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. Long-johns, turtlenecks and warm socks were donned before we made our way into the kitchen for our cream-of-wheat breakfast.
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 Kootenay ski culture. So, here’s some activities to make your family experiences on the Powder Highway trifecta 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. This resort is unique, as it has their own natural hot springs, parents can soak in the warmest pools while the kids take turns jumping off the low or high-diving 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.
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 – in-town (Fernie) has 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.
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)!
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.
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.
If you still want more runs, the resort offers night-skiing too. Or, hit the Kimberley Nordic Centre to classic or skate-ski under the starts on their lit 3-km trails.
Neapolitan pizza & Italian food made from the freshest of regional ingredients. The Stonefire Grill is a truly unique family restaurant right in the centre of Kimberley’s Platzl, their pedestrian walking mall. More options.
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 Toby Creek 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.
Panorama’s hot pools, photo by Shannon Harrison
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 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. More options.
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.
This little ripper is conquering the powder Whitewater Ski Resort, photo by Steve Ogle
~ Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many of our tourism businesses and services have adopted new COVID-19 protocols and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time.
~ If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.
~ Consider a slower travel pace to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one or two destinations and one/two accommodation properties for your entire trip (and explore all the things to do & see nearby).
~ 5 Things to Do with the White Stuff in the Kootenays
~ Funky Finds on the Powder Highway
~ Getting into Hot Water: Kootenay Hot Springs
~ Keeping it ‘Old School’: Community Mountains on the Powder Highway
~ Kootenay Winters: Why We Love Them
~ Learn to Ski or Snowboard on the Powder Highway
~ Powder Highway 101
~ What’s NEW on the Powder Highway?
Story by KootRocks Staffer (Shannon Harrison). Cover/top photo by Steve Ogle.
(Original story published for the 2018/19 season.)