If you’ve always wanted to ski the European Alps, without the costly transatlantic flight, consider taking your winter vacation among the gems of the Canadian Rockies.
As the only mountain resort providing travel from base to peak on a single gondola ride, Kicking Horse in Golden, B.C., takes you directly to its pristine slopes 2,350 metres above ground. “This is a truly unique feature – usually you would need to take three or four lifts to get to that elevation,” says spokesperson Emile Lavoie.
“From there you have access to four alpine bowls and 100 inbound chutes. With our amazing vista views, we’re the only resort that offers terrain that looks exactly like the Alps in Europe.”
A drier regional climate allows for the lightest snow in the country – also referred to as champagne powder. “Since our mountain is so high up, we’re not as touched by warm weather. Just in case, we’re installing more lines of snow-making at the base to make sure our lower mountain is covered.”
Foodies can get even closer to heaven at the Eagle’s Eye, the most elevated restaurant in Canada at 7700 feet and offering 360 degree views of the Purcell, Rocky and Selkirk Mountains and award-winning cuisine. The resort is also an ideal family-friendly destination, offering multiple accommodation options including ski-in/ski-out hotels and a children’s activity centre along with a tube park, skating rink, and warming hut with hot chocolate and marshmallows.
It’s also central headquarters for all sorts of mountain exploration adventures, located an hour and a half from Banff, Lake Louise, and Rogers Pass, and two hours from Revelstoke.
The resort itself is easily accessible from the Calgary airport through a direct, seven-days-per-week shuttle that can be booked in advance online through the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
Another family-friendly option, particularly for those desiring a slower pace, is Fernie Alpine Resort. “Our slopes are uncrowded even during peak times. The mountain handles the number of people we get here very well,” says operations manager Robin Siggers.
“Our snowfall is another feature that attracts people – our snow pack hovers around the four metre mark by the spring and we get an annual snowfall of over 1,000 centimeters.”
Almost all of the resort’s 2500 acres is comprised of skiable terrain, from gentler slopes and groomed runs to steeper, gladed terrain.
A daycare centre on the resort allows kids to be dropped off for the whole day, for indoor activities or to arrange a lesson with an instructor.
The town of Fernie, located only five minutes away, also offers plentiful options. “It’s got a great eclectic mix of little restaurants and coffee shops, a full- service aquatic centre which is great for warming up afterwards, and you can always go to one of the local hockey games, which is always good entertainment,” says Siggers.
“There’s so much to see and do here. We really do have something for everyone.”
Photos by Dave Best and Henry Georgi