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Road Tripping the Powder Highway Like a Ski Bum

Located in the southeastern corner of British Columbia, the Powder Highway refers to the area that boasts the highest concentration of alpine resort, backcountry, cat, heli and nordic skiing/riding in the WORLD!

How BIG is it really? It’s absolutely gigantic. The combined tenure is 7+ million acres.  Locally known as the ‘Kootenays’ this ski/snowboard mecca is made up of 100+ ski operators along the route.   That’s right – 8 Alpine Ski Resorts, 16 Backcountry Huts, 23 Backcountry Lodges, 15 Cat operators, 3 Community ski clubs, 6 Guiding Services, 20 Heli operators and 16 Nordic Clubs/Centres.

So let’s get down to how to tour the Powder Highway, you ski bums or aspiring “dirtbags” (an endearing local reference), on the cheap:

Fernie & Fernie Alpine Resort
Stay: No on-mountain RV Parking; Fernie RV Park (nightly rate; some services)
Eat/Drink: Griz Bar, Fernie Hotel & Pub, Kodiak Lounge in the Raging Elk Hostel, The Royal

Fernie Alpine Resort, photo by Dave Heath

Golden & Kicking Horse Mtn Resort
Stay: Kicking Horse Parking Area (no costs; no services) or downtown at the Golden Municipal Campground (nightly rate; some services)
Eat/Drink: Golden Taps, The Riverhouse, The Rockwater Grill & Bar, The Wolf’s Den

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, photo by Dave Best

Invermere & Panorama Mtn Resort
Stay: No on-mountain RV Parking; Radium
Valley Vacation RV Resort (nightly rate; some services)
Eat/Drink: T-Bar & Grill, Thunderbird Pizza, Arrowhead Brewery, The Blue
Dog Café, The Pynelogs Café, Station Pub

Panorama Mountain Resort, photo by Kari Medig

Kimberley & Kimberley Alpine Resort
Stay: No on-mountain RV Parking
Eat/Drink: The Stemwinder, Our Place, Pedal & Tap, The Shed

Nelson & Whitewater Ski Resort
Stay: Whitewater Parking area (nightly rate; limited services)
Eat/Drink: WH20 Fresh Tracks Cafe (next to the Glory Chair), Cantina Del Centro, Mike’s Place Pub, Thor’s Pizzeria 

Whitewater Ski Resort, photo by David Gluns

Revelstoke & Revelstoke Mtn Resort
Stay: One night only at Revelstoke Mtn Resort
Parking area (no cost; no services), then Canada West RV Park: nightly rate; some services)
Eat/Drink: The McKenzie Outpost, Big Eddy Pub, Taco Club

Revelstoke Mountain Resort, photo by Bruno Long

Rossland & RED Mtn Resort
Stay: Red Mountain Parking area (nightly rate; no services; short stays only)
Eat/Drink: Rafter’s Lounge, Clansey’s Café, The Flying Steamshovel, The Garage, Rossland Beer Company

RED Mountain Resort, photo by Kari Medig

RV rentals are available in Calgary, AB or Vancouver, BC.  Shuttle services are available to most ski resorts from each our our funky mountain towns.  And here is more info on other winter camping options in BC.

*** With high levels of snow throughout the region and winter driving conditions in effect, it is very important to check highway conditions and travel advisories. Winter tires are needed on your vehicle from October to April and Road Safety at Work has some great ideas for items to pack in your car such as windshield scraper & snow brush, shovel, warm blankets, snacks/beverages. DriveBC is a great resource with real-time webcams and road statuses. ***

Know Before You Go!

~ 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 this summer. 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 this winter 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).

Related Stories
~ Family Fun on the Powder Highway
~ Funky Finds on the Powder Highway
~ Guiding Services: Powder Highway’s Backcountry
~ Learn to Ski or Snowboard on the Powder Highway
~ Planning your Powder Highway Road Trip: Local Tips
~ Powder Highway 101
~ Slackcountry Touring at our Powder Highway Ski Resorts
~ Up the Ante: Day Packages for Cat & Heli Skiing

Story by KootRocks Staffer (Shannon Harrison); top/cover photo by Henry Georgi in Fernie.

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