Canada and winter harmonize perfectly, so it’s no wonder our northern neighbor is an ideal cold-weather-sports destination. Adrenaline seekers and relaxed visitors alike are granted plenty of opportunities to experience winter fun in a new way. Low-key to gutsy, and everything in between, here are 10 alluring activities:
The adrenaline really starts pumping with the chance to try the luge at the Whistler Sliding Centre. This Olympic-quality track is available to kids aged 8 to 14. Participants learn how to steer the luge sled as they lie back down, feetfirst on the ice track. Rocketing down the final curves of the Olympic track at 40-plus mph, kids are bound to leave with their heart pumping. Safety precautions are in place, and medical staff is always on-site. For more information, visit whistlersportlegacies.com.
Scream down Whistler Sliding Centre’s track in a four-person bobsleigh at nearly 80 miles per hour. This opportunity is rightfully given the name “Thunder on Ice.” A trained bobsleigh pilot and safety gear are present on every run, and this activity is only offered to people over 14 years of age. No experience is necessary, but the ride must be booked and paid for in advance. For more information, visit whistlersportlegacies.com.
Whistler is home to the fastest sliding track in the world, and you could experience the thrill firsthand. This run is called “Lightning on Ice” because participants surge down the track headfirst at over 60 mph. Lying on the sled, you get an up-close look at the icy descent that is incomparable to any other experience. No prior skill is necessary, and discounts are offered when combined with bobsleigh runs. Participants must be 16 years or older. For more information, visit whistlersportlegacies.com.
Enjoy a 45-minute tour through Bow River valley the old-fashioned way on this sleigh ride through Banff. The Canadian Rockies surround the valley where trees and wildlife occupy the snowy terrain. This tour is offered for both couples and individuals, or groups. The private tour for two includes a single-horse pulled sleigh and extra amenities: a buffalo robe to stay toasty, liqueurs and delectable chocolates. Bring your children or take a couple’s getaway and explore Banff at horse speed. For more information, visit banfftours.com.
Fear not, this snowshoeing tour in Banff is for beginners. The wildlife along the way may be one of the greatest attractions as you practice the sport of snowshoeing firsthand. The scenery, however, meets a similar level of interest. Talk with your guide about how Tokumn Creek eroded into the earth, creating the Marble Canyon gorge, and the aftermath of a 2003 forest fire as you snowshoe through the remaining forest. As a unique treat, try fresh maple taffy made in the snow. For more information, visit banfftours.com.
Learn a combination of skills that comprise the Olympic sport, biathlon. Rifle marksmanship and cross-country skiing are combined in this competitive sport, testing both your accuracy and speed. The Discover Biathlon program at Whistler Olympic Park is offered for athletes of all skill levels, and participants must be at least 13. Check the website to learn how you, too, can enhance your skills at this Olympic Park. For more information, visit whistlersportlegacies.com.
The everyday person can taste what it’s like to navigate by dogsled along the outskirts of Banff and Canmore. All you can hear is the patter of dogs as you are whisked through serene National Park land. All tours are guided and permit two passengers per run. With a variety of package options, guests can choose their specific expedition from five options based on preference in length of the tour and location. For more information, visit banfftours.com.
Travel through the nearly mile-long snow course face-first on a sleek board with Whistler’s baseboarding experience. Training will be provided beforehand so sliders have a safe trip down the mountain, but then you are free to baseboard as you please. Participants must be at least 8 years old. This hybrid sport is for those seeking a new adventure. For more information, visit whistlersportlegacies.com.
Prepare for a frigid afternoon in Pemberton—but wait, there’s a catch. Probably more than one, actually, as you sit atop a frozen lake and spend the day ice fishing in an ice hut to keep you warm. Pemberton Fish Finder offers guided trips including all the gear, opportunity and instruction necessary to reel in some giant fish from below the surface. Catch yourself dinner in the beautiful Pemberton scenery. Remember to buy a British Columbia fishing license before your trip. For more information, visit pembertonfishfinder.com.
Learn about the distinct rock geology and history of the Banff area on a winter exploration to either Johnston Canyon or Grotto Canyon. Two breathtaking waterfalls—partial ice and partial water through the winter—will take your breath away on the way to Johnston Canyon. Ancient fossils within the rocks can spark discussion about the grand formation of the canyon. The second journey to Grotto Canyon entails similar excitement, learning about Native pictographs, obscure rock formations and icefalls you’ll see as you trek atop a frozen creek. Both tours require skiwear to stay warm and safe. • For more information, visit banfftours.com.