Tucked into British Columbia’s southeast corner, the Kootenay Rockies are home to an area revered by skiers from around the globe. The Powder Highway, as it is affectionately called, is home to 8 alpine ski resorts, 3 community ski clubs, 27 backcountry operators, 14 cat-ski operators, 18 heli-ski operators and 14 Nordic ski clubs. All of this adds up to the highest concentration of skiable terrain in the world. On top of that, the Powder Highway earns its name with 18 metres (60 ft) of average annual snowfall. And this is no ordinary snow, either. Light, fluffy, dry and fast, the Kootenays are famous for their “Champagne Powder.” To get you better acquainted with this incredible winter destination, here is our guide to BC’s Powder Highway.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Start your tour Powder Highway tour in Revelstoke, where outdoor adventure is a way of life and the relatively recently constructed Revelstoke Mountain Resort has opened up some of the most spectacular skiing and snowboarding terrain on the continent. In fact, with a 1,713 metre (5,620 ft) drop, this is the longest lift-served vertical terrain in North America. With 1,263 hectares (3,121 ac) of skiable terrain and its longest run measuring 15 km (9.5 mi) in length, Revelstoke will impress even the most discerning big mountain riders. Two high alpine bowls, tons of gladed terrain and plenty of easy cruisers make this a well-rounded mountain experience for any skier or boarder.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo Credit: Garrett Grove/revelstokemountainresort.com
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Found a short drive from the charming mountain town of Golden, Kicking Horse Mountain boasts North America’s fourth highest vertical drop at 1,260 metres (4,135 ft), and is known as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada. There are over 120 runs to explore, with four large bowls that connect with each other about halfway down the mountain. From the base of the mountain, a high-speed gondola takes you right to the peak in just 12 minutes, and from here your options for unbelievable skiing and snowboarding are endless.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo credit: expedia.ca
Panorama Mountain Resort
With 1,225 m (4,020 ft) of vertical and over 1,150 hectares (2,847 ac) of skiable terrain, Panorama Mountain offers more than just incredible views, although they certainly do add to the experience. Located just a short drive from Invermere, Panorama is often overlooked by travelling skiers and boarders, but anyone who has ridden here will tell you that it is well worth the trip. From double-black diamond tree runs that will have your heart racing to the beginner-friendly Discovery Zone, Panorama offers something for everyone and should be on the to-ski list for all travellers along the Powder Highway.
KRBC 30/D5, Kootenay Rockies Backroad Mapbook
Kimberley Alpine Resort
Found next to the town of the same name, Kimberley is nestled in the Purcell Mountains and enjoys a heaping helping of powder each winter, making for unforgettable riding throughout the mountain’s 80 runs. Experts can test their skills in the Black Forest area, while beginners and intermediates have plenty of easy options throughout the North Star Mountain section of the resort. With night skiing possible from Thursday through Saturday, and an abundance of ski-in accommodations, this is the perfect place to spend a few days during your Powder Highway tour.
Kimberley Alpine Resort. Photo Credit: skikimberley.com
Fernie Alpine Resort
Fernie boasts the highest annual snowfall of any resort in the Canadian Rockies, with 9 metres (29 ft) of white stuff dropping from the sky during an average winter. This creates a real powder playground for skiers and boarders, who can explore five incredible bowls, multiple ridges and many sheltered glades accessed by seven separate chairlifts. Nearby, the town of the same name (as well as the village at the base of the mountain) offers all the après-ski you could ask for, with plenty of trademark Kootenay Rockies charm.
KRBC 16/F7, Kootenay Rockies Backroad Mapbook
Whitewater Ski Resort
Whitewater is a paradise for advanced skiers and snowboarders, with around 40% of the rideable terrain rated as difficult. If you enjoy steep tree riding, then Whitewater is an absolutely must-visit mountain. In addition to the lift-accessed terrain, easy traverses open up an incredible amount of backcountry for more adventurous riders. Lift line-ups are virtually non-existent, the vibes are friendly and powder is plentiful, making for a quintessential Kootenay ski or snowboard experience. Just a 20-minute drive away, the counter-culture hub of Nelson offers over 40 restaurants and a thriving arts and music scene. Plan to spend at least a couple of days riding Whitewater during your tour along BC’s Powder Highway.
Red Mountain Resort
Dating back to the early 1900s, when Scandinavian miners formed the Red Mountain ski club, Red Mountain is one of the oldest ski resorts in North America. The mountain is anything but dated, however, with 5 chairlifts, a terrain park and every modern amenity you could ask for. The terrain is geared towards intermediate and expert riders, with just 16% of the runs designated for beginners. With 7.5 metres (300 in) of champagne powder accumulating annually, it’s never hard to find a stash of untouched snow. Just a 5 minute drive away, the former gold mining town of Rossland offers accommodation and amenities, and is a charming place to visit on its own.
KRBC 2/D6, Kootenay Rockies Backroad Mapbook
Did we miss your favourite skiing or snowboarding destination along the Powder Highway? Let us know in the comments below or share your own winter adventures with us on Instagram using #brmblife for a chance to be featured on our feed and win prizes.