Discovering a winter wonderland

The Sunshine Valley near Hope, B.C., might just be an exciting sledding destination you haven’t yet started to explore

by Kristen Mitchell

A sledder rides down the powder alongside a defunct ski lift.
A variety of terrain and unexpected delights make the Sunshine Valley, just outside of Hope B.C., a great place for sledding. Photo courtesy Kevin Harris

“The thing that’s so unique, for me, is that two hours from the city I can be in a winter wonderland,” said Kevin Harris. He lives in Vancouver and has been sledding in the Sunshine Valley just outside Hope, B.C., for many years.

“The best thing about it is I get out of my cabin, I jump on my sled, and I am gone,” Harris said. “It’s an instant ride right from there to 250 or 300 kilometres of logging roads and trails going up to 7,000 feet in elevation. I think that’s what brings me back to that location over and over. That’s where I love to go riding because it’s not stressful and I can get to all different kinds of terrain.”

Why and where

With impressive elevation, the snowmobile season in the Sunshine Valley generally gets started in November and continues through April. Harris is just excited for the snow to start flying and is looking forward to fresh-powder days, something he sees plenty of.

The Silvertip Bowl, a retired ski area on Silvertip Mountain, now makes for particularly good riding in the Sunshine Valley. The ride to the base and within the bowl is casually family friendly. More extreme riding surrounds the base with plenty of aggressive hill climbing and big vertical slopes.

The varied riding and terrain is one advantage of snowmobiling around Hope. The Sunshine Valley, despite still being relatively unknown, attracts a wide range of riding styles and abilities. A network of logging roads and some trails provide good access. Also, claims Harris, the area is still coastal in that it gets plenty of precipitation, but elevated enough that it turns to snow.

Riding on

Harris has been sledding and backcountry snowboarding with his family ever since his kids were small and said these experiences were among his favourites. Infamous stuck stories from the past combined with a love for fresh powder guarantee he can look forward to lots of great riding in the future.

“I think (my favourite moments have been) just having my kids with me for something that I love to do,” he said. “My kids are now in their twenties and they want to get out sledding. We go out for a family adventure and just get out there into pristine British Columbia (sledding). Those, to me, are my favourite moments—just spending time with friends and family and going riding and loving the area.”

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