Take your pick from skiing, snowboarding, sledding and tubing at this winter resort located in the southern end of Cypress Provincial Park, just a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Split into two sections, with an Alpine area and a Nordic area, there are 53 runs that range from beginner to highly advanced, covering 600 acres (240 hectares). They are accessed by nine lifts, six chair lifts and three surface lifts, and many runs are open for night skiing.
This is one of North America’s premier skiing locations, noted for its excellent facilities and awe-inspiring vertical rise of 2,000 feet (610 meters) on Black Mountain. The resort also boasts one of the largest cross-country areas in North America, with nearly 12 miles (19 kilometers) of trails.
Cypress Mountain is actually three mountains; Black Mountain, Mount Strachan and Hollyburn Mountain. The name ‘Cypress’ comes from the yellow cedar trees that are common in the park, particularly between Mount Strachan and Black Mountain.
During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Mountain was the official freestyle ski and snowboarding venue, and its facilities were given a major upgrade in advance of the competition. These same runs are great for advanced sportsmen. If you’re a novice, the resort offers a variety of skiing and snowboarding lessons including kids’ camps, group classes, and private tuition. You can bring your own skis, or rent them on site.
When the sun sets and it’s time to shake the snow off your boots, make your way over to the Crazy Raven Bar & Grill for a hearty meal. It’s situated inside the Cypress Creek Lodge, the main building in the Alpine Base Area. The lodge also houses the informal Cypress Creek Grill, a 600-seat cafeteria. Hollyburn Lodge, in the Nordic area, serves daily home-cooked dishes, such as lasagna and fresh soups, as well as baked goods.
Even outside of the ski season this resort is a great daytrip from Vancouver for lovers of nature. Explore miles of beautiful hiking trails through forests and meadows, and along mountain streams and lakes. Cycling is also an option along the paved roads.
Don’t be surprised if you come across some of the area’s residents during your trek: black bears, deer, hares, and weasels are all common in this area. There are two designated picnic spots: The Quarry area has a large grassy expanse and eleven picnic tables, and Highview day-use area has six wooden tables and a small stretch of grass. Be sure to adhere to the strict rules about not feeding the wildlife.
If you’re not up for driving to Cypress Mountain, catch the Cypress Mountain Express Bus, which stops at several points around Vancouver. There’s also a rideshare program.