Ski towns are generally run on a couple of simple rules;
There are no friends on a powder day
The 20cm rule (cms may vary by town)
To put it another way, ski towns are run by snow. And lots of it. Those epic powder days that ski bums dream of. Those drool worthy runs where you feel as if you’re literally floating through the snow. Those moments longed for with snow hitting you all the way up to your face. YES! Your face. We don’t let opportunities like those pass us by in a ski town, hence why when Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort receive 20cms or more of snow in a short period of time, it’s not uncommon to see ‘gone riding’ signs posted on closed shop doors and why there isn’t even time to give your friends a call before heading up to the resort – every man for themselves! After all, that’s why we choose to live here – why haven’t you?
Here are some of our best envy inducing recent powder moment. What are yours? Tell us about it in the comments.
Are you kidding me?
All the pow
I can’t even..
To die for
This is too much
It’s not even fair
Can I get a snorkel over here?
That’s it. I’m done.
Wake me when it’s winter.
Photos by Brad Lorriman, Robin Siggers, Powder Matt and Abbydell Photography
If Americans have a cultural stereotype about Canada, it’s that we’re a land of ice and snow inhabited by “Eskimos” and policed by red-coated Mounties on horseback. (The Mounties drive in police cars and they have the same tools as cops in America… and the Eskimos, well, they are actually called Inuit, and live much closer to the North Pole).
But Canadians certainly do celebrate winter, and of course, skiing and snowboarding. Our resorts – though perhaps not quite as familiar or accessible as Vail or Tahoe — compare favourably in every way. Whistler, of course, is the most widely-known—the resort hosted the 2010 Winter Games alpine skiing events—and it’s continuously ranked highly amongst the (mostly) American readers in SKI Magazine’s annual resort poll. And Banff/Lake Louise are on the radar map—though most Americans (like Canadians) visit there in the summer months.
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies believes that the best discoveries in skiing are the unexpected ones—and, like siblings, their three resorts—namely, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort—offer a rootsy, authentic Canadian ambiance that makes each of them worth visiting—even on one trip.
Perched above a historic mining town that still relies on nearby natural resources, FERNIE ALPINE RESORT is all about powder and adventure. Poking skyward like a giant baseball mitt, the rugged Lizard range hauls in over 35 feet of legendary Rocky Mountain fluff annually and attracts freeriders from all over the world. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in town during the raucous Griz Days celebration that celebrates the mythic mountain man who makes it snow. Independent “non-chain” stores and restaurants thrive in the red-brick building main street of historic Fernie, once named the “Coolest Town in North America” by Rolling Stone magazine. Indeed, many Americans who visit here comment on how much it’s “like Telluride or Aspen used to be.”
KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT west of Golden is a true “big mountain” experience, with 1,260 metres (4,133 feet) of vertical—fourth-highest in North America. Compared by those in the know to American resorts like Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley, Kicking Horse boasts 121 runs, four alpine bowls and 85 inbound chutes spread across 2,800+ acres of skiable terrain. No stay at Kicking Horse is complete without a visit to Canada’s most elevated restaurant: Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, a mountain-top, fine-dining experience. Four mountain ranges come together to create a mountain panorama that’s second to none.
Nestled in the majestic Purcell Mountains in BC’s southeastern corner, KIMBERLEY ALPINE RESORT receives more hours of sunshine than any other resort in the province. Its 80 runs range from open glades to gentle cruisers to thigh-burning bump runs. Dive into the Easter Bowl on the mountain’s backside or enjoy Kimberley’s front side cruising. Kimberley even offers Canada’s longest night skiing/riding terrain. Stay slope-side and ski from your door in the morning or enjoy the charming Bavarian-themed town just down the hill. Kimberley compares favourably to the family friendly vibe found at Snowmass, Keystone, or The Canyons—with a superb ski school and perhaps the most high-value vacation packages in North America.
Thanks to Canada’s devalued currency, Americans considering a ski vacation north of the 49th parallel receive a thirty percent discount, before they even start shopping for the best deals of lifts, accommodation, and lessons. “Our close proximity to the United States means that Fernie and Kimberley have always had visits from keen skiers in border states—folks who live in Whitefish, Kalispell, Sandpoint, and Spokane,” says “Powder Matt” Mosteller, spokesperson for the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. Holidays at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Week and even Easter attract skiers and riders from a wider net, including Seattle, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and even major Midwestern and eastern cities.
And there are a few other differences. Take money, for example. Canadians use the same dollars and cents system that Americans have, but your wallet won’t be budging with one-dollar bills if you ask for change for a five. Canadians have “loonie” and “toonie” one-dollar and two dollar coins. Different denominations of dollars ($5, $10, $20, $50 and $100) are in different colours (and some words, such as ‘colour’ have an extra ‘u’ in them – don’t ask.) Gas (and all liquids) are priced in liters – $1.20 per liter equals about $4.00 per gallon of gasoline.
Snow depth is measured in centimeters (doesn’t “thirty centimeters” sound deeper than “eleven inches”?). And the outside temperature is in degrees Celsius. Don’t freak out if the temperature is minus 5, that’s only 23 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect skiing temperature.
Oddly, some things are the same. If you ask the bartender for a pint of beer, he’ll pour you a 12 ounce glass. And if you need anything else, just ask! To dispel another myth—not all of us speak French, (and we actually say ‘a-bout’, not ‘a-boot).’
Welcome to Canada, partner. Your powder is waiting.
Words: Steven Threndyle
Photos: Raven Eye Photography, Vince Mo, Brooke Wilson, Abbydell Photography
Book your ski vacation to your happy place for the upcoming season and save! We have early booking packages with offers like third night free plus kids ski for free with packages booked before November 30.
Visit the Early Booking Vacation Offer page for more information. See all our available packages, visit our Ski RCR Vacation site. From the Ski RCR Vacation website you can book online, chat with a reservation agent online to ask any questions you might have. Give us a call at 1-800-258-7669 to speak to a vacation booking specialist over the phone.
Don’t forget to book your ski vacation before November 30th, 2016 in order to take advantage of the savings!
This summer will be the debut of an epic camping experience in British Columbia, the first of its kind in North America! Sleep among the stars and wake up to spectacular alpine views near the top of the Timber Chair and Fernie’s famous mountaintop restaurant, the Lost Boys Café.
Our camping package includes your lift ticket, campsite, guided hike, delicious raclette dinner, s’mores by the campfire, and breakfast. Top quality tents from Northface are also available to rent. Camping is offered on Saturday nights starting on July 16th!
Adult – $149.99*
Youth – $49.99*
Family (2 adults & up to 2 youth) – $349.99*
Children 5 & under are free
Northface tent rentals
Optional tent rental fee – $20*
Sizes available include –2, 3, 4 & 6 man
To book your Lost Boys Camping Experience, call 250-423-2435.
Your 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.
Photos by Nicole Matei
The lift accessed hiking at Fernie Alpine Resort offers a variety of gorgeous trails for various abilities with views that will make you want to whip out your camera at every corner, with hikes (guided also available) from easy, (great for the whole family including children) to advanced, (for experienced hikers ready for an all-day adventure).
NEW hiking stuff this summer at Fernie includes;
A new bridge on the Old Growth Magic Forest hiking trail, making the creek crossing easier – thank you to the Fernie Alpine Resort Trail Crew for keeping our feet dry!
A new trail! Be sure to check out “Skeleton Flats” – access via the Lizard Summer Road from the top of the Elk Chair. The trail then climbs up the Dancer ski run area to Easter, and then connects with the Lizard High Traverse to the top of the Bear Chair. Highlights include a wide, fairly smooth medium grade trail, fossil zones, alpine wildflowers, avalanche paths, and spectacular views of Lizard Headwall and the town of Fernie. Put this on your “Must Do” list this summer!
Visiting Fernie with the family? Try out the ‘Sib Ridge Lookout’ or ‘Summer Road’ trail. Both are lift accessed hikes with a steady however not overly steep ascent with opportunity for learning along the way with new interpretive signs. Don’t forget to check out the Lizard View Platform, access by the Summer Road hiking trail.
For a more difficult adventure, try the White Pass trail , you’ll observe rolling mountain views looking down into Currie Bowl or into Polar Peak in front of you. Or yet for an extreme challenge take the Polar Peak trail, this hike can’t last up to 7 hours and includes steeps where ropes have been installed to assist you in your climb. If you are experienced enough to try this route, your senses will thank you as you take in the seemingly endless mountain and town views.
What else is there to do in Fernie this summer? Aerial Park, Zipline, Biking and More! Click for more info.
Our winter Early Bird season pass sale ends on Saturday, June 25th, order your season pass or multi week ski school lesson online through the RCR Webstore before the deadline for the best savings of next season.
Don’t forget about those lessons! Get the kids in multi week programs or sign up for one yourself and brush up on skills. Kids & Teen lessons available as well as Ladies Clubs, the Breakfast Club and more for adults. View and buy ski school programs through the RCR Webstore.
NEW this year buy a $500 Food & Beverage card for just $399 when purchased with your season pass! Find out more about this new Member Benefit and all the others on the RCR Webstore.
That’s what the experts are saying. And while many people across Canada may be rolling their eyes, for winter outdoor enthusiasts it’s music to their ears.
What is La Nina anyways?
La Niña is the positive phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation and is associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. (According to Wikipedia)
Okay, but what does that really mean?
According to Dave Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada – “In B.C. there is a high probability that we can expect a more frigid winter. A little cooler, a little bit more snow..”
Read more about what exactly La Nina means and more from Dave Phillips on the CBC website.
For a longer and even more scientific explanation of La Nina visit the Weather Network website.
La Nina = Happy Skiers & Snowboarders
Don’t forget to order your Fernie Season Pass before the end of the Early Bird Season pass sale on June 25th – order online through the RCR webstore now!
1) Lost Boys Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Timber Chair to the top and walk a short distance past Lost Boys Café over to the Lost Boys Lookout
What you’ll see: Amazing landscapes of the surrounding peaks of the mountains and of the town of Fernie below.
2) Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and see the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant walkway in front of you
What you’ll see: Spectacular views of 6 National parks surrounding the resort (and eat a delicious meal as well).
3) Kimberley, B.C – Lois Creek Trails
How to get there: Parking is available at Centennial Hall. To enter Lois Creek Trails go to either the North End of trail Street, the intersection of 8th and Elko Street or at Centennial Hall at the old Legion Tracks.
What you’ll see: Gorgeous mountain vistas and a variety of wildlife along the trails.
4) Lizard Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Elk Chair to the top and walk a short distance into Lizard Bowl
What you’ll see: Stunning views of the Elk River & town of Fernie
5) Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – The Ultimate Mountain View
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and proceed to Eagle’s Eye, look for the tent to meet up with your guide and group. Once everyone is there you’ll do some training and head right over to the suspension bridge taking you to the Terminator Peak for the climb of your life!
What you’ll see: If you’re brave enough to turn around and take a look behind you’ll see a stunning stretch of mountains while hanging off the Terminator Peak including 6 National parks, the resort below you and Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off in the distance.
Main photo – Lost Boys Lookout, Fernie Alpine Resort
Summer might be the best time to get outdoors and enjoy what the mountains have to offer in our amazing backyard in Canada. In recent years, ski resorts in British Columbia have made a series of additions, upgrades and updates to have family friendly activities for adults and the little’s as well as keeping the hardcore activities available for the summer thrill seeker.
Summer is a great time to escape the hustle and city bustle, to relax and recharge. The tranquility of fishing will help those kids forget all about the stress of making the grade at school and will help you take a real mental vacation from work. Fishing provides kids (of all ages) a great lesson about being calm and one with nature in an authentic environment. More information about fishing in Fernie is on the Tourism Fernie website.
- Take a Hike
No, we’re not telling you to get lost, but we are literally telling you to take a hike. Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse all offer hiking in a mountain setting with amazing views at Fernie and Kicking Horse the lift accessed hiking provides some epic views you won’t on any regular old hike. For more information about hiking in mountain towns visit the Tourism Fernie, Tourism Golden or Tourism Kimberley websites and for more information about lift accessed resort hiking visit the Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- See a real bear up close (and learn too)
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects at Kicking Horse is Boo the Bear who lives year round at the resort and has made a name for himself as a local celebrity. Boo has an interesting story of how he ended up making his home at Kicking Horse, in the largest protected Grizzly Bear habitat in the world. While living at the resort he’s offered us humans a rare and special opportunity to learn about the life and practices of Grizzly Bears. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy taking a Grizzly Bear Interpretive tour and learning about his life at the horse! Get more information about Boo and Interpretive tours on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- Monkey Around
The Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort is a good introduction to find out how the little’s in your family feel about heights. They can try out the free kids aerial park, or if they meet the height restrictions can venture up in the trees. The lesson beforehand from our knowledgeable guides and extensive safety system will allow them to feel safe while far away from the ground! If you have a very adventurous little one (who is at least 10), use the Aerial Park as a stepping stone to trying the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Get more information and book the Aerial Park on the Fernie Alpine Resort website.
- Explore historic towns
Many towns in British Columbia have a strong history in mining and have museums or memorials in town to commemorative and conserve the memories. Along with learning about history, try out some of these unique town experiences;
- Visit Beanpod Chocolate (Canada’s Traditional Chocolate maker) in historical Downtown Fernie. Beanpod website.
- Walk the downtown platzl in Kimberley (also location of the Kimberley museum). More info.
- Walk with Wolves in Golden, a truly unique experience in the Canadian Rockies. More info.
- Visit the Heritage town – Fort Steele (near Kimberley, B.C). More info.
- Pop into the Clawhammer Press in Downtown Fernie. Clawhammer Press website.
- Take a golf lesson
Getting them started young is a great way to build impressive golf skills! Check out our websites to see about specials like ‘take a kid to the course day’, ‘family stay & play packs’ and family golf lessons. Or, if your little’s aren’t into golfing the big courses, try the Mini Putt at Riverside Campground in Kimberley.
- Sunbathe and Swim in the outdoor pools
Staying at ski resorts in the summer offers a full service experience! While many of our hotels have in house or nearby Spas to pamper, gyms to keep in shape and outdoor pools/hot tubs for the kids to keep entertained for hours! Looking for a family basecamp in Fernie – check out Lizard Creek Lodge.
- Eat all the food
It might be a bit of a hidden fact (although gaining more and more recognition), mountain towns are the best place to have great food! Each have their own unique restaurants, bars or cafes to check out – all come with an authentic mountain town vibe (guaranteed).
Here is some advice to get your mountain foodie experience started;
Food, our second favourite F word
Top 5 Places to eat in Kimberley
- Mountain Bike ON a mountain
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a great starting point to get the passion flowing for mountain biking, with a kid’s skills course in the base area set up each summer. Fernie Alpine Resort has also added a myriad of beginning trails over the last couple season to provide a gentle ride down the summer ski slopes. In addition to beginner trails, Fernie Alpine Resort along with the Fernie Trails Society and Fernie Nordic Club unveiled a new Peak to Park multi use trail last summer. Adding a different experience to the mountain biking game – ride the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort and bike your way back down to the town. More information about mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can be found on our websites.
- All the best fests
What’s your jam? Outdoor music? Farmers Markets? Hardcore racing events? There is something nearly every weekend in Fernie, Kimberley or Golden. Check out the online events calendars on the resort websites or town tourism websites to find out the schedule for this summer!
Photos: @calsnape, Cali Sammel, Patrick Majer, Nick Nault and Wapiti Music Festival
One summer afternoon riding the Elk Chair for an afternoon lap on the mountain bike trails I watched as a black bear sow and two cubs, browsed peacefully for huckleberries below the lift line. At Fernie Alpine Resort you’re never far from raw nature and mountain adventure. It is the quintessential resort for summertime exploration where you can spot deer, moose, bear and other wildlife in a natural setting, hike on alpine trails waste deep in wildflowers, explore windswept ridges from mountain peak to mountain peak and test your technical mountain bike skills on steep trail or ease into some flowy singletrack. Or perhaps, you’ll simply go in search of fossils with your kids.
Enjoy breakfast and an espresso in the resort village, then load the Timber Chair, your ticket to adventure as it shuttles you from the resort village to tree line and the trailhead for numerous hikes ranging from hour long outings to full-day ridge top rambles in the beautiful Lizard Range. Families can opt to walk among the Indian paintbrush, mountain harebells, cinquefoil and other flowers towards the wooden platform overlooking the Sand Creek Valley, and descend to a field of massive boulders known as the Mammoth Droppings, before circling back to Lost Boys Cafe for lunch with an astounding view over the Elk River Valley. Ambitious hikers might choose to scramble to the height of land and traverse a scenic limestone ridge, over the rounded hump of Elephant Head and on to tag the summit of 2134-metre Polar Peak, the highest point within resort boundaries. And the even more ambitious and experienced hikers may want to tackle the Mountain Lakes Trail, otherwise known as Heiko’s Trail. Built by Fernie legend Heiko Socher, founder of Fernie Alpine Resort way back in 1964, this 21 kilometer trail between Hartley Lake Road near the resort and Island Lake Lodge crosses two mountain passes and has everything you want in a mountain hike – meadows, waterfalls, caves, snowfields, soaring rock walls and more meadows. On any of these adventures, you might even find a fossil. Fernie is famous for them, especially for the legendary jumbo ammonite measuring 1.5 metres wide, discovered in 1947 in the Coal Creek Valley across the Elk River Valley from the resort. On mountain, you can visit another Fernie legend, Nature Bob in the Interpretive Centre at the top of the Elk Chair, go on a guided hike to bone up on local flora and fauna, or take a short stroll to see an equally impressive ammonite fossil.
Lift-accessed mountain biking? You bet. Elk Chair offers up a range of easy to advanced trails while all routes from the top of Timber are advanced and technical, with rocks, roots and drops on the riding menu. The base area at Fernie is also integrated with the region’s extensive X country trail system, with pedal-from-your-condo or hotel access to many trails linking the resort to Mount Fernie Provincial Park and beyond.
Near the base area you’ll find more fun for kids and adults, with a 500 foot long zip line that has you soaring through the air with the birds, and a skill and balance-testing Aerial Park with cool features like the Rickety Bridge, Shrinking Islands and Picket Fence.
There is something special about Fernie and the Lizard Range. Skiers and boarders have been drawn by the legendary powder for decades. However in summer, it’s equally special. The mountains, made accessible by chairlifts, take on a different character. Rugged ridges, meandering trails, cool forests, and colourful meadows – it’s a place that inspires you to get out and explore, on two feet or two wheels. Take your pick.
Words: Andrew Findlay
Images: Robin Siggers, Nick Nault & Brent Grabowski
Main Image: @calsnape