Skip to main content

72 Hours in Nelson this Winter

Lakeside Nelson is the basecamp for Whitewater Ski Resort, the biggest little ski hill on the Powder Highway, and a great destination for an unforgettable 72 hours. Check DriveBC.ca for the latest road conditions.

Overnight in the Nelson & Kootenay Lake area.

Views of Nelson; photo by Kari Medig

DAY 1

  • A great way to kick off any Nelson visit is with coffee and breakfast at Oso Negro Café. The café’s timber frame and wrought-iron art will compete with the perfect cuppa and a back bacon breakfast bun for your undivided attention. Hint: Oso Negro’s chocolate quinoa cake makes a choice chairlift pocket snack!
Snowy Oso Negro Cafe; photo by Leah Snow
  • One look at the Whitewater Ski Resort’s area maps, reveals a range of blue and green options, plus the terrain park for the kids on the Silver King side of the resort. Start there on Day 1 to ease your legs into your ski holiday. Free mountain tours for ages 13 and up head out from between the rental shop and Silver King Chair. Look for the bright blue mountain host jackets for an insider’s overview of Whitewater’s three incredible ski zones.
  • Plan on lunch at Fresh Tracks Café in Whitewater’s main lodge. Former Whitewater owner Shelley Adams put the resort on the global map with her Whitewater Cooks cookbooks of Kootenay-inspired recipes. Souvenir alert!
  • Bring your appetite and a pack of gum for a rich Euro-fusion dining experience at the Outer Clove in downtown Nelson. From perogies to spaetzle, stroganoff to a yam and millet veggie burger, the Outer Clove will send your tastebuds into garlic orbit.
  • To carbo-load for tomorrow’s ski day with an after-dinner pint and juice for the kids, stop by Backroads Brewing Co. and enjoy their First Descent Northwest IPA or Pale Ale alongside some locally sourced pub snacks.

DAY 2

  • Swing by Empire Coffee at the Adventure Hotel for a Stumptown Coffee and a breakfast sandwich in their solarium to start your ski day off on the right foot.
  • Time to push your legs a bit  in Whitewater’s (conditions) newest terrain. Head up Summit Chair and spend the morning exploring Glory Ridge, which offers a little something for rippers of all ages, from creamy groomers to secret glades.
  • Since you’re in the neighbourhood, pick up lunch at Glory Lodge where the Wild Boar Hick Stick or the Buckshot Beef Hoagie will keep you ripping all afternoon.
  • Delay your return to the valley as long as possible with an aprés-ski session at Coal Oil Johnny’s, where you can relive the face-shots, yard-sales, and big airs of the day under the iconic face Ymir Bowl in the Whitewater slackcountry.
  • And now for something completely different…take a short side trip to the historic mining town of Ymir and the eclectic Hotel Ymir. It’s unique collection of wall-wall, floor-to ceiling art and sculpture offer an unforgettable dining experience, and will give you something to talk about for the rest of the year.
  • For a family evening out, hit the Nelson and District Community Centre for a family swim and soak, followed by a good ‘ol hockey game. The Nelson Leafs are a notoriously scrappy KIJHL team, and games promise some fast-paced, exciting hockey.
Ymir Peak’s slackcountry at Whitewater; photo by David Gluns

DAY 3

  • You’ve got time to savour the morning, why not hit up the General Store Restaurant in Nelson’s cornerstone Hume Hotel & Spa for a morning coffee and their daily breakfast special?
  • Stick around downtown for the morning exploring and shopping up a storm on Nelson’s downtown with its unrivalled collection of outdoor stores, specialty shops, and downtown characters.  Or discover all of the Murals tucked away, created by artists from around the world.
  • The mouth-watering calzone and pizza-by-the-slice at Thor’s Pizzeria will help the Team keep its strength for the afternoon mission, and leave everyone convinced that Thor just might have added God of Pizza to his quiver.
  • For a winter wonderland afternoon, rent nordic ski gear at Gerick’s Sports on Baker Street, and head out to the Apex/Busk Trail System at the base of the Whitewater Ski Area road, and sample some of the expertly groomed trails that meander through gorgeous forest and open meadows. The Apex loop on the North side of the highway is lit until 11pm if a night ski is in your plans. (Or rent some snowshoes and explore the dedicated Snowshoe trails: Big Cedar Loop, Wetland Loop & the Euphrates Extension; close-by the Nelson Nordic Ski Club). Don’t forget a thermos of hot chocolate!
Snowshoeing near Nelson; photo by Nick Diamond Photography
  • You’ve earned it! Check out the mystical hot spring cave & pool at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, a gorgeous 45-minute drive north along the shore of Kootenay Lake. The brave will dunk into the cold plunge, a brisk rejuvenation after three days on skis (or a snowboard). An afternoon appetizer of Bannock and Dip, or Bison French Onion Soup at Ainsworth’s Ktunaxa Grill will bridge the afternoon snack gap.
The caves at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort; photo by Field & Forest
  • For dinner, fill up the team with a favour-bomb burrito, taco, or Huichol Bowl from El Taco on Victoria Street, before checking out Nelson’s historic Capitol Theatre for the magic of live theatre, or catch a new release at the Civic Theatre for a relaxing end to your 72-hour Nelson family whirlwind.

Other dining options in the Nelson Kootenay Lake areas.



Know Before You Go – Plan ahead so you can travel safely and responsibly. Familiarize yourself with weather, road conditions, general alerts for travellers and provincial health orders & recommendations.

Related Stories
~ 7 Tips to Get You Started: Exploring Powder Highway’s Backcountry
~ 72 Hours in the Columbia Valley this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Fernie this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Golden this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Kimberley this Winter
~ 72 Hours at Panorama Mountain Resort his Winter

~ 72 Hours in Revelstoke this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Rossland this Winter
~ Family Fun on the Powder Highway
~ Keeping it Ol’ School: Our Community Ski Hills on the Powder Highway

~ Kootenay Winters: Why We Love Them
~ Our Kootenay Mountain Culture
~ Powder Highway 101
~ Slackcountry Touring at our Powder Highway Ski Resorts
~ Up the Ante: Powder Highway Cat & Heli Day Packages
~ What’s New on the Powder Highway? 

Top/cover photo – by Phil Best of snowy downtown Nelson. 

Words by Dave Quinn. Born in Cranbrook, BC; Dave is a wildlife biologist, educator, wilderness guide, writer and photographer whose work is driven by his passion for wilderness and wild spaces. His work with endangered mountain caribou and badgers, threatened fisher and grizzly, as well as lynx and other species has helped shape his understanding of the Kootenay backcountry and its wildlife.

Please tag your images with @KootRocks on Instagram to be featured in a future social post.

Get Social and Share Your Adventure
With Us By Using #KOOTROCKS