Snowcapped adventure, mountain views, mineral hot springs, craft beers, poutine, and ax-throwing await along the Powder Highway. Buckle up for the ski road trip of a lifetime.
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This trip was taken before the pandemic spread of the coronavirus. Please check venue websites and social media, or call ahead, for their current status if you are interested in visiting.
Pink clouds dot the sky above Revelstoke Mountain Resort as we ride an early morning gondola up the mountain for First Tracks Breakfast Club. Our small group has flown to Canada for this very experience—skiing untouched powder in the picturesque Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia. It does not disappoint.
Though we range in skill from beginner to expert, we are all excited to ski through the winter wonderland we discover at the top of the mountain. Tree boughs bend under the weight of fresh snow above and our skis sink deep into the soft blanket below. Uncrowded, unhurried, I grin beneath my neck gaiter as we carve our way through the silent forest.
With so much snow and so few people, skiing at resorts along the Powder Highway in southeast British Columbia, Canada is a dream. A roughly circular route that connects eight alpine ski resorts in the Kootenay Rockies, the Powder Highway provides a roadmap for winter adventure. You can hop on the map at any point to ski some of the least crowded runs you’ve ever seen, then stay to enjoy Canadian culture and cuisine. Our group started in the town of Revelstoke, or Revy, as the locals call it.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Revy has a fun, walkable downtown to explore, mere minutes by shuttle from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. After a day spent skiing both longest lift-accessible vertical and the longest ski run in North America, borrow a flannel shirt from Peak Axe Throwing and embrace your inner Canadian while hurdling axes. It’s incredibly satisfying. Then, stroll over to nearby Chubby Funsters Kitchen & Cocktails and round out the day with poutine made with wild rabbit gravy, The Tragically Hip on the radio, and hockey on TV.
When you’re good and tired, you can’t beat the cool quarters at Revy’s stylish, new Explorers Society Hotel. The nine luxurious urban loft-style rooms in this boutique hotel delight with their geometric tile floors and exposed concrete walls. The food and drinks here are incredible, too, so save room for a craft cocktail or B.C. beer before bed. If you can squeeze in one more meal before you go, the chef at the hotel’s Quartermaster Eatery makes everything in-house, from scratch, using only all-natural and organic ingredients. The restaurant works with small local producers and wild/sustainable fisheries to bring the best of British Columbia to your plate.
Halcyon Hot Springs Resort
Continuing our journey south along the Powder Highway took us right past Halycon Hot Springs Resort, so we stopped for a much-needed post-ski soak. It was a brief moment of relaxation, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rest outdoors in natural hot spring pools while glittery snowflakes filled the air.
RED Mountain Resort
Located just across the U.S. border—a shuttle-ride away from Spokane, Washington—RED Mountain Resort in Rossland, British Columbia remains a relatively well-kept secret. So few outsiders ski here that RED boasts the most powder per person of any resort in Canada, with 119 runs spread across four mountains. While skiing there, you might well question whether you are still on a groomer if you haven’t seen another person in a while. There are so many trails, you might even get lost. For this reason, take advantage of the resort’s free hosting program. A guide will happily spend half a day with you, taking you wherever you’d like to ski across 3,850 acres of mountain terrain. Ask them to take you cat skiing, too, available for just $10 per ride.
At RED, you’ll want to stay at The Josie Hotel, a new ski-in ski-out boutique hotel that offers a free ski concierge. The concierge is a game-changer. Literally ski to the doors of the hotel and hand over your equipment. No exhausting lugging of ski boots necessary. Just head straight to the giant bathtub in your room to unwind.
The Velvet Restaurant and Lounge, The Josie’s full-service restaurant, serves delectable locally-inspired craft cooking, so be sure to eat at least one breakfast and dinner there.
But, after a day on the slopes, you may first prefer the low-key dining experience of nachos and beer at the nearby Rafter’s Lounge. If you’d like to head into town, just five minutes away, you can also enjoy craft beer from local brewery Rossland Beer Company, or grab an elk burger at The Flying Steamshovel. On the Powder Highway, you’ll never go hungry. Aprés-ski is a way of life.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport
I began and ended my six-day Powder Highway adventure at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, which I highly recommend. This supremely convenient in-airport hotel offers luxurious rooms with a view of the runway and makes the perfect pit stop between flights. Plus, the hotel’s breakfast buffet is to die for. With a good night’s sleep and a belly full of fresh fruit, you’ll be refreshed and ready to head home to Texas.
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Cover: RED Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy Destination BC
Heidi Gollub travels the world with five kids in tow. The founder of Free Fun in Austin, Heidi believes you can find adventure everywhere, even in your own backyard. Follow her on Instagram at @heidi.go.