Powder Highway: The Ultimate Ski Roadtrip
The Powder Highway in Canada is a legendary circular ski road trip route through the interior of British Columbia and the Kootenay Rockies. It features up to seven of Canada’s best powder destinations: Panorama, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Red Mountain, Whitewater, Kimberley and Fernie. If you’re a good skier looking for the ultimate road trip, this should be high on your bucket list!
Here’s our suggested itinerary:
Fly direct to Calgary daily from London Heathrow with Air Canada. WestJet also fly 4 times a week from London Gatwick. Bring your skis too, we offer free ski carriage on both airlines. You’ll arrive mid-afternoon and have the choice to overnight in Calgary or continue the journey straight away to the first Powder Highway ski destination. You’ll need an SUV to get you around, which you can pick up from the airport.
Drive from Calgary to Panorama – about 3.5 to 4 hours through the amazing Rockies on one of the most scenic routes in Canada.
Panorama has an exquisitely remote backcountry feel. The former heli-skiing area of Taynton Bowl is the jewel in Panorama’s crown. Now accessible by lift, it’s the place to go for exhilarating black diamond runs, hidden powder stashes and that intoxicating top-of-the-world feeling.
Stay at the ski-in/ski-out Panorama Upper Village Premium Condos – the resort’s best accommodation. It sits right beside the slopes, has a great pool complex, and is just a few steps from Panorama’s bars and restaurants.
Ski: drop into ‘The Monster’ from the mountain summit at 8038ft – double black and don’t look back!
Top tip: check out RK Heliski based right in the village, with access into the vast Purcell Mountain Range.
Next it’s a drive from Panorama north on the Powder Highway to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – a quick 2 hour drive up the Columbia River valley. Stop en-route at Radium Hot Springs for an invigorating dip in the hot pools.
Kicking Horse is definitely a skiers resort, with the upper mountain unashamedly stacked with countless black and an unprecedented 60 double black diamond runs. You’ll find four massive alpine bowls and four ridges featuring over 85 inbound chutes. You get a sense of what the resort is focused on by checking out some of the great trail names: Terminator, Unnecessary Roughness, Valhalla, Consequence and Prairie Oyster. Stay at the slopeside Glacier Mountaineer Lodge right next to the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. Be sure to head to the Winston Bar & Bistro for food & drinks.
Ski: make no mistake, this is proper full-on technical and steep terrain where you’ll find chutes, trees and drops – certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Top tip: stop for lunch at the Eagle Eye restaurant perched right at the top of mountain – great food and views.
Drive from Kicking Horse westwards over Rogers Pass through Glacier National Park to Revelstoke. Enjoy the 2 hour drive and be sure to change your watch when you arrive as you’ll cross timezones.
With the biggest vertical of any North American resort, a huge snow record, and acres of stunning terrain, Revelstoke is an exceptional resort with a ‘big mountain’ vibe like no other. Stay at the incredible Sutton Place Hotel, a few steps from the Revelation Gondola in the resort’s prime ski-in/ski-out position. This is the place to stay in Revy – beautiful condos from studios up to huge 3 bedroom condos. Remember to make use of the fantastic facilities and amenities right on site. Drink at the Mackenzie Common Tavern and eat at the Rockford wok, bar & grill, or head downtown on the regular free shuttle to the brilliantly named Village Idiot pub.
Ski: Hike off the top of the Stoke chair and into North Bowl for some of North America’s best high alpine stashes.
Top tip: Based in Revelstoke, Selkirk-Tangiers Heli-Ski have access to a massive 500,000 acres of prime heli-ski terrain.
Have a day off the skis as you make your way down route 23, taking the ferry over Upper Arrow Lake and then down to Rossland and up to Red Resort. It’s a 4 hour drive through tremendous lakes & mountains scenery.
Red Mountain is one of the last great, unspoiled resorts on the Powder Highway. The New York Times voted Red as their “#8 Best Place in the World to Visit.” It offers an impressive 3850 acres of prime BC ski terrain and 110 named trails spread over three mountains (Red, Granite and Grey) featuring everything from wide-open groomers to steep, powder-filled glades.
Stay at The Josie Hotel, Red’s new luxury ski-in/ski-out hotel at the base of the mountain. Expect boutique and bespoke. Featuring rooms and suites, excellent facilities, a great bar & restaurant, indulgent spa and spot-on service, The Josie was recently named among the three global finalists for World’s Best New Ski Hotel.
Ski: Ride the Motherlode Chair to the summit of Granite Mountain for some really testing double black diamond drops on the north side or some nice cruisy blue groomers off the south side.
Top tip: Red is home to one of the world’s biggest cat-skiing operations – Big Red Cats – with nearly 20,000 acres of untracked glades and bowls on offer, an average day is between 8 and 10 runs of between 1200 and 1400 vertical.
Drive over to Nelson, BC for your fifth Powder Highway resort experience: Whitewater. It’s only an hour’s drive away, so can be done at the start or the end of a ski day.
Renowned for epic winters, Whitewater sits 22km from Nelson at the southern end of the legendary Selkirk Mountain range. It gets huge snow, close to 40ft of snow per winter to be exact. Add that to acres of prime powder terrain featuring groomers, open bowls, glades, chutes and tree skiing. Expect great snow, no lift lines and a resort experience like no other. Stay down in the funky and authentic mountain town of Nelson (25 mins drive) at the excellent Prestige Lakeside Resort, a full-service hotel in a stunning setting only a few minutes from Nelson’s downtown core. With two restaurants, an indoor pool and 101 guest rooms to choose from, the Prestige is one of Nelson’s best places to stay.
Ski: Whitewater only has three lifts, and a total of 82 named trails but really this mountain is skied pretty much how you want to – choose your line, ski between the trails, make your own tracks, and repeat.
Top tip: make time to explore Nelson. With its meticulously restored heritage buildings housing boutiques filled with local artists’ work, an array of outdoor equipment and clothing stores, cafes, diverse restaurants and bars – this is BC heritage with a twist.
Time to get back behind the wheel for a 3 hour eastwards journey through the Selkirk and Purcell Mountain ranges across to Kimberley.
Kimberley is the smallest Powder Highway resort, and features two mountains and four mountain faces, all with different personalities. From the long blue run cruisers on Northstar Mountain to the tighter black diamond tree runs on Black Forest. This is definitely a mountain worth checking out. Stay at the slopeside Trickle Creek Lodge, Kimberley’s premiere ski-in/ski-out accommodation right at the base of the mountain. If features a nice outdoor pool and hot-tub and offers studios and 1 & 2 bedroom suites, all with fully equipped kitchens.
Ski: Treat Kimberley as a chilled-out stop on your Powder Highway adventure, as you gather yourself for one last blast in nearby Fernie.
Top tip: if you’ve not had your full quota of turns through the day, then check out North America’s longest lit night ski run – ski under the stars every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until early March.
Jump back in the SUV and head over into the mighty Canadian Rockies. It’s an easy 90 mins drive over the Crowsnest Highway to Fernie, your last Powder Highway destination!
Fernie is a spectacular ski destination to end your Powder Highway road trip with. Featuring around 30ft of powder snow every winter, five enormous high alpine bowls, countless glades and chutes and a variety of lower mountain terrain that appeals to all skill levels, Fernie is whatever you want it to be. Stay downtown at the locally owned and independent Park Place Lodge, which is situated right on the edge of town and features an excellent choice of lodging, indoor pool and a great bar, and is only a very short walk to historic downtown Fernie. The Ski bus will pick you up at front door.
Ski: Head right to the top of the Polar Peak Chair, check out the view, then down Currie Bowl – high alpine terrain at its very best.
Top tip: finish the tour with dinner and drinks at the Brickhouse Bar & Grill – Fernie’s best pub, with a nightclub in the basement.
Sadly, it’s time to head back north for the 4 hour drive to Calgary airport. Your Powder Highway adventure is at an end, until the next time…
As the late great Warren Miller once said, ‘If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!’. Call one of our expert Ski Specialists on 0131 243 8097 to discuss your Powder Highway road trip itinerary.
To create your perfect ski holiday, contact our passionate team of expert Ski Specialists today. We’ll listen to all of your requirements and tailor-make an individual itinerary just for you.
Talk with a Ski Specialist today on 0131 243 8097 or request a tailor-made quotation.