Let’s get straight to the point; winter tends to overstay its welcome. With major snowstorms lasting into April earlier this year, Mother Nature definitely took longer than expected to bestow warmer temperatures upon us Canadians.
Living in this wonderful, snowy nation, there are some crucial lessons to learn in order to thrive in the ‘Great White North’. Most importantly, is realizing the importance of making the best of your environment and conditions (especially the long winter months we so often endure).
Our initial instincts are to stay warm and cozy during blizzard-stricken months, huddled indoors with blankets, warm drinks, a crackling fire and taking in an unhealthy amount of Netflix, while silently praying that our neighbour or significant other will shovel the walkway. Winters have such great potential though, why surrender such glorious opportunities to see the remarkable beauty Canada boasts in its backyard?
Exploring the outdoors throughout all four of our Canadian seasons is a revitalizing experience for us, which should be taken advantage of to refresh our frame of mind. It’s a chance to discover new adventures just a snowball’s throw away. We’re all familiar with making the most of warm temperatures during the summer months with patio season and backyard lounging in full swing. The winter landscape can be just as inspiring too, when given the chance.
If you need more convincing, here are a few of Canada’s premiere winter activity destinations:
Fernie, British Columbia
The shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs along 2nd Avenue in Fernie are some of the Canadian Rockies’ hidden gems, with surrounding mountain peaks looming over the glow of its downtown streets.
Located just down the road, Fernie Alpine Resort is home to some of Canada’s most legendary powder, with an average snowfall of 30ft. From epic downhill skiing to leisurely snowshoe and groomed cross-country skiing trails, the resort has activities for the whole family. It also offers plenty of weekly programs to get you outside and even yoga classes to help you find your winter Zen. Their on-mountain accommodations along with a local shuttle to town make for a perfect introduction to Canada’s winter activities.
Kimberley, British Columbia
If you’re looking for a classic mountain town, you’ve found it. The town of Kimberley embodies the Canadian spirit with humble, welcoming locals and a relentless passion for nature. Kimberley is home to craft beers, great local dining, the oldest building in Canada and a variety of activities to enjoy outside.
With stunning scenery of the Kootenay mountains, Kimberley Alpine Resort is just minutes from town and offers great facilities and terrain for people of all skiing and snowboarding ability levels – from first-timers to seasoned slope shredders. Looking to stay on level ground? Try the area’s expansive snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing network or check out fat biking, one of North America’s favourite new activities (mountain bikes with wider tires for better grip in snow conditions).
Golden, British Columbia
One of the most famed locations along the Powder Highway, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the town of Golden are conveniently located along the TransCanada Highway and ready to provide you a mountain experience like no other. Drop into Whitetooth Brewing Co. for locally crafted beers, or the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for an up-close learning session with these amazing animals.
Delving deeper into nature, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers Canada’s highest dining experience, the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,700ft. Once you’re fueled up, hit the slopes of the Catamount Chair to learn the basics on your skis or snowboard, or bring your little ones to the tube park and natural ice rink at the base of the resort. Advanced skiers head to the top via the gondola for wide ranging bowls, ridges and chutes. If staying grounded is your preference, Golden is primed with world-class snowmobiling, along with plenty of rentals and tours available.
Life’s too short – and winters are too long – to miss out on a lifetime of adventure. Let winter activities revitalize your soul and help you look forward to the inevitable snowfalls each year. Meet Mother Nature halfway on this one and discover how rewarding Canada’s winter climates can truly be.
Did you know, the best opportunity to see a bear is actually outside of Banff National Park? Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the best place to see a Bear, in fact, it’s guaranteed! Not only can you visit Boo, the resident bear at Kicking Horse there are a variety of other activities that will make you wondering why you didn’t plan your whole trip to Kicking Horse and plan a day trip to Banff instead of vice versa! But don’t worry, if you already have your trip planned to Banff this summer, Golden is just a hop, skip and a short car ride away!
Peek at Boo
See a Bear up close, living his best life at the largest enclosed Grizzly Bear habitat in the world at Kicking Horse. Boo was rescued as a cub after his mother was killed by a poacher, through growing up at Kicking Horse we’ve had the unique opportunity to observe a Grizzly Bears life and learn a whole lot about them. When you visit Boo you’re likely to see him following one of his rangers (who serve as tour guide) as they pace besides his enclosure and lead you along with them or you might catch him lazily lying around his very own pond on a warmer day. Boo has been known to desire a rendezvous with the ladies and one time even managed to get out of his enclosure to find himself a girlfriend. Alas, Bears are solitary creatures and only interact with others typically during mating season, so Boo came back on his own to live his life of luxury at his forever home on the Kicking Horse slopes.
Mountain Top Dining
There’s almost nothing that comes close to comparing the experience of dining at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. It’s the highest elevated restaurant in Canada, located at the top of our Gondola at 7,700 ft! Not only can you see the view of 6 National parks, you can enjoy amazing Canadian dishes and drinks with a fancy flair (you don’t want to miss the poutine or the Caesar’s here, promise).
Not only is Eagle’s Eye open for lunch during the summer, it’s also open for a special night of stargazing during the Perseid Meteor shower, can be booked for weddings and special events and even has exclusive suites you can stay at with a 24-hour butler on hand.
If you’re looking for a real adventure in the mountains, the Via Ferrata is for you! You don’t have to be an experienced rock climber to complete this incredible expedition, in fact, you don’t have to have any experience at all! To conquer the Via Ferrata you just need to have desire for a fun challenge (mixed in with a bit of bravery as well). Don’t be intimidated by the pictures or even when you’re on the way up the Gondola and can see the course, literally on the side of the rock face looming in the distance. The Via Ferrata is perfectly manageable, using fixed iron rungs to guide you along. Not only will you feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when you finish this trek you’ll also have some serious bragging rights when you tell your friends and family you’ve hung off the side of a rock (plus photo proof if you dare take out your phone at those heights). If I can do it, you can do it!
This still isn’t all there is to take in at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Golden, B.C. this summer, there’s also breathtaking ridgewalk hikes and sightseeing (see main photo), an award winning mountain bike park (downhill and cross country trails available), pop up farmers markets, fly fishing, horseback riding or kayaking (to name just a few).
Boo | Kyle Edworthy
Drink | Emile Lavoie
Via Ferrata | Lisa Roddick
Join us at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant terrace for a unique chance to practice Yoga and meditation for free with Yogi Master Jessica Pyper among one of the most wondrous mountain backdrops in North America. There is no better way to cap off a fun-filled day of skiing! Did we mention it’s FREE?
Meet at 2:15pm on the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant’s terrace. Events from 2:30pm to 3:00pm.
Friday December 29th and Saturday December 30th.
Learn more about Jessica’s yoga classes & retreats: http://www.jessicapyper.com/
Bundle up the kids and get ready to have an up-close and personal experience with real Alaskan Sled Dogs!
Kingmik Dog Sled Tours brings their pups and passion to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and want to take your little ones* for a ride, for FREE! The guides love their dogs, and the dogs love their job! Believe us, you don’t want to miss out on this unforgettable experience.
Meet us at the Learning and Adventure Centre December 24 and prepare yourself for some high energy excitement!
*For children 6-10 year old only
Qualifying for this prestigious event, a resort needed to have a massive variety of terrain, thigh burning vertical and incredible snowfall and a strong mountain community of which Golden, British Columbia is well suited as the historic home of the Swiss Guides who led climbing expeditions in the early 1900’s.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, known for it’s plethora of in-bound chutes, variety of epic terrain and trademarked as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada and with the 4th biggest vertical in North America, it certainly has more than enough cred to qualify!
After a long summer season of anticipation, the Freeride World Tour (FWT) launched the official competition calendar featuring a completely revamped competition schedule for the upcoming 2018 season. This year, the FWT unveils two brand new locations for the opening events in Hakuba, Japan and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Golden, BC, Canada – two legendary freeride destinations. Forty-five riders in four categories – ski men, ski women, snowboard men, and snowboard women – will make the five-stop international journey. All riders will face a round of qualification cuts after the fourth stop in Fieberbrunn, Austria before arriving at the grand finale in Verbier, Switzerland in March/April 2018.
- NEW FOR 2018 – Hakuba, Japan – January 20-27, 2018 – The Winter Begins
- NEW FOR 2018 – Kicking Horse, Golden, BC, Canada – February 3-9, 2018 – Time To Get Rowdy
- Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra – March 1-7, 2018 – Hold The Line
- Fieberbrunn, Austria – March 9-15, 2018 – Crunch Time
- Verbier, Switzerland – March 31 – April 8, 2018 – The Grand Finale
More about the Freeride World Tour
The Freeride World Tour is an annually toured series of events in which the best freeskiers and snowboard freeriders compete for individual event wins, as well as the overall title of World Champion in their respective genders and disciplines. The events take place on what’s commonly referred to as “backcountry”, “big mountain” or “extreme” terrain – essentially ungroomed powder snow on super steep, mountainous slopes. The first event series under the Freeride World Tour moniker took place in 2008. Prior to that it was known as the Verbier Extreme, originally a snowboard only contest launched in 1996 – with skiers also invited to compete in 2004. For the 2013 season, the Freeride World Tour merged with the Freeskiing World Tour and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, combining all three tours under one unified global 5-star championship series.
Golden, B.C is a gorgeous mountain town, well known for being an adventure capital with a variety of outdoor activities just outside your doorstep in both winter and summer. One of Golden’s (only slightly) lesser known facts is that it’s also ‘at the heart’ of 6 National Parks. This year, with everyone being able to visit all our parks in Canada for free in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday there’s never been a better time to plan a road trip to Golden and it’s surrounding parks!
So exactly which National Parks can you get to easily from Golden?
- Mt. Revelstoke National Park
Approximately 1.5 hour drive from Golden
What to do: Travel on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, only open for the few months in the summer without any snow, its a gorgeous drive with lots of photo opportunities along the way. Take a shuttle bus to the summit for hiking and to see the historic firetower at the top.
What to see: Lots of wildlife including bears, moose, wolverines, mountain goats and even bats.
Fun Fact: home to one of the few inland temperate rainforests in the world
- Glacier National Park
Approximately 40 minute drive from Golden
What to do: Walk or hike along one of the many trails in the area, a large variety of levels offers something for the veteran hikers as well as shorter ones for people seeking a more casual adventure
What to see: Really old trees – take a stroll through the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk built in between ancient hemlock trees
Fun Fact: home to one of Canada’s largest cave systems
- Banff National Park
Approximately 1 hour drive from Golden
What to do: Walk through/around the historic Banff Spring Hotel, built in the 19th century or visit Chateau Lake Louise, one of the most photographed spots in Canada
What to see: Amazing mountain views, abundance of wildlife and a quaint town
Fun Fact: Canada’s first National Park
- Jasper National Park
Approximately 2.5 hour drive from Golden
What to do: The Glacier Skywalk. One of the newest attractions in the 6 parks, the Glacier Skywalk is an amazing glass floor lookout jutting out from the cliff edge
What to see: The highest mountain in Alberta – Mount Columbia
Fun Fact: one of Canada’s largest national parks
- Kootenay National Park
Approximately a 1 hour drive from Golden
What to do: Relax in the Radium Hot Springs or camp in oTENTiks (tent/cabin combos)
What to see: With an abundance of waterfalls, rivers, grasslands and glaciers there’s something to see around every corner in Kootenay National Park whether you’re walking or driving.
Fun Fact: is a UNESCO World Heritage site in part because of the fossils found in the area
- Yoho National Park
Approximately 20 minute drive from Golden
What to do: See Takakkaw Falls, 384 m high the Takakkaw falls are some of the highest in Canada, accessible from June – October hike right to the base of the falls for an amazing experience. It’s no wonder Yoho is a Cree word meaning ‘of awe and wonder’
What to see: Emerald Lake – names for it’s unique turquoise colour cause by powdered limestone
Fun fact: the park was created after Canada’s first Prime Minister John. A Macdonald and his wife toured through on the new Railway, he created the park along with Glacier National Park upon returning home.
Spring, it’s the time of year when the flowers bloom and everything turns green, unless you’re in the Canadian Rockies. If you find yourself in the Rockies come spring, you’ll quickly notice that the winter blanket of white snow is far from disappearing. In fact, spring in the Rockies offers some of the best skiing conditions. Not to mention the added bonus of starting après before sun down, not that you have to stop when the sun disappears, no judgments here!
Ever heard the expression “suns out guns out’ or “skies out, thighs out”? We are pretty sure they were first said by a hardy Canadian spring skier wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts while laying down a killer line in the Rockies. Warmer temps bring out some of the best and most amusing spring skiing fashion trends, again, no judgments. The warmth of the sunshine isn’t just great for tan lines, but also works its magic for ultimate snow conditions. One thing that’s reliable in the Rockies is epic corn snow. Corn snow, or “hot pow” if you will, is a descriptive term for the glorious snow that coats our backyard all spring long, it’s fast, warm, and punch-able for ultimate control.
Spring is the ideal time to celebrate in the mountains. Everything from live music, pond skims, themed races and festivals make their way onto the calendar come spring. Fernie Alpine Resort welcomes April with live outdoor music and an unforgettable Festival that goes by the name of Fernival. A film festival kicks of Fernival followed by the famous Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay, what better way to fully embrace spring that in a multisport multi-season relay. Fernie wraps up their season with the Coca Cola Slope Soaker and live music. If spring skiing is half about skiing and half about socializing, Fernival is exactly where you want to be. Strictly skiing more your style? Kimberley Alpine Resort has some of the longest days available for lap crushing by offering night skiing. Hop on the first lift at 9am and ski right until 4pm. A mandatory break of operations will remind you to eat, relax and enjoy some live music before getting back on the slopes at 5:30pm when night skiing kicks off. Nakiska is the place to see it all, and ski it too, Calgary’s closest mountain shouldn’t be missed! Nakiska is home to fun event weekends in April referred to as Spring Fiesta’s with family friendly activities and of course, the tube park will be open! The biggest crowd drawing event at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is non other than the famous Wrangle the Chute Freeride World Tour 4 Star qualifier. Watch some of the most talented athletes tastefully choose lines to tackle with style in front of the stoke filled crowd. The after party is quickly becoming equally as famous, another reason to put Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on your spring hit list.
Combining long, warm, and snow filled days with awesome events sounds like the perfect reason to get to the Rockies this spring if you ask me. If you haven’t experienced spring the Rockies you don’t know what you’re missing and hopefully I’ve given you enough reasons to change that!
It’s snack time for Boo the Bear. Ross Prather approaches with a bucket of fish carcasses and kitchen compost. It’s a hot summer’s day and Boo has found a shady spot among the fir trees to laze away the afternoon. However the scent of a snack gets his attention; a grizzly’s sense of smell is so acute it can detect an animal carcass more than 30 kms away upwind. Under normal circumstances such proximity would be perilous – man with bucket of food, hungry 275 kg grizzly bear steps away – if it wasn’t for the electric fence separating the two.
Boo the Bear has made his home at Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre since first arriving in 2003, when he was orphaned after his mother was shot by a poacher. Over the years Prather, refuge manager, has gotten to know this wise old bear well. The specially built, 10-hectare fenced enclosure, found on the Eagle Express Gondola lift line and accessed in summer via the Catamount chairlift, provides a natural habitat for Boo, with forest, meadows and a running stream.
Ursus arctos horribilis – the grizzly’s Latin name is enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned wilderness traveler. However the opportunity to observe this animal up close is a thrilling experience, enabling visitors like my family and I to better understand grizzly behavior and ecology with the help of Prather and his staff. At times Boo stays deep within the confines of his enclosure, perhaps eating dandelions and digging for springtime bulbs in a meadow, or hunting for squirrel or marmots. However when curiosity gets the best of him, or the dinner bell rings, he approaches the fence. We’re lucky today. Boo lumbers out of the forest, snout pointing upward, his powerful shoulders rippling, lustrous silver-brown fir gleaming in the sun. It’ hard to overcome the urge to retreat as Boo comes close, but the fence keeps us safe.
A male grizzly typically ranges a territory of between 350 and 800 square kms, but Boo seems content with his home at Kicking Horse Resort – for the most part. Occasionally his urge has gotten the best of him.
“Boo gets a little randy in springtime,” Prather says, adding that he has left his enclosure a few times in the past in search of a mate.
However he always comes back.
Meal time is over. A horsefly buzzes courageously nearby and Boo shakes his massive head. Oblivious to my family and I observing from a few metres away, he strides the fence line before angling back into the forest and finding a nice muddy pool in which to cool himself. He lowers into the brown water, rolls from side to side, then emerges again, fir dripping with water, then disappears into the cool of the forest. Life is good for Boo and we’re thrilled to share a few moments with him.
Disclaimer – Andrew visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to see Boo in 2016, Ross has since left his position with Nicole Gangnon taking over as Grizzly Bear Ranger Manager. Visit Kicking Horse this winter to see Nicole and her team caring for Boo.
Ski towns are generally run on a couple of simple rules;
There are no friends on a powder day
The 20cm rule (cms may vary by town)
To put it another way, ski towns are run by snow. And lots of it. Those epic powder days that ski bums dream of. Those drool worthy runs where you feel as if you’re literally floating through the snow. Those moments longed for with snow hitting you all the way up to your face. YES! Your face. We don’t let opportunities like those pass us by in a ski town, hence why when Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort receive 20cms or more of snow in a short period of time, it’s not uncommon to see ‘gone riding’ signs posted on closed shop doors and why there isn’t even time to give your friends a call before heading up to the resort – every man for themselves! After all, that’s why we choose to live here – why haven’t you?
Here are some of our best envy inducing recent powder moment. What are yours? Tell us about it in the comments.
Are you kidding me?
All the pow
I can’t even..
To die for
This is too much
It’s not even fair
Can I get a snorkel over here?
That’s it. I’m done.
Wake me when it’s winter.
Photos by Brad Lorriman, Robin Siggers, Powder Matt and Abbydell Photography