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For the avid, powder-hungry skier or snowboarder nothing beats British Columbia's Powder Highway. Located in the southeast corner of the Canadian province, the Powder Highway route connects one of the highest concentrations of ski and snowboard resorts in the world. Spend all your time at one resort or hop around to experience the best of British Columbia's snow. Whether you plan on experiencing as many resorts as your legs will handle or just one or two resorts, a rental car is recommended to properly experience this "bucket list" adventure. The route takes willing road warriors along Canada's Highway 1 to the ultimate powder playground, Revelstoke—don't miss a heli-skiing adventure with local ops company Selkirk Tangiers. The road then diverges to Golden, B.C. which is home to Kicking Horse ski resort for some fun challenges. From there, follow Highway 95 to Panorama ski resort, which offers some impressive vertical skiing, and then to Kimberley ski resort. A quick detour via Cranbrook accesses Fernie ski resort, followed by Highway 3 to Highway 6, which leads to Whitewater ski resort. The famed tour de powder ends in at Red Mountain in Rossland, which is home to Big Red Cats—a cat skiing company that provides access to 19,300 acres of untouched terrain.
Scroll down to learn more about each Powder Highway ski resort.
With an average annual snowfall of 37 feet and 2,500-plus skiable acres, Fernie Alpine Resort is what powder lovers dream of. Adventurous powderhounds will think they've died and gone to heaven with Fernie's huge vertical, five spectacular open bowls, and endless 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 your legs are too tired, and you need a break from Fernie's famed steeps, you can enjoy snowmobiling, sleigh-ride dinners, snowshoeing, 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 its namesake—packs a punch. The resort is blessed with an annual average of 24 feet of some of the lightest and driest powder on the planet. Combine that with 106 runs that span across 2,800-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.
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—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.
You don't realize the actual scale of Panorama until you're atop the resort's summit. Panorama ski resort flies under the radar as a "smaller resort" but 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.
Though most of this resort's slopeside accommodations and amenities are only a few years old, there is nothing new about the ski scene at Red Mountain. 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 enjoy fresh tracks run after run. And you certainly won't wait in any lift lines. Though the terrain is renowned for being steep, 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.
Snow is the name of the game in Revelstoke, where an impressive 480 to 720 inches falls annually. Offering the longest lift-served terrain in North America—and incredible 5,620 vertical feet—and its longest run, Revelstoke ski resort is massive. Its longest run, Last Spike, winds down the mountain for an amazing 9.5 miles! Though the resort is only five years old, its 3,121 skiable acres includes two high alpine bowls, unforgettable gladed terrain and a wide variety of cruisers serviced by an eight-person, high-speed gondola and high-speed quad chairs. For Revelstoke's ultimate adventure experience, explore one of the most famous heli-skiing territories in Canada with world-class heli operator, Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing.
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 boasts 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.