To ski in peace

Find beautiful, uncrowded slopes in British Columbia's rugged interior

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Silver Star Mountain Resort

Averaging 23 feet of dry, powdery snow each winter, Silver Star has always been a place for families to play. The village's streetscape resembles that of a mining town from the province's 19th-century gold rush days, with brightly colored storefronts along the pedestrian-only street.

BEST FOR: Families and anyone else with a preference for a smaller resort.

FAVORITE SKI RUN: Eldorado, an intermediate run with 5 miles of powder.

TERRAIN: 20 percent beginner runs, 50 percent intermediate, 30 percent expert; 276 inches of snowfall annually; 10 lifts.

BEST GUIDED SNOWSHOE TOUR: The Fabulous Fondue Frolic, a snowshoe trek on Thursday and Saturday evenings to a cabin; includes a fondue dinner and a sleigh ride back. $58, reservations required. 250/558-4292.

BEST APRES-SKI HOT SPOT: Long John's Pub, with two fireplaces, a mining theme, and delicious burgers. $$.In the Village Centre, next to the Lord Aberdeen Apartment Hotel; 250/549-2992.

BEST PLACE TO GET CHEESY: Silver Lode Restaurant, for the cheese and chocolate fondues. $$$. In the Swiss Hotel Silver Lode Inn; 250/549-5105.

WHERE TO STAY: Swiss Hotel Silver Lode Inn has cozy rooms, some with private hot tubs or full kitchens. From $83. In the Village Centre; www.silverlode.com or 800/554-4881. Putnam Station Inn has train-themed decor inside and out. From $83.In the Village Centre; www.putnamstation.com or 800/489-0599.

TRAVEL INFORMATION: Driving time from Vancouver is 5 hours. Shuttle service is available to and from the Kelowna International Airport. For ski and road conditions and more information, contact Silver Star Mountain Resort www.skisilverstar.com or 800/663-4431.


Big White Ski Resort

Opening the season with a $127.9 million (Canadian) expansion that includes more lifts, ski runs, and accommodations, Big White is definitely ready for winter crowds. It's not unusual to ski above the clouds here, with a brilliant blue sky, powder snow, and only the sound of your skis for company. The moon makes good company too: Big White has western Canada's largest night-skiing area.

BEST FOR: Adventurous skiers who prefer a bit of pampering.

FAVORITE SKI RUN: The longest one ― Around the World, with 4 1/2 miles of beginner-level skiing.

TERRAIN: 18 percent beginner runs, 56 percent intermediate, 26 percent expert; 294 inches of snowfall annually; 15 lifts.

BEST GUIDED SNOWSHOE TOUR: A two-hour outing that takes you through the woods near the base village. $23, reservations required. 250/491-4244.

BEST APRES-SKI HOT SPOT: Snowshoe Sam's main-floor pub offers huge plates of excellent nachos. The upstairs restaurant serves steaks and lobster. Pub $; upstairs $$$. In the middle of the village; 250/765-1416.

BEST LAST LIFT RIDE OF THE DAY: Take a five-minute trip on the gondola to the Kettle Valley Steak & Wine Bar for terrific steaks and a wine list that features Okanagan selections. $$, reservations recommended. 250/491-0130.

WHERE TO STAY: Chateau Big White has a day spa and a good restaurant; accommodations include rooms, suites, and lofts, all with gas fireplaces. White Crystal Inn has spacious rooms and a slopeside location, plus a hot tub and sauna. Both hotels' rooms from $83. 800/663-2772.

TRAVEL INFORMATION: Driving time from Vancouver is 4 1/2 hours. The closest airport is in Kelowna, and shuttle service is available. For ski and road conditions and more information, contact Big White Ski Resort www.bigwhite.com, 800/663-2772, or 250/765-3101.

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