The City of Castlegar in British Columbia is a storied wintertime destination with great snow for skiing and warm sunshine for fishing.
Sponsored by Destination Castlegar
By Vince Hempsall
Nestled in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, an easy three-hour drive north of Spokane, Wash., the city of Castlegar is a fairytale destination in the winter months because it offers dreamy snow for skiing and snowmobiling as well as mild temperatures and lots of sunshine for fishing and paddling.
With the strong American dollar, a family vacation in Castlegar can last twice as long as one in the U.S. and there’s every form of recreation to enjoy, including some of the best nordic skiing in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you prefer fast skate skiing for fitness or relaxed classic through untouched powder, there is something for every Nordic skier visiting Castlegar. The local club maintains 30 miles of track in the mountain pass near the city from November to March and there are innumerable free trails to explore in the valley bottom including the 100-mile-long Columbia & Western Rail Trail (CWR trail) that follows alongside the Arrow Lakes.
Alpine and Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding
If downhill skiing is more your thing, Castlegar is conveniently located between the world-class resorts of Red Mountain and Whitewater, where, on average, 40 feet of snow falls every season. Accommodation is significantly cheaper in the city than on the slopes and the selection of aprés spots is far greater given there are 17 local restaurants, bars, and a brew pub to choose from. There’s also a wealth of backcountry options, including a half dozen lodges in the nearby Valhalla mountain range and the 30-mile-long Bonnington ski traverse that starts just south of the city and winds its way past four huts.
For those more interested in motorized fun, the Castlegar Snowmobile Association maintains 45 miles of trails and three huts in the Norns mountains. And, as with backcountry skiing, there are vast acres of untouched terrain to explore in the three mountain ranges surrounding the city.
Bring your boat and take advantage of the mild temperatures and warm sunshine in the valley. Castlegar is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers and at the terminus of the 144-mile-long Arrow Lakes system, and fishing is excellent year-round. Some of the largest rainbow and bull trout have been caught during the winter months in the waters surrounding the city, and the walleye fishing is particularly good as they tend to stay closer to the surface.
In fact, the temperatures are so mild in Castlegar during the winter, it’s not unheard of to see kayakers, paddleboarders, and canoeists exploring the local waters from December to March. Take all those outdoor recreational opportunities found around the city as well as the wide range of eateries, art galleries, an indoor community pool complex with hot tub, and family-friendly accommodations including the Super 8, which has a kid’s water slide and theme rooms, and Castlegar will have you living happily ever after.
Cover photo by Stacked Films courtesy of Destination Castlegar