For anyone new to skiing or snowboarding, navigating a bustling mountain resort may seem a little overwhelming at first. Fortunately, during the latest Leavetown trip to SilverStar Mountain Resort in Vernon, BC, this beginner snow explorer received a comprehensive lesson in how to truly take advantage of everything the resort has to offer.
Despite being born and raised in Vancouver – less than a two hour drive to Whistler – I’d only had the pleasure of skiing once before, 15 years ago. Needless to say, the charming and colourful SilverStar Village greatly lessened any worries I may have had about (finally) learning this new skill and sport as I watched families, couples, experts and novices alike effortlessly share the skiway. The Village itself – complete with bright blue, green, yellow, red and purple buildings all strung with twinkling fairy lights – provided a whimsical and Disney-like aesthetic against a backdrop of the Monashee Mountains.
Approaching Snowbird Lodge, where myself and three other colleagues were to stay for the weekend, it was immediately clear that this resort would offer not only a memorable first-timer experience, but a true ski-in/ski-out paradise for the other intermediate skiers in the group. Over the next 3 days, we were lucky enough to be shown the ropes and learn insider tips from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff at SilverStar. From mountain tours to snowshoeing, and fine dining to fat biking, Leavetown had an intimate first-hand glimpse into slopeside life in the Okanagan’s iconic ski resort.
The following Beginner’s Guide has been compiled for anyone looking to experience the fantastic activities and experiences offered on the mountain. Whether you’re a snow sport newbie, seasoned expert, or Village wanderer, at Silver Star Mountain there’s a little something for everyone.
Located at Ski Dazzle on Main Street Boardwalk, Silver Star’s Village Rental Shop is where to go for all your rental inquiries. Offering a variety of packages, guests can choose to rent skis, snowboards, helmets and boots on a per day basis, or for 5 days or more. Ultimate rental packages allow for enthusiastic visitors to exchange equipment between categories throughout their stay. Packages include Performance, Night Skiing, Nordic, Snowshoe, Fat Bike, Snowblades, clothing and helmets.
For beginners, it’s as simple as signing a waiver form, detailing your experience (or lack thereof), and being properly fitted for any equipment you may need. Personally, I was hooked up with the Beginner Ski Package, and was provided with everything I needed to start my day right from the shop’s doors.
**Beginner Insider Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s better to inquire sooner rather than later with any concerns you may have about the rental equipment. If you’re worried something doesn’t fit, or feel uncomfortable in any way, the friendly staff at the Rental Shop will be more than happy to help you out.**
No matter what your skill level, many skiers and snowboarders suggest enrolling in a professional lesson – either to refresh their memory (and their muscles) or to learn a new sport altogether. At Silver Star, there are plenty of different levels, lessons and packages available for any type of learner of any age. In fact, Snowsports School is one of the most renowned in Canada, offering classes from amazing professional instructions from across the globe.
Adults and children alike can enroll in group or private lessons for alpine skiing, freestyle, cross country and more. As a complete beginner, I opted for the “Never Ever” lesson to get my bearings on the bunny hill, and was enrolled in a lesson with Lewis, an instructor hailing from the UK who first learned to ski at age 3 in the French Alps. In under three hours and with careful (and patient) instruction, he was able to teach two brand new skiers how to safely make their way down the mountain.
**Beginner Insider Tip: Fall. You’ll never conquer the fear of shooting down a mountain unless you’re comfortable with the concept of falling. After all, it’s only snow!**
Although Silver Star Mountain features over 132 marked trails and over 13 km of skiable terrain, the mountain isn’t as difficult to navigate as a beginner might think. Not only are alpine trail maps available everywhere throughout the resort, but the runs are clearly marked along the way. A quick look online gives updated snow and grooming reports for each run, while the main information board in the Central Village provides easy viewing of any updates or changes on the mountain.
If you’re planning on riding the chairlifts, it’s recommended to pick up the POWPass or My1Pass, which allows visitors access to the lifts, Tube Town, outdoor ice rink, XC skiing and more! Without this pass, we wouldn’t have been able to fit in as many thrilling SilverStar activities as we did.
**Beginner Insider Tip: If you’re still relatively new to skiing or snowboarding, make sure to go with a buddy who knows the trails. If you’re flying solo, feel free to book a complimentary mountain tour at the front desk of your lodging for a guided tour on skis with a SilverStar staff member.**
For a mountain biking adventure unlike any other, consider renting a fat bike – complete with oversized tires of about 3.75” or more. Even novice riders can find comfort in the massive tires and reliable traction as they wind down the shared trails and take in the gorgeous surrounding views. A fat biking trail map provides guests with a number of varied runs – from easy greens, challenging blues and expert black trails.
Fat biking is not only an exhilarating ride, but it’s also a fantastic form of exercise for anyone wanting to challenge themselves and test their endurance. Beginners may choose to walk their bikes up steeper inclines, but for the most part the terrain is easily maneuverable and a quick learn!
**Beginner Insider Tip: Familiarize yourself with the gear shifts on your bike before heading out on the trails – and keep an eye out for cross country skiers at all times!**
Tubing is definitely not just for kids! A hilarious activity perfect for small groups, visitors with a My1Pass can tube as much as they’d like throughout their stay on the mountain. Grab your desired tube (make sure to tap out any excess snow), and head up the Magic Carpet. Perhaps the ultimate beginner activity to warm you up for a ski lesson, Tube Town is a popular attraction for families looking for something safe and hassle-free to entertain the kids.
**Beginner Insider Tip: Wear snow pants to avoid a wet bottom, and head up during the evening to skip the lines.**
A great option for dog owners and hiking enthusiasts, snowshoeing offers a variety of trails for all skill levels. Pick up your snowshoes and head out right from the front door of your vacation rental for an invigorating romp through Silver Star’s fluffy powder. Like all trails on the mountain, a snowshoe trail map provides a clear trail network throughout the resort. Choose from relaxing green run strolls or challenging uphill scrambles on one of two black trails before heading back to the Village for an apres-ski treat.
The Leavetown crew, lead by Sales & Marketing Coordinator Amanda, decided to challenge themselves with the Mountain View black run to reach the rustic Mountain View Cabin. Although it was definitely a climb, the view along the way was well worth it. Wildlife photographers and enthusiasts will love identifying the tracks of Silver Star’s animal residents lining the trails – just watch your footing!
**Beginner Insider Tip: Make sure to bring a headlamp with you if you’re planning on a trek in the late afternoon – the sun sets early on the mountain.**
A unique Silver Star gem, Pinheads Bowling, is the world’s only ski-in, ski-out 10-pin bowling alley – a must-visit for any guest to Silver Star Mountain. Located on the ground floor of the new Firelight Lodge, the bowling alley is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day. Bar service attracts the younger crowd while finger food and (of course) the bowling itself provides the perfect place for families and groups. Grown-ups can grab a pint or cocktail in the next door Final Run Bar & Bistro for a cozy romantic night while the kids challenge each other to a game. All bowling levels welcome!
What to Eat
After adventure-packed days on the slopes, there’s nothing quite like sitting down in a warm room with friends to refuel with a satiating meal. Thankfully, Silver Star has many delicious options to choose from – Thai-Dutch fusion, contemporary Canadian, classic fine dining, and sumptuous comfort food. For us, while all the restaurants and pubs we tried were amazing, there were a few standouts that cannot go unmentioned.
Bugaboos Bakery Café: Opt for a warm breakfast croissant and latte to get you ready for the morning. If you have room, share a freshly baked cinnamon bun or apple bread pudding.
Long John’s Pub: The ultimate cozy pub in between ski runs or after a long day, Long John’s provides exactly what you’re craving. Indulge in a spiked hot chocolate or warm cider, and order a side of onion rings with the daily sandwich special.
Den Bar & Bistro: Whether you stop in to this hidden gem for a unique cocktail, fresh daily special or the delectable sticky toffee pudding, the Den provides a warm ambiance paired with unreal local fare.
**Beginner Insider Tip: If you’re craving a juicy burger after a run, head over to 1609 Restaurant on the upper level above Red Antler. Each week they feature a specialty burger that is bound to satisfy.**
PLANNING A MOUNTAIN GETAWAY TO SILVERSTAR MOUNTAIN RESORT?
Give our Destination Experts a call if you’d like to know more about planning a holiday to Silver Star Mountain. You can reach them 7 days a week at 1.877.902.1616. You can also browse our selection of nearby vacation rentals on our website.