How to Get Here: Vancouver
Driving to Big White Ski Resort from Vancouver, weather depending, takes just over five hours – meaning you can leave in the morning and still get in some afternoon and night skiing! Follow the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) east, through Chilliwack, a small city about an hour and 15 minutes into the journey, until you reach Hope, a 30 minute trek from Chilliwack.
Once you get to Hope, you’ll drive north-east for just over an hour on the infamous Coquihalla Highway, a four to six lane highway with a posted speed limit of 120 km/h. Upon reaching Merritt, turn south-east on Highway 97 for an hour and a half to get to Kelowna. In Kelowna, follow the signs to Big White Ski Area – a half hour drive east on Highway 33, and the final leg – a 20 minute series of switchbacks up Big White Road. Be sure to fill up before you head up the mountain, however, as there are no service stations on the mountain. See the map below for the nearest Esso station.
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Flights from Vancouver to the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) are less than an hour, with multiple planes arriving and departing throughout the day. You can also grab a bus at the Vancouver Pacific Central Station which will take you right to YLW. Once there, hop on our Airport Shuttle or one of the many Big White express buses to reach your final destination.
As mentioned earlier, the Coquihalla Highway is considered infamous to Canadian drivers. As one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the country, albeit lined with stunning scenery, it’s important to be prepared for any delay. Before you leave Vancouver, check the road conditions at DriveBC.ca. There are webcams all along the Coquihalla, giving you the most up-to-date look at highway conditions.
In BC, passenger vehicles are required be equipped with winter tires between October 1 and March 31. Ensure you have snow rated winter tires, mountain snowflake tires, or chains before making the journey. We would also recommend checking your taillights and headlights, and filling your vehicle up with gas prior to heading out. Dress warmly, or at least pack winter jackets, pants, boots and gloves in your trunk in case of emergencies. And, finally, charge up your cell phone – there’s nothing worse than being stranded without a way to reach help!
Places to Eat:
52845 Yale Road, Rosedale, BC
TripAdvisor Rating: 4/5
If your stomach starts rumbling within the first two hours of the trip, make a stop at Wildcat Grill in Chilliwack. Up for a challenge? Try their famous Rowdy Rosedale Burger – a daunting sandwich comprised of half a loaf of french bread, three half pound patty's, bacon, cheese and all the trimmings. Wildcat Grill is open seven days a week, with take-out available.
322 Wallace Street, Hope, BC
Before you hit the Coquihalla, cozy into a couch surrounded by colourful art at Blue Moose in Hope. Choose from a wide selection of breakfasts, soups, sandwiches and desserts, while sipping on an ethically sourced cup of joe. Open seven days a week.
2151 Quilchena Avenue, Merritt, BC
With plenty of gluten-free and vegan options, Brambles Bakery in Merritt is the perfect pitstop for travellers with dietary restrictions. But, don’t worry if that’s not you! There’s plenty of other delicious options, such as the pear and brie sandwich and the sour cherry chocolate cake. Open Monday through Saturday.
665 Old Hope Princeton Way, Hope, BC
Think mom’s cooking. Think warm, friendly, and, appropriately, home-y. Home Cafe is known for its quick and friendly service, its comfy booths, and of course, its delicious menu – one praised by Big White’s very own Senior VP. “They have Incredible lemon meringue pie,” Michael J. Ballingall says.“And their Liver and onions with bacon – it’s the only other place in the world I eat that other than when my mom made it when I was a child”
3340 River Ranch Rd, Merritt, BC
Looking for a quick stop? Check out the Tim Horton’s in Merritt, right before you jump onto Highway 97. The Canadian favourite is open 24 hours, meaning you can get your caffeine fix as early as you need on your way to Big White.
Check out the interactive map below for restaurants, grocery stores, electric vehicle charging stations and gas stations. Do you make the trek from Vancouver to Big White? Send us a note with your suggestions for best restaurants, gas stations and scenic stops along the way!