10 reasons to ski the Canadian Rockies this winter
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.
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RCR Rockies Card on Sale
Unparalleled Savings! 1st, 4th & 7th ski day FREE & up to $40 (double discount period) savings every time you ski! Plus go Direct to Lift – just by linking your credit card.
- 3 FREE days The 3 Free Days can be redeemed at any RCR Western Resort.
- Cardholders receive their 1st, 4th and 7th ski days FREE and daily discounts every other day.
- Children 6-12 to get their very own RCR Kids’ Club Card FREE of charge. ($5 discount on full-day Child lift tickets at any RCR resort)
- Your Direct to Lift card can be linked to any major credit card at any of our resorts or at the Calgary office.
For more information visit the RCR Webstore. On sale until December 31, 2016.
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2016.2017 Early Booking Offers have arrived
If you’re thinking of booking a ski getaway this winter, now is the time to do it! With Early Booking Vacation Offers available for Christmas and Family Week vacations, as well as special long stay savings packages and spring skiing trips with savings of up to 48%!
Visit our Hot Deals page to book a getaway online or give our vacation specialists a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book over the phone.
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Our winter Early Bird season pass sale ends on Saturday, June 25th, order your season pass or multi week ski school lesson online through the RCR Webstore before the deadline for the best savings of next season.
Don’t forget about those lessons! Get the kids in multi week programs – view and buy ski school programs through the RCR Webstore.
NEW this year buy a $500 Food & Beverage card for just $399 when purchased with your season pass! Find out more about this new Member Benefit and all the others on the RCR Webstore.
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STORY AND PHOTOS BY : Marc Lepage
Welcome to the Carving Capital of Canada! The once famous runs of the Olympic downhill events in 1988, has since evolved into a true skier’s paradise. With two near-perfect mountain ridges, Nakiska Ski Resort offers some of the most meticulously groomed, and indulgingly wide, trails I’ve seen. From the three Magic Carpets to skiing tree tops on Bull’s Head, there is most definitely something for everyone here.
Beginners of all ages will find the Bronze Chair area to be a perfect starting point. Completely isolated, those who wish to learn the basics can do so in this completely green zone. This section offers piece of mind, and insures a safe, speed-free environment to better focus on the basics.
The eternal intermediate can catch an unforgettable morning run on the crisp and freshly primed Homesteader. The wide blue cruisers of Nakiska are hard to top in the world of ski resorts. Whether you are looking to warm up or devote an entire day to casual fun, these trails offer the perfect environment to practice your speed control and edge pressure.
For the more practiced skiers, carvers and racers, the treats accessible from the Gold Chair are matched by few. The 452 meter vertical, will test your expertise, challenge your skills and keep you coming back for more. Be advised, this lift only serves a mountain side where there is ‘’No easy way down’’.
Whether you want to carve hard or flow though soft gripping bumps, this peak is for you. First time guests should start by repeatedly shredding the fresh corduroy on Whoop-Up, move on to attacking the naturally bumped Arrow, and end with a minimum of two trips to the easily accessed but not easily mastered, Monster Glades. The inevitable warm dark roast and slice of lemon raspberry loaf in the main chalet are by then more than justified.
At Nakiska, a 12 000 meter vertical day is not only feasible but thoroughly enjoyable. The effortless skiing on its even surfaces keeps your legs fresh and your cruising speeds up. The liberating effect of the extra-wide freeways plays with your sense of space and velocity. You can easily find yourself cruising at 80 and using the unmarked passing lanes to your left. Tune your edges and start racking up your laps. 25 should do the trick.
In closing, I must give a special mention to the resort’s ski racks. After 68 mountains skied, these original 1980s racks from the 1980’s are not only novel but have outclassed all others by a considerable margin. This imaginative and logical design assures that skis, poles and boards stay organized and upright. Incredible how such a s simple and often taken for granted aspect of the the skier’s experience can be made better with a little thought and care. Bravo to the engineers!
Check your Air Miles account, get to Calgary and hit the slopes on the same day. Only 50 minutes from the airport, Nakiska should easily be your first destination out west, a gateway mountain to the Rockies. As we would say in Ontario, Nakiska Ski Resort is ‘’yours to discover’’.
This has been a guest blog post, written by:
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I’ve tried to teach my child a number of sports on my own and it’s usually ended with tears, frustration, and a severe dislike for the activity on a few occasions. Even when I’ve been moderately successful in teaching the “basics,” I’ve always chosen to call for outside help to reinforce proper technique, build skills, and take my child to the next level.
When it comes to skiing, I know I am far from being an expert. I am an intermediate skier (at best) and still fear wiping out on an easy run while my son passes me and gets to the bottom of the hill without me. Teaching him to ski by myself is therefore not an option I am willing to entertain.
Thankfully, we chose to start off correctly with skiing and we placed our son in lessons from early on. The first lesson was only an hour and a half long but it gave our son a good “first impression” of the sport in a positive supportive environment. The teacher was fun and relaxed, didn’t get angry or show frustration, and kept the pressure light. My child responded well to the lesson and was able to work on the skills he learned with us in the afternoon.
I have many reasons for being a ski school supporter but below are my top five:
- Quality training from a professional instructor. We all know that kids usually learn best when somebody else is the teacher and skiing is no exception. The Nakiska Ski School instructors have years of experience under their belts and are prepared with games, activities, and fun tricks to make your child’s ski experience a fun one.
- Ski School Offers a Relaxed Start to the Day. I find the first hour at a ski resort to be the most stressful. Just getting the family and gear to the day lodge exhausts me and I need a few minutes to sip a coffee and relax before hitting the slopes. Fortunately, I’ve learned that if I put my son in morning lessons, I will get that quiet time to unwind once the lesson starts and I can slowly work at getting my own skis on and making my way on to the hill.
- Ski School Offers Adults Time to Ski on their Own. My husband will tell you that as long as he gets a couple of hours to ski the more advanced runs in the morning, he’s happy to take it easy in the afternoon cruising down the easier terrain with the family. Ski school allows the adults in the family some time to ski on their own or to ski with older children while the younger ones are in their class.
- Nakiska Resort Offers Family Lessons. I took a mountain biking lesson with my son this summer and it was a lot of fun learning new skills together. I can imagine that for a family who is new to skiing, it would be a lot of fun to learn together. Nakiska offers affordable packages for the whole family to take a lesson together with individual tips offered to each member of the family.
- Ski Lessons Can Be Paired with Daycare. For the toddlers and little ones in your family, an hour on the hill might be all they can handle. Nakiska’s daycare program includes a lesson along with indoor and outdoor play time while the rest of the family enjoys their time on the hill. Packages can be purchased for the whole day or for just a half day if you still want to ski with your munchkin in the afternoon for a while or if you have a season’s pass and just want to spend a half day at the hill.
My son has taken a few private lessons now and has tried a resort daycare program as well with nothing but success and happiness. I don’t think there’s been a single tear and we still remember our first instructor’s name. Ski School has contributed greatly towards my child’s enjoyment of skiing and I’m grateful that we’ve chosen to invest in this program.
Follow Tanya’s adventures on her blog.
Words by Tanya Koob
Photos by Tanya Koob & Abbydell Photography
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There’s just one week left to save up to 35% on your ski vacation this winter season! Book one of our packages online, chat online with a reservation agent (during business hours) or give us a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book your vacation over the phone with one of our vacation specialists.
Don’t miss out the savings – book now!
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We got to try Nakiska’s brand new Tube Park while we were at the resort before Christmas. First impression, I honestly thought it looked like a miniature toboggan hill. It didn’t look like much and it wasn’t very big. I’d never tried tubing at a resort before so I guess I had built it up in my mind to be something much larger. I quickly changed my opinion after the first ride down though. It was the most fun I’ve had on a sled or tube – EVER. And it didn’t hurt!
I’m not generally a big fan of sledding because honestly, this body is just too old to handle all the bumps and jarring anymore. Tubing at Nakiska on the other hand was completely gentle, smooth, groomed, and adult-friendly! I’d go back again any day!
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Words & Photos by Tanya Koob
I remember our first family downhill ski trip in great clarity because I had been extremely apprehensive of the whole sport as a “family experience.” My husband and I had done a lot of resort skiing back in the “good old days” before kids but had been nervous to try it with a child in tow. We were both envisioning the worst when we thought of taking a small child to a busy ski resort for a day, of having to find parking and get all of our gear to the day lodge, and of having to find space in a crowded lodge for our family to eat and rest. Add other fears such as having to get out of the house early in the morning to reach the hill in time to find parking, dealing with a cranky child who’s missed his afternoon nap, and having to deal with a tot who may or may not appreciate the long car ride out to the hill (and back) – and you can see why I was just a teensy bit apprehensive of the whole experience.
All I can say in a quick response to the above fears is thank god for Nakiska! One half day at Nakiska and all of my fears were relieved. We had a fabulous first day downhill skiing as a family and my son would now consider it to be his favourite winter sport.
Tips for a Relaxed Morning at the Hill
We tried to pack for our ski day the night before to save time in the morning. When we got up, we just had to have a quick breakfast and jump in the car. Other things we did to save time were booking our son’s ski lesson in advance rather than just showing up at the hill to register him, and buying him his own gear rather than renting at the hill. If planning to rent, allow for at least an extra half hour at the hill before you will be able to start skiing. (Something to keep in mind if you have lessons booked first thing in the morning.)
We arrived at the hill with plenty of time to find a good parking spot, to find our way to the day lodge, pick up our lift tickets, and to make our way to the meeting spot for lessons. We quickly discovered that registering our son in a lesson for first thing in the morning was the smartest thing we could have done as beginners to family downhill skiing. We only had to worry about getting one person dressed and set to go rather than getting all three of us ready at the same time.
As soon as our son was in his lesson, I distinctly remember grabbing a coffee and thinking about how relaxed the whole process had been. Because of the lesson, my husband got to ski on his own all morning and was able to do a bunch of his favourite runs rather than spending the morning on the bunny hill. Meanwhile, I spent a relaxed morning with my coffee near the day lodge and kept close tabs on the lesson process.
Lunch without the Crowds
We headed in for an early lunch after the lesson and discovered another secret to success: Eat early to avoid crowds! We had left a duffle bag with our personal belongings and lunch under a table in the day lodge and had no problem finding it when we went inside. We easily found space to eat, and had an enjoyable time in the non-crowded dining area.
Family Bonding at the Hill
We’ve gotten into a habit where we try to take advantage of children’s lessons in the morning whenever possible and then we spend the afternoon skiing together as a family. We can now bomb down the blue runs together with our 6 year old who’s become quite the proficient skier but on our first day at Nakiska, we enjoyed the bunny hill together and took a few spins down in the tube park. The Tube Park was a great add-on to our ski day and allowed some rest time from skiing. We had a snack in the lodge mid-afternoon and then left the hill early to avoid congested roads on the drive home.
- Bring a sled to haul gear into the lodge with or load your gear (and youngest tots) into a Chariot stroller
- Go as a group and alternate child care duties with friends or go with another couple and take turns with the men doing bunny hill/day lodge duty while the women ski, and vice versa.
- Bring a grandparent or family member along who is content to hang out in the lodge with babies or young tots not old enough to ski yet
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We’re making some exciting ‘behind the scene’ upgrades over the summer to our snowmaking system including rerouting & cooling!
Step one of our new snowmaking pump house is to reroute the existing pipe. Pictures show us putting the new pipe together, ready for trench and back filling. Once done the new pump house will allow us to make snow in one continuous trail from the top of the gold chair to the day lodge.
The photo on the right is of our new closed loop cooling system for the snowmaking compressors, prior to this the compressors were cooled using water, eliminating this saves 800 gallons per minute. That water is now available to go up the hill for snow production and is no longer dumped back into the river.
Did you know?
Depending on the time of year the system can produce between 1 and 2 feet of snow over an acre in an hour. In terms of football fields, (the north American variety and including the end zones), we can cover one of them in between an hour and a half and 45 minutes!
Read more about our Commitment to the Environment.
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