Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
Does soaking post-skiing muscles in steamy mineral water sound like heaven? If so, you’re in luck. Ski resorts and hot springs are situated along southeastern BC’s Powder Highway circuit, which also follows a Hot Springs Circle Route. Unless you have a few weeks to spare, you’ll need to explore this powder paradise in sections. Not to fuss—you’ll have an excuse to come back
Here is some inspiration for a trip along BC’s Powder Highway with the perfect hot springs pairings to soothe those aching quads.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort has North America’s greatest vertical at 1,713 m (5,620 ft) and advanced skiers are drawn to the resort’s long, steep runs. The mountain also gets its fair share of the storm cycles with more than 1,228 cm (428 in) falling on the resort last ski season. For those looking for an even deeper powder experience, the resort has teamed up with Great Northern Snowcat Skiing to offer small group, single-day cat-ski experiences. Those who want to get even higher can hop in a helicopter with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing for a single-day heli-ski experience—the best way to earn your post-ski soak.
Heading south from Revelstoke on the highway you’ll hit Halcyon and Nakusp hot springs, both reached via a free scenic ferry across Upper Arrow Lake. Situated in the Kuskanax Valley, Nakusp Hot Springs allows you to soak amid snow-covered trees. Can’t move those relaxed muscles any further? Book a cedar chalet for the night before hitting the next mineral springs down the road. Halcyon Hot Springs overlooks Upper Arrow Lake and you can gaze at the mountains between dunks in the cold plunge.
You should be relaxed by now, which means it’s time to head south to the town of Nelson and Whitewater Ski Resort. You’re sure to find a dose of authentic ski culture, rub shoulders with the locals, and find some deep stashes of snow—all to yourself. The iconic double-chairlift has been replaced with a quad so this little resort can get more people moving. Not far from Nelson is Ainsworth Hot Springs with a unique horseshoe-shaped cave—with stalagmites and stalactites—to soak in after a day of playing in powder at the resort.
Last stop? Head for the tiny town of Rossland and RED Mountain Resort. This is the kind of ski resort you fall in love with right away and the kind of mountain town you never want to leave. Perched above town, the resort is surprisingly big with 2,877 lift-serviced acres, 2,919 feet of vertical, 110 runs, seven lifts, and 360-degree descents. The kicker? You can try in-bounds cat-skiing for $10.
The mountain town of Golden is the perfect powder seeker’s paradise. Home to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with 2,800 acres, four bowls, countless chutes, and ridgelines for days, this resort attracts adventurous skiers. You can watch freeride skiers and snowboarders compete for the best line down extremely technical terrain during the Freeride World Tour in 2018. Less adventurous skiers can enjoy this mountain too, with easier runs on the lower mountain and a perfect après-ski perch at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant sitting at 2,346 m (7,700 ft) and overlooking a sea of Rocky Mountain peaks.
Once you’ve exhausted yourself skiing, head south to Radium Hot Springs, on edge of Kootenay National Park. You can soak in the hot springs while you spot bighorn sheep balancing on cliff sides or take advantage of the on-site day spa. Just south of here is Panorama Mountain Resort with newly opened terrain this year—an additional 128 acres and four new runs in the resort’s Taynton Bowl. Surrounded by 10,000-foot peaks, the views from this resort are spectacular and you don’t have to leave the resort for your post-ski soak. All Panorama Lodging guests can access the slopeslide hot pools where you can relax après-ski. Hit the road and journey south. Fairmont Hot Springs is your next stop, with a full-service resort built around one of the largest hot springs in Canada. A small ski resort is here too, so you can soak and ski in the same day.
Finish your ski trip at Kimberley Alpine Resort and Fernie Alpine Resort in southeastern BC. These mountain towns have it all—great skiing, friendly locals, and views of peaks in all directions. You may want to park your skis and stay awhile. That, or keep tackling the Powder Highway and head west. You’ll eventually hit Whitewater Ski Resort and you can hop on the western Powder Highway route south to north.
Want to explore smaller resorts along the Powder Highway? Check out Salmo Ski Hill, Wapiti Ski Club, and Summit Lake Ski and Snowboard Area.
Alpine resorts are bordered by uncontrolled wilderness areas. Respect the boundary lines and don’t ski out of bounds. Make sure you know the Alpine Responsibility Code and learn about the danger of tree wells. AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.
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