Southeast British Columbia Winter Destinations

Winter adventure doesn’t stop at the U.S./Canada border; in fact, opportunities to ski and ride, wander, and explore hip mountain towns only get bigger, better, and less crowded once you cross the 49th parallel. Out There’s 2nd annual B.C. Ski & Winter Travel Guide comes at a time when the exchange rate still favors American visitors to Canada, with savings on everything in the 25-30% range. And with ski and stay and other travel deals in abundance, it’s time to get your border-crossing ID in order and head north! 

Skier going down a steep and deep powder run
Photo courtesy Fernie Alpine Resort

SKI & SNOWBOARD RESORTS 

Apex Mountain Resort 

  • Location: Penticton, B.C. 
  • Summit: 7,175 ft. 
  • Lifts: 2 chairs, T-bar, & magic carpet 
  • Runs: 79 marked; 40+ unmarked 
  • Vertical: 2,000 + ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: Nearly 20 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 5 hours 
  • Why Go: Dry, light powder; 5,000 hectares of backcountry/slackcountry terrain; close to amazing Okanagan Valley wineries. 

Baldy Mountain Ski Resort 

  • Location: Oliver, B.C. 
  • Summit: 9th highest ski resort in Canada (7,580 ft.) 
  • Lifts: 2 + magic carpet 
  • Terrain: 35 alpine runs, 360 acres of trails, and 240 acres of glades  
  • Annual Snowfall: 25 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 4.5 hours 
  • Why Go: Dry Okanagan powder; no crowds; 80% beginner and intermediate terrain. 

Big White Ski Resort 

  • Location: Kelowna, B.C. 
  • Summit: 7,606 ft. 
  • Lifts: 15 
  • Patrolled area: 2,765 acres 
  • Vertical: 2,550 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 4.5 hours 
  • Why Go: The 2nd largest ski resort lift system in Canada with real Champagne powder (and no lift lines); 100% ski-in ski-out accommodations; huge, vibrant village with over 20 restaurants & bars and plenty of off-the-slopes fun; super family friendly with new magic carpet and plenty to do for all ages and abilities (even for non-skiers). 
Photo courtesy Big White Ski Resort

Fernie Alpine Resort 

  • Location: Fernie, B.C. 
  • Summit: 7,000 ft. 
  • Lifts: 10 
  • Skiable acres: 2,500 
  • Vertical: 3,550 ft. 
  • Snowfall: 30 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 5 hours 
  • Why Go: Fernie is an action-packed, real-deal ski town with seemingly endless resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding; the views of jagged Rocky Mountain peaks above town will blow your mind. 
Fernie Alpine Resort’s Village Base // Photo coutesy Tourism Fernie

Kicking Horse 

  • Location: Golden, B.C. 
  • Summit: 8,218 ft. 
  • Lifts: 5 
  • Skiable acres: 3,486 
  • Vertical: 4,314 ft. 
  • Snowfall: 24 ft. 
  • Inbounds chutes: 85+ 
  • From Spokane: 6.5 hours 
  • Why Go: New terrain was added in 2018; 60% advanced & expert terrain including 85+ inbounds chutes; and the 5th biggest vertical in North America! 

Kimberley Alpine Resort 

  • Location: Kimberley, B.C. 
  • Summit: 6,500 ft. 
  • Lifts: 5 
  • Resort acres: 1,800+ 
  • Vertical: 2,465 ft. 
  • Snowfall: 13 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 4.5 hours 
  • Why Go: Some of the sunniest skiing and riding in the Kootenays; over 40% of the terrain is intermediate; friendly, laid-back atmosphere. 
skier jumping into powder snow
Kimberley Alpine Resort // Photo by Aaron Theisen

Panorama Mountain Resort 

  • Location: Invermere, B.C. 
  • Summit: 8,038 ft. 
  • Lifts: 10 
  • Resort terrain: 2,975 acres 
  • Vertical: 4,265 ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: 16+ ft. 
  • From Spokane: 5.5 hours 
  • Why Go: Top 10 vertical in North America; 75% of the runs are suitable for beginners and intermediates. 

Phoenix Ski Area 

  • Location: Grand Forks, B.C. 
  • Lifts: 2 (T-bar and rope tow) 
  • Terrain: 15 runs 
  • Vertical: 800 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 3.25 hours 
  • Why Go: Great place for families to ski together and beginners of any age to learn; super unique community ski hill vibe. 

RED Mountain Resort 

  • Location: Rossland, B.C. 
  • Summit: 6,807 ft. 
  • Longest Run: 4.3 miles  
  • Lifts: 8 
  • Skiable Acres: 3,850 
  • Vertical: 2,919 ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: 300 inches 
  • From Spokane: 3 hours 
  • Why Go: New Topping lift and terrain that will ease occasional Motherlode Chair traffic jams; $10/run in-bounds cat-skiing; epic tree-skiing and in-bounds steeps; nearly 82% of the terrain is intermediate to advanced; new on-mountain lodging options. 
Photo courtesy Red Mountain Resort

Revelstoke Mountain Resort 

  • Location: Revelstoke, B.C. 
  • Lift-top Elevation: 7,300 ft. 
  • Skiable Acres: 3,121 
  • Longest Run: 9.5 miles 
  • Vertical: 5,620 ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: 30-45 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 6 hours 
  • Why Go: Biggest vertical in North America; incredible in-bounds expert terrain; 45% intermediate terrain; new lift and beginner terrain for 2019/20. 

Salmo Ski Hill 

  • Location: Salmo, B.C. 
  • Annual Snowfall: Plenty 
  • From Spokane: 3 hours 
  • Why Go: Fully-lit night skiing; great family-friendly terrain with a rowdy t-bar; old-school community ski hill on the way to Nelson. 

SilverStar Mountain Resort 

  • Location: Vernon, B.C. 
  • Summit: 6,280 ft. 
  • Lifts: 11 
  • Runs: 132  
  • Skiable Acres: 3,282  
  • Vertical: 2,500 ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: 275 inches 
  • From Spokane: 6 hours 
  • Why Go: Colorful, ski-in, ski-out mid-mountain village; all-inclusive lift ticket includes access to alpine slopes, Nordic trails, tubing, ice skating, and fat bike and snowshoe trails; B.C.’s 3rd largest resort; Canada’s largest daily-groomed cross-country trail network. 

Sun Peaks Resort 

  • Location: Kamloops, B.C. 
  • Summit: 7,060 ft. 
  • Lifts: 13 
  • Patrolled area: 4,270 acres 
  • Vertical: 2,893 ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: 19+ ft. 
  • From Spokane: 8 hours 
  • Why Go: True to its name, Canada’s 2nd largest ski area soaks up over 2,000 hours of sunshine per year on average. 
Photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort

Whitewater Ski Resort 

  • Location: Nelson, B.C. 
  • Summit: 6,700 ft. 
  • Lifts: 3 (and one handle tow)  
  • Skiable Acres: 2,367 
  • Vertical: 2,044 ft. 
  • Annual Snowfall: 40 ft. 
  • From Spokane: 3 hours 
  • Why Go: 40 feet of Kootenay pow fall here annually (on average); 55% advanced in-bounds terrain and incredible lift-accessed backcountry; friendly vibe, legendary food, and proximity to Nelson, B.C.’s one-of-a-kind mountain town amenities; and home of the Coldsmoke Powder Festival each February.   
Whitewater Ski Resort // Photo by Aaron Theisen

HOT SPRINGS 

Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort 

When you plan a trip to Whitewater Ski Resort or Nelson, B.C., don’t miss the rewards of the short drive north to Ainsworth. The natural hot springs were first visited by the Ktunaxa First Nations peoples for healing and rejuvenation, and today the resort is fittingly owned by Yaqan Nukiy, the Lower Kootenay Band of Creston, B.C. The hot springs includes warm, mineral-rich waters in a pool and a natural cave without the sulfur odor associated with some natural hot springs. There’s also a cold plunge pool and stunning views of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountains.   

  • Amenities: Newly renovated hotel rooms (hot springs passes included with your room) and the new, family-friendly Ktunaxa Grill restaurant with an impressive menu and views of the lake. 4 hours from Spokane. 

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort 

Canada’s largest natural mineral hot springs with views of the Canadian Rockies. Resort includes a hot pool, large warm swimming pool, and dive pool. 

  • Amenities: A variety of lodging and dining options at the resort and an on-site, family-friendly ski hill. 5 hours from Spokane. 

Halcyon Hot Springs 

This remote and beautiful resort along Upper Arrow Lake 20 miles north of Nakusp, B.C., and on the way to Revelstoke offers mineral-rich natural hot spring pools and majestic lake-side views of the Monashee Mountains. The name “Halcyon” is a reference to a Greek myth and is a term used throughout history as a reference to times of peace and calm, which the resort serves up in abundance. The hot springs also has a spray park for kids. 

  • Amenities: Multiple on-site lodging options and the Kingfisher Restaurant featuring healthy gourmet cuisine with many ingredients. 5.5 hours from Spokane. 

Nakusp Hot Springs 

This community-owned hot springs in the Selkirk Mountains near the village of Nakusp consists of two pools (one warm, one hot) fed by nearby natural springs.  

  • Amenities: Rental chalets and camping, snack shop, and kids’ playground. More lodging and dining options are available in the village of Nakusp. Nearby trails offer excellent snowshoeing or hiking options. 5.25 hours from Spokane. 

Radium Hot Springs 

Two large pools (one hot, one warm) provide soaking in natural mineral water within Kootenay National Park near the communities of Radium and Invermere. 5.5 hours from Spokane. 

FAT BIKING 

You can find fat biking trails, shared Nordic trails, and rentals at many of the ski resorts listed in this guide, but some of the best singletrack winter bike trails are being groomed in and around Rossland, Cranbrook, and Fernie, B.C.  

Rossland, B.C. 

Ride over 12K of machine-groomed trails around Rossland including loops pieced together from the Centennial Trailhead, Red Mountain Resort, or in town from Revolution Cycles. Stop by Revolution Cycles for a copy of a new fat biking trail map and for bike rental or gear needs. The Redstone Golf Course in Rossland also has another 7k of groomed fat biking trails. There are typically ridable sections of trail (depending on conditions) on both sides of the highway at the Seven Summits Trail trailhead too. 

Fernie, B.C. 

Beginner, intermediate, and expert riders will find a variety of groomed and user-packed trails for fat biking right out of downtown Fernie and another 11k of groomed multi-use trails at Fernie Alpine Resort. Book a ‘learn to fatbike’ session at Fernie Alpine Resort and spend a few hours with an experienced guide. Visit Tourismfernie.com for updated trail and grooming info and a winter recreation map or stop by one of the local bike shops for recommendations. 

Cranbrook, B.C. 

Cranbrook has valley terrain that is similar to Spokane and North Idaho, with plenty of flats and rolling hills that make for a great groomed fat bike trails system. This winter, grooming will include terrain in the South Star Cross Country Ski Area and the Cranbrook Community Forest. The total trail network for the season will be between 60-70K of singletrack, with options for all levels of riders. If you don’t have a fatty, no worries; you can rent one from Bootleg Bike Co. or Kimberley Alpine Resort

Check out Trailforks to explore your riding options in and around Cranbrook. And find trail grooming reports on the Wildhorse Cycling Club or Cranbrook Community Forest Society Facebook pages. 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING  

British Columbia has over 50 Nordic skiing areas across the province, with many of them located within an hour or two from the U.S. border. Most alpine ski and snowboard resorts have groomed cross-country trails, and many communities have additional cross-country trail systems that are regularly groomed with excellent facilities and nearby amenities. 

SilverStar Resort/Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre 

Canada’s largest network of daily-groomed cross-country ski trails begin at the SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon, B.C. Connected to SilverStar’s 55K of world-class trails is another 50K of groomed Nordic trails at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre (duel mountain passes available). 

Nelson Nordic Trails 

Located 10 minutes south of Nelson on Highway 6 at the Whitewater Ski Area turnoff, the Nelson Nordic Ski Club maintains 30K of groomed trails (classic and skating tracks) for all levels. The trail system includes a day lodge, two warming huts, and 1.5K of lit trails for night skiing.   

Black Jack Ski Club Trails 

Five minutes north of Rossland, the 40K Black Jack cross-country trail system is one of the premier Nordic areas in western Canada and the closest B.C. trail system to Spokane. In addition to the groomed classic and skate skiing trails, there is a 2.5K lit night-skiing loop. 

Kimberley Nordic Club Trails 

The Kimberley Nordic Club hosts a 33K first-class groomed trail network including double track, single track, and a center skating lane. The trail system on the edge of Kimberley includes a 3.3K lit loop for night skiing, a lodge with bathrooms, and a warming hut. 

Fernie Nordic Trails 

There are over 50K of groomed cross-country trails around Fernie, from beginner circuits to advanced trails. You can explore one of these different trail systems in the spectacular wilds of the Canadian Rockies each day of your trip: Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie Golf Club, Island Lake Lodge, Montane, and the Elk Valley Nordic Centre.  

Fernie Nordic Centre // Photo courtesy Tourism Fernie

BACKCOUNTRY 

Scoring untracked backcountry powder on skis or a splitboard in the Kootenay-Rockies region of B.C. can take on many forms, from earning your turns while camped out in the front seat of a Subaru at a mountain pass to fully-catered hut trips and vertical-maximizing cat ski or heli ski tours. Don’t venture into these B.C. backcountry hotspots or any other backcountry terrain, however, without the necessary safety gear and avy/backcountry training. 

Kootenay Pass: Just north of the border near Salmo and Creston, this popular backcountry area can get crowded on weekends. Excellent terrain, reliable snow, and avalanche risks abound on both sides of the highway. 

Whitewater Ski Resort: Whitewater’s spectacular in-bounds riding is just the beginning of what this gateway to backcountry terrain has to offer those equipped to access the powder fields and steeps you can’t see from the lodge. 

Rossland/Red Mountain Resort: There are plenty of backcountry ski tours in the Rossland Range as well as lift-accessed touring possibilities from the resort. Check RED’s backcountry page for any updates to their touring policy and visit Backcountry Skiing Canada’s Rossland page for more info. 

Fernie: The long season and jagged Rocky Mountain peaks around Fernie make for dramatic ski touring and splitboarding out of the resort and other nearby alpine areas. Two local cat skiing operations make for a great guided option to explore the backcountry. 

Ski touring in Fernie // Photo courtesy Tourism Fernie

Rogers Pass: This legendary backcountry destination between Revelstoke and Golden demands respect and a keen awareness of avalanche dangers. The big mountain terrain has gained a reputation that attracts skiers from around the world. 

Backcountryskiingcanada.com: This treasure trove of backcountry ski and splitboarding route recommendations, forums, and other valuable information and resources will help you explore B.C.’s wide range of backcountry options wisely. 

OTHER WINTER ADVENTURES 

Cody Caves 

Open for winter caving tours by email appointment only, Cody Cave Tours offers guided tours of a fragile underground world sculpted by glacier-fed waters above Ainsworth Hot Springs north of Nelson. The winter tour requires a heli-shuttle and/or strenuous snowshoe hike in. 

Go Snowmobiling at Big White 

Experience the backcountry surrounding Big White Ski Resort on your own snowmobile as part of a tour or self-guided trip. Choose from groomed trails and more advanced powder riding routes.    

Snowshoeing family fun // Photo courtesy Tourism Fernie

Snowshoe around Fernie 

Find packed trails and untracked snowshoe wandering at several snowshoeing areas around the vibrant mountain town of Fernie. Or learn about Fernie’s rich history and the mountain environment on a Mountain Heritage Snowshoe Tour interpretive outing or book a snowcat ride, lunch, and snowshoe tour deep in the mountains at Island Lake Lodge. //