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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 7.2+ 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, 7 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: Fernie RV Park  (for self-contained units) or Raging Elk Hostel (get 15% off a 6 people pod room for the 2020/21 season).

Fernie Alpine Resort, photo by Dave Heath

Golden & Kicking Horse Mtn Resort
Stay: Dreamcatcher Hostel (taking online bookings for the 2020/21 season).

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, photo by Dave Best

Invermere & Panorama Mtn Resort
Stay: Invermere Hostel (during the winter months, the Invermere-Panorama free shuttle stops right next to the hostel and the Pine Inn (Panorama Resort village).

Panorama Mountain Resort, photo by Evan Mitsui

Kimberley & Kimberley Alpine Resort
Stay: There are no hostels or winter RV parks in this community. Check out the North Star Motel  for economical winter season rates (a 10-minute drive to the ski resort).

Nelson & Whitewater Ski Resort
Stay: Adventure Hotel (taking online bookings for this season), Dancing Bear Inn (this downtown hostel is taking online bookings) and the Mountain Hound Inn (reopening in December for the winter season).

Whitewater Ski Resort, photo by David Gluns

Revelstoke & Revelstoke Mtn Resort
Stay: Boulder Mountain Resort (RV sites & Glamping Tent; online bookings), Journey’s Perch Guest House (taking online bookings for the 2020/21 season), Poppi’s Guest House (taking online bookings for this season) and Revelstoke Backpackers Hostel (taking online bookings too). 

Revelstoke Mountain Resort, photo by Bruno Long

Rossland & RED Mtn Resort
Stay: Nowhere Special Hostel (check for winter availability/online bookings).

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. 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).

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
~ What’s NEW on the Powder Highway?

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

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(Original story published for the 2016/17 winter season.)

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