On B.C’s aptly-named Powder Highway, lifetime memories are created from epic moments that might only last a few seconds. Moments like that epic face shot at Fernie or Kicking Horse, when the snow fell like puffy diamonds from the sky and where your body was on auto-pilot, screaming straight down the fall line ais if guided by an invisible hand. Up and down, up and down. You’ve heard the clichés before—about needing a snorkel to breathe, and now you’re burrowing through a tunnel of white, crouching down to extend the fantasy for just a few seconds longer.
That, in a brief paragraph, is what the B.C Powder Highway experience offers. The Powder Highway – originally a marketing vehicle cooked up by Chris Elder of Fernie Alpine Resort and Dave Nicholls of nearby Island Lake Catskiing – is a woven fabric of main roads, backroads, and sideroads in southeastern B.C that encompasses everything from deluxe cat-skiing operations to under the radar local ski hills to prestigious alpine touring lodges for skiers with big heart, lungs, and quads.
Start your exploration by flying into Cranbrook’s Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC). Pile your baggage and gear into an SUV or well-equipped rental car for the short drive to Kimberley Alpine Resort, less than twenty minutes from the airport. It’s the perfect resort to get your ski legs under, with challenging glades, steep bump runs, and mellow cruisers.
Next, pack up and set your GPS coordinates for the powder-famous Fernie Alpine Resort. Here, the Lizard Range—the storm-battered alpine ridge above town that resembles a lizard’s back—catches over 11 metres (37 feet) of snow annually from passing storms. Similar to Colorado ski towns like Telluride or Crested Butte, the historic red-brick town of Fernie is an authentic Canadian winter sports town.
Further adventure awaits farther north at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort just west of the Continental Divide near Golden, B.C. Monster bowls, jaw-dropping steeps, endless cruisers, and the best mountain scenery in North America from the deck of the Eagle’s Eye restaurant await. Kicking Horse is a massive playground that offers big vertical, consistent steeps, and a terrific range of ski in and ski out options right up at the resort.
And those are just the lift-serviced resorts. Add in 13 cat ops, 9 heli ski companies, and a mind-boggling 21 backcountry lodges and you have likely the greatest concentration of powder options anywhere in the world.
Words: Steven Threndyle
Photos: Brandon Hartwig, Brad Lorriman, Abbydell Photography, Love Street Media, Antoine Caron Cabana
August 11, 2016
Matthew Bailey from www.mustdocanada.com recently visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to experience the Via Ferrata, ride the bike trails and of course, visit Boo the Bear. Here is some of what he had to say, to read the full story, visit mustdocanada.com.
“…We curled our way around rock ledges as we moved along the ridge-line that divides the Rocky Mountain trench from the Purcell range. We climbed up and down and straddled the face of the mountain while looking down at the incredible scenery. At one point, we also crossed Gut Bridge, which was just a line of metal cable that you have to walk across. If a suspension bridge doesn’t scare you, this just might. Everything is so safe though so it’s a good time to test your fears!
After a couple of hours, we made it to the top of Terminator Peak, which offers absolutely stunning views of the surrounding area. In one direction, we saw Roger’s Pass while in the other direction we saw as far as the Columbia Icefields. Everything was so clear and vivid. It’s the kind of scenery that draws you in and never wants to let you go. I could easily sit down and just stare at the view for the entire day. It’s that beautiful…” Read the rest in his post on mustdocanada.com.
Next up came Boo & biking;
“….I’ve been riding mountain bikes ever since I was a kid but this was the first time I rode one down an actual mountain. For those looking for a mountain-rush during the summer, I can’t think of a better way. For me, going downhill with a bike versus ski’s is much more terrifying…but I was up for the challenge.
First though, my wife Karla and I wanted to see Boo, the resident Grizzly bear. Since Karla wasn’t going to be joining me for the mountain biking, we decided to explore the Grizzly refuge in the morning. Plus, this is when Boo is more active. I don’t blame him. With 25ºC weather and a thick fur coat, I wouldn’t want to be under the sun either….” Read the rest on mustdocanada.com.
Glorify your summer on the Hanging Glory Suspension Bridge
You’ve likely heard of the Via Ferrata, a fixed climbing route running along the Terminator peak of the resort, what you might not know is the path to the Via Ferrata is across a suspension bridge. The ‘Hanging Glory’ suspension bridge transports brave guests from the ridgeline just below Eagle’s Eye over to the base of Terminator peak. NEW this summer, walk to suspension bridge and circle back to the restaurant before starting the Via Ferrata, with the new suspension bridge option guests who are too nervous to do the whole course or too young to meet our safety restrictions can get a taste of the rush on Hanging Glory. (For the especially adventurous, trying actually hanging off hanging glory, don’t worry, you’re harnessed safely to the bridge).
1) Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and see the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant walkway in front of you
What you’ll see: Spectacular views of 6 National parks surrounding the resort (and eat a delicious meal as well).
2) Lost Boys Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Timber Chair to the top and walk a short distance past Lost Boys Café over to the Lost Boys Lookout
What you’ll see: Amazing landscapes of the surrounding peaks of the mountains and of the town of Fernie below.
3) Kimberley, B.C – Lois Creek Trails
How to get there: Parking is available at Centennial Hall. To enter Lois Creek Trails go to either the North End of trail Street, the intersection of 8th and Elko Street or at Centennial Hall at the old Legion Tracks.
What you’ll see: Gorgeous mountain vistas and a variety of wildlife along the trails.
4) Lizard Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Elk Chair to the top and walk a short distance into Lizard Bowl
What you’ll see: Stunning views of the Elk River & town of Fernie
5) Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – The Ultimate Mountain View
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and proceed to Eagle’s Eye, look for the tent to meet up with your guide and group. Once everyone is there you’ll do some training and head right over to the suspension bridge taking you to the Terminator Peak for the climb of your life!
What you’ll see: If you’re brave enough to turn around and take a look behind you’ll see a stunning stretch of mountains while hanging off the Terminator Peak including 6 National parks, the resort below you and Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off in the distance.
NEW this summer – try the Hanging Glory Suspension bridge! More information.
Photos by Alpenglow BnB, Dave Best
Feature Photo: Dax Justin
Summer might be the best time to get outdoors and enjoy what the mountains have to offer in our amazing backyard in Canada. In recent years, ski resorts in British Columbia have made a series of additions, upgrades and updates to have family friendly activities for adults and the little’s as well as keeping the hardcore activities available for the summer thrill seeker.
Summer is a great time to escape the hustle and city bustle, to relax and recharge. The tranquility of fishing will help those kids forget all about the stress of making the grade at school and will help you take a real mental vacation from work. Fishing provides kids (of all ages) a great lesson about being calm and one with nature in an authentic environment. More information about fishing in Golden is on the Tourism Golden website.
- Take a Hike
No, we’re not telling you to get lost, but we are literally telling you to take a hike. Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse all offer hiking in a mountain setting with amazing views at Fernie and Kicking Horse the lift accessed hiking provides some epic views you won’t on any regular old hike. For more information about hiking in mountain towns visit the Tourism Fernie, Tourism Golden or Tourism Kimberley websites and for more information about lift accessed resort hiking visit the Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- See a real bear up close (and learn too)
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects at Kicking Horse is Boo the Bear who lives year round at the resort and has made a name for himself as a local celebrity. Boo has an interesting story of how he ended up making his home at Kicking Horse, in the largest protected Grizzly Bear habitat in the world. While living at the resort he’s offered us humans a rare and special opportunity to learn about the life and practices of Grizzly Bears. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy taking a Grizzly Bear Interpretive tour and learning about his life at the horse! Get more information about Boo and Interpretive tours on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- Monkey Around
The Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort is a good introduction to find out how the little’s in your family feel about heights. They can try out the free kids aerial park, or if they meet the height restrictions can venture up in the trees. The lesson beforehand from our knowledgeable guides and extensive safety system will allow them to feel safe while far away from the ground! If you have a very adventurous little one (who is at least 10), use the Aerial Park as a stepping stone to trying the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Get more information and book the Aerial Park on the Fernie Alpine Resort website.
- Explore historic towns
Many towns in British Columbia have a strong history in mining and have museums or memorials in town to commemorative and conserve the memories. Along with learning about history, try out some of these unique town experiences;
- Visit Beanpod Chocolate (Canada’s Traditional Chocolate maker) in historical Downtown Fernie. Beanpod website.
- Walk the downtown platzl in Kimberley (also location of the Kimberley museum). More info.
- Walk with Wolves in Golden, a truly unique experience in the Canadian Rockies. More info.
- Visit the Heritage town – Fort Steele (near Kimberley, B.C). More info.
- Pop into the Clawhammer Press in Downtown Fernie. Clawhammer Press website.
- Take a golf lesson
Getting them started young is a great way to build impressive golf skills! Check out our websites to see about specials like ‘take a kid to the course day’, ‘family stay & play packs’ and family golf lessons.
- Sunbathe and Swim in the outdoor pools
Staying at ski resorts in the summer offers a full service experience! While many of our hotels have in house or nearby Spas to pamper, gyms to keep in shape and outdoor pools/hot tubs for the kids to keep entertained for hours! Shown in below photo – Lizard Creek Lodge at Fernie Alpine Resort.
- Eat all the food
It might be a bit of a hidden fact (although gaining more and more recognition), mountain towns are the best place to have great food! Each have their own unique restaurants, bars or cafes to check out – all come with an authentic mountain town vibe (guaranteed).
- Mountain Bike ON a mountain
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a great starting point to get the passion flowing for mountain biking, with a kid’s skills course in the base area set up each summer. Fernie Alpine Resort has also added a myriad of beginning trails over the last couple season to provide a gentle ride down the summer ski slopes. In addition to beginner trails, Fernie Alpine Resort along with the Fernie Trails Society and Fernie Nordic Club unveiled a new Peak to Park multi use trail last summer. Adding a different experience to the mountain biking game – ride the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort and bike your way back down to the town. More information about mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can be found on our websites.
- All the best fests
What’s your jam? Outdoor music? Farmers Markets? Hardcore racing events? There is something nearly every weekend in Fernie, Kimberley or Golden. Check out the online events calendars on the resort websites or town tourism websites to find out the schedule for this summer!
Photos: Tourism Golden, @calsnape, Cali Sammel and Patrick Majer.
Our winter Early Bird season pass sale ends on Saturday, June 25th, order your season pass or multi week ski school lesson online through the RCR Webstore before the deadline for the best savings of next season.
Don’t forget about those lessons! Get the kids in multi week programs or sign up for one yourself and brush up on skills. Kids & Teen lessons available as well as Powder Room Clinics (women only) and freeride club for adults. View and buy ski school programs through the RCR Webstore.
NEW this year buy a $500 Food & Beverage card for just $399 when purchased with your season pass! Find out more about this new Member Benefit and all the others on the RCR Webstore.
That’s what the experts are saying. And while many people across Canada may be rolling their eyes, for winter outdoor enthusiasts it’s music to their ears.
What is La Nina anyways?
La Niña is the positive phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation and is associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. (According to Wikipedia)
Okay, but what does that really mean?
According to Dave Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada – “In B.C. there is a high probability that we can expect a more frigid winter. A little cooler, a little bit more snow..”
Read more about what exactly La Nina means and more from Dave Phillips on the CBC website.
For a longer and even more scientific explanation of La Nina visit the Weather Network website.
La Nina = Happy Skiers & Snowboarders
Don’t forget to order your Kicking Horse Season Pass before the end of the Early Bird Season pass sale on June 25th – order online through the RCR webstore now!
Try out the only gondola accessed mountain biking in the region at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, with over 3,700 feet of variety, there’s downhill hardcore single tracks with multiple berms, jumps and wooden features as well as lessons and green trails offered for beginners! Golden, B.C has more amazing mountain biking options to offer, being located near Mount 7, one of the most challenging downhills in Canada! Not to worry if you aren’t into the challenge, there are over 100 kms of cross country trails on Mountain Shadows and Moonraker trail systems as well as easier road and mountain cycling. Don’t miss the annual Western Open – B.C Cup, this year on July 2nd & 3rd! Keep an eye on the online events calendar for more information.
There are ‘trails for everyone’ in Kimberley, 3 different trail networks offer everything from beginner riding with gentle, scenic cruises to some adrenaline pumped more difficult trails. With the newest improvements of the trails, the North Star Rails to Trails network is a 25 km long multi use track perfect connecting Kimberley & Cranbrook, perfect for families looking for an afternoon spent exercising outdoors in one of the sunniest places in B.C! Other trails to try are the Lois Creek Trails, geared towards beginner to intermediate riders, and the Kimberley Nature Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Canada for great for riders of all levels. Visit the Tourism Kimberley website for more information on biking in Kimberley.
One of the largest Bike Parks in the region with a recent focus on progression makes Fernie Alpine Resort’s bike park a favourite among the biking community, being voted in the Top 5 Bike Parks in Canada for the last 2 years. Offering cross country, downhill, single track and dual slalom trails accessible from the base area or chair lift as well as a number of green trails and lessons for any ability level to learn the sport or brush up on skills.
Fernie Alpine Resort isn’t the only place to ride in Fernie, along with a number of trails accessed from town, maintained by the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and the Fernie Trails Alliance there have been significant improvements made to a number of trails over the last few summer’s allowing even more people to enjoy scenery around this gorgeous mountain town! A favourite among the youngest generation of riders, Fernie also has a FREE dirt jump park with large & small jumps, bridges and obstacles to check out, located in town near the aquatic centre. For more information on Mountain Biking in Fernie, B.C visit the Fernie Tourism website
So, your sweetie has asked for your hand. You said yes! Now a week later, it’s already time to start thinking of when & where you will celebrate the most important event of your life. Choosing the right venue is crucial, so why not do it on top of the world?
“A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here, it’s crystal clear
That now I’m in a whole new world with you”
Yes, we may have just quoted lyrics from a popular Disney movie and although your names may not be Aladdin and Jasmin, the lyrics also apply to the spectacular wedding venue provided by the natural backdrop at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
“Unbelievable sights, Indescribable feelings” (okay we’ll stop)..
Located at 7,700 feet on a prominent plateau, the Eagle’s Eye Terrace is surrounded by the mountain peaks of 5 national parks. Boasting stunning 360 degree views of the Selkirks, Purcells and Rocky Mountain ridgelines, your ceremony will take place outside on the terrace surrounded by your closest loved ones. Whisk your guests via the Golden Eagle Express Gondola to 7,700 feet for an unforgettable experience before you tie the knot! Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a world class wedding destination where the mountains are a lot closer, the moments are a lot larger and the smiles more than just a little wider. This is Kicking Horse, home to Rocky Mountain vistas, gourmet culinary creations and service second to none. The perfect backdrop for the most important day of your life.
Mountain Top weddings provide a unique experience, but also extraordinary souvenirs. Wedding pictures never looked so good!
Photo: Jody Goodwin
The altitude won’t take your breath away. But the views might.
Photo: Sean Leblanc
Photo: Candid Apple
The Eagle’s Eye embodies the true feeling of a romantic mountain destination wedding. Surrounded by 360 degree views of the soaring mountaintops, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a dramatic background for your wedding reception.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s signature venue features elegant fixtures, birch chairs and a double sided fireplace. The room is elegantly appointed and perfectly themed for a mountain wedding. The Eagle’s Eye requires very little decorating and we will even provide a selection of vases and birch candles for the finishing touches.
Canada’s Most Elevated Restaurant can accommodate 116 guests for a seated reception and up to 120 guests for a cocktail style reception allowing for an intimate ambiance. Included with the venue, our bar and service staff will take care of all the set up and tear down as well as provide linen, dinnerware and glasses so you have more time to make those memories!
Feature Photo: Claire Dibble
Mountains for all their beauty and wonder can seem remote and inaccessible. Not at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. I like to think of Kicking Horse as a base camp for summer alpine adventures, without actually having to sleep in a tent to enjoy the mountains, shell out for a heli-drop, or slog uphill for hours before you get a glimpse of the alpine. Instead you can stay in a slopeside condo or hotel suite, stroll over to the Eagle Express Gondola, and in less than 10 minutes be whisked along with other hikers, mountain bikers and alpine enthusiasts from the valley to the upper reaches of the craggy Dogtooth Range, covering more than 1,200 vertical metres in an ascent that would be an all day effort for the average person on foot. At Kicking Horse, it’s all about alpine accessibility. Bowls and basins that are covered deep in snow during winter, become alpine meadows resplendent with wildflowers awaiting hikers, photographers and nature lovers. Wintry windswept ridge tops, become warm sun-dappled, peak to peak hiking routes in summer. The views of the Columbia Valley are as jaw dropping as the panorama of mountain summits and glaciers that unfolds in all directions.
For those craving some air beneath the feet, Kicking Horse’s new via ferrata gives people a taste of mountain climbing without the arsenal of equipment, skill and experience normally required to scale peaks. Via ferrata originates from World War I when Italian soldiers equipped mountains with fixed lines and ladders, an ingenuous and relatively safe way to ascend difficult or otherwise un-climbable cliffs. When fighting ended the via ferrata was forgotten, until mountaineers began restoring and repurposing these routes for recreation, launching a new form of mountain adventure. This form of alpine adventure is catching on in Canada. Last year Kicking Horse launched a via ferrata experience on the north face of Terminator Peak. It consists of steel rungs and cable drilled into the rock, suspension bridges, and bridges that span heart thumping chasms. Climbing via ferrata always gets the adrenaline thumping, however it’s extremely safe. You’re always attached to the mountain for protection, with a climbing harness and leash tethered to the cable meaning anyone from fit grandparents to grandkids can experience the thrill of scaling alpine rock. Kicking Horse offers two via ferrata routes; Ascension delivers you to the summit of Terminator Peak in a half-day outing, while Discovery provides a shorter alternative that exits lower down Terminator Peak’s easily walkable ridge. However both routes start with an exhilarating crossing of a 30 m long suspension bridge that spans a steep chute that skiers know as Think Twice.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort also offers up some of the most scenic and spectacular lift accessed mountain biking in North America, with an extensive network of trails that includes switch backing single track in alpine meadows, steep rock slabs that test how far you can hang over the back tire, and beginner to intermediate trails that wind down from the Eagle’s Nest to the base area in more than 1200 metres of vertical drop riding that will have your forearms burning and your stoke anticipating the next run . There’s smooth and flowy Pipestone, which feeds quickly into the swooping burmed chicanes of Dragon Chaser, with western anemones and Indian Paintbrush blossoming trailside. And to keep you honest, there’s Chute to View, Home Run, Showdown, and the black diamond- rated Rock and Roll, just a few of the dozens of trails to choose from. Kicking Horse is also close to the cross country trails of Moonraker, home to roughly 60 kilometers of X-country single track, located just a short drive or bike ride from the resort base area.
Bike Trail for all ages/abilities at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
And talk about alpine dining. Once the outdoors has stirred your appetite you can sit down for lunch at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, and order from a menu that boasts Alberta beef, mushroom Tagliatelle and other specialties from chef Mathieu Bocher’s kitchen. To top it off, every seat in the house offers unparalleled mountain vistas.
Kicking Horse is also your summer base camp for wildlife viewing. Boo the Bear has made his home at Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre since he first arrived as an orphaned cub 15 years ago. The 20-acre fenced enclosure, provides shady forest, meadows and naturally running water for Boo, enabling visitors to safely observe and better understand grizzly behavior and ecology with the help of interpretive centre manager Ross Prather and his staff.
Kicking Horse may be renowned for big vertical skiing and boarding, but it’s also a summertime base for fresh air mountain experiences, from hiking and mountain biking, to via ferrata and wildlife viewing. Best of all, you can pack in as much mountain adventure as your heart and mind can take, then be back in the village in time to watch the sun set with a cold beverage, appetizer, and a soak in the Jacuzzi.
Words by Andrew Findlay
Photos by Dax Justin & Dave Best