Sunshine Village is a great place to ski over Christmas, whether you are coming just for the day or a visit of several days. Christmas is also among Sunshine’s busiest times of the year. In my role as SnowHost on the hill, one of my jobs is to help you have the best possible day up on the hill, every day you come. So in the spirit of Christmas, I offer this guide as to how to have a fantastic Christmas on at Sunshine.
1: Pick your days
If you can’t ride every day of the full holiday season (and you should, but not everyone can), there are much better days to come than others. I’ve been keeping records of my ski days since the late 1990’s and from this database, I can prove the following:
- Christmas eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (the 24th, 25th and 26th) are always pretty quiet on the hill. These are great days to come to the hill. It always amazed me that this was the case, but it seems that folks (with kids, especially) stay home on Christmas eve and Christmas Day. I guess it’s the Boxing day sales that hold the crowds back then. So come on up riding those three days, and you’ll be impressed how quiet it is. Not only that, but Santa runs around on those days, too (he does rest on Boxing day, though).
- December 27th the crowds arrive. My data tells me that the 27th is one of the busiest days of the year, certainly from the perspective of parking. It stays that way until December 30th, with crowds reducing each day up till the 30th. But expect it to be busy these 4 days.
- New Year’s Eve and especially New Year’s Day there’s a noticeable drop in the crowds. Folks gearing up for (and recovering from) the parties, I assume, plus the football fans who want to sit and watch TV and not ride on New Years Day. In addition, folks joining us for the holidays are getting tired, or tend to fly/drive home starting then, so the crowd thins significantly.
- Start you day riding Goat’s Eye and Wolverine. Stay there until noon. You get a shorter gondola ride in the morning, no chair line ups until 11. Yes, you’re in the morning shadows, but you will get a lot of riding in before lunch. Getting tired from the long runs on the Goat? Wolverine is your saviour.
- Ride down the ski out to Creekside for lunch. Because crowds are always small down there even on busy days, and the food is awesome, it’s a nice place to have lunch. The ski out is also really fun when there’s no one on it.
- Ride the upper mountain (especially Divide) after lunch, as the crowd is heading down to Goat’s Eye.
- Upper Standish Face, which is the entire face above Jerry’s Run. Follow the lift down a few towers then drop down.
- Laryx, which is the last run before the boundary fence leading from the top of Standish to the top of Strawberry or the base of Divide. Very steep, but under skied.
- The whole Boutry’s Bowl face anywhere skier’s right off Strawberry. Under utilized powder in easy trees.
- Bye Bye Bowl. If you’re worried about it, ski half way down South Divide and then cut left. You can see Bye Bye Bowl easily from the ridge above Piste Noir/Piste Blue/Red 90. Not recommended on a foggy day.
- Paris Basin. A bit of a skating grunt from Wawa, worse since they stopped building the Paris Traverse. Always keeps powder, especially so the further right you go, and the grind along the traverse keeps the crowd way down. Caution: the exit takes you to either Waterfall (a narrow, steep bump run) or Birdcage (a wider, steep bump run).
- Packers and Pilgrims, dropping into the base of TeePee chair. Now that TeePee chair is heated and has bubbles, it gets busy on colder and windy days, and more traffic generally heads down the Barner’s Bowl accesses. But Pilgrams in particular is world class quiet, and even though it is a green run, it’s a sweet trail down through the forest.
- Everyone loves the Bunkers on Standish. But stay farther left and ride Borderline and Creek Run. They may be green, but they also hide powder stashes, and many people don’t ride them.
- Depending on conditions and what’s open, the best part of Goat’s Eye that I wrote about here and here. Just watch the entrances!