It was tradition in our house to go skiing every weekend in Kimberley… the house would be a buzz with five of us trying to get all of our stuff together (even though our skis/poles never left the back of our truck the entire season). Long-johns, turtlenecks and warm socks were donned before we made our way into the kitchen for our cream-of-wheat breakfast (on a side note, I thought that the more lumps in my porridge meant today would be an awesome day on the hill).
Once fed, dressed in our ski-gear (including boots) we marched out to the truck, loaded in and raced to the mountain in hopes to be in the first row of the parking area. Back then it was a sign of dedication, ‘prestige’ if you got in the first row. Then we were off, swept up on the blue chair (Buckhorn) to start our day… followed by run after run after run, only to stop for a quick brown bag lunch, and to resume skiing the rest of the afternoon… Mambo, Midnight, Stemwinder, Rosa, Dreadnaught, Schoolhouse repeat. This was my all-time favourite time (era) of skiing.
But today, skiing and snowboarding is just one of the many activities available at our ski resorts along the Powder Highway. And off-mountain activities are also a big part of the new ski culture. So, here’s some activities (mountain to mountain) to make your family experiences on the Powder Highway fun!
The entire mountain is family friendly and they even have their own mascot “Monty the Moose” who loves to hang out at the Ski Chalet or Tube Park. Be sure to introduce yourself!
Did someone say sliding… yes, this mountain offers an exhilarating ‘tube park’ – race your parents down the slope in under 10-seconds. And on-site they have their own natural hot springs, parents can soak in the warmest pools while the kids take turns jumping off the low or high-boards.
Pizza and a milkshake to end the day! Who’s in? And I’ve heard the ice-cream sundaes are the best at Fairmont Pizza & Ice-cream Parlour.
Photo courtesy of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
The ‘Minute Maid Kids Trails’ off the Deer Chair will get you on the move; these trails are twisty, perfect for your kid’s short skis and it even has a secret entrance. Other fave is the ‘Holo Hike’; an easy groomed blue run when you get to ski through two tunnels and weave your way through resort cabins.
Remember to bring your ice-skates and hockey sticks, because in-town (Fernie) is an NHL outdoor skating rink. Start your own friendly pick-up game, it’s free for public use and is open daily. Or stop by the indoor pool, it has a leisure pool for small children, an indoor waterslide, diving board, rope swing and a 25-person whirlpool.
The Loaf on 2nd Avenue downtown Fernie is a great place to get home-baked goodness and nutritious meals for the entire family. Casual dining atmosphere too!
Hockey anyone?, photo courtesy of Tourism Fernie
As a family you may want to stay and play on the Catamount quad and ski/ride the green (beginner trails) or venture to the top on the gondola and ride ‘It’s a 10’ from top to bottom (but you do need to make your way over the Crystal Bowl, so skate-skiing and towing your kids could be a possibility).
On mountain, off of the magic carpet (Jelly Bean Surface Lift) is the Tube Park. Another option for non-ski, is to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain and have lunch (it is Canada’s highest elevated snacking hot-spot)!
You could also go dog sledding in Golden. Come out and meet the pack of Siberian & Alaskan Huskies. Feel like a true musher by helping harness the dogs and learning their commands. Then hop on your sled and let the professional musher lead the team through the winding frosty trail.
Photo courtesy of Golden Dogsled Adventures
What has changed from the time I was a kid to now, is the mountain has way more glade areas to explore and a lot of it is easy or intermediate terrain. So many areas to ski/board alongside each ski run — fun!
The Spirit Rock Climbing Centre in downtown Kimberley is a great way to burn more energy. The centre offers a kid’s area, plus a boulder wall and beginner routes to long overhanding technical climbs.
The resort also has an evening snowshoe excursion with fondue at the Kootenay Haus. A quad ride to the top of Northstar mountain and a 40-minute guided snowshoe tour is followed up with a delicious chocolate fondue. Yummy!
Watching what you eat has a whole different meaning for kids at the Stonefire Pizzeria in downtown Kimberley (in the Platzl — pedestrian mall). They can watch their pizza being prepared and cooked in their wood fired oven. How cool is that?
Fun times at the Kimberley Alpine Resort, photo by Heidi Korven
This resort offers 2 magic carpets, 1 poma lift and two chairlifts accessing their beginner area, the Discovery Zone. Offering this whole kid friendly/learning zone is pretty awesome!
The XC trails at Panorama are family-friendly too, as they have small warming huts along the route — which is great for kids. Or, they can go ice-skating on Lake Lillian (a mini-Whiteway), or venture into downtown Invermere to experience The Whiteway and its 34-km ice-skating track (the longest one in the world). Or if you just want stay warm, be sure to take at dip in the Panorama Springs pools.
Or take in a half day snowmobile tour with TobyCreek Adventures. The Paradise Mine half-day tour (3-hours) is perfect for beginners and families. This tour follows the trails through
old-growth forest to a frozen waterfall ending at a cozy cabin.
The Mile One Hut atop of the Mile One Express Chairlift (located in the kids/beginner area) offers up an authentic Swiss cheese and chocolate fondue perfect for all ages. And the best part is you can ski down the mountain on a lit trail.
Panorama’s hot pools, photo by Shannon Harrison
RED Mountain Resort
Taking the lift to access ‘Paradise’ is an amazing option for families at RED in Rossland. You could spend your entire time skiing/riding the terrain here and with the addition of the Paradise Lodge you can! (Take ‘Easy Street’ run to access the front side of the mountain.)
The local hockey team, the Trail ‘Smoke Eaters’, play regular games over the ski season; cheer them on while they compete with other Junior A ice hockey teams in BC.
The Colander in downtown Trail has the very best spaghetti dinner with an authentic family-style dining experience. Fill up on carbs for day two of exploring the mountain.
The first gondola up to Revelation Lodge is really short, so it’s pretty cool that families, and beginners can experience ‘gondola skiing’! And beside the gondola is a magic carpet that provides access to the Turtle Creek beginner ski area, tube park and rail park.
Great Canadian Tours offers a 1-hour fun tour on a snowmobile along Frisby Ridge to a rustic cabin that overlooks the surrounding mountains. Perfect for families, this tour offers four excursions daily to fit around your on-mountain activities.
Chubby Funsters — it’s just fun to say! This casual dining experience in downtown Revelstoke offers great Canadian cuisine featuring lasagna, prime rib dinners, delicious burgers and a family-friendly kids menu.
Skiing/riding the Silver King area offers up some great easy to intermediate terrain for your family. This mountain also offers an amazing terrain park — check on the current conditions and ride responsibly.
The Nordic trails at the base of Whitewater are fun plus you can snowshoe & bike on them as well… which means from the base area a family can experience all three activities.
A visit to the hot springs and cave at Ainsworth Hot Springs is a must. Just a 45-minute drive from Nelson along the Kootenay Lake shoreline and you’ll reach these unique hot springs. Who wouldn’t want to explore the cave!
This 3-year old ripper at Whitewater Ski Resort hits the powder, photo by Steve Ogle
Know Before You Go – Looking to head out on a family adventure? If you’re out exploring remember to #tripplan. Follow the three Ts – Trip planning, training, and taking the essentials and ensure the group members know the plan. Familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace principles to limit your footprint while spending time outside. BC Adventure Smart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.
~ 6 Things to Do with the White Stuff in the Kootenays
~ 9 Things to Aspire To Do on the Powder Highway
~ Funky Finds on the Powder Highway
~ Getting into Hot Water: Kootenay Hot Springs
~ Keeping it ‘Old School’: Community Mountains on the Powder Highway
~ Learn to Ski or Snowboard on the Powder Highway
~ Powder Highway 101
Story by KootRocks Staffer (Shannon Harrison). Cover/top photo by Steve Ogle.