Canada’s Powder Highway

Ever heard of the Powder Highway in Canada? It’s the legendary loop connecting some of British Columbia’s best ski resorts, a ski circuit for the ambitious ski fanatic. It’s an incredibly scenic tour, lined with spectacular mountains, gorgeous lakes, river ways, and wildlife. Most of the ski resorts are quite proximate with drives of an hour to two between ski resorts, but the tour is best tackled in sections.

Having dreamed of the Powder Highway for years,  we found decent snow on our ski resorts adventure, but not the huge snowbanks we’d imagined driving the highways, exception: Roger’s Pass between Kicking Horse and Revelstoke (which can close for snow for days – hence the nickname “revel-stuck”). This made for an easier drive and we discovered some very cool Canadian ski resorts with gorgeous views.

This Canadian ski circuit encompasses 8 ski resorts, 15 cat ski operations, and 19 heli-ski operations, plus tons of back-country and Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, and dog-sledding. The terrain features The Rocky Mountains, The Columbia Mountains, The Monashees, Selkirks, and The Purcells – legendary skiing!

To access the Powder Highway, you will want to fly in to Calgary, Cranbrook (a much smaller airport) or Spokane Washington depending upon the resorts you’re exploring. You’ll need to rent a car to drive the vast Powder Highway loop, so vast we recommend you break it into smaller circuits.

Realistically, one ski tour tackles the eastern routes  of 95/93, including Fernie, Kimberley, Panorama, returning through Banff Alberta to Calgary, skiing as many as 7 resorts with additional options to cat or heli-ski. Our ski safari from Calgary started with a stop at Castle Mountain Resort (3 hours)– staying in dramatic Crowsnest Pass – not technically part of the Powder Highway – but Castle is a fun retro ski mountain for a day or two with some awesome terrain, and its own cat ski operation.

Next stops were Fernie (just an hour) and Kimberley (another hour, 20) which are both worthy of a few days skiing each and staying at their slope-side lodging. From Kimberley continue two hours north to ski Panorama, and on to Kicking Horse. On your way back to Calgary, ski the Big 3 in beautiful Banff on your return to Calgary.

Another ski safari from Calgary starts in Banff, where you can ski the Big 3 – beautiful Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay, then head west to ski Kicking Horse and Revelstoke. You could also add a day with Purcell Heli-skiing in Golden, and Revelstoke offers heli ski operations and cat skiing.

Powder Highway’s southwest quadrant is best accessed via Spokane Washington, visiting lesser known Red Mountain and Whitewater. On this ski safari, you could also fit in skiing at Schweitzer in Idaho.

Epic Pass resorts on the Powder Highway include Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse – which is a bonus reason to go ski these Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, these are Epic Pass partner resorts – not Vail-owned, so check the details at EpicPass.com.

Powder Highway Ski Tour Distances:
Calgary to Fernie or Castle 3 hours
Fernie to Kimberley 1 hour 20 minutes
Kimberley to Panorama 1 ½ hour
Panorama to Kicking Horse 2 hours
Kicking Horse to Revelstoke 2 hours via Roger’s Pass (often closes for weather)
Revelstoke to Nelson and Whitewater 3 hours 40 minutes
Whitewater to Red Mountain 1 hour 20
Whitewater to Schweitzer Idaho skiing
Red to Spokane Washington airport 3 hours

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