Family Fun At British Columbia’s Sun Peaks Resort

Ski Lifts

You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy yourself at Sun Peaks Resort. There’s fun for the whole family, from grandparents to little tots.  Sun Peaks is the third largest ski resort in Canada. You’ll find oodles of fun at this family friendly alpine village,  located a 45 minute scenic drive from Kamloops, nestled at the foot of three mountains:  Mt.Morrisey, Mt. Tod, and Sundance.  There are 122 runs for skiers and boarders of all skill levels as well as cross-country ski trails and snowmobile areas.  Skiers of various levels can explore them all in one in a day on a self-guided tour. Usually the runs aren’t crowded and you’ll feel as if you have the mountain to yourself.

The popularity of this world class resort, is growing. Folks from all over Canada, USA and abroad arrive to enjoy the winter sports.  Many Australians come to the resort to ski and work in the shops and hotels.  Japanese investors (Nippon Cable) own the ski lifts and runs and there is a surge of development taking place at the resort with new condos, chalets, hotels and shops being built in the resort and surrounding area.  The population of full time residents numbers about 500 but during peak winter months it swells to the thousands.

The most distinguished resident is former Canadian Olympic ski champion and member of the Canadian Senate,  Nancy Green Raine.  She is actively involved in the Sun Peaks community. Enjoy a complimentary ski with her or a fireside chat at  the Hearthstone Lodge on Sunday evening. Her husband Al Raine is mayor of Sun Peaks.

Ski School

There’s definitely a family atmosphere here, a peacefulness and friendliness that is contagious. For families, there is a daycare where the tots can be left while parents go skiing.  The daycare even provides ski lessons for the little ones.  And bus-loads of kids  from area schools come to Sun Peaks for ski and snow-boarding lessons.  There are activities for teenagers at the Mascon Hangout located in the Sports Centre. Ski, snowboard, Nordic and terrain park lessons  are offered for adults too. You can also rent equipment.   Information about the resort, activity reservations, alpine and cross-country tickets can be obtained at the Adventure Centre.

From early morning when the slopes are bustling with skiers and snow boarders to the more tranquil evenings I enjoyed strolling through the village and browsing the boutiques and shops.  Most of the restaurants do not open until 5 pm, but there are a couple of popular pubs at the foot of the ski lifts where rosy-cheeked skiers chat enthusiastically over beer and burgers.  The Bottom Line Grill and Masa’s Bar and Grill at the Adventure Centre both have a jovial atmosphere. Or, for a more sedate lunch dine at the Mantle Restaurant and Bar at the Delta Sun Peaks Resort.

Dog Sledding

While my family members were on the slopes I went on an adventure of my own: a dogsled ride at Mountain Man Adventures, the highlight of my stay at Sun Peaks. I was transported by mini-bus to the road that leads to the kennels.  I could hear the howling and yelping of the dogs from a distance as I trudged down the snowy road.  At the kennels I was greeted by Taryn, one of the new owners of the pack of fifty sled dogs.  Each dog is chained to its own kennel with plenty of running room. “Far enough that they can’t fight or breed with each other,” she explains.

I am introduced to each dog and she tells me a little anecdote about them.  All the dogs are cross-breeds: Malamutes, Alaskan Huskies, Greyhounds and other breeds.  They are trained as working dogs.  It was plain to see they love their owners and have been well cared for.  Chris Schwanke and Taryn Rixon have only owned the Mountain Man Adventures for a year but Chris, who is from Canmore, Alberta has 10 years experience handling sled dogs and his partner Taryn, gave up her city job to join him.  They live on-site along with the dogs, several are retired from active work and usually sleep indoors with the owners.

As Taryn chooses the six dogs who will pull the sled the others yap and howl in anticipation.  She picks  Loki, a grizzled veteran and experienced dog-sled racer. He is paired with handsome blue-eyed Rodeo, one of the pack’s most promising mutts.  A tawny pair, Comet and LJ take the middle positions and in the “wheel” position at the back are two of the strongest dogs, ginger-colored Jackson and Lima, a German-shepherd cross.  “We put the largest dogs in the rear, because they pull most of the weight when the sled goes uphill,” Taryn says.

I am given the privilege of helping to harness the dogs, a fairly simple task as they are co-operative and experienced.  Then I settle myself in the sled, comfortably seated on cushions with a warm blanket to cuddle under.

“Okay, boys! Let’s go!” Taryn shouts and off they go running full speed, yapping  with excitement.

We head down the narrow road shared by a some cross-country skiers, then turn off  into the woods on a pathway hedged with high drifts of sparkling snow.  Mid-way the team stops to rest and Taryn gives them a biscuit treat.  I get off the sled to investigate some interesting tracks Taryn points out that were left by a snow-shoe rabbit, and pose behind the sled.  Taryn asks if I’d like to be the musher for awhile, but I decline, and settle myself back down on the comfy cushions.

“Let’s go!” Taryn shouts.  And the team is off again, racing down the curves and up over the small hilly mounds of packed snow.

Back at the kennels I help Taryn feed the dogs their treat:  big hunks of fatty meat donated by a local butcher.  Later they’ll be given a special meal, their reward for all that hard work!

Sun Peaks Village

You can skate, toboggan, tube, snowshoe, cross-country ski and enjoy a variety of other activities at Sun Peaks.  After my day of dog sledding, the next afternoon I snuggle up on a sleigh pulled by a  team of sturdy Clydesdale’s named Zeus and Thor who take me on a jingle-bell ride around the resort and out into the surrounding countryside.

Sun Peaks is full of winter activities to enjoy.  Book tickets for dog-sled, sleigh rides and other activities at the Adventure Centre just opposite the lifts in the Village. There is a skating rink and a toboggan run a short walking distance from the Village.

I spent four fabulous days at Sun Peaks enjoying the crisp mountain air as sparkling snow fell over the tranquil village. Even though I didn’t participate in the activities on the slopes, there wasn’t a moment that I didn’t enjoy.

Sun Peaks Resort is located near Kamloops, British Columbia  (map)

Note:  The author received some, but not all, complimentary activities while staying at Sun Peaks courtesy of  Sun Peaks Tourism; the opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.

Photo Credits: W. Ruth Kozak

Tags: top-feature, Winter activities; family fun; sports; skiing

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