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.
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.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, widely known as the ‘Champagne Powder Capital of Canada’, is now gaining recognition for being a leader in real estate and mountain architecture as well. The Cedars is Kicking Horse’s premiere ongoing real estate development, with construction of the first home starting in the fall of 2014, lots are still available to purchase. The purchase of a mountain lot, managed through RCR Realty, offers ownership of a high energy efficient state of the art mountain modern, semi detached home (breathtaking views and easy access to the slopes included).
Recently featured in several highly regarded design publications, The Cedars as well as other private homes in Kicking Horse are receiving worldwide acknowledgment as a high end, luxurious mountain development.
Articles featuring the home designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson who designs all the Apple stores as well as residences for many well known clients such as Bill Gates;
Other features this property and Kicking Horse have been included in;
- 10 of the best cabin in the Canadian woods on dezeen.com
- The Most Fabulous Houses of 2014 on fastcodesign.com
- The 10 Best Houses of 2014 on metropolis.com
Publications featuring other properties at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort;
- dwell.com – Mountain Home
- mountainliving.com – A British Columbia Home They Call the Wolves’ Den
- westernliving.ca – Inside a luxe, Hygge-Inspired Alpine Getaway
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!
The past few years, I’ve found myself trading in watching the National Football League (NFL)’s championship game on a television screen for snow, summits and sunshine at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, nestled along Canada’s famous Powder Highway in Golden, BC.
Sundays – especially Super Bowl Sunday – are typically when people sleep in, prepare for a day full of snacks, football and wrestle with your buddy over the best spot on the couch. Instead, a friend and I were turning off our alarms at 4:15 a.m. to hit the road and wind our way through the Rockies.
By sunrise all of our worries were buried in the snowbanks behind us, we began embracing what I call the “semi-ski bum” lifestyle. Let’s be real, this wasn’t the first (and won’t be the last) time I went powder hunting in the Canadian Rockies. On this Sunday, what better place to go than terrain affectionately named Super Bowl? With fresh snow on our minds, coffee in our hands and ski gear piled high in the vehicle, we slowly powered our way through a blizzard to arrive at Kicking Horse for 9 a.m.
As thousands of North Americans prepared pre-game meals and furiously cleaned their houses for Super Bowl parties, we were already enjoying our own Super Bowl with its steep and deep terrain located between Kicking Horse’s Terminator peaks, referred to as T1 and T2. This champagne-powder filled bowl is hidden out of sight from the gondola and had gained nearly a foot of new snow in most areas, giving skiers and snowboarders their pick of fresh lines and first tracks.
I wrapped up my last laps on the mountain and began the drive home, I also missed the first-ever overtime and most epic comeback in NFL Super Bowl history. But my day had turned out just the way I hoped it would when we set out that morning. Best of all, instead of waiting a full calendar year, I can re-live my favourite Super Bowl moments again next snowfall. I guess what they say is true… #ThisHorseRules.
Want to take a ride in our Super Bowl? Check out the video to see what it’s like!
Words & Photos by Dave Belyea
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.
Bucket list checker? Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has more than a few noteworthy check marks that you’ll want to add to your list. Kicking Horse is home to Canada’s highest restaurant, has the most in bounds chutes in North America and hosts the 4th biggest skiable vertical in Canada. Need I say more? This mountain resort stays pretty humble about all its braggable features, but these aren’t the only reasons Kicking Horse Mountain Resort should be in your ski vacation cards.
The vast terrain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is jaw dropping. The choices for skiable terrain are endless. Kicking Horse is family friendly with many groomed leg burners to boot, but if you’re here to get rowdy you won’t be disappointed. Out of the 120+ runs, 45% of them are for advanced skiers and riders and 15% are rated for experts. This means that more than half of the mountain is ready to push your limits and fulfill all your adrenaline junkie dreams. Four distinct ridgelines separate the resort into bowls and various sub ridges and faces. The unique collection of terrain means there is always a powder stash somewhere, although this shouldn’t be much of a worry since the average snowfall is 750cm! Whether it’s technical spines, gladed trees, sneaky chutes, big bowls or groomers you’re after you can guarantee you’ll find it here. With terrain choices bursting at the seems it seems silly to leave the resort, but if you’re craving a backcountry tour grab your avalanche gear and an equipped friend and check out some of the equally impressive slackcountry.
Vistas in all directions encompass you as you step off the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. It will make you feel although you’ve stepped onto another planet, a planet filled with peaks galore. Looking down the valley you’ll see the town of Golden nestled in the Rockies Trench as you peer across from the Purcell Mountain tops. Do a 360 spin and try to find a boring view, we dare you. To take the view to the next level, yes it’s possible, head up the Stairway to Heaven Chair and climb the black Stairway to Heaven Whitewall staircase (only if it’s open) for the view! Even if you head back down the stairs, it’s worth the small work out to see some incredible peaks. Sounds a bit too good to be true? Kicking Horse is the ultimate skier playground, and it’s very real.
Best way to enjoy that view? Dinning at 7,705 feet (2,350 meters) sounds pretty ideal. Eagle Eye Restaurant is the highest restaurant in Canada, most definitely making it a checklist item! From the delicious list of entrées to the custom cocktails, this place is a haven for hungry skiers and sightseers a like. Don’t leave with out trying the truffle fries and a tasty specialty coffee or one of the signature Great Canadian Caesars.
Needless to say, if Kicking Horse Mountain Resort isn’t on your current “must ski” list, it probably should be. The massive amounts of inspiring terrain will keep your ski cravings curbed, although the more you ski, the more see that can be skied! This place might be a little addicting, but in the best way possible. Tired legs are happy legs and with 1,260 meters (4,133 feet) to conquer lap after lap we can guarantee you some pretty tired legs.
Photos by Abbydell Photography, Jeff Bartlett & Emile Lavoie
Imagine arriving at a crossroads and finding a sign that reads Powder Highway. What would you do? Well, you’d take that road, of course. Say it once or twice out loud. “Powder Highway.” It has an alluring sound, doesn’t it? A sort of “I dare you not to drive it,” quality that spells road trip.
There are few things I enjoy more than loading skis into the roof box, packing a change of long underwear, extra gloves and toques, bags of chips and whatever other road trip indulgences you desire, then hitting the highway. The Powder Highway cuts through the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains, a region of such staggering density in skiing and snowboarding opportunities, be it resort, cat, heli and backcountry, that you’ll be struck with an option paralysis of the favorable kind; a too-much-of-a-good-thing problem that we skiers and boarders love to have. Assemble your favorite winter superlatives – steep, deep, blower, big vert, cruisy, epic, etcetera – and that pretty much sums up the Powder Highway.
At Fernie Alpine Resort, the lifts service five alpine bowls in the legendary Lizard Range of the Canadian Rockies blessed with snow as light as the down in your puffy jacket.
Kimberley Alpine Resort, a little off the beaten track, has always been a breeding ground of ski racing talent with its fall line groomers and spacious terrain.
At Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the Eagle Express Gondola shuttles skiers and boarders to the top of the Dogtooth Range in the Purcell Mountains in a more than 4000 vertical foot butterflies-in-the-stomach ascent. From the top terminal, choose your adventure. A cruisy top to bottom groomer that will have the legs burning, or perhaps a boot pack to the top of Feuz Bowl or T1 followed by a drop into a spicy 45 alpine chute.
Then there are the towns, archetypal ski communities. Not cookie cutter prefab creations but towns with heart and history.
Fernie, with its main street lined in heritage buildings, steeped in the tradition of 19th century mining, where skiing has a long history dating back more than 50 years. Kimberley and its quaint Bavarian motif, also oozing with colourful mining and pioneering history.
And Golden near the confluence of the Kicking Horse and mighty Columbia River and at the foot of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, where a tradition of mountain adventure has its roots in the golden era of railroading in Canada when Swiss guides arrived in the late 1800’s to explore the vast wildness of Canada’s mountains, many of them settling in and around Golden.
While a love of skiing will lead you to the Powder Highway, the towns, real mountain towns full of real mountain people, will steal a piece of your heart. On a rest day, after exploring between Fernie and Kimberley, drive up the beautiful Columbia Valley, next to frozen lakes and wetlands that spring to life in summer. Pull into the HQ of legendary Kicking Horse Coffee in Invermere, where the smell of roasting beans drifts in the air. Fill up with a mug of Kick Ass coffee, relax, and dream about the turns and terrain that awaits at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. A little further north, slip into Radium Hot Springs, and watch wild Big Horn Sheep scale the surrounding cliffs. How many more reasons do you need to explore the Powder Highway? Next step – pack your ski bags, load the vehicle and hit the road – your idea of the perfect winter road trip will be changed forever!
Words: Andrew Findlay
Photos: Love Street Media, Raven Eye Photography, Antoine Caron Cabana, Henry Georgi, Brooke Wilson & Tourism Golden
If you’re thinking of booking a ski getaway this winter, now is the time to do it! With Early Booking Vacation Offers available for Christmas and Family Week vacations, as well as special long stay savings packages and spring skiing trips with big savings!
Visit our Early Booking Offers page to book a getaway online or give our vacation specialists a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book over the phone.
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