Sometimes it can be hard to reconcile just how different the “powder towns” along the Powder Highway are from each other.
Take Kimberley and Nelson. Kimberley reportedly boasted the first stoplight in the Kootenays, and still boasts that same single stoplight, alongside the only Powder Highway ski area fully inside City Limits and the most days with sun and sunlight hours in Canada.
Meanwhile, nearly 600-meters (1,969 ft.), or one heckuva ski run lower in elevation, moodier Nelson has boomed with skiers seeking world famous lodge meals at the fiercely independent and reliably deep Whitewater Ski Resort. Visitors who wonder why Kimberley is so delightfully chill also try to sort out just how Nelson supports a variety of vibrant restaurants, coffee shops, and artistic works.
Fernie’s Canadian Rocky Mountain wall of open bowls are breathtakingly present, enticing you to get on the slopes immediately. This blue-collar riverside ski town is about as different from Invermere’s Panorama as it gets. Top of the lift Fernie Alpine Resort views of the sprawling Elk River Valley and its mosaic of rich Rocky Mountain wildlife paradise are about as different as it gets from the gates of the Central Purcells up Toby Creek as seen from the top of Panorama Resort, where most of the jagged, glaciated peaks towering over this boutique ski resort community are well over 3,000-meters (9,853 ft.).
Situated at 1,023-meters (3,356 ft.) above sea level in the southern Monashee Mountains, the high elevation, simply ski-and-bike town of Rossland with its deep snows, great coffee, and hard-rock mining history could not be more different from the powder town of Golden. Golden’s convergence of rail, road, and rivers in the vast Columbia River Valley mirrors the grand collision of the Purcell, Selkirk, and Rocky Mountains that all loom over the river town. The town’s rail lines, TransCanada highway, and forestry mills demand a lot of attention in between the endless option ski sessions offered by three majestic mountain ranges.
Just as Golden’s original Whitetooth Ski Area grew into Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Revelstoke’s Mount Mackenzie Ski Hill was the chrysalis for Revelstoke Mountain Resort, whose 1,600-meter (5,249 ft.) vertical drop is the highest in North America. Big like everything is big Revelstoke. Big river, big mountains, big vibe.
Whether you like big or small, rockin’ or quiet, dark and deep, or sunny, light and fluffy, blue collar or red carpet, there is a “powder town” for you along the Powder Highway.
Why not try them all?
Know Before You Go – Plan ahead so you can travel safely and responsibly. Familiarize yourself with weather, road conditions, general alerts for travellers and provincial health orders & recommendations.
~ 4 Reasons to Ski-Ride the Powder Highway this Winter
~ 7 Tips to Get You Started: Exploring the Powder Highway’s Backcountry
~ 72 Hours in the Columbia Valley this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Fernie this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Golden this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Kimberley this Winter
~ 72 Hours in Nelson this Winter
– 72 Hours in Revelstoke this Winter
– 72 Hours in Rossland this Winter
~ Keeping it Old School: Our Community Ski Hills on the Powder Highway
~ Kootenay Winters: Why We LOVE Them
~ Our Kootenay Mountain Culture
~ Our Kootenay Winter Celebrations: Along the Powder Highway
~ Planning your Powder Highway Trip: Local Tips
~ Powder Highway 101
~ What’s New on the Powder Highway?
Story by Dave Quinn. Top/cover photo Mitch Winton in Kimberley’s Platzl (downtown centre).
Words by Dave Quinn. Born in Cranbrook, BC; Dave is a wildlife biologist, educator, wilderness guide, writer and photographer whose work is driven by his passion for wilderness and wild spaces. His work with endangered mountain caribou and badgers, threatened fisher and grizzly, as well as lynx and other species has helped shape his understanding of the Kootenay backcountry and its wildlife.
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