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
Most people know the most notable numbers of Fernie, over 2500 Acres of terrain, over 1082 m vertical rise and 142 runs. But here are some other numbers to note from Fernie…
The amount of years Greg Barrow (aka G money/aka local legend) has been getting the coveted very first chair of the season. It all started with his tent being kicking off the resort, not Greg, just the tent. Read the
Lifts with the ability to move nearly 15,000 skiers around the mountain. Per Hour!
On mountain venues for your eating enjoyment. Including the family friendly Kelsey’s in the Plaza and Lost Boys Café at the top of Timber Chair with some of the best views of the resort.
Fernival year end parties. The tradition has been going for 8 seasons now, with a huge FREE outdoor concert to thank the community for the great support each year. Previous acts include Spirit of the West, Daniel Wesley, Trooper and 54-40, this year is featuring Platinum Blonde!
Hundred! The amount of feet in the world record shot ski attempt. This happened at Fernie as part of a wedding in 2013. Don’t believe us? Watch the video on our YouTube channel.
Beers on tap at Fernie’s newest restaurant Cirque in Lizard Creek Lodge. Cirque (formerly the Great Room) in Lizard Creek Lodge has bar seating as well as restaurant seating for all ages, with a plethora of delicious cocktails to try and 6 beers on tap!
Huge Alpine Bowls full of powder to snack on! Whether your favourite bowl is Siberia, Timber, Lizard, Cedar or good ol’ Currie bowl, you’re almost guaranteed to find powder stashes in one of the 5!
Avalanche Dogs on staff. An important part of our Ski Patrol program is our Avy dog program, 4 dogs training with 4 members of our ski patrol staff assist daily and are always ready to help out in the event of an avalanche. Read more about our Avalanche Dog Program in ‘Fernie’s Furry Hero’s”.
Story building – how much Fernie’s annual snow fall amount can cover (11 m/37 feet)!
Epic Après ski bars, located right in the plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort – check out The Griz Bar in the resort plaza, known for ‘Keepin Rippers Ripped’ since 1962 and also home to live après music weekly and some legendary parties. Or stop into Kelsey’s (especially if you’ve got some kids in tow), gather around the bar or hang out in the restaurant with the littles while enjoying your après beverages.
Legend of the Griz. There is one ‘person’ in Fernie credited with bringing the amazing powder to the resort each and every year. It all started with a baby boy born in a bears cave, followed by a battle and finally ending with a musket being shot into the cloud. Read the full Legend on our website.
HOW MANY FRIENDS YOU HAVE ON A POWDER DAY IN FERNIE.
Words: Cali Sammel
Photos: Robin Siggers, Sage McBride, Mark Eleven Photography, Dylan Siggers, Fernie Alpine Resort
Fernie is our first favourite…
Like many skiers/boarders in Fernie during the winter, you’re driving here from Calgary. Just 3 hours away makes it easy enough to travel to after the Friday work day, so arriving late may be an unavoidable situation. If you’re coming for the sole purpose of catching some pow at the resort, you may choose to drive straight to the resort to settle into your ski in/ski out accommodations and while there are some places to dine on mountain, choosing to stop in town can provide you with a fun experience and the opportunity to spend time in one of the most authentic ski towns in North America.
401 2nd Ave.
Simply put, the Brickhouse has delicious food and good beer. With a kitchen open until around 10/10:30pm you can grab your later at night meal here and not have to give any sacrifice to taste. With healthy and hearty options to choose from, it also focuses on local, organic ingredients and even has some pleasant surprises like the Nut Free Grilled Chicken Pesto Sammy, conveniently listed as nut free on the menu, a huge bonus for people with food allergies (like me).
641, 2nd Ave.
Just down the street from The Brickhouse (literally), is one of the town’s favourite bakeries which doubles as a delicious restaurant, you can pop in to buy baked goods/bread for a snack – or there a few tables to sit down and order off their menu, providing a great spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner or Après (they’re a licensed facilities with $5 happy hour)!
Blue Toque Café
601 1st Ave, in Arts Station
Slightly off the beaten path you might not notice it because it isn’t located on 2nd ave or 7th Ave. Blue Touque is located in the Arts Station (1st ave). Their corporate and mission statement, as written on the blackboard above their coffee bar reads “good eats & a cup of joe”, a simply and meaningful statement. Preparing everything from the freshest of states, you will feel full and happy after tasting something off their hearty and very vegan/vegetarian gluten free friendly menu. This quaint café is on the smaller side, but if you’ve found yourself waiting for a table just put your name down on the list and occupy yourself by taking in the art that decorates the hall walls.
Eating On Mountain
NEW Cirque Restaurant & Ice Bar
Located in Lizard Creek Lodge
This is one to add to your Fernie food bucket list for sure! Cirque is the new restaurant and bar in Lizard Creek Lodge, home to the iconic fireplace it recently underwent a gorgeous renovation, making the new great room a comfortable and trendy place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or après drinks. Plus, Cirque is home to the new Ice Bar presented by Stoli, whether you are a vodka connoisseur our not this is one experience not to miss! Get donned in provided Helly Hansen parkas and enter the Ice room (literally a room made out of ice) to taste the world’s finest vodkas the way they were meant to be enjoyed, in sub zero temperatures and learn about them too!
Located in the Fernie Alpine Resort plaza
The Griz Bar has been an icon of Fernie Alpine Resort since it opened under its original name, Fernie Ski Valley, in fact it’s been ‘keepin rippers ripped since 1962”. Being one of the hottest spots for Apres, it has indoor and outdoor seating, an infamous table and a wonderfully simple menu (nachos and beer) and is often featuring local bands for live après entertainment. Darcy has been running the Griz Bar for years and is the brain child behind the NEW ‘peak to pint’ challenge, read more about Darcy on Fernie Alpine Resort’s Facebook page and find out more about the Griz Bar on the website.
Eat too much? Don’t worry , there’s a run (or two) for that!
Words & Photos by Cali Sammel
Wondering what else there is to do in Fernie? Check out “The Top 7 Things to Do this Winter While Visiting Fernie“
Fly & ski in one day! With the new Integra Air service from Calgary International Airport (YYC) to the Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) 6 times each week starting this month! Get more information, the schedule or book your flight from the Integra Air website.
Want us to do all the work for you? Give one of our reservation agents a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book your flight, hotel and tickets all at once!
At Fernie Alpine Resort, we realize that a lot of our guests are locals, as well as from the surrounding cities. With our guests travelling from out of town in mind, we’re excited to debut a groundbreaking program in the ski industry – the Sunday late check out. This winter, if staying in Lizard Creek Lodge or Fernie Slopeside Lodge at Fernie Alpine Resort you won’t have to check out until 2pm! Giving you and your family the time needed to get in a couple more runs, finish up that ski school program or just relax a bit before having to jump in your car to head home.
Fernie is full of passion. Arguably, first and foremost, many are die hard skiers or snowboarders and enjoy all the perks that come with having Fernie Alpine Resort in their backyard. However, outside of the resort there are plenty of other fun things to do and see in Fernie, B.C. If you’re looking to venture further into the Fernie culture, here are some suggestions to help you plan the perfect Fernie itinerary:
Ghostriders Hockey Game
Named after the Legend of the Ghostrider, the locals in Fernie are super into their hockey and extremely (borderline obsessively so) supportive of their team – similar to the rest of Canada. If you’re in town during a Ghostriders game it would be an outrage to not see it!
Check out the Ghostriders schedule on their website. Photo courtesy of Ghostriders flickr.
Read about the Legend of the Ghostrider.
Take a Hot Tub Time Machine Tour
That’s right, Hot Tub Time Machine. The popular 2010 John Cusack movie was filmed largely in Fernie, some of the filming locations include Main Street (2nd Ave), The Brickhouse on 2nd Ave, The Plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort. Stop by and see if you can recognize Fernie disguised as the fictional Kodiak Valley from the movie.
Visit the Miners Tour & City Hall
Fernie, like many B.C towns, owes a lot of their history to mining. Outside the architecturally pleasing City Hall is a shrine to the miners that made its history, paved with 300 bricks with the names of miners and mining families. Walk through the set up and read educational plaques and learn about history through interactive features.
Also nearby for a visit are the Fernie Courthouse, Museum, Arts Station and Heritage Library. More info.
Go for a Winter Bike
New this season, dedicated trails and rental bikes for Winter Fat Biking! Monster tires and low gearing means biking in the snow is easy and fun for both first timers and seasoned cyclists. Take a tour – the resort will offer rental bikes and tours/lessons with guides this winter. More info.
Eat Delicious Food
Like most cool little towns, Fernie has a thriving food industry. With many places to dine including some gems like The Loaf or The Brickhouse on ‘main street’ or Yamagoya Sushi. Stay tuned for another article featuring the best places to eat in Fernie!
Visit the Spa
With a few spas to choose from in Fernie, you can stay on mountain and enjoy the Lizard Creek Lodge spa or venture into town. What better way to feel great after a long day of riding the pow than to have a relaxing massage? For a full list of available spas visit the Tourism Fernie website.
Snowshoeing/Cross Country Skiing
Fernie Alpine Resort and the surrounding area has an extensive network of cross country ski trails and snowshoeing trails. The trails at the resort are regularly maintained (groomed & trackset) and are multi-use trails, free of charge. Snowshoe and Nordic ski rentals as well as guided tours are available at the resort, or roam around on your own and enjoy nature’s tranquility (maps and signage on the trails will let you know where to go). In addition, the Fernie Nordic Society maintains a great network of trails at the provincial park and golf course (membership or day use fee required).
Words by Cali Sammel
Photos by Fernie Ghostriders, Fernie Alpine Resort and Cali Sammel
Confession – before my wife and I had kids I would walk across a few football fields of parking lot to get to the lifts if it meant my efforts would be rewarded with fresh tracks. However now that I have a family, the expression “ski in-ski out” has the same dreamy connotations for me as the words “free beer.” Except unlike the latter, ski in- ski out actually exists. It took me just a couple of trips across the ski resort parking lot, with multiple pairs of skis stacked in my arms like firewood, while coaxing kids with promises of hot chocolate before even completing a single run, to truly realize that the way accommodation is situated in relation to the lifts can make a huge difference to the quality of a holiday at the ski hill.
That’s why, Fernie Alpine Resort got it right when they designed and developed the chalet style Lizard Creek Lodge, one of the first luxury boutique ski-ski out lodges in Fernie when it first opened in 2000. The Lizard is convenience defined. If you want, you could soak in the lodge’s outdoor hot tub and almost carry on a conversation with a friend about to board the Elk Chair a few ski lengths away. That’s how close and convenient Lizard Creek Lodge is to the action the slope. The lodge’s legendary great room is undergoing a transformation for this season, that will retain the space’s warm mountain aesthetic but with the added touch of an ice lounge and sushi bar.
Ski in – ski out also defines the aptly named Slopeside Inn near the resort plaza, and the Thunder Ridge Chalets, beautifully arranged in wooded settings next to the Elk Chair. And if you want an extended lunch or mid-day beverage, slide to a stop at the base area’s Mountain Plaza, warm up in Kelsey’s On The Mountain or polish the tables with the sleeves of ski sweater at the hallowed Griz Bar. Afterward, click into your bindings and slide down to the lift and hop on, or to the door of your lodge. It may seem like a small detail, but it’s one that counts. At Fernie you want to leave it all on the slopes, whether it’s exploring powder lines and steeps in the resort’s five Lizard Range alpine bowls, or lapping top to bottoms with the kids on the Elk Chair – after all who wants to schlep across parking lots, with tired kids in tow, when you can ski in and ski out. Words that are magic to any family’s ears.
Words by Andrew Findlay
Imagine this; you wake up from your slumber early, really early. And you’re not getting back to sleep. What do you do? What do most of us do? Grab our smart phones. Now, when you grab your phone you’ll have the ability to get the most up to date information for snow conditions, weather reports, trail maps, resort info and more from one handy app for Fernie Alpine Resort (and our other RCR resorts).
Your next problem – it’s going to be a powder day!! Time to call in sick and head out to the mountains!
For more information on our App read our Press Release.
If you’re spending time in Fernie this Winter Season, you should be planning ahead for at least one memorable night out on Downtown Fernie’s vibrant 2nd Avenue. The ingredients for the Perfect Aprés Ski Party? How about: delicious food, fantastic ambience, great friends and fun.
Fernie favourite, the Loaf, can deliver all the goods! Loaf has an excellent local reputation for casual fine-dining with great service. Their range of Italian-inspired menu items and freshly prepared dinner specials are available nightly alongside their award-winning, stone-baked, Italian-style pizzas. Loaf is a great choice for families and groups – they can accommodate large parties, private functions and even arrange live music and entertainment to make your party a memorable one. Just call the Loaf on (250) 423-7702 to discuss your requirements.
See www.loafbakery.ca for details on brunch, $5 Happy Hour, dinner times and menus, including Loaf’s super-easy-to-use online take-out service.
We like white on green here at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; lots and lots of snow on our mountains and all over the trees on those mountains too. Because if you’ve never come rocketing through the glades, ripping up and down the natural moguls with powder hitting you in your grinning face until you blast back onto the trail, you really haven’t lived. And we kind of want to keep that around for a while, for future skiers and riders, for our kids, and for our kids’ kids too.
That’s why we decided to take a stand and be the first ski resort company to refuse printing a brochure this year, to do what we can to lessen our environmental footprint. On top of that, we’ll plant a whole tree for every email sign-up to our online newsletter. We hope this helps reiterate to consumers everywhere, that taking paper maybe isn’t the answer any more, especially if you can find that information online anyways.
So, help do your part and keep the Trees for Glades! Sign your email up on our Trees for Glades website and read our full story (plus enter our contest for the chance to win a spring event ski trip for you and 3 friends)!
Success So Far:
- 75,000 pieces of paper saved by this initiative alone
- So far: 3000+ trees planted – thanks to you!
Photo courtesy of Trees for the Future Facebook.