Sun Peaks is a municipality and ski resort near Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada. There is something to do year-round for just about anyone. In winter, there is world-class skiing, and many other winter sports. In summer, the area is transformed into a hiker’s and biker’s paradise, with mountain trails for adventurers of all levels of experience. There is also an 18-hole golf course, and many events and festivals, for those who wish to have a more "relaxed" vacation time. The official name of the Sun Peaks community is the Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality.
Sun Peaks started as a ski resort on Tod Mountain. The resort was founded by Harry Burfield, and The Burfield Lodge and first chair-lift at Sun Peaks opened to the public in 1961. The resort has expanded significantly in the years since and now covers three mountains: Tod Mountain, Sundance and Mount Morrisey.
Residential construction began in 1988, when a 49 lot subdivision across from the Burfield Lodge began construction. There are now over 400 residents. The community was incorporated as a resort municipality in 2008.
Sun Peaks Resort was the first ski resort in North America (and remains the only resort in Canada) to receive the ISO 14001 designation recognizing its environmental policies and practices.
Sun Peaks gets an average annual snowfall of 220 in (or more than 18 ft) (559 cm / 5.5 m) The resort village is at an elevation of 4117 ft (1255 m) above sea level, and the top lift elevation is 6824 ft (2080 m). The yearly average temperature is -6°C (22°F), with highs in the winter around the freezing mark and lows around -10°C (14°F). In the summer, the high temperatures average around 19°C (67°F), but can reach up into the low 30s °C (high 80s °F). The resort is probably known as “Sun” Peaks because it averages over 2,000 hours of sunlight annually.
Sun Peaks is located on Tod Mountain Road, which is accessed from BC Highway 5 at Heffley Creek, north of Kamloops. The total driving distance from Kamloops is 50 km, or roughly 45 minutes. Other major centers nearby include Kelowna (2½ hours away, via Hwy 97 and Hwy 5), Vancouver (4½ hours away, via Hwy 1 and Hwy 5), Jasper (5 hours away, via Hwy 16 and Hwy 5) and Banff (6 hours away, via Hwy 1 and Hwy 5).
It’s easy to get to and from Sun Peaks by bus from Kamloops. There’s a shuttle that runs every day of the year (except Christmas day and New Years day) that arrives at the resort by 9AM and departs for Kamloops again at 4PM. The cost is $10. There are no reservations available, and space on the bus is on a first come, first served basis.
There is also another shuttle that runs between Whistler and Sun Peaks.
- Rates: $99.00 per person. Schedule: Wednesdays & Saturdays
- Departs Sun Peaks @ 7:30AM – Arrives at Whistler @ 12:30PM
- Departs Whistler @ 12:30PM – Arrives at Sun Peaks @ 6:30PM
Sun Peaks can be accessed easily from either of two airports:
- Kamloops Airport is a 45 minute drive from Sun Peaks.
- Kelowna International Airport is a 2½ hour drive from Sun Peaks.
- VIA Rail [dead link] passengers travelling to and from Vancouver or Jasper can arrive in Kamloops late evening or early morning and then catch a shuttle to Sun Peaks Resort.
- Jasper to Kamloops
- 2:30PM–11:09PM (departs: F Su Tu)
- Kamloops to Vancouver
- 8:30PM–6AM (departs: Tu F Su)
- Vancouver to Kamloops
- 11:44PM–9:42AM (arrives: Sa M W)
- Kamloops to Jasper
- 06:35AM–4PM (arrives: M W Sa)
- Vancouver - Kamloops is a night-time transfer
- Jasper – Kamloops is mostly daytime
Sun Peaks is a pretty small town. There’s no need of a car or taxi to get around. Everything is easily accessible on foot or on bike (in the summer), and a large amount of the village is also available on ski in the winter.
Aside from the skiing in the winter months, no one really does anything else in Sun Peaks from about October to March. There are a couple of art galleries nearby in Kamloops to visit that are open year-round though:
- Kamloops Art Gallery, ☏ .
- The Horse Barn, ☏ .
There is, of course, the splendid scenery in and around Sun Peaks to see year-round. Since it’s right in the heart of the Shushwap Highlands, the scenery couldn’t be much more spectacular. In the summer, you can hike and bike on trails on the mountains, and in the winter, you can ski on them. What more could you ask for as far as beautiful views in and of the mountains?
Sun Peaks has no shortage of activities for you to take part in. There are lots of things to do year-round, for people of all levels of physical ability, as well as just relaxing around a hot tub. Below, there is a list based on the time of year, as well as a few things to do at Sun Peaks year-round.
The most popular winter activity at Sun Peaks is skiing and snowboarding at Sun Peaks Resort. The ski resort features 4,270 acres of ski runs, the 2nd largest in Canada, and 135 trails spread over three mountains. It has some of the best weather for skiing in Canada, with an average of over 2,000 hours of sunshine per year.
Aside from downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding, there are many other things to do. A short list includes:
- Backcountry skiing and snowboarding a guide will take you to the backside of Tod Mountain for a day trip to areas not generally open to the public. You would have to be an intermediate to expert skier to take advantage of such a trip.
- Groomer rides Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to ride in one of the ski run grooming machines? Or maybe take a tour of the mountain without being on your skis? You can take a 3/4 to 1 hour ride in one of the groomers and see just what it is they do.
- Dogsledding Just like you’ve seen on TV, you can pilot a team of sled dogs (called “mushing”) through the woods at Sun Peaks. This is another activity that requires a fair amount of physical stamina and strength, and shouldn’t be undertaken by anyone who isn’t prepared to occasionally have to run beside their dog teams through deep snow, uphill.
- Snowshoeing One of the quietest and most relaxing ways to get around the mountains in winter, snowshoeing is also probably one of the oldest methods of winter transportation in this part of the world. On snowshoes, you can see parts of the mountains that are inaccessible in any other way, and see the beauty and wildlife of the Rockies up close.
- Snowmobiling The exact opposite of snowshoeing, snowmobiling is neither quiet, nor relaxing. It is, however a very exciting and exhilarating way to take a tour around the mountainside.
- Sleigh rides Another old-fashioned way to enjoy the countryside is in a horse-drawn sleigh. Again, we’re back to the quiet and relaxing type of transportation through the mountains.
- Snow tubing Much like the inflatable tubes that can be pulled behind a motor boat on a lake, you can also ride one of these types of tubes down a snow-covered hill. Sun Peaks has a large Snow Tubing park where tub riders of all ages can slide as much as they want.
- Ice skating There is a full-sized skating rink at Sun Peaks where anyone who enjoys skating can take part in public skates or drop-in ice hockey games. Check the schedules to see which type of skating is going on at a particular time.
- Golf As with many ski resorts, there are plenty of golf courses in and around Sun Peaks. Rather than list them all here, I’d suggest you just Google “golf at Sun Peaks”, which will get you a great list of golf courses in the area.
- Canoeing and kayaking There are numerous lakes and rivers nearby, all worthy of a canoe or kayak trip. It’s also easy to find guides to take you on a trip of this kind. If you’re staying at one of the major hotels, they will provide access to such a service.
- Fishing As noted above, there are many lakes and rivers, and therefore, opportunities to go fishing very close by Sun Peaks.
- Hiking Since Sun Peaks is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, it is one of the nicest places for a summer mountain hike. There are numerous trails within and around Sun Peaks, just waiting for you to take a leisurely stroll or a strenuous hike.
- Mountain biking As with Hiking, above, there are many mountain biking trails in and around Sun Peaks. Mountain biking has become a very popular summer sport at most ski resorts in the summertime.
- Horseback riding Again, as with mountain biking, horseback trail riding is a very popular thing to do in the mountains in the summer. You can join a trail riding tour with Sun Peaks Trail Rides [dead link] or close by at Tod Mountain Ranch [formerly dead link]
- Swimming Sun Peaks has no shortage of heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools. This makes swimming available to everyone, all year round.
- Photography clinics The Rockies are spectacular in any season, and there are several professional photographers at Sun Peaks who run photography clinics year-round. This can be a great addition to your trip. Whether you’re a novice or a “serious amateur”, you’ll be able to build on the skills you will learn at these clinics. Be prepared to get up really early in the mornings, as some of the best photographs and the most spectacular views happen at sunrise.
Sun Peaks, being a resort village, has many shops and stores that cover everything from clothing and sportswear to artwork by local artists, to gourmet chocolate, to gifts. There is also a new 3500 sq ft grocery store for your everyday needs while staying at Sun Peaks.
- Farmer’s Market From June through to early September, there is a public Farmer’s Market at Sun Peaks. The Market features local organic produce, locally made crafts and clothing, as well as buskers and other entertainment. If you’re at Sun Peaks in the summertime, this would be the place to go on any Sunday.
Employment at Sun Peaks is mainly found at the ski hills, as a ski instructor, tour guide, hill groomer, etc. There are plenty of jobs at the hotels, and at local stores and shops as well as local services like firefighting, garbage collection, etc. Jobs at Sun Peaks are fairly hard to come by, as the competition is fierce among students. There are also Okanagan University College in Kelowna and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, where one might find employment in the area. Sun Peaks resort also offers internships to those that are taking hotel management or hospitality courses at college, and apprenticeship programs in electrical, carpentry, plumbing, and mechanics; again, to those who are taking such a course at college already.
Eat & drink
The official Sun Peaks Resort website  has a large list of places to eat and drink. I'd suggest visiting there first, to see what the resort has to offer.
Hotels and lodges
There is no shortage of places to stay at Sun Peaks. Being a ski resort, there are plenty of hotels and lodges in the vicinity. Here's a short list of hotels and lodges:
- Nancy Greene's Cahilty Lodge.
- Delta Sun Peaks Resort.
- Coast Sundance Lodge.
- Sun Peaks Lodge.
- Heffley Boutique Inn.
- Hearthstone Lodge.
- Fireside Lodge.
- The Burfield.
Formerly the Sun Peaks International Hostel, The Burfield was rebuilt in 2017 as a hostel and hotel. It offers rooms significantly cheaper than any other Sun Peaks hotel in hostel bunk style, but also offers "suites", which are hotel-style (still fairly cheap) private rooms.
If you're looking for something a little different, Tod Mountain Guest Ranch is 15 min drive from Sun Peaks Resort. Accommodation is in luxuriously furnished cabins and the guest lodge has superb guest facilities including fireside lounge, games room, TV lounge, internet access, and guest laundry facilities. The ranch can accommodate up to 16 guest and for groups of 10 or more can be booked for your groups exclusive use.
Vacation rentals at Sun Peaks are another alternative to staying at a hotel. The price is almost the same, but the place you'll be staying at is more than just a room at a hotel, it can be a single-family home, or a condo or an apartment. Vacation rentals are a great alternative because you can generally find something to fit almost any budget.
10-digit dialling is mandatory in British Columbia, and the area code for Sun Peaks is 250, which is the same as Vancouver Island. The Greater Vancouver area uses the area code 604. The area code 778 has been added to all regions of the province to make up for a looming shortage of phone numbers in the area.
- Sun Peaks has a local newspaper called SPIN (for Sun Peaks Independent News). It is available in paper form and online. Otherwise, you can also find many other national and international newspapers at local stores and hotels at Sun Peaks.
FM radio stations
- 91.5 - CKBZ-FM
- 90.1 - CIFM-FM
- Both stations from Kamloops have transmitters in Sun Peaks.
The resort is in the Rocky Mountains and fairly isolated from any major cities. There is always the chance of an encounter with a bear or even possibly a cougar when deep in the mountains. If you are skiing or hiking or otherwise travelling off the beaten path in the backcountry, it is wise to take any precautions necessary to protect yourself in case of such an encounter. Always carry a cell phone or other radio device, so you can contact someone in an emergency, and never travel alone. Since this is a mountainous region, there is also the risk of falling and being injured badly enough to not be able to make it back to where you came from. Again, always travel with an experienced guide or group, and make sure you have access to a radio transmitting device in case of an emergency situation.
There are elements of risk that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Regardless of how you use the slopes, always show courtesy to others. Please adhere to the code listed below and share with others the responsibility for a safe outdoor experience.
- Always stay in control. You must be able to stop, or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- Do not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
- Before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- If you are involved in or witness a collision/accident you must remain at the scene and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol.
- Always use proper devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe and obey all posted signs and warnings.
- Keep off closed trails, and closed areas.
- You must not use lifts or terrain if your ability is impaired through the use of alcohol or drugs.
- You must have sufficient physical dexterity, ability, and knowledge to safely load, ride, and unload lifts. If in doubt, ask the lift attendant.