Whistler Blackcomb and Big White are two of the most popular ski resorts in Canada, but which is the best option? I’ll be comparing the skiable terrain, snow quality, villages, value for money, accommodation and more in this article to help you decide.
Whistler vs Big White Summary
Whistler Blackcomb is roughly three times larger than Big White and offers better terrain for advanced and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Big White is better for beginners and families, is cheaper and also usually has better snow. Whistler has the best village and après ski.
|Aspect of the Resort||Best Resort|
|Largest Skiable Area||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Best for Beginner Skiers||Big White|
|Best for Intermediate Skiers||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Best for Advanced Skiers||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Least Crowded||Big White|
|Best for Families||Big White|
|Best Snow Quality||Big White|
|Best Ski Village and Resort||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Best On-Mountain Dining||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Easiest to Travel To Internationally||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Easiest to Travel To Locally||Big White|
|Best Accommodation||Big White|
|Lift Ticket Prices||Big White|
Ski Areas and Terrain
Whistler Blackcomb mountain resort consists of two huge mountains, whereas Big White has a single mountain.
Both Whistler mountain and Blackcomb mountain are far bigger than Big White’s mountain. Whistler has 4757 acres of skiable terrain, Blackcomb has 3414 acres and Big White has 2765 acres. Whistler and Blackcomb mountain both have 100 trails each, whereas Big White has 119 trails.
In terms of the terrain, all three mountains have a very similar split of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain, with the majority being blue square runs.
- For beginners: Big White is the best option as it isn’t as steep and most of the trails are relatively tame. It is also smaller so easier to get around and find suitable areas.
- For experts: Whistler Blackcomb is typically a better choice compared to Big White because it is much steeper and has more very challenging runs.
Whistler is also a lot more crowded than Big White. Although both will be busy around the holidays, Whistler suffers a lot more from crowds and long lift lines.
|Statistics||Big White||Whistler Blackcomb|
|Skiable Terrain||2765 acres||Whistler – 4757 acres|
Blackcomb – 3414 acres
Total – 8171 acres
|Vertical Drop||2550 feet||Whistler – 5020 ft|
Blackcomb – 5280 ft
|Base Elevation||5971 ft||Whistler – 2140 ft|
Blackcomb – 2214 ft
|Summit Elevation||7606 ft||Whistler – 7160 ft|
Blackcomb – 7494 ft
|Total Trails||119 trails||Whistler – 100|
Blackcomb – 100
Total – 200
|Green Circle Trails (Beginner)||18%||Whistler – 20%|
Blackcomb – 20%
|Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)||54%||Whistler – 55%|
Blackcomb – 50%
|Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Expert)||28%||Whistler – 25%|
Blackcomb – 30%
|Longest Run||7.2 km||Whistler – 11.3 km|
Blackcomb – 11.3 km
|Terrain Parks||1||Whistler – 2|
Blackcomb – 3
Total – 5
|Lift Operating Hours||9:00 – 15:30||8:30 – 15:30|
|Number of Lifts||16||Whistler – 19|
Blackcomb – 21
Total – 40
Check out my in-depth comparison between Whistler and Blackcomb if you’re looking for more information on these two mountains.
Snow and Weather
Whistler receives more snow than Big White, however the snow is drier and usually better quality at Big White. The snow in Whistler can get quite wet and heavy, and can become icy in some areas.
Big White is higher up compared to Whistler so you can also expect it to be a few degrees colder.
|Month||Temperature in Big White||Temperature in Whistler||Snowfall in Big White||Snowfall in Whistler|
|November||-3.8°C (26.2°F)||-3.1°C/ 26.4°F||11″||40″|
|December||-8.0°C (17.6°F)||-6.6°C/ 20.1°F||66″||77″|
|January||-6.9°C (19.6°F)||-5.6°C/ 22.0°F||57″||83″|
|February||-9.0°C (15.8°F)||-5.1°C/ 22.9°F||59″||46″|
|March||-4.7°C (23.5°F)||-2.5°C/ 27.5°F||57″||62″|
|April||-0.3°C (31.5°F)||0.7°C/ 33.2°F||21″||28″|
Ski Season Dates
Whistler Blackcomb has the longest ski season in North American which starts in mid-late November and ends in late May. Big White has a fairly average ski season which starts in late November and ends in mid-April. Check out the table below for the previous ski season dates
|Ski Season||Big White Dates||Whistler Blackcomb Dates|
|2022/23||24th Nov – 10th Apr||24th Nov – 22nd May|
|2021/22||26th Nov – 10th Apr||17th Nov – 21st May|
|2020/21||23rd Nov – 5th Apr||26th Nov – 29th Mar*|
|2019/20||28th Nov – 16th Mar*||28th Nov – 14th Mar*|
|2018/19||22nd Nov – 22nd Apr||22nd Nov – 27th May|
Village and Resort Experience
There’s definitely more going on in Whistler compared to Big White. Whistler is well known for its bustling atmosphere and great nightlife, whereas Whistler has a more family-friendly atmosphere.
Whistler Blackcomb has three main areas: Whistler Village, Creekside and Blackcomb Base II. Combined, you’ll have access to 170 dining locations, 12 spa/ massage facilities and tonnes of shops.
Big White is smaller and feels more like a resort rather than a village. You’ll still have loads of activities to choose from though, as well as 20 restaurants and 2 spas so it’s unlikely you’ll get bored unless you’ve been loads of times before or are staying for a very extended period of time.
|Activity||Available at Big White||Available at Whistler|
|Resort Dining||20 locations||170 locations|
|Spas/ Massages||2 locations||12 locations|
|Dog Sled Tours||Yes||Yes|
|Ice Fishing (Guided)||No||Yes|
|Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides||Yes||Yes|
Here are video tours of each village so you can get a feel for the atmosphere.
Big White Village
Big White has plenty of restaurants in the village and at the base stations, but unfortunately there are no dining locations on the mountain itself. Whistler and Blackcomb mountain both have a range of on-mountain dining locations to suit different budgets and requirements.
Location and Traveling
- Kelowna’s International is the closest major airport to Big White and is a 55 minute drive away.
- Vancouver International is the closest major airport to Whistler and is a 2.5 hour drive away.
Although the transfer time from the nearest major airport is shorter for Big White it is usually a bit easier to get to Whistler Blackcomb because Vancouver International Airport is larger compared to Kelowna International Airport so offers more direct flights.
If you are driving to either resort you’ll be pleased to know that they both offer free parking.
The most popular free parking is in Creekside Village and Blackcomb Base II. Alternatively, you can pay $5 per day to park at Whistler Village which has the most central location. For overnight parking, Whistler Blackcomb charges $10.
Free parking is available across most of the resort in Big White. Overnight parking costs $20/ vehicle and you can also pay to reserve day spaces.
Here are the average drive times from key locations to each resort.
|Location||Drive to Big White||Drive to Whistler|
|Vancouver||5 hours 15 minutes||1 hour 30 mins|
|Kelowna||55 minutes||5 hours 30 mins|
|Kamloops||2 hours 45 minutes||4 hours|
|Seattle||6 hours 30 minutes||4 hours 15 mins|
Proximity to Other Ski Resorts
Both Big White and Whistler are pretty isolated resorts and to travel to any of the other major Canadian ski resorts will typically require a flight or a long drive. Big White tends to be the most accessible from other ski resorts as the drive is usually shorter, and it is closer to the airport.
Here is a list of other major Canadian ski resorts and the average travel time from Big White and Whistler.
|Location||Drive Time to Big White||Drive Time to Whistler|
|Lake Louise/ Sunshine Village||5 hours 45 mins||9 hours 30 mins|
|Revelstoke||3 hours 15 mins||6 hours 30 mins|
|Sun Peaks||3 hours 30 mins||6 hours 30 mins|
|SilverStar||2 hours||5 hours 45 mins|
|Red Mountain||3 hours 15 mins||8 hours 30 mins|
Big White has a range of accommodation options including 3 hotels, 25 town house complexes, 244 cabins/ holiday houses and a youth hostel. On average, accommodation for 2 adults in January for one week will cost roughly $1800-$3000.
There are three places to stay in Whistler: Creekside Village, Blackcomb Base II and Whistler Village. They all offer hotels, lodges and condos however its usually more expensive compared to Big White. On average, accommodation for 2 adults in January for 6 nights will also cost roughly $2000-$4000.
Big White mostly specialises in ski-in-ski-out accommodation and typically offers better value options in this category compared to Whistler.
Prices are in CAD.
Big White and Whistler ski schools both offer group and private skiing and snowboarding lessons for all ages and abilities. Both the group and private sessions are significantly cheaper at Big White compared to Whistler Blackcomb. However, some of the Big White lessons are shorter.
Please see the table below for more information.
|Lesson||Big White Price||Whistler Blackcomb Price|
|Half Day Private (All Ages)||$370-$440 (up to 3 people + $100 per extra person)||$799 (1-5 people)|
|Full Day Private (All Ages)||$750 (up to 3 people + $100 per extra person)||$999 (1-5 people)|
|Half Day Group (Adult)||$100||$179|
|Full Day Group (Adult)||N/A||$299|
|Half Day Group (Child)||$100||N/A|
|Full Day Group (Child)||$150||$279|
Costs are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in CAD.
Ticket and Equipment Rental Prices
Ski lift tickets are significantly cheaper at Big White compared to Whistler Blackcomb.
Example cost for 2 x adults and 2 x children (weekend):
Big White = $384
Whistler Blackcomb = $478
Equipment rental is slightly cheaper at Whistler compared to Big White.
Please see the tables below for more information.
|Ticket Price Day Lift||Big White||Whistler|
|Equipment Rental (Daily)||Big White||Whistler|
|Skis, Poles/ Snowboard and Boots||$54||$55|
Costs are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Based on daily rates when buying in-advance online (better value offers are available when booking for multiple days). Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in Canadian dollars.
Which Resort is Best?
Whistler Blackcomb is the best option if you want access to loads of skiable terrain and have more experience on the slopes. It also has the best village and nightlife so typically attracts young adults as opposed to families.
Big White is the best option if you’re planning a family ski trip, as it has better beginner-friendly terrain, is less crowded, and has a more family-orientated village and activities on offer.
Here are some key points to keep in mind to help you plan your trip:
- Big White is best for beginner skiers and snowboarders as well as families
- Big White is less crowded
- Big White usually has better snow quality
- Big White has the cheapest accommodation and ticket prices
- Whistler Blackcomb is best for experienced skiers and snowboarders
- Whistler Blackcomb is typically easier to travel to internationally
- Whistler Blackcomb has the best on-mountain dining
- Whistler Blackcomb has the best nightlife and village
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