team, and they have excellent programmes directed at preparation for this event. They also have programmes geared to a CSIA level 1 and beyond. They are also a heap of fun to ski with. They have no shame in promulgating video of embarrassing stacks.
In January 2007 the guys created a programme with John the Pom (5 nil, 5 nil), a Sun Peaks instructor, for a group of 5 kids aged from 7 to 14. Each of the children denied vehemently that they were being taught anything, and insisted that they were just having fun. Most of them improved to an extent that amazed their parents. There can be no higher recommendation for an instructor of children.
One problem is that the packages are set up for a traditional nuclear family of two parents and a couple of kids. If you are not in that category they can be a lot more expensive than other deals.
Note This is the personal opinion of the writer of this item. You should not assume that wikiski, or ski.com.au know anything about these people, or endorse the service.
- Official Website
- Kookaburra Lodge
- Accommodations Website
- Sun Peaks Grocery Delivery Website