Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
No longer do BC’s ski resorts mothball their slopes and lifts come summer. Instead they morph into giant green outdoor playgrounds with activities from fly-fishing and scaling a Via Ferrata to celebrating a Mile High Wine Festival and hiking across Whistler’s glacier in a t-shirt.
The same slopes we schuss in winter are perfect for mountain biking, cross-country to extreme downhill. Ski lifts are put to work at eight BC lift-accessed bike parks with Big White joining the group in 2017.
The Whistler Bike Park will teach total newbies to point their knobby wheels downhill while epic routes like SilverStar’s 35-kilometre (22-mile) Beowulf, opening this summer, attract experts. Most resorts offer biking options of various levels with legendary routes around Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington and Panorama Mountain Resort bringing a new bike trail to the resort this summer.
“Gravity assisted” heli-biking takes off from the Whistler area and in the West Kootenays, while Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers heli-calibre alpine biking without the heli-cost, with a new Crystal Bowl high altitude trail accessed by riding the Eagle’s Eye Gondola.
A string of golf resorts along the Rockies’ western slopes between Golden and Cranbrook offer showy snowy peaks, sparkling air, and wandering deer. There are natural hot springs at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort along with their three golf courses including a family-friendly, nine-hole par 3.
Greywolf at Panorama Mountain Village in the scenic Purcell Range has an infamous 6th hole dubbed Cliffhanger atop a plateau with sheer drops on three sides. Après golf, dip into the resort’s mineral hot pools.
Soar up high on a heli-hiking experience or try Fernie’s unique chairlift-accessed alpine summit glamping, complete with champagne, a guided hike, raclette dinner, s’mores by the campfire, then breakfast with a view.
Summer mountain fun comes in endless variations like Sun Peaks’ off-road Segway tours, Whistler’s PEAK2PEAK Gondola—or actually riding atop a gondola up Grouse Mountain. Take part in Big White’s Craft and Country Mountain Festival. Paddleboard on mountain lakes, raft wild whitewater, kayak Whistler’s River of Golden Dreams, or paddle a traditional Voyageur canoe at Sun Peaks Resort. Tandem paraglide at Revelstoke.
Kids will love Fernie’s Aerial Playground with its multiple ziplines, or summer tubing on a bunny hill at SilverStar. Families can chill at mountaintop BBQs atop Whistler and gourmet dine at Kicking Horse’s Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,700 feet (2,347 metres). Or slip on a parka and sample vodka at Fernie’s Lizard Creek Lodge’s Ice Bar.
Get your adrenaline rush by literally dangling off Kicking Horse’s Hanging Glory Suspension Bridge 1,000 feet (305 metres) above the valley floor. Ride Revelstoke’s snaking Pipe Mountain Coaster downhill at up to 42km/hr(27mi/hr) or sign up for a roll call of endurance competitions from trail running at Panorama to Whistler’s Tough Mudder.
If relaxation is more your thing, join 10,000 similar minds at Whistler’s Wanderlust Festival or attend Mount Washington’s yoga retreat. Panorama and SilverStar believe taking an on-mountain yoga class amid wilderness and mountain views is a great way to start a day.
Featured image: Mountain biking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: Ryan Creary
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