A longtime winter-only resort begins to blossom into a summer hot spot
Credit: Dan Toulgoet

A longtime winter-only resort begins to blossom into a summer hot spot

Psst... did you know that, for the first time in its 52-year history, Big White Ski Resort in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley is open for summer? A popular winter destination known for its über family-friendly terrain and 750-centimetre annual blanket of fluffy white stuff, the resort now wants to show the world what’s below the snow.

Just 56 kilometres southeast of Kelowna, Big White celebrated its sunny-season grand opening in early July – and BCLiving was there to get the slopeside scoop on its summer secrets.

Hillside Happenings
Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Hillside Happenings

What better way to kick off summer than with beer and music? Indeed, during July 4th’s Craft & Country Beer & Music Mountain Fest, taste buds were teased with sample pours from Surrey’s Russell Brewing, New York City’s Brooklyn Brewery and Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing – to name a few. And the slopes were alive with the sounds of country music when bands like Victoria’s Tumblin’ Dice took to the village stage. A kids fun zone with face painting and lasso lessons rounded out the fun.

Big White’s summer roster continues with L’Alpe de Grand Blanc on July 25, a 58.4-km road bike race where cyclists and spectators alike can get their Tour de France on – there’s even polka-dot jerseys for the King and Queen of the Mountain.

The second annual Bike, Hike and Beverage Weekend, August 1-3, will be amped up by the newly added CiderFest – come for races, bike demos and tastings. The weekend wraps with the first Big White Instameet on B.C. Day, when Instagram lovers ride the chairlift up with the resort’s resident photographer, then hike around pretty Rhonda Lake on the way down – all the while snapping away and swapping photo-taking tips. (Participants enjoy chairlift and Globe Café & Tapas Bar discounts.)

The Labour Day long weekend (September 5-7) marks the end of summer with the Village Ski Swap. After scoring a screamin’ deal on a pair of planks, scope out your future lunch break perch with a sneak peek at the work-in-progress Black Forest Day Lodge.

Hoof It, Ride It – or Both
Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Hoof It, Ride It – or Both

There’s more than one way to go up a mountain. Sure, hikers can still hoof it to the top and back on Big White’s looping walking trail. Just follow the bright orange Inukshuks along the way or, new this year, book a guided two-to-four-hour hike with a local naturalist at the Globe Café in the village.

But with the Bullet Chair now running on weekends through to September 7, getting to the higher trails and scenic lookouts has never been easier. Pick up a trail map in the village (or download one from here), then head on up to take in fresh mountain air, gorgeous wildflowers – from blazing-red Indian Paintbrush to mop-like “hippie dancers” – and sigh-worthy views of the Monashee Mountains and beyond.

Watch for whiskey jacks and mountain bluebirds. Deer, moose and bears are also known to wander these subalpine parts, including one brown bruin dubbed Banjo the Bear by Big White staff. Apparently Banjo is fond of zigzagging up and down the runs in search of wild blueberries.

Guided hikes (includes après hike beverage and cheese tasting): $35/adult; $20/child (4-14); free/tot (3 and under). Bullet Chair: $15/adult, youth, senior; $12/child (12 and under); free/tot (5 and under).

Stay tuned for mountain biking trails opening up at Big White in the near future.

Village Eats
Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Village Eats

Savour sit-down meals and grab-and-go fare sans the ski-boot-clad crowds of winter.

A handful of Big White’s many dining options are open for summer, from the Globe Café & Tapas Bar and its signature Tabletop S’mores dessert (think house-made giant marshmallows and chocolate ganache) to the Toasty Tree House food truck and its assorted sliders, tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches – washed down by a beer or glass of Glühwein on the picnic-table-lined patio, of course.

Try the Frosted Snowflake’s chocolate or vanilla namesake cupcakes, but stock up on a lemon cake pop, cream-filled French pastry or cheesy-garlic-herb-spice scone for later.

And caffeine, ice cream and treats in between are to be had at Beano’s Coffee Parlour, Spoons Ice Cream and Bean Scene Coffee Works.

Slopeside Slumbers
Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Slopeside Slumbers

It’s summertime and the sleeping is easy – especially with Big White accommodation rates generally lower than those in winter. (Rooms start as low as $50/night for a studio and go to $700/night for a 4.5 bedroom chalet.*) And some properties drop their minimum-night stay requirements, which means weekend warriors can zip up for the day, tuck in for the night and head back home the next day.

With a few kilometres of hiking behind them, summer guests can rest their sun-kissed heads in a variety of lodgings at the base of the mountain. Choose from a condo with private hot tub, townhouse with gourmet kitchen and chilled wine cabinet or post-and-beam vacation home with stone fireplace (not that you’ll use it at the end of a hot day, but it’s nice to look at).

A natural perk of staying at Big White in the summer? Watching chubby Columbian ground squirrels scamper and play among the boulders and wild grasses below as you sip a morning coffee on the balcony of your peak retreat.

Book summer rentals at RentChalets, Chalets at Big White and Owner Direct. *Prices quoted at time of posting.

For more information on B.C.’s Okanagan region, visit hellobc.com.