Winter in the Kootenays: Downhill and Beyond

With world-class powder along with a variety of fun outdoor activities, the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region has everything for an unforgettable winter escape.

Credit: Dustin Lalik, Location: Baldface Lodge

Made up of six distinctly charming communities, the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region, located in beautiful British Columbia, is home to an abundance of thrilling snow-season activities for every winter enthusiast. After the scenic seven-hour drive from Calgary, a world of winter fun is yours to explore. 

Known for its legendary fresh powder, the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region offers exciting options for snow seekers — heaven for any ski or snowboard aficionado. Beyond adrenaline-pumping powder activities, it also offers other fun pursuits like skating, fishing and sightseeing to make memorable winter adventures.  

“We’re lucky to have so many fantastic activities to experience throughout the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region, whether your preferred pace is fast, slow or somewhere in between,” affirms Danica Heaton, design and marketing coordinator for Nelson and Kootenay Lake Tourism. 

Second-to-none cat and heli-skiing 

If you know, you know — that exhilarating feeling of flying down remote backcountry runs with the satisfaction of being the first to touch fresh powder. Recognized as the cat-ski capital of the world, the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region has unmatched options for cat-skiing and heli-skiing. 

Boasting five cat-ski operators (more than any other region in the world), this area features mind-blowing ways to take on pristine backcountry pow. Ride through wide bowls with stunning 360-degree views and dare to take on bold day-long vertical drops that measure close to 20,000 feet with exclusive mountain access. From multi-day trips to sustainably conscious ones, the five operators offer reliable expert services to ensure the ski experience of a lifetime.

Credit: Destination BC/Kari Medig, Location: Whitewater Ski Resort

Ski, ski and more ski

Back on the ski hill, shred some of the best downhill powder at Whitewater Ski Resort. Located 25 minutes outside of Nelson (ranked among the best ski towns in North America), the ski destination attracts skiers of all levels. Whitewater is a snow chaser’s dream — the resort sees an average of 40 feet of snow annually. Enjoy the thrill of gliding down 81 runs of world-class snow, amid picturesque mountain scenery. 

There’s also lots to be said about the area’s premiere flat terrain. Home to over 300 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails, the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region welcomes Nordic ski enthusiasts with open arms and open trails. Beyond groomed terrain, the region offers plenty of space to break in your own tracks.

Prefer wheels to skis? Whitewater Ski Resort allows fat-tire biking on its trails so pedal to your heart’s content. Want a slower pace? Strap on some snowshoes and start trekking.

Beyond the pow

Winter isn’t just about snow so lace up and head over to Nelson’s Lions Park for some outdoor ice skating, or head to Mirror Lake, just outside of Kaslo, for a friendly game of pond hockey when the ice conditions are safe. If you’d prefer to stay toasty, take the puck indoors to Kaslo and District Arena. While you’re there, try your hand at another Canadian winter classic: curling.

To slow things down, head over to Kootenay Lake for winter fishing. The lake doesn’t freeze over, so it makes for the perfect opportunity to catch bigger fish that come up from the chilly depths like the Dolly Varden and Gerrard Rainbow Trout. 

And for those who love a bird’s eye view, Kootenay Lake Aviation offers a great way to sightsee the mountainous region in an exciting (and warm) way. Jump in the three-passenger aircraft and discover the sights of snow-capped mountains and wintry lakes from above — it’ll give you bragging rights when you get home.

“From Nelson to North Kootenay Lake to the East Shore and the distinct personalities of each community in between, the region invites you to define your very own interpretation of ‘Kootenay Time,’” says Heaton.

Where to Après

Whether you spent the day shredding snowy slopes, playing hockey or catching fish, kick back and sip on a well-deserved beer from the Nelson Brewing Company — British Columbia’s first certified organic brewery. Grab another pint from one of the province’s best breweries, Torchlight Brewing and Backroads Brewing Company, both located in Nelson. When in Kaslo, Angry Hen Brewing Co. is the local home to new takes on traditional styles and a beer-friendly food menu. 

Credit: David Gluns, Whitewater Ski Resort, Location: Whitewater Ski Resort

With your thirst quenched, satiate your appetite with the region’s fast-growing culinary scene. In fact, Nelson and the surrounding area have more restaurants per capita than foodie landmarks like San Francisco, Vancouver and Manhattan. Choose from the likes of Pitchfork Eatery for an intimate farm-to-table dining experience in Nelson, West-Coast-inspired dishes made from local ingredients at the Kaslo Hotel’s Waypoint Restaurant & Bar and charcuterie-share plates at the Black Cauldron in Nelson. 

Cap off the night with live music at The Royal in Nelson or immerse yourself in the arts by catching a theatre show at Nelson’s Capitol Theatre, plus discover year-round festivals and events of all sorts. No matter how you want to end the day, you’ll find something that fits the bill in the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region. 

To plan your winter escape to the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region at whatever pace you like, visit

This content was produced for the advertiser by RedPoint Media for commercial purposes. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Avenue staff.

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