Within a 630-mile loop in southwestern British Columbia lies every skier and rider’s dream: the Kootenay Rockies, aka “Powder Highway.” Eight alpine ski resorts, nine heli-skiing operators, 16 snowcat guides, 21 backcountry ski touring outfitters and an average of 30 feet of light, fluffy snow per year only touch the surface when describing this little slice of heaven. Though this area of British Columbia has one of the highest densities of ski operations in the world, it has maintained a sense of authenticity, which can be experienced by visiting its many unique and funky towns or by talking to its down-to-earth locals. A trip to The Powder Highway isn't a typical ski vacation; it’s the one you’ll remember for a lifetime. With so much to explore and so many different itineraries to experience in this single area of B.C., it’s a part of the world you will probably find yourself coming back to year after year.
Ski.com specializes in customizing vacations to all the world-class resorts in this area, but we will help you get started by giving you the skinny on a few of the resorts perfect for the powder hounds out there.
If you haven’t yet heard about Revelstoke, you will. Snow is the name of the game here, where an impressive 480 to 720 inches falls annually. This massive resort offers the longest lift-served terrain in North America – a whopping 5,620 vertical feet – and its longest run, Last Spike, goes on for an amazing 9.5 miles! Though the resort is only five years old, its 3,121 skiable acres includes two high alpine bowls, incredible gladed terrain and a wide variety of cruisers serviced by an eight-person high-speed gondola and high-speed quad chairs. For the ultimate adventure experience, explore one of the most famous heli-skiing territories in Canada with world-class heli operator, Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing.
Though most of this resort’s slopeside accommodations and amenities are only a few years old, the ski scene at Red Mountain isn’t. In fact, the mining-era town of Rossland is famous for being one of first real ski towns in Western Canada. Few resorts are blessed with a topographical layout like Red Mountain’s. Skiers and riders will enjoy a 2,912 foot vertical drop full of long, consistent and untouched fall line skiing and riding. Thanks to Red's 2,600-plus lift-serviced acres and an additional 1,600 acres of hike-to terrain there's room to spread out and make your own tracks. And you certainly won’t wait in any lift lines. Though their steeps are renowned, Red Mountain also offers great cruiser runs and some of the finest gladed skiing in the world. Getting to this one-of-a-kind resort is easier than you might think, too. Fly direct to Spokane, Wash. from most major cities and Red Mountain is just a quick 2.5-hour drive.
With an average annual snowfall of 37 feet and 2,500-plus skiable acres, Fernie Alpine Resort is what powder lover’s dream of. Adventurous powderhounds will think they've died and gone to heaven with Fernie’s 2,800-plus-foot vertical, five spectacular open bowls, ridges and glades. A wide variety of brand new on-mountain ski in, ski out condo-style accommodations have been developed, as well as improved base area facilities.The quaint, historic town of Fernie, which features turn-of-the-century architecture, is just minutes away from the ski resort. And if you’re legs are too tired, and you need a break from Fernie’s famed steeps, you can go are snowmobiling, on sleigh ride dinners, snow-shoeing, ice-skating, curling, and cross-country skiing.
Home to one of the continent’s highest vertical drops, a staggering 4,133 feet, Kicking Horse, like it’s namesake, packs a punch. The resort is blessed with an annual average of 24 feet of some of the lightest, driest and deepest powder on the planet. Combine that wit 106 runs that span across 2800-plus acres of lift-served, diverse terrain (including 70 inbound chutes) and you have an ideal destination for a variety of skiers and riders. Like Red Mountain, Kicking Horse is easily accessible and is located just 2.5 hours from Calgary.
There’s a reason this salt-of-the-earth ski resort has been lauded by Powder Magazine as “one of best powder mountains on the continent.” Located just outside of Nelson, Whitewater Ski Resort is blessed with an average of 40 feet of light, dry snow annually. Its abundance of natural terrain featuring more than 2,000-plus feet of steeps, deeps, chutes, bowls and glades across its 1,184 skiable acres is accessed by just three chairlifts. This lift-serviced backcountry scene has given the mountain legendary status amongst avid skiers and off-piste snowboarders. Best of all, big crowds and lift lines are virtually non-existent at Whitewater.
Kimberley ski resort boasts 80 runs and 1,800 acres of skiable terrain, including the expert skier paradise Black Forest. But there's plenty of terrain for beginners and intermediates, especially on North Star Mountain including the resort's longest trail, Ridgeway at four miles. Night skiing is also available Thursday through Saturday nights on Kimberley’s main thoroughfare. For the non-skier Kimberley offers a multitude of activities including dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and helicopter tours are all great ways to see the natural beauty of the surrounding Purcell Range area. Also, be sure to check out the ice skating, movies and bowling.
Despite its repute as “smaller resort,” you don’t realize the actual scale of Panorama until you're atop the resort’s summit. Panorama ski resort offers its guests world-class services, amenities, 15 feet of snow annually and 2,800 acres of skiable terrain. This British Columbia ski destination attracts visitors not only because of its double black diamond trees and wide-open, groomed boulevards, but also for other winter activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and heli-skiing. First-time Panorama visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the many slopeside lodging options and excellent—and varied—dining options.
Enjoy uncrowded slopes, quaint towns, great vibes, laid-back locals and so much fresh powder you might need a snorkel to breathe. Sounds pretty nice, eh? Yeah, we think so too.
Call, or chat with, one of Ski.com's knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists to learn more about these enticing British Columbia ski resorts.