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.
Craft Breweries, quaint mountain towns, stunning rocky mountain views – those are the new experiences many people seek when planning at road trip. Road trips really are the best of all travelling worlds – without the major cost/headache of flying somewhere, staying semi close to your homebase while getting out and seeing the world at the same time. If you’re still looking to plan a fun, easy to manage getaway this summer or fall – here’s an itinerary all laid out for you. Less planning – more fun! It doesn’t get much better than that!
If you’re coming from Calgary in the south of the city or surrounding area, start at Fernie Alpine Resort – it’s an easy 2.5 hour drive when there’s no snow on the ground and it is home to perhaps the best known craft brewery scene of all our suggested locations. If you’re heading out from Calgary in the north or surrounding area, Kicking Horse might be the place for you to start your trip and do this whole circuit in reverse.
Fernie, B.C. – where the beer is local, but your server might be an import
Fernie is one of Canada’s great ski towns, not only has it been named ‘the coolest little town in North America’ by Rolling Stone Magazine, it’s also been named ‘the greatest Canadian outdoor town’ by Get Out There Magazine, in part because it truly is a year round outdoor destination with so much to do in the summer as well as the winter.
What to try – for a non boozy activity, try the Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort. It’s a super fun afternoon where even adults find a challenge in the tree top obstacle course (perhaps do this one before the brewery tour, you might not want to have a hang over when 30 feet up in the trees)!
Where to drink – The Fernie Brewing Company is not just well known in Fernie, it’s well known in Calgary and branching out into many other major cities as well. But Fernie, of course, is the breweries home. The Fernie Brewing Co. building is located just as you drive into town (from the Sparwood/Calgary direction), they have a tasting room where you can try a flight of 4 beers for just $5 – which they donate to charity! Want to give back and drink at the same time? Fernie Brewing Co. is for you! Another fun initiative from the Fernie Brewing Co. is the Trail to Ale challenge, which is pretty much exactly what the name suggests, get more information on the Trail to Ale challenge on their website.
Kimberley, B.C – a place to get away from traffic, full calendars and all things marked ‘urgent’
Kimberley is a town where you feel relaxed, like really relaxed. If you’re from the city when was the last time you can say you felt completely relaxed? Maybe it was on a nature walk, or in your backyard or maybe it’s only when you actually get out of the city. If you’re asking the questions where can I relax and forget about all my worries while on vacation – Kimberley is your answer.
What to try – swimming in gorgeous St. Mary’s lake, it’s super fun & super free! There’s not only swimming at St. Mary’s Lake you can also canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board, fish or just float! If you’re looking to rent some water sports equipment check out local company Kootenay Rafting for options. St Mary’s is home to some of the most gorgeous views in the region, Instagram worthy pictures for sure (and everyone needs to document their best vacations on Instagram). For even more options of what to try in Kimberley, check out my blog from last summer – ‘12 (plus) reasons to visit Kimberley this August’.
Where to drink – Overtime Beerworks in Kimberley may be the youngest of all the breweries on our list, starting in 2016 – don’t let that deter you though, their beers are brewed with the sophistication of a much older brewery and they’re quickly making a name for themselves further than just in Kimberley and are available in a variety of cities and towns in British Columbia and Alberta. All their beers are brewed in small batches, making each of them slightly different with the unique flare of each individual batch – try local favourites like the ‘Mountain Standard’ Golden Ale or the ‘Right About Now’ IPA.
Golden, B.C – the friendly mountain town
Golden is another one of those ultimate outdoor adventure towns on our list, with a TON to choose from in regards to outdoor activities. Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are frequently named in magazines with annotations such as ‘extreme’, ‘challenging’ and ‘adventurous’ and while it is all of those things, it’s also a place to chill out and enjoy adventures everyone can try. For example…
What to try – the Via Ferrata at Kicking horse Mountain Resort is an amazing experience not to be missed while in Golden. While it admittingly does look pretty hardcore, it’s actually a mountain climbing trek even novices can accomplish and feel comfortable while doing so. Via Ferrata courses are a series of iron rungs and handles mounted across the mountain face that novices and expert climbers can do, all the while strapped into to a safety harness – an added bonus of the Kicking Horse course is the suspension bridge you need to cross to get to the Via Ferrata course, it’s an experience in itself! In fact, if the Via Ferrata is still a little too hardcore for you – the Suspension Bridge can be done on its own without having to continue onto the full course. The sense of wonder and accomplishment you’ll feel after achieving the Via Ferrata course or just crossing the Suspension Bridge is enough to make anyone want a beer!
Where to drink – The Whitetooth Brewing Company is the place to go in Golden, not only do they offer their own unique and delicious beers (that goes without saying), their outdoor patio is one of the best in Golden with an epic view of the surrounding mountains. There are quite a few beers to choose from that fall into three categories – ‘West Coast Inspired’, Belgian Inspired’ and ‘High Gravity’ – no matter what type of beer you enjoy you’re sure to find one that suits your taste buds here. The Brewery doesn’t have a huge capacity and is usually busy – they open at 2pm so make sure you go early and you might just get to sit here, I can’t think of very many better seats than that!
Fernie is a winter wonderland in more ways than one this holiday season! Sure, there’s the legendary annual snowfall and seemingly unlimited terrain but there are also many cheer-filled events coming to the resort just in time for the holidays.
There’s nothing quite like an old-school scenic sleigh ride to make you feel jolly. With friendly horses and a comfy sleigh that winds through the majestic forests surrounding Fernie Alpine Resort, this is a sure-fire way to get you into the Christmas spirit. From December 21 to January 5, sleigh rides will be running daily between 12 and 7 p.m. for $15 a person. If a private evening sleigh ride is more your speed, then group bookings can be made at Guest Services for groups of up to 11 people. This blissful and relaxing outdoor activity is a great way to kickoff the holidays.
And the fun most certainly doesn’t stop there. Saint Nick himself will be making a special visit to Fernie Alpine Resort for two days on December 23 and 24. He heard how great the skiing is and couldn’t resist a last minute stopover in Fernie before his big night. You can hit the slopes with Santa between 10 a.m. and noon and then head into the daylodge to tell the man in the jolly red suit your wishlist as you pose for a photo. He’ll be in the daylodge until 2 p.m. so you can be sure to snag a photo either the traditional way or in our new Santa photo booth! Elves will be on hand to email the pictures free of charge.
This holiday season is jam-packed with particularly fun activities for the little ones (aged 6-12). The Griz Kidz Holiday Program will keep the kids busy and give the parents some time to get the Christmas shopping done! The activities cost $5 per child but you can book any five Griz Kidz activities for only $20. One of those could be the Crafty Kidz nights on
December 22 and January 1 where parents can drop the little rippers off for some supervised craft time. Another could be building gingerbread houses on December 27 or even the mini carnival on the 29th. If you’ve got an aspiring snowboarder in the family, you don’t want to miss the Burton Riglet Snowboard Demo on Boxing Day. With a costume party on January 2, cooking night on January 3 and a games night on the 5th, your little tyke will have plenty to keep them occupied over the school break. All Griz Kids holiday events run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and registration can be done through Guest Services.
Another way to keep the kids busy this holiday season is with the Kids Christmas Ski & Board Camp. For only $269, kids from ages 6-12 and of all riding abilities will get three full days of on-mountain instruction from our expert instructors. The camp runs from December 26-29 and will focus on skill development, guided discovery of the mountain and of course, fun! Contact the Winter Sports School to sign up today.
For starry fun for all ages, hit up the Mighty Moose for a moonlit ski on December 23 and 24 as well as from December 26 to January 6 between 4-9 p.m. Bring the whole family out for some evening turns on the Mighty Moose and remember, your day pass is valid for night skiing as well! Otherwise, tickets can be purchased for $19.95 plus tax for adults and free for everyone under 17 years old. This is a great way to get all that you can out of your day pass and is especially great if you’re just not ready to stop riding at 4 o’clock!
Finally, one the most exciting nights of the year is celebrated across the globe and Fernie is no exception! New Years Eve is a chance to start-over, make some changes, or just continue living the great life that you do. Either way, we want to celebrate another year of awesomeness with you! Bring the whole family down to our New Years Eve party to enjoy a number of free and fun activities. Everything kicks off at 7 p.m. with arts and crafts, a photo booth and more in the plaza area. The night culminates with a dazzling display of fireworks over the Mighty Moose at 9 p.m. If you parents out there aren’t quite ready to end your night off so early, drop the kiddies off at the Griz Kidz New Years Eve party, but remember to sign up first.
Little Griz Kidz will have a pizza party, dancing, games, snacks, fireworks, and a movie (with popcorn, of course) just for them on New Years Eve at the Griz Kidz New Years Eve Party. This particular party is a paid event and requires pre-registration at Guest Services so make sure to book your spot! Kids 6 and up are invited to this fully supervised event, with two different options. Drop the kids off early (6 p.m.) or attend the family party together and then drop them off a little later (9:30 p.m.). The professional staff will keep your children safe and happy until 12:30 a.m. so you can ring in the New Year in style!
So, like we said, there are tons of events to help you get in the Christmas spirit at Fernie Alpine Resort this year. We hope to see you on the slopes!
“HOLD TIGHT, FÉLIX! WE’RE COMING TO GET YOU!”
“I’M IN DEEP! BUT I’VE STILL GOT ONE SKI.”
“10-4! WE’RE ON OUR WAY. RESCUE MISSION INITIATED!”
The nine-year-old boys climb up the mountain through hip-deep snow to save Félix. In reality, they’re directly under the Bear Chair, and they climb about five yards, but in their imaginations they’re deeply immersed in a backcountry survival situation.
Sadly, I see mere snippets of the mission on a shoddy helmet-cam recording. I missed their remote, life-and-death adventure entirely. Why? Because I had the brainstorm of not getting a season’s ski pass that year. Here’s my logic: I’m the hockey mom so that sport takes me away from Fernie a few weekends. I work in Alberta so lose other potential ski days there. I decided “it’s not worth it.” Or more precisely, I decided I am not worth it. Everyone else in my family has a season’s pass, even if they don’t make it up to the hill every weekend.
When I saw that video of my favourite nine-year-old boys, rosy cheeked and fired-up on adventure, I wished I’d been there. After two years with no ski pass, I’m declaring project No-Pass a failed experiment.
Because you know what happens when I don’t have a season’s pass? I don’t go skiing. In the morning, I decide I should wait until after lunch and get the half-day rate. Already I’ve missed the best part of the day: fresh powder. By noon, while the rest of my family flies high, energized by fresh air and exercise, I’m hitting the post-lunch lethargy. So I decide maybe I’d better stay home instead: there’s laundry to do, emails to answer. When the family comes in at 4:30 giggling about a day of snow fun, I’m grouchy because I’ve spent the afternoon folding clothes and scanning social media. But I’ve saved money!
That saved money will not be what I remember when my kids have grown and gone.
My husband always tells me: “You’re not supposed to think about getting a season’s ski pass. It’s the Fernie Fun Tax. Like any tax, you pay it and then you forget about it until the next year.” He has paid his Fernie Fun Tax every year since 1995. He has never once regretted it.
He’s right. In two years, I missed many fun days on the hill. Katie’s first ski race. Crazy Helmet Day. Ollie’s first black diamond run. Pink-clad Katie straight-lining full speed into the SLOW sign (I know, ski patrol friends, not funny, totally not, obviously).
This year my experiment draws to a close. When it comes to Ski Fernie, I am all in: season’s pass, priority parking, new gear. When my kids look back on their 2018 ski season, I will be woohooing my way down Red Tree right beside them. I can’t wait.
See you up there, Fernie Friends!
Photos by Powder Matt, Rob Heule & Mark Eleven Photography
My family loves touring new towns on our bikes and the best loops always include at least one playground, a bike park, a stop for ice-cream, and a spot to cool off. Fernie has all of that in a short 8 to 15 km loop (depending on which trails you link together.)
The Main Town Loop combines several easy trails that are all relatively flat. As a family, you will enjoy pleasant trail riding on well-maintained gravel or dirt paths. Most of the loop is double track and Chariot-friendly as well. The only challenging sections for us have been on the Old Stumpy Trail (which can be bypassed.)
The loop can be started at multiple locations downtown Fernie but we like to start at the dirt jump and skills park beside the aquatic centre and spray park on the corner of Pine Ave & Ridgemont Drive. We play at the bike park to warm up on the pump track and jumps, and then visit the spray park at the end to cool off. There’s also a short beginner mountain bike loop located behind the dirt jump park that helps kids gain an easy introduction to single track riding.
Once you’ve managed to convince the kids to leave the bike park, cross Ridgemont Drive and find the trailhead for the Kootenay Elk Trail. This easy trail poses no challenges as it crosses over a boardwalk and small wetland area (image shown). You’ll soon reach a junction for the Old Stumpy Trail and the Downtown Connector Trail. The connector trail makes a beeline for Maiden Lake and is the easy trail option. At the lake you’ll find a small rocky beach area and a great spot for a dip in the cool water if you’ve packed swim suits with you.
If you’re up for a challenge, take the Old Stumpy Trail and Great Northern Trail for a longer loop to Maiden Lake. This extension has some tricky spots and you’ll have to walk bikes when you come to a few short sets of stairs. Regardless of the technical bits on Old Stumpy, it’s a beautiful trail with an “old growth forest” feeling to it. It’s also a short ride until you reach the much easier Great Northern Trail which parallels the Elk River.
Once you’ve reached Maiden Lake, the riding gets extremely easy for a while as you continue on the Emily Brydon Trail along the Elk River and connect to the Dogwood Trail heading for the town Boat Launch. Shortly after the boat launch, go around the corner and then cross a small bridge. Here you’ll get on the Brewery Creek Trail heading for an old barn (main/top image). The bike tour ends with a short introductory section on the Coal Creek Heritage Trail (where you probably won’t want to be wearing white shoes since the trail is practically made of coal dust!)
You’ll end up back at the aquatic centre from where it’s a short drive or bike ride over to the Happy Cow Ice-Cream Store off Highway 3 (between 5th and 6th Street.)
Progressions for easy – intermediate family mountain biking
Once the kids have cut their teeth on the Town Loop, it’s time to move on to some other great intro-trails that are a bit more technical and offer a “real” mountain biking experience.
The Coal Creek Heritage Trail – This trail is divided into two sections, The Lower Coal Creek Heritage Trail and the East Coal Creek Heritage Trail. We rode a 9 km section of the trail and started from the “Townsite” parking lot on the East part of the trail. To find the parking lot, drive 6.3 km up Coal Creek Road from town, turn left at the bridge onto First Creek Rd. and look for the Trailhead Kiosk, 3 km further along on the left.
This is a classic “truck drop” ride (meaning, you drive up, drop the kids off, and they bike back down to town.) Either arrange the ride with a shuttle or plan to have an adult bike back up for the vehicle (as we did) because making the kids ride UP Coal Creek would not be a lot of fun for anybody. Fortunately, the bike park and spray park are right at the end of the trail so kids will not be bored while they wait for somebody to go fetch the truck.
While this is considered a “beginner” trail, I was pretty new to mountain biking when we rode it and I had to walk a few hills. Gears and hand brakes are imperative for safety and enjoyment on the ride.
The Lazy Lizard Trail – This is Fernie’s star trail for family mountain biking and is another popular “truck drop” for children who prefer riding downhill without a lot of climbing.
Start at Island Lake Lodge on the Upper Lazy Lizard Trail and descend down to the entrance of Mount Fernie Provincial Park on the Lower Lazy Lizard Trail (image shown). The trail winds through an old growth cedar forest with fun boardwalks and bridges. Expect smooth, even grades, with berms on the corners and wide bridges to ensure nobody falls in the creek. The trail is 9 km long and loses 500+ metres of height (why you probably will not ride it up with the kids.) Let the children enjoy the fun flowy descent and then send somebody back up for the vehicle while you play in the creek with the kids in the provincial park.
Montane Trails – The Montane area has a bunch of new trails, starting from the old barn/coal creek bridge. On these trails you’ll be rewarded with great views of the Lizard range, Mt Fernie and the 3 sisters.
And I’ve had two separate families tell me how much they love the new Montane Blue for Evyr Trail, a fairly easy section of the loop above. The ride can be completed by riding on Montane, a double track trail and a smooth easy ride.
Biking the Ridgemont Trails with Older Kids and Teens – For families ready to move on to some solid intermediate trails, Ridgemont has plenty to offer with hill climbs, fun downhill riding, flowy corners, obstacles and beautiful scenery.
Head up Cemetery bi-pass (image shown) and continue on to the junction where ‘KiddieUp’ is the middle of 3 trails that branch off. It is full of easy switchbacks to keep the grade bikeable for the young ones, and give them plenty of practice cornering. To complete a loop take a right onto the logging road, and about 200m down you can take another right onto ‘What’s up Doc”.
For something longer and more challenging, you could put together nearly any combination to make an excellent loop. Cemetery Bypass, Kiddie Up, Queen V, Ecoterrorist, Eric’s Trail, and Broken Hip are all intermediate trails that are popular with families riding with older children and teens.
Information on all trails here can be found on the Trail Forks website.
Progressing to Downhill Mountain Biking at Fernie Alpine Resort
Register for a Kids Freeride Mountain Bike Camp and let professional coaches introduce the kids to lift-accessed downhill riding at Fernie Alpine Resort.
The theme of the camps is “Teaching kids to ride hard and safe.” In the camps, kids learn basic downhill riding skills, gain confidence, learn to ride steep lines and to tackle challenging terrain at the resort. Discounted lift tickets and bike rentals are available for camp participants.
The resort will be holding four camps this summer for kids ages 8 – 16 and each camp runs for two consecutive days mid-week. Meanwhile, mom and dad will find no shortage of entertainment at the resort’s bike park. Adult lessons are also offered including the brand new mid-week Trail Warrior Camps for adults. These 3-day camps are designed for cross country riders interested in developing downhill bike skills.
My family has a gigantic list of trails we want to ride this summer so we’ll see you out there with huge smiles on our faces. My 8 year old (below) will be leading the way and will be yelling back at me to stay on my bike and to stop wussing out on every corner. 😉
Special thanks to Leanne Nanninga and Coleen Hughes for contributing to this story with trail suggestions, route information, and photos.
Ask any Fernie resident why they chose to settle down in the mountain town and they’ll tell you they stayed for the summer. It’s a cliché, but it’s true—the season of long, sunny days is when everyone heads outside to mountain bike, fly fish, canoe or lace up the boots for a hike.
The backcountry in this corner of B.C. is gorgeous, with wildflower meadows, ancient cedar forests and imposing limestone peaks. Here are the best trails—and epic picnic spots—for getting your Rocky Mountain high in Fernie.
Polar Peak Loop
Lift-assisted hiking at Fernie Alpine Resort is a great ROI—you gain altitude without breaking a sweat, and get to spend more time savouring the views. This five-kilometre round-trip trail is arguably one of the best—and most challenging—hikes in the region once the snow melts from the Lizard Range crest. Ride up Timber Chair and then walk up the access road toward Polar Peak. At the saddle, turn left and begin the trail, a thrilling ridge traverse where intrepid hikers navigate sections of rocky outcrops using a cable. The 360-degree views from this hair-raising hike are spectacular—to the west, the shimmering expanse of Lake Koocanusa; to the east, downtown Fernie and the Flathead Mountains. If you’re brave, peek over the cliff walls to see where all that snow gets blasted during winter avalanche control.
Lost Boys Loop
Berry picking, boulder scrambling, and great views of Fernie far below—this hike has it all. As a bonus, the Lost Boys Loop is perfect for families, and we’ve hiked it with our kids a number of times. From the top of Timber Chair, the 1.7-kilometre trail descends through dense forest to the Mammoth Droppings, a cluster of limestone boulders that have toppled down from Mammoth Peak, part of the Lizard Range. From there, the path climbs 100 metres to the Lost Boys Lookout for views of alpine meadows and the Elk River down in the valley. Don’t forget to look for ripe huckleberries, and fossils embedded in slabs of limestone, along the way.
This momentous day hike, also called the Mountain Lakes Trail, tackles 20 kilometres and crosses three mountain passes in the remote backcountry between the trailhead off the Hartley Creek Road and its terminus at Island Lake Lodge. The trek is a stunner because of its diversity—in a nine-hour day we ascended through a rainforest, watched a waterfall explode out of a hole in the side of a cliff, explored a cave and gained a total of 1,200 metres elevation. I’m not gonna lie—the final five clicks down to Island Lake Lodge felt like a slog. But I will say this: beer on a sunny patio never tasted so good!
Old Growth Trail
Ancient cedar trees, giant moss-covered logs, and a wide trail that gently ascends to Island Lake are the top draws on the kid-friendly Old Growth Trail. Look for the trailhead at the 4-kilometre mark on the road that cuts through Mt. Fernie Provincial Park on its way up to Island Lake Lodge. The hike is well maintained and well marked and — important to note for children — easy! It gains just 250 metres over four kilometres. After, reward the little troopers with a canoe ride on Island Lake (rent one for an hour from the lodge), or an ice-cold lemonade on the lodge’s patio.
Best Picnic Spot
If you like lunch al fresco with alpine views, score a table on the patio at Lost Boys Café, at the top of Timber Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort. This sunny spots juts out over Timber Bowl and offers a panorama of area peaks including the Three Sisters, Mt. Fernie, Ghostrider and the Flathead Range of the Canadian Rockies across the valley. Those who prefer a little physical exertion before refueling can hike up to the top of Polar Peak for a bench break (no tables up there) with a bird’s-eye view into Fernie’s “back of beyond.”
‘Ralph Waldo Emerson (Poet) once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.’
-Paul Hawken (environmentalist/activist)
Luckily we don’t have to wait 1000 years to enjoy the night sky view. This summer, don’t watch tv, don’t scroll all night through Instagram and don’t stay indoors. Get outdoors and sleep the closest you can get to the stars at Fernie Alpine Resort’s quintessential mountain top camping experience.
You’ve heard of camping. And you’ve likely heard of glamping (glamorous camping). Well at Fernie Alpine Resort, we’ve taken camping/glamping to whole new heights – by putting it at the top of the mountain! That’s right – up your camping game this summer by riding the Timber Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort to the (timber bowl/lost boys café) for a camping experience unlike any other, in fact, the first lift serviced camping available in North America!
Your unique camping experience starts at 4:00 pm at base of the Timber Chair, then it’s up the lift to your camping area to set up your campsites (hosts are available to assist). After a guided hike you’ll enjoy a raclette dinner at Lost Boys Cafe followed by S’mores by the campfire. The next morning after breakfast at Lost Boys Cafe and camp clean up make your way back down the chairlift or feel free to explore the mountain more by hiking and sightseeing. The whole trip is topped off with some of the most amazing views of the Elk Valley, don’t forget to Instagram the images to create all the FOMO for all your followers!
But you don’t have to take our word for it, take this guests’ word instead!
‘We had a great time “glamping” at Fernie Alpine resort. Well organized, beautiful views, excellent food, interesting short hikes and wonderful company. The fondue dinner was really delicious and coffee and drinks on the deck at Lost Boys Café with a fire and view over Elk Valley made a perfect end of the day. It was a very easy way to get a great camping experience, enjoy the wildlife and still have the luxury of having access to very good comfort and cooked meals. We have recommended the experience to all our friends and we believe this will turn out to be one of the “musts” to do when visiting Fernie.’
Book your mountain top camping experience now!
The snow may be melting, but Fernie Alpine Resort is just starting to warm up for our closing weekend! April 15th and 16th will bring the 2016/2017 season to a close the only way the Resort knows how: with a party! Events and activities for everyone, with the Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay race and the Coca-Cola Slope Soaker to the live music entertainment both days, Fernie has something for you.
Since 1984, The Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay Race has been a wonderful way to end the winter and test your endurance on your own or with a team. A four and a half kilometre spring ski or snowboard kicks the event off and brings participants to the bike transition. Once on the bike, contestants ride the six kilometre route from the Resort into Fernie to paddle their way back to the toward the ski hill along the awesome – and ice cold – Elk River. Don’t worry, the fun is not over yet!
From the the river racers either hand off their “baton” or transition into the run. It may only be two kilometres, but it’s no slouch, after more than 16.5 kilometres runners will begin the ascent up ski hill road and to the finish at the base of the resort. Some awesome prizes await contestants; there not just for winners either! Contestants are encouraged to dress up, in the past the race has seen costume clad teams compete as the “minions” from Despicable Me, super heroes (superpowers may or may not be necessary) and even a BLT sandwich!
If you don’t feel like competing but want to be a part of the event, we always need volunteers to help with marshalling and transition stations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more volunteer information. On course cheering squads are also highly encouraged!
Saturday doesn’t end with the PPP! Day 1 of the 9th annual Fernival Festival in the Resort’s plaza kicks off with a live show from the high energy classic rockers the Backroad Traveler Band. This Calgary based band will be playing some beloved classic rock covers for the crowd. After a quick stage flip, DJ Skratch Bastid will be keeping the party going in the Plaza with his world renowned skills. The day will wrap up with an epic performance by Wide Mouth Mason who will play hits from their 20-year career. The Emily Brydon Youth Foundation will be on site to collect donations through various activities during the day.
In case you didn’t get enough live music on Saturday, for the first time in Fernival history a second day will be added to the lineup, bringing Fernie favourites BC/DC to the Plaza stage.
Sunday will also have the ski bum tradition – The Slope Soaker. Participate or come watch contestants do their best to make their way across a large pool at the base of the Mighty Moose Run. Costumes, and splashes are guaranteed for viewers and a portion of event proceeds go to Fernie Search and Rescue, who will be on site to pull waterlogged contestants from the icy cold pool.
Many of the closing weekend’s events have limited participation, so be sure to sign up with Fernie Alpine Resort’s Guest Services to reserve a spot for you and your team.
Words: Bryn Catton Photos: Jordan Johnson, Robin Siggers, Tourism Fernie
Mappy Hour is a popular gathering for adventurous individuals living in the city looking to get together with like minded individuals to share stories. Started in NYC, Mappy Hour has now expanded with chapters in Denver, Austin, L.A as well as Canada’s only chapter – Calgary! YYC’s April Mappy Hour is being moved to the mountains – book your spot online through the Mappy Hour website (special accommodation rates available) and join us at 5pm on April 8th for a talk by Jon Turk at Fernie Alpine Resort. Jon, a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year will be telling us tales from his award winning polar expedition and more!
Spend your day skiing beautiful groomed runs on the lower slopes at Fernie Alpine Resort with the younger members of your family. Then take the older children and teens up to the bowls where you can teach them to shred knee deep powder. Take a break for a coffee at the mountain top Lost Boys Café and make sure you find the hidden tree run for the kids off the Deer Chair. Wrap up your day in a slopeside hot tub and swimming pool before heading to one of the restaurants on the hill for dinner. This is what a day at Fernie could look like for your family;
Ten Reasons your Family will Love Fernie Alpine Resort
- Levels of progression beyond the magic carpet. Start on a gentle beginner hill serviced by the Mini Moose magic carpet before moving on to the Mighty Moose platter lift and a longer hill, perfect for learning to connect some turns. Once the kids can successfully ski the Mighty Moose, they are ready for the Deer or Elk Chairs, both of which have perfectly groomed runs great for beginners. In total there are 16 runs on the lower mountain, 12 of them green runs for novice skiers.
- Night skiing on the Mighty Moose. Try some fun family-friendly skiing Saturday nights from 4-9 pm on the Mighty Moose platter lift. Kids 17
and under ski for free on this lift with adults only paying $18.95 + GST. (And you don’t have to pay anything extra if you already have a lift pass from the day.) The area is lit with great visibility and is conveniently located next to the village accommodations and restaurants.
- Multiple places to warm up on the hill. Reward the kids with a hot chocolate at the Lost Boys Café, found at the top of the Timber Chair. There are bathrooms at the top of the lift and the views across the valley are very beautiful from the patio. The café also serves Starbucks Coffee, beer, and hot food. Another place to warm up is the Bear’s Den Hut and Yurt located at the top of the Elk Chair, again with bathrooms, hot food, and drinks. (And next time I’m definitely buying a hamburger here because they smelled amazing!!)
- Multiple dining options in the village. I get tired of cafeteria food at ski hills and don’t like having to squeeze into a crowded day lodge for lunch. Fortunately, Fernie has several options in the main village area including my favourite spot for a snack or lunch, the Slopeside Café. Here you’ll find a fireplace, sandwiches, soup, and fresh baking, Starbucks Coffee, and small individual tables for your family. There’s also a Kelsey’s restaurant in the village if you’d prefer to order off a
menu and take a longer break. Finally, I love the couches in front of the fireplace at “Cirque” in the Lizard Creek Lodge for a coffee mid-way through my ski day. (And you don’t have to be staying here to visit the lodge)
- Dedicated beginner chair lifts with easy runs. Back to the skiing, we always start our day on the Deer and Elk Chairs to warm up before heading higher up the mountain. This gives us an idea of what kind of snow to expect for the day and allows us to test our ski legs on some easy grooming. Stay on these two lifts and you’ll never have to worry about your child getting ahead of you and accidentally dropping down a black run. The majority of runs off these lifts are easy green and blue cruisers with gentle grades.
- Kids tree skiing off the Deer Chair. Look for the secret Minute Maid Kids Trails off the Deer Chair and hope that eventually you’ll get to move on to another chair lift as many kids will want to spend the entire day here. The trails are twisty, windy, and perfectly sized for short skis.
- Variety for everybody in the family. My husband likes the double black chutes higher up on the mountain and lives for powder days in the
upper bowls. Meanwhile, I love groomed terrain and could spend hours cruising down “Falling Star,” the longest run on the hill at 5 km in distance from the top of the White Pass Chair. Add the easy terrain on the lower mountain for kids, and there is definitely something at Fernie for every ski ability and style of skiing. You can find grooming and powder on the same day, often off the same chair lift if you’re skiing off Timber or White Pass.
- An easy way down from the top of the resort. Kids will never be content to just stay on the lower slopes and will always beg you to take them up higher to the “top of the mountain.” Fortunately at Fernie, there is an easy groomed blue run, Falling Star, which runs all the way from the top of the White Pass Chair down to the bottom of the hill. There are a few flat sections where you’ll probably have to pull younger kids with your ski pole, but other than that, there are not too many steep pitches on this run. To make it easier, ski it down from the top of the Timber Chair (conveniently located right beside the Lost Boys Café) and skip the upper part off White Pass.
- Uncrowded space for everybody on the hill. With 142 trails, 5 alpine bowls, and tree skiing, people tend to spread out at Fernie and you’ll often find yourself the only person on your run. Stay away from the main run off each chair lift (the main run off the Elk Chair for example) and you’ll have plenty of space to practice your turns. One of my favourite runs on the lower mountain for solitude is “Holo Hike,” an easy groomed blue run, where you get to ski through two tunnels and weave your way through resort cabins. On the upper mountain, there’s a good chance you’ll have “Falling Star” to yourself and once you reach the lower flat stretches, you might actually think you’re off cross country skiing in the wilderness (not for everybody, but I like it.)
- Ski in, ski out accommodations on the hill. Stay at one of the condos on the hill and you’ll be in line for first tracks every morning after making a gourmet breakfast in your own private kitchen. Return to your condo for lunch rather than dealing with crowds in the day lodge, and then end your day on the slopes whenever you want (even if other family members are still skiing) because the hot tub is waiting for you! My son and I usually head to the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub when staying at the Lizard Creek Lodge by 3:00 in the afternoon, my husband pounding out a few more turns until the hill closes. We also enjoy staying on the hill in the evening so that my son can enjoy some night skiing on the Mighty Moose, we can go out to eat in one of the village restaurants (a short walk from any of the condos,) and so we can spend more time in the slopeside pool. Many of the condos and hotels on the hill also have common areas where you can eat your lunch or hang out with the kids Sunday afternoon after you’ve already packed up and vacated your suite.
See you on the slopes and enjoy your next visit to Fernie. Next time, I’m renting one of the resort’s fat bikes for an afternoon tour and I still have to return for the snowshoe and raclette tour! A weekend is never enough in Fernie and my family will be back for more!