It’s a chilly day in mid-December and the Platzl in Kimberley is quiet. A cold winter wind whispers its solemn sound through the nearby trees. The mounds of snow piled up throughout the Platzl tell me a different story – the town’s ski bums would have enjoyed the 35-cm of powder that blasted the community overnight.
And, I’m sure the story was the same across the Kootenays. When BIG storms roll through the mountains, the anticipation for the “powder day” ahead reverberates across the whole region. I see it in my social media feed. I hear it in the supermarkets. I feel it in the air. From Revelstoke to Fernie, RED Mountain to Kicking Horse, when the snowfall start to stack up overnight, our towns shut down the next morning to get a few runs in the DEEP fresh POW.
After all, we didn’t move to BC’s Powder Highway to be confined to our desks on powder days. We don’t visit Nakusp or Invermere to compete with thousands of people trying to make it through the day. We’re here for the adventure, for the outdoors, for fresh air and open spaces.
We work on our own time and set our own schedules to sneak in a morning tour and catch the sunrise from the top of the mountain. We chase storms around the region, seeking out steep lines, buttery smooth groomers and good times.
Our idea of the morning commute is the parade of cars up the Whitewater Ski Hill Road, but you won’t find eight lanes of gridlock on smog-filled highways here. Our idea of traffic at a standstill is waiting for the rope to drop for fresh tracks in the Currie Bowl, but you won’t find any road rage there. Our morning workouts are a few laps of our favourite runs before casually making our way to the office at noon. Good for the body, great for the soul.
Above all, we’re here for the sense of community. We cherish the laid back vibes, relaxed lifestyle and easy-going personalities of the region. From the business owners who are cool with employees taking the morning off to ride to retirees who log more days in a season than most have in their life, we all make the Kootenay a special place to be.
To assist you with which businesses are open along the BC’s Powder Highway, these communities maintain lists of their businesses: Castlegar, Cranbrook, Columbia Valley, Fernie, Golden, Kimberley, Nelson Kootenay Lake, Revelstoke and Rossland.
~ 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).
~ Family Fun on the Powder Highway
~ Funky Finds on the Powder Highway
~ How BIG is the Powder Highway?
~ Kootenay Winters: Why We Love Them
~ Learn to Ski or Snowboard on the Powder Highway
~ Planning your Powder Highway Trip: Local Tips
~ Powder Highway 101
~ Quintessential Powder Highway Winters
~ Tips: How to be a Safe & Responsible Traveller
~ Up the Ante: Powder Highway Cat & Heli Day Packages
Top/cover photo courtesy of Kari Medig in Rossland, BC.
Words by Mark Locki. Mark is a photographer and writer based in Kimberley, BC. An avid traveller throughout the Kootenays and abroad, he enjoys exploring the natural world, camera in hand, seeking out compelling stories. He’s often found deep in the backcountry, running, climbing or on skis, challenging himself to discover new scenes and viewpoints.