One of the things that sets the greater Spokane area apart from other outdoor cities and towns around the western U.S. is our proximity to British Columbia’s relatively unspoiled natural wonders and friendly mountain towns. Use this selection of some of the top winter recreation destinations in B.C. to plan your next trip. Again this year (as of November 2018), the exchange rate favors American visitors to Canada, and you’ll save up to 30% on everything from lift tickets and hotel rooms to plates of poutin and jugs of local brew. Grab your passport, pack your boards and bags, and head north!

 

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 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 to be had; super family friendly with plenty to do for all ages and abilities (even for non-skiers).

 

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 (check out the film “Ascent to Powder” to get a feel for the place); seemingly endless resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding; the views of jagged Rocky Mountain peaks above town (when it’s not snowing) are an incredible sight to wake up to.

 

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: 660 acres of new, rowdy terrain opening for the 2018/19 season; 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: The best mix of sunny days and powder in the Kootenays; over 40% of the terrain is intermediate; super friendly, laid-back atmosphere.

 

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; old-school community ski hill vibe.

 

Photo of skier taken from below.

Red Mountain // Photo: Aaron Theisen

 

RED Mountain Resort

Location: Rossland, B.C.

Summit: 6,807 ft.

Longest Run: 4.3 miles

Lifts: 7

Skiable Acres: 4,200

Vertical: 2,919 ft.

Annual Snowfall: 300 inches

From Spokane: 3 hours

Why Go: $10/run in-bounds cat-skiing; some of the best tree runs in B.C.; nearly 82% of the terrain is intermediate to advanced; new luxury and ski bum lodging options right on the mountain.

 

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 intermediate runs in the Ripper Zone and new glades.

 

Salmo Ski Hill

Location: Salmo, B.C.

Annual Snowfall: Plenty

From Spokane: 3 hours

Why Go: Fully-lit night skiing; great family-friendly terrain; old-school community ski hill with friendly people 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.

 

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 goodness 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.

 

HOT SPRINGS

Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort

The hot springs at Ainsworth 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., returning the Ktunaxa peoples to this significant place. 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. 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., 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 family-friendly hot springs also has a spray park for the kids.

 

Amenities: Multiple on-site lodging options and the Kingfisher Restaurant featuring healthy gourmet cuisine with many ingredients sourced from within 100 miles. 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 available in the village of Nakusp. Nearby trails offer excellent snowshoeing 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, B.C. 5.5 hours from Spokane.

 

FAT BIKING

Many of the southeastern B.C. resorts featured in this guide offer a limited number of fat biking trails and rentals. SilverStar near Vernon, B.C., has one of the more extensive groomed trail systems (15k) along with a fleet of rental bikes. RED Mountain rents fat bikes and provides access to an off-resort machine-groomed loop option. Kimberley Alpine Resort also rent bikes and has easy access to the groomed fat biking trail system on the Trickle Creek Golf Course. While fat biking at many B.C. resorts is a great option when the slopes haven’t seen new snow in a while, your best bet for a more serious fat biking trip is to head for the more extensive groomed trail systems in Rossland or Fernie.

 

Rossland Fat Biking

This year a roughly 12k, machine-groomed loop pieced together with several well-known single-track trails will be rideable from the Centennial Trailhead, Red Mountain Resort, or in town from Revolution Cycles or the Rossland Beer Company (both major supporters of local bike trails). Stop by Revolution Cycles for a copy of a new fat biking trail map due out this winter as well as for bike rental or gear needs. The Redstone Golf Course in Rossland also has another 7k of groomed fat biking trails. If you’re really looking for a challenge, take on as much of the famed 7 Summits Trail as you can handle on your fatty when trails conditions and weather are right.

 

Fat Biking Fernie

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 8k of groomed trails up at Fernie Alpine Resort. The trails around Fernie are perfect for riding throughout the winter with clear signage and well-built berms. Ride the Montane area trails off of Coal Creek Road for a fun ride to a warming hut. Visit Tourismfernie.com for specific trail info and a winter recreation map.

 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

British Columbia boasts over 50 Nordic skiing areas across the province, with many of them located within striking distance of the U.S. border and the Inland Northwest. Most alpine ski and snowboard resorts have at least a short groomed cross-country trail system, but here are a few larger Nordic areas worthy of a B.C. skinny-ski road trip.

 

Photo of cross country skiers from behind.

Photo courtesy of Big White Ski Resort

 

SilverStar/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 1.5 k of lit trails for night skiing.

 

Black Jack Ski Club Trails

Five minutes north of the town 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, meaning 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.

 

BACKCOUNTRY

If you prefer hiking and descending relatively crowd-free wilderness terrain to riding lifts, British Columbia has plenty of touring options to keep you busy for several lifetimes. If you have the necessary safety gear and avy/backcountry training or experience, backcountry ski or splitboard tours out of Kootenay Pass just north of the border near Salmo and Creston, Whitewater Ski Resort, Red Mountain Resort, and the Revelstoke area (including Rogers Pass) won’t disappoint. However those places are just the tip of the iceberg.

Backcountryskiingcanada.com is a treasure trove of backcountry ski and splitboarding route recommendations, forums, and other valuable information and resources to help you explore B.C.’s wide range of backcountry options wisely. There are also dozens of cat skiing, heli skiing, and heli-assisted backcountry hut tours where you can explore the B.C. backcountry with the benefit of a guide. Always consult the Avalanche Canada website for the specific region you’ll be visiting for the latest avalanche advisory information.

 

 

5 WINTER ADVENTURES

Explore 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.

 

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.

 

Learn to Ice Climb

Take a 2-3 day beginner ice climbing course from Nelson-based Summit Mountain Guides and learn the basics that will get you climbing frozen waterfalls in the East Kootenays or Canadian Rockies. Or give the 60’ Ice Climbing Tower at Big White Ski Resort a try for a less intimidating climb.

 

Snowshoe around Fernie

Find packed trails and untracked snowshoe wandering at several snowshoeing areas around the vibrant mountain town of Fernie (Tourismfernie.com). 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.

Experience Canada’s Oldest Winter Carnival

Back in 1898, a Norwegian miner named Olaus Jeldness kicked off what has become Canada’s oldest winter carnival. Witness and participate in a wide range of events, competitions, and celebrations at this year’s Rossland Winter Carnival January 24-27, 2019: live music; booze-fueled revelry; a rail jam and bobsled race; a parade; fire spinners; ice carvings; and other festivities and impassioned, creative antics.