If you like small resorts with huge dumps of snow, small numbers of skiers and large amounts of sunshine, look no further than the sunny side of the Rockies. Each of the resorts has enough to keep you happy for a week, but in my opinion, it is more fun to take a two-week holiday, a 4×4 and drive to ski three or four of these lesser known gems. Fernie, Revelstoke and Kicking Horse are best for the more experienced skiers although in recent years they have expanded their intermediate terrain, Panorama and Kimberley are perfect for intermediates or beginners.
Despite the title, it is easiest to start the holiday in Calgary, Alberta with its direct flights from the UK and many other cities and we would recommend a couple of nights in Banff, Alberta to adjust to the time zone and give you a chance to ski the lovely Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. ?From there cross the Continental Divide to Kicking Horse, Revelstoke or Panorama. ?The Continental Divide separates east from west and amazingly any water in a river or stream to the east of the divide will eventually find itself nearly 3000 miles away in the Atlantic. To the west it only has to travel 600 miles or so into the Pacific. It also marks a great change in weather patterns; areas to the west of the Divide tend to be warmer and receive more snow.
Revelstoke A stunning drive along the Trans-Canada Highway and over Rogers Pass leads you to Revelstoke, a fabulous resort and the ski-in/out Sutton Place is probably the best hotel in the area, so especially if you a good skier, Revelstoke will be a must. Like so many of these smaller resorts, the town started life as a mining town in the lea of the mountain and an important point of the development of the Trans Canada Railway and road.??You could also be tempted by a couple of days (or more) heli-skiing with Great Canadian Heli-Skiing just outside Revelstoke or perhaps a snowmobiling day as Revelstoke is also a centre for snowmobile tours ranging from one to six days.
Kicking Horse Riding the gondola to the top of Eagle Eye, dining at the superb restaurant and viewing the endless peaks of the Rocky, Selkirk and Purcell Mountains is one of life’s pleasures. ?Skiing or riding the double blacks, chutes and bowls, once only accessible by helicopter, will test your skills and muscles to the limit. After a well deserved soak in the hot tub you could enjoy pub-style food, home-cooked pizza or a gourmet meal in the village or down into the old mining town of Golden for dinner. Although in my view, Kicking Horse is a resort for advanced skiers, they have created some easier runs for the beginners and intermediates.
Panorama punches well above its size for the amount of skiing it offers: ?it truly does have something for everyone. It is a perfect resort for a novice or intermediate skier as there is a ton of inviting but not too challenging terrain and incredible tree-line skiing that will take your breath away. Panorama also boasts one of the biggest vertical drops on the North American continent, the incredible Taynton Bowl and RK Heliskiing just steps from the village so there is plenty to keep the advanced skier very happy. In-resort dining is fabulously varied, plus you can charge everything to your room, but you mustn’t miss at least one trip to the town of Invermere for shopping, dining and more, all accessible on the free shuttle.
Kimberley is a small resort, but to my mind, boasts perhaps the most beautiful scenery of any of the Rockies resorts. ?I would recommend a night or two here to break the journey between Kicking Horse or Panorama to Fernie. ?There are good facilities, accommodation is ski in/out, inexpensive and there is over 1800 acres of terrain to keep everyone happy, especially the beginners and intermediates of your party but if you want more of a challenge, head into the trees of the Black Forest.
A resort of character ! To ski the 5 back bowls of Fernie on sunny day is a dream come true. Many resorts across the world claim to be “a powder hounds paradise” but Fernie really is the business: according to legend this is due to Griz the Powder King. ?I cannot vouch for the veracity of the legend, but I do know that the snow is awesome, much of the terrain is challenging, and that I love the funky old mining town of Fernie at the foot of the resort.
That really sums up the best of the BC Rockies. ?I have not included the tiny resort of Castle Mountain in Alberta which you will pass on your return to Calgary from Fernie. The skiing is excellent but there is little accommodation and I think that by now you will have skied your boots off!