As you dream about ski adventures next winter, here are 10 reasons to put the Canadian Rockies at the top of your must-do list.
1)Hot Springs. From au natural rock pools of steaming hot mineral water in the forest to commercial springs like Fairmont, Cave and Basin, and Radium, there are many ways to soothe post-skiing muscle aches and pains in the Rockies.
2)National parks. Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort and Nakiska Ski Area sit on the door step of Canada’s stunning mountain national parks of Yoho, Jasper, Banff, Waterton and Kootenay. Combined these natural treasures make up the globally recognized Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest protected mountain areas in the world.
3)Mountain views. Quadruple check. Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse and Nakiska offer up some of the largest and tastiest vertical of any resorts in Canada together with stunning views of the Elk River, Columbia, and Kananaskis valleys.
4) Diversity of riding options. From destination resort skiing to cozy backcountry lodges, from heli to cat skiing, there ‘s a mind boggling variety and choice of winter experiences available in the mountains of Western Canada.
5)Mountain cuisine and craft beers. Got a hunger? Why not dine on Elk burger at the Eagle’s Nest, the restaurant with a sky high view at the top of the Eagle Express Gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. In Fernie head into town for an après ski Project 9 Pils, Big Caboose Red Ale or another of the craft brewed beers at Fernie Brewing Company. Or sink into the chair for a cocktail by the hearth at Lizard Creek Lodge’s Cirque Restaurant.
6) Snow quality and quantity. You can bank on it. Fernie’s Lizard Range runs perpendicular to the Rockie’s north-south access, generating generous weather patterns that are a skiers dream. At the same time Kicking Horse Resort is renowned for champagne light powder snow. All you need is an adventurous nature and a trail map, or the knowledge of a level 4 instructor to help you find inbound stashes of the stuff days after the last storm.
7)Going steep. Alpine bowls and couloirs abound but perhaps a Big Mountain Clinic at Kicking Horse is what you need to tune steep skills, build enough confidence to point the tips down a couloir and get to the goods.
8) Access. It doesn’t get much better. Calgary International Airport (YYC) is serviced by direct flights from major Canadian, American and European centres. The drive west from the rolling prairies of Calgary to the soaring Canadian Rockies is breathtaking.
9)Crowds? You can leave those behind. With more than 8000 total skiable acres between Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberley and Nakiska, your legs will quit before the terrain does.
10) Value. American friends, you won’t find a better bang for your winter buck when you head north of the 49th parallel to ski the Canadian Rockies.