The snow is deep, the mountains are stunning, and the town site is full of historical interest. The ski hill, located where the Columbia Valley meets the Rocky Mountains, is over-shadowed by spectacular cliffs. At one time an isolated piece of paradise, improved airport connections have made it easier to get to this corner of skiing paradise. Fernie boasts a combination of high snowfall (900 cm annually), varied terrain with lots of groomed runs, five alpine bowls and countless glades and chutes. It has a well-serviced 850 meters of vertical, plus 14 km of X-country trails and endless back-country possibilities. Fernie is called the fastest growing resort in Canada, in the 'top ten ski hills in North America', 'most improved' and is noted for having the 'best new lifts'.
A single gondola takes you from the valley floor up 1260 meters to the 2450m peak, where the view into the heart of the Purcell Mountains is breathtaking. Coated in pure white for as far as the eye can see, there is something about Kicking Horse that defines not only Canadian wilderness, but also the essence of winter. Situated deep in the interior of the province, but still within the 'snow zone', the terrain of bowls, ridges, glades and chutes keeps delivering surprises, even to the most expert of skiers and boarders. With some exceptions (there are a few blue and green runs off the peak), Kicking Horse is suited to advanced skiers who can take advantage of the "70 inbound chutes" and other natural features. After several quad-burning descents into the valley, eating and taking in the view at the highly regarded Eagles Eye restaurant at the top is a well-deserved reward.
Walking around the small town of Kimberley, you might think you have mysteriously landed in Bavaria; but look past the quaint buildings, and you will see you are on the edge of one of the most spectacular and best loved mountain ranges in BC. Kimberley Alpine Resort is only 20 minutes from the airport, minutes from the town, and offers slope-side accommodations and eateries. It is an excellent choice for a friendly and hassle-free ski-holiday. Dominated by intermediate and beginner terrain, it also has a good selection of advanced runs. The mountain has a very respectable 750 m vertical rise and 5 lifts, including a high-speed quad that services 650 vertical meters. Night skiing, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snow shoeing and skating will round out a great winter holiday.
Panorama is a model of good Intrawest design. As a purpose built ski resort, everything is well planned to get the most of the 1220 m vertical (in the top 10 ten in North America). The lifts are fast and well placed, the runs long and perfectly groomed, access is easy, and the village and slope-side accommodations are excellent. The drive in from Invermere offers many pleasing views as it ascends a narrow valley, while the view from the top into the rugged Purcell backcountry is magnificent. The recently added terrain of Taynton Bowl offers a back-country experience with 405 hectares of chutes, glades, and gullies. There are both intermediate and expert terrain parks. Besides the great hill, there are 20 km of track-set cross-country trails, several well-reviewed restaurants, and a very friendly atmosphere. Panorama is also a great departure point for heli-skiing in the famous Bugaboos Mountains.
Tucked away on the southernmost and less traveled route through the BC interior, Red Mountain Resort has been operating to the delight of locals for decades, but the secret is out, and word of its virtues is spreading. With its revered racing program, it has produced numerous famous names in Canadian skiing, including Olympic and World Cup medalists. Red Mountain has a 880 m vertical, and offers a "ski anywhere" terrain policy that opens up some of the best off-trail tree skiing in North America. The mountain has numerous steep runs, frequently coated in deep, soft snow and is best suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. Access to the backcountry from the top of the lifts is extraordinary. The hill is 5 minutes from the 'ski-town' of Rossland and 30 minutes from Castlegar Airport. Red Mountain is home of The Mountain Project (TMP), a new initiative dedicated to innovation and sustainability in the mountain environment.
After decades of gazing at the formidable peaks of the Selkirks from the town centre in Revelstoke, B.C., and dreaming of a lift that would do justice to the magnificent mountains, the dream became a reality with the creation of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Still in its early stages, the multimillion-dollar ski destination already has the greatest vertical in North America, surpassing Whistler Blackcomb. The west-facing Selkirks are snow magnets, attracting 1200 cm per year, and their elevation, combined with interior setting, keeps the snow dry. The terrain is extraordinary, with unbroken fall lines descending in all directions from the peak and encompassing long green and blue cruisers, glades, steep chutes and bowls. 4 high-speed sixes, a quad, plus a gondola already serve the mountain, and more terrain is opening. First class on-hill accommodations are available at Nelsen Lodge, and numerous choices are available in the town of Revelstoke. The resort is located on the edge of the most famous helicopter/cat-skiing terrain in the world.
What Whitewater lacks in 'resort niceties', it more than makes up for in skiing pleasure. Whitewater has drawn 'ski-bums' for decades, many of which view the hill and town of Nelson, B.C., nearby with hallowed reverence. Although the vertical is modest (400m), the base elevation is 1640 m, keeping the snow dry, and there is plenty of challenging terrain. Furthermore, hiking along ridges to access more terrain and vertical is commonplace at Whitewater. Most of the lines bring skiers back to the base of the chairlift and it is not uncommon to see as many people in the backcountry as on the piste. Ski Canada has rated Whitewater to have the Best Deeps, Best Bowls and Best Glades in the province. There are also 20 km of picture-perfect cross-country trails and legendary eats in the Fresh Tracks Cafe. In Nelson, refurbished Victorian houses, hotels, B&B's and brick storefronts give the town a special charm.