The legendary Powder Highway through B.C.’s Kootenay Rockies isn’t just a winter playground for downhill skiers and boarders — Nordic skiers want a piece of the action, too. With a love of the genuine ski towns and the laidback vibe, Nordic skiers are flocking to the Kootenay region in search of fresh snow and pristine trails.
With so much to discover in the Kootenay Rockies — world-class ski towns, numerous Nordic ski clubs, ski resorts with Nordic trails, backcountry terrain galore and some hidden gems — now is the time to set aside a week, or two, and head out on a Nordic skiing road trip.
Here are the can’t-miss spots for any Nordic ski enthusiast visiting B.C.’s Kootenay region:
Golden is an outdoor lover’s town that is situated between the Columbia and Rocky Mountains at the northern end of the Powder Highway. Stop to ski the area around Emerald Lake or try the 22-km round-trip to stunning Lake O’Hara. Continuing, head to the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre, just a kilometre from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to enjoy spectacular mountain views on 33 km of groomed trails.
Radium Hot Springs & Nipika
Include your furry friend on your Nordic skiing adventure when you head to Nipika Mountain Resort, whether it be for a day of skiing or an overnight stay in one of its charming cabins. The resort is located at the boundary of Kootenay National Park, just 30 minutes from Radium Hot Springs. Every level of skier can be accommodated on 50 km of skillfully groomed, scenic trails, especially the one along the turquoise-coloured Kootenay River.
Drive 15 minutes south of Radium to reach the Whiteway in Invermere. It holds the Guinness World record for the longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world, great news if you’re a Nordic skier. But, if you’re after a traditional experience, head for altitude and check out 20 km of groomed trails at Panorama Ski Resort.
This charming Bavarian-themed ski town is home to the Kimberley Nordic Club, featuring 30 km of track-set trails in a beautiful forest setting. There’s also a massive nature park, twice the size of Stanley Park with more than 50 km of trails where experienced skiers can try the 20-km Round the Mountain Trail.
With epic snowfalls, a cool small-town vibe and stunning mountain scenery, make time to stop and check out Fernie’s four Nordic ski areas encompassing more than 50 km of trails. The town is easily accessible from Calgary and ideally situated to access both directions of the Powder Highway. Two areas beckon close to historic downtown Fernie — the Elk Valley Nordic Centre and the Montane area.
Both Nelson and Kaslo offer superb Nordic skiing experiences in spectacular mountain settings. The Nelson Nordic Ski Club, 10 minutes from town, boasts 25 km of trails for all types and levels of skier, along with warming huts and a night-skiing loop. In Kaslo, visit the Kaslo Nordic Club with its 12 km of groomed trails for classic skiing and 30 acres of beginner alpine touring.
Locals know what a hidden gem the Arrow Slocan region is with more kilometres of Nordic ski trails than anywhere else but Kimberley. All told, there are four areas within the corridor to explore: the Slocan Valley Rail Trail (52 km), Valhalla Hills Nordic Ski Club (12 km), Wensley Creek Ski Trails near Nakusp (8 km) and 6 km on the K&S Rail Trail and Cody Spur combination.
Nordic skiing in Castlegar pairs well with a road trip to Nelson and Rossland if you’re short for time and can’t complete the Powder Highway in one trip. The prime spot with the longest season for Nordic skiing is the Paulson Recreation Area, 32 km west of Castlegar. Here you can enjoy superb skiing on 45 km of trails, mainly groomed for classic skiers.
As one of the premiere Nordic ski areas in Western Canada, Rossland is home to 45 km of beautiful, expertly groomed trails, many with gorgeous mountain vistas, three warming cabins and a short night-skiing loop. If backcountry trails are your preference, the Rossland Range Recreation Site, 19 km from town, delivers with unspoiled mountain beauty.
Be sure to visit the Kootenay Nordic website for detailed, up-to-date information.
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