B.C.'s Powder Highway famed for quirky legends and epic powder
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Escape your wet winter Washington and discover the quirks and wonders of the Powder Highway
Here are four resorts along the Powder Highway that will make you forget the damp and rainy winter back home in Washington. You'll discover the joy of a true Canadian winter that brings piles of snow to the slopes and quickly learn why they call this the Powder Highway.
You'll also learn that we take our skiing and apres pretty seriously up here, believing in a snow-making mountain man, partying with something called a shot ski all while spending winter days sussing out chutes and bowls with epic powder stashes.
Here are some fun facts and trivia from four resorts to get you familiar with the Powder Highway before you get here this winter.
Fernie honours the Griz
With the proximity to weather patterns, Fernie Alpine Resorts ridges are perfectly positioned to be pounded by dry, light powder. That's why Fernie Alpine Resort sees an annual average snowfall of 11 metres of snow. That is 37 feet! Picture this to get a better idea: stand a bus on its nose and all you'll only see its bumper.
But weather patterns aside, the folks in Fernie thank the legendary Griz for the heaps of pow.
Legend says that during the early years, a boy was born in a grizzly bears den and oddly no one thought to bring child back to town. Instead, they left him to fend for himself. Years later, local skiers were trudging up the slopes of the Lizard Range when suddenly through the snowfall, they could see a huge man dressed in a grizzly fur coat with a big furry hat, carrying a musket longer than he was tall. As the skiers watched, he shot the musket into the sky causing more dry, fluffy powder to cascade from the clouds. Racing back to town they told everyone of the sighting of the mighty Griz. To this day, the people of Fernie celebrate the mountain man and how he brings the perfect powder to their valley.
Today, there are 142 named runs plus five alpine bowls and fantastic tree skiing opportunities serviced by 10 lifts. At the base, there is no shortage of fuel with nine full-service restaurants to choose from. The Lost Boys Café is one of the highest ski resort restaurants in the Canadian Rockies.
Fernie Alpine Resort is known for its never-ending will to party. In 2013, as part of a wedding, more than 700 feet of skies were strapped together with 522 shot glasses attached. On the count of three the resort became the world record holder for longest shot ski. Festivals rock the plaza all year long with the Fernie Slope Soaker ending every perfect winter season.
On-hill accommodations range from hotel rooms to luxury cabins, including the home used in the 2009 movie, Hot Tub Time Machine. The town of Fernie is moments north of the resort on the Powder Highway and offers more accommodations and endless entertainment.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a vertical rodeo
What started out as a locals-only ski area with runs cleared by volunteers accessed by one chair lift and a T-bar, has boomed into 2,800 acres of skiable terrain with a stash of more than 1,000 more acres waiting to be opened. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, B.C., is known for its powder, its vertical and its wild terrain.
That could be one reason this RCR resort was chosen to be the only stop on the Freeride World Cup in Canada, a first for them.
Take the 12-minute gondola ride from the village and step into nirvana, 4,133 vertical feet up. From the peak, the view will steal your heart and so will the array of alpine bowls, pillowy glades and wide, long trails unfolding beneath your ski tips. Did we mention the 70 in-bound chutes? Yehaw! This horse can buck.
Many years ago, the mayor of Kimberley decided to give it a Bavarian theme. The gimmick worked, and cars turned off the Powder Highway to meander towards the Bavarian City of the Rockies, blessed with a ski area only a mile away. Downtown Kimberley was transformed into a pedestrian only street called the Platzl, full of shops and restaurants with a European façade. It put Kimberley on the roadside attraction map. The amusing clock is still on the Platzl and waits for coins to open the doors to let a comical yodeller out for a holler. But its' the ski resort that really pulls the people in.
Kimberley Alpine Resort has 1,800 acres of terrain. On average, the resort sees five metres of Purcell Powder, lightly fall onto more than 80 runs on everything from groomers to glades that can be accessed by beginners to experts. Après ski sees families comparing their days in the resort village while gobbling baskets of fries at the Stemwinder Bar & Grill. Live music carries into the night.
Having the Canadian Rockies International Airport only 15 minutes away instantly makes Kimberley Alpine resort the closest ski resort to an international airport in Canada.
Red Mountain is all yours
Take a day or two to discover the hidden gem of RED Mountain Resort on the doorstep of Rossland, B.C. Over 2,800 acres of unspoiled terrain is accessed from lifts sprawled across the mountain. The gladed tree runs will have you booking another night, and then youll discover the Big Red Cats cat-skiing and need to stay another night. Well, why not book a week. Red Mountain is less than three hours from Spokane, Wash.