Complete Guide to Winter in Manning Park British Columbia

Last Updated on June 16, 2024

Manning Park is an outdoor enthusiasts year round paradise located in southern British Columbia in the stunning mountains east of Vancouver. Winter in Manning Park brings a special kind of fun, with every winter and snow play activity far away from the crowds of winter resorts closer to Vancouver. Downhill and nordic skiers, or skiers and snowshoers can have a blast here together!

When planning your winter visit to Manning Park, I highly recommend staying at the resort for maximum convenience and minimal driving around once you arrive. The delicious food and comfy beds are a nice bonus in addition to the stunning location and less crowded trails and lifts. This is also a great opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard at an affordable price with amazing instructors.

There is cell service at the Manning Park Resort, though not on all of the trails in the area. There is service on most of the highway, but there are some dead spots without service.

E.C. Manning Provinicial Park is the homeland of the Syilx, Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ, Stó:lō and Similkameen People.

Related: Best British Columbia 7 day or two week itinerary

Where is Manning Park?

E.C. Manning Provincial Park is located in southern British Columbia in the Cascade Mountains, just north of North Cascades National Park in Washington State. It is 217 kilometers (135 miles) east of Vancouver, BC. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Vancouver, however winter driving conditions between Hope and Manning Park can make it slower.

Manning Park is about 200 miles from Seattle and is about a 4 hour drive (plus border crossing and potential winter driving after Hope).

E.C.Manning Provincial Park is also the home of the north end of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Related: 10 Amazing weekend getaways from Vancouver

How to get to Manning Park

You really need to drive to get to Manning Park, and winter in Manning Park requires some comfort with winter driving. Though the road is well maintained, it often has compact snow and ice on it during the winter time and is steep and curvy at times between the town of Hope and Manning Park.

To get there from Vancouver, head east on the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) to the town of Hope. Near Hope, follow signs for BC Highway 3 and head east on it. You’ll start climbing into the towering and beautiful mountains. After climbing and going over Allison Pass, you’ll come to the Manning Park resort on the right (66km/53 miles from Hope). This is where you want to be for all the winter fun in Manning Park!

If you’re coming from Seattle, head north to Bellingham and then up Highway 542, Highway 544 and Highway 9 to the Sumas/Abbotsford border crossing. After crossing the border, you’ll be in the town of Abbotsford and here you get on the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) heading east to the town of Hope. From Hope, continue up BC Highway 3 to Manning Park.

winter in manning park with fresh snow covering evergreen trees and fog surrounding the forest
Snowy forest in Manning Park

Winter weather in Manning Park – How much snow does Manning Park have?

Manning Park is in a fantastic location for winter sports. The precipitation from the coast lends plenty of moisture for snow, and the drier colder air to the east along with the elevation make it cold during the winter. It’s cold, but still relatively mild most of the time which is just about perfect for winter fun!

Manning Park gets an average of 743 cm of snow per winter (nearly 300 inches!) giving plenty of snow for all kinds of winter sports.

Usually the snow is good from sometime in December through sometime in March, though this can vary wildly based on the weather and snow pack in any particular year. Make sure to check the current conditions before your visit.

During the winter months, the average high temperature during the day is just below freezing with the average low around -10 degrees celcius (mid teens fahrenheit) at night. Some days do get above freezing and there are cold snaps when the temperature is colder. Warmer daytime temperatures are common in late winter and early spring.

Where to stay in winter in Manning Park?

Manning Park Resort Lodge and Cabins

A wooden and stone lodge in winter. There is snow surrounding the lodge and the sign reads Manning Park Resort. There are white lights lighting up the entrance

The Manning Park Resort has a variety of different lodging options from rooms in the lodge to cabins and chalets. If you’re planning to spend more than a day at Manning Park I highly recommend staying here! About 50% of the rooms and cabins are dog friendly.

The rooms have refrigerators and microwaves as well as coffee makers and super comfortable beds.

Winter camping in Manning Park

Skyview Campground

A snowy forest with forested hillsides in the background lost in the clouds. In the foreground is a plowed out campsite that is still covered in snow. Part of a picnic table and firepit are visible
One of the sites at the Skyview Campground. You can just make out the edge of the picnic table and firepit! Great place for stargazing on a clear night

The new (opened January 2022) Skyview campground is absolutely beautiful and a great place to try out winter RV camping for the first time. They do require you to have an RV to camp here.

They have 60 sites for winter with picnic tables and fire rings as well as hook ups for electricity, water and sewer! They also have a washhouse with showers and toilets. You might need to dig out the picnic table and firepit, so bring a shovel! You’ll also need a heated hose if you want to use the hookups for water.

The cross country ski trail system goes right through the campground and the shuttle stops here that takes you to the alpine/downhill ski area…pretty great!

Other winter camping in Manning Park

Manning Park has several other winter camping options. There are two group sites (Lone Duck Two and Cambie Creek) that have pit toilets and require advance reservations.

The Lightening Lake Day Use area is available in winter for camping for RVs only and doesn’t allow fires. There are pit toilets. It is first come first served.

Lone Duck One is also available for camping and has pit toilets and fire pits. There is also a shelter with a woodstove. It is also first come first served.

Where to eat in winter in Manning Park

The Manning Park Resort has wonderful food! The restaurant is really good and has some unique offerings (make sure to try the Breakfast Poutine!). They have lots of local favorites and classic pacific northwest and coastal Canadian food, such as seafood, burgers, salads and of course, poutine.

The Pinewoods Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Bear’s Den downstairs is open in the evenings only. The Bear’s Den is especially fun on winter evenings with it’s roaring wood fireplace with a carved bear above it. The Bear’s Den is also a great place to watch sports while you’re in Manning Park.

A fireplace with a wood fire and a stone chimney with a wooden carved bear
The beautiful fireplace in the Bear’s Den Pub

There aren’t any grocery stores in Manning Park, so I recommend bringing some snacks, picnic items and trail food with you. The rooms in the lodge of refrigerators and microwaves so it’s easy to bring along items. There is a small store in Manning Park that has beer, wine and some snacks like chips and candy.

What is there to do in winter in Manning Park?

Winter is full of fun at Manning Park! One fantastic thing about Manning Park is that you can be here with a family or group that like different snow sports and everyone can have fun and do their thing and be ready to share stories of their adventures in the evening, and no one even has to drive once you arrive.

Manning Park Snowshoeing

A frozen lake with snow on it surrounded by a snowy evergreen tree forest
Frozen Lightening Lake on a winter day

Winter in Manning Park is perfect for snowshoeing! There are wonderful mellow places for beginners to explore, as well as long and hard all day and even multiday outings for experienced backcountry winter travelers.

A trail pass is required (get it from the nordic center) for most of the trails. Grab a map and explore what sounds like fun and a good fit for your experience level.

Make sure not to snowshoe on the groomed cross country ski trails! This really makes it hard for skiers and Manning Park has done a great job of separating the trails so you don’t need to do this.

The Shadow Lake Trail offers a mellow 4 km (2.5 mile) outing through the forest near Shadow Lake and up to the day lodge for the downhill ski area and then back the way you came. The trail starts at Strawberry Flats and is well marked and flagged along the way.

For those looking for a little more distance without much elevation gain, try the Lightening Lake Loop. This super popular 4.5 km (just under 3 miles) loop takes you around beautiful Lightening Lake, across a footbridge and around the other side. For a longer loop, you can go all the way around the lake which is 9 km (about 5.5 miles). This trail follows the summer hiking trail around the lake and I found it a bit difficult to follow in places, especially since there was so much snow when I was there. With a bit of exploring however, you should mostly be able to stay on it! Knowing that you are going along the lake helps too. Make sure not to walk out on the lake because it is not cold enough here to solidly freeze the lake. Park at the Lightening Lake Day Use Area.

The West Similkameen Trail offers a mellow out and back 4 km (2.5 mile) relatively flat outing, or you can continue on an additional 6 km to Windy Joe. The West Similkameen Trail starts behind the first cabin at the resort and quickly crosses Gibson Pass Road before picking up on the other side with flagging. Cross the river and continue through the gorgeous forest for a total of 2 km from the lodge to the junction with Windy Joe. Turn around here for a mellow outing.

If you want to continue on to Windy Joe, it’s imperative that you know how to navigate and travel in the backcountry in winter (including avalanche safety and evaluation), as this trail is generally not marked in winter and the summer hiking trail is buried far below the deep snow. Windy Joe climbs 510 meters (1700 feet) to great views and a junction with the end of the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a 16 km (10 mile) round trip outing from the lodge and is definitely strenuous!

Manning Park Cross Country Skiing (Nordic skiing)

A cross country ski trail with two sets of tracks and a skating lane in Manning Park. The ski trail goes through a snowy evergreen forest
Beautiful grooming on the Manning Park Nordic trails

Winter in Manning Park is a dream for cross country skiers! There are 64 km of groomed trails for all experience levels and they also have rental gear and lessons. I took a skate skiing lesson here and it was the best ski lesson I’ve ever had. I highly recommend lessons here. Get your trail pass and a map from the Nordic Center before you hit the trail.

One thing to be aware of for beginners is that on the trail out towards Lightening Lake, the easier (green) trail sections are separated by blue and black, so you can be on a beginner trail that suddenly becomes very challenging before being easier again. You can get around this by driving and parking along different parts of the road, or sticking with the Beaver Pond Trail that is relatively flat the whole way. This is a small concession for such a fantastic skiing location!

For beginners, I recommend the trail to the Beaver Pond, which as mentioned above is mostly flat. This is also the only dog friendly ski trail so a great place to ski with your dog. This trail is absolutely gorgeous, going through a beautiful and snowy evergreen forest reminiscent of Narnia. There is a snowy but unfrozen river alongside the trail. Out to the beaver pond and back is about 4 km (2.5 miles).

If you’re ready for more distance and more challenge, head out towards Lightening Lake. Be aware that there is a VERY steep hill shortly before you get to Lightening Lake! It’s not super long but it’s really steep. It’s about 5 km (3 miles) round trip to Lightening Lake, or you can continue on to Strawberry Flats. Going all the way to Strawberry Flats and around the loop and back to the lodge is about 17 km (11 miles) with some flatter sections and quite a few hills mixed in.

For advanced skiers you can give the North Gibson Trail a try, or head up the switchbacks to the Cascade Lookout a steep climb and 16 km (10 miles) round trip. Those looking for even more adventure and who have the gear and skills can venture even further into the backcountry.

A forested hillside covered in snow in winter in Manning Park BC.
The ridge going to the Cascade Lookout

Related: Best cross country skiing near Vancouver

Manning Park Alpine Skiing (Downhill skiing) and snowboarding

The base of a ski area with some snowy trees and a chairlift and a few parked pick up trucks in the foreground.
The downhill ski area base at Manning Park

This low key no fuss ski area offers some of the best skiing in BC! While not as famous as some of the really big downhill ski resorts, Manning Park has a lot of snow and often better conditions than other resorts closer to the coast.

In addition to the great conditions, Manning Park is far less crowded and less expensive (less than half the cost of a lift ticket as Whistler) than some of BC’s other more well known resorts. This is a local favorite for all these reasons.

The downhill ski area has a shuttle to the Manning Park resort so once you get there if you’re staying for a few days you don’t have to deal with driving again. You can also drive the short distance to the lifts from the lodge on your own. There is a day lodge at the base area with a cafeteria and restrooms.

They also offer private and group ski and snowboard lessons and rentals for all ages.

This is a hidden gem! Don’t miss out.

Snow Tubing

Manning Park operates the Polar Coaster, an impressive tubing park with four different runs at a variety of fear challenge levels with lifts. This makes for a really fun way to break up some time skiing.

Ice Skating

Two skaters on an outdoor ice rink in Manning Park. There are trees surrounding the rink and lights mounted on poles.
The outdoor ice rink at the Manning Park resort

Behind the Nordic Center near the start of the cross country ski trails is an outdoor ice rink that is perfect for practicing your ice skating! You can rent skates from the nordic center or bring your own.

I love the fact that the ice rink is lighted at night so you can go out and enjoy a bit of skating after dark.

Swimming and hot tubbing

The Manning Park resort has a large swimming pool with two spacious hot tubs in the Loon Lagoon that are open to guests of the resort. This is the perfect way to unwind after a day outside and rest those sore muscles!

They also have changing rooms and pool towels in the building so you can easily change and not have to carry a lot of stuff back and forth from your room.

Final Thoughts

Winter in Manning Park is a low key and less crowded paradise for all kinds of snow fun including cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing and more! This is a great place for those who like to be in less busy and more remote places while still enjoying delicious food without an extremely long drive.

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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite. I lived in Alaska for many years and I still spend lots of time there every year visiting friends and working as a tour director. I've been a guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington, am a field editor for the Milepost and host the Alaska Uncovered Podcast about Alaska Travel as well as the Washington State Hiking Podcast. I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you here!