Outdoor Adventure

5 Reasons to Plan a Family-Friendly Getaway to Shames Mountain This Winter

Bundle up and head for the hill. A winter adventure at Shames Mountain is fun for the whole family.

No winter getaway to Prince Rupert is complete without a trip to Shames Mountain. Located between Prince Rupert and Terrace off Highway 16, this community-owned and -operated ski hill has big peaks and snowpack with all the charm and vibes of a small town. 

While renowned for its expansive backcountry terrain (some of the best in North America!) appealing to off-piste skiers and boarders, it’s also a great spot for little ones to learn how to ski. Families will find uncrowded slopes, easy chair and T-bar lift access, short lineups, and a cozy, rustic chalet perfect that’s perfect for a post-run cup of hot chocolate and snack. 

Snowboarder at Shames Mountain Ski Area, Terrace BC

Here are five reasons why Shames Mountain is a great place for families to ski and snowboard this winter: 


1. There are ski and snowboard lessons and rentals for kids.

Don’t want to commit to buying gear for your kids just yet? Shames has a rental shop at the base of the lift where the whole family can get outfitted for a day on the slopes. There’s high-performance boots and skis for the more advanced shredders while those new to the sport can feel confident in a wide selection of skis and boards fit for their height, frame, and ability. Bonus: all rental packages include a helmet, too. Need a refresher course on how to ski or snowboard? Shames’ Snow School offers lessons throughout the day and their qualified instructors can prepare you for a day on the slopes by helping you work on key skills and techniques. For kids, there’s a Mini Rippers course, plus the green carpet lift makes it easy for little ones to access the bunny hill. Book your lesson in advance or at the ticket office and ski school and rental shop. 


2. It has some of the best backcountry terrain access in North America. 

Sure, we may be biased, but it’s true. Shames Mountain comes with some serious cred: its backcountry terrain and deep snowpack are the stuff of legend, and its remote location means you get to skip the long lifts and expenses of larger and more popular resorts in British Columbia. Trade off turns with your significant other watching the kids and explore powder-filled runs with deep stashes and epic views of the Coast Mountain Range across 7,800 acres of backcountry bliss. On-mountain runs are just as fun—but for different reasons. There’s still incredible views to be found, along with 28 cut runs and natural gladed areas, and you’ll get to witness the small ones in your life experience the magic of winter right alongside you.


3.You can cozy up in the day lodge with a snack and hot chocolate in between runs. 

Kids feeling tuckered? Head for the day lodge to rest and refuel. Upstairs you’ll find a lively cafe offering the mountain essentials, from burgers to hot dogs to poutine. There’s also soups, chilli and hot chocolate to help you warm up, too. Galloway’s Mountain Bar, also located on the second floor of the day lodge, has adults covered for their own pick-me-up. The front deck, located just off the bar, features picnic tables and a BBQ station (operational only on occasion), where you can kick back, soak in the winter sun, and spot skiers shredding down the mountain. 


4. Stay overnight in the Shames Mountain parking lot and wake up to fresh powder.

Crashing overnight in the parking lot is part of the fun and charm of a community ski hill. Plus, how much closer to the mountain can you stay than mere steps from the lift? For families that like to rise early and nab the first run of the day, it’s the ideal location. And it’s an experience your kids won’t forget. At Shames, truck campers, vans and small motorhomes (up to 24 feet) are allowed overnight, as well as standalone shelters, such as winter tents, provided they fit within your parking space and are securely anchored. Campers must follow the rules set in place by the mountain. Remember to pack out what you pack in and follow Leave No Trace principles. 


5. Try other family-friendly winter activities like winter tubing.

Zipping down the mountain on an inner tube is guaranteed laughs for the whole family. It’s the perfect activity for those who may be too intimidated or young to strap on skis or a board. It’s a sport that appeals to both teens AND toddlers. And, for adults, it can bring out your inner child, no matter what your age. There’s no skill or equipment required eitherall you need is a sense of fun and a healthy dose of good humour. At Shames Mountain, spend an afternoon racing each other down slick snow lanes, then take the green carpet conveyor lift up and repeat. Shames offers tube rentals, or you can bring your own. 


When to Visit Shames Mountain 

Shames Mountain typically opens for the season in early December. Find weather conditions, updates and other news here.


How to Get to Shames Mountain 

From Prince Rupert, head east on Highway 16 for 125 kilometres, or about 45 minutes, until you hit the junction to Shames Mountain Road. The final 13 kilometres of the drive is on a maintained gravel road. In winter, snow tires and chains are required. Check road and weather conditions before departing. 


Winter Safety and Leave No Trace 

Winter conditions can be hazardous.

Alpine resorts are bordered by uncontrolled wilderness areas. Respect the boundary lines and don’t venture out of bounds in designated areas. Make sure you know the Alpine Responsibility Code and learn about the danger of tree wells. 

If you are travelling through avalanche terrain, you and everyone in your group must be self-sufficient—carrying all the proper gear (transceiver, shovel, and probe) and have avalanche training. 

AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors. Remember the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials.


Find more outdoor adventure in Prince Rupert.


Julia Crawford

Julia is a freelance writer and editor based in Gibsons, BC. Originally from Prince Rupert, she now lives on the (occasionally sunny) Sunshine Coast. When not working, you can find her seeking out the best tacos, basketball culture, and stories wherever her travels take her.

More By This Author