Pow! 12 ski resorts in the Kootenays and Canadian Rockies to find legendary powder

Home to celebrated mountain ranges like the Rockies, Selkirks and Purcells, the region also boasts world-famous ski resorts

by Julie Matchett
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort views.

Spectacular vistas like this are part of the outdoor adventures beckoning at ski resorts across the Kootenay region. — Photo courtesy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Facebook page

It’s no secret that the Kootenay region offers up some of the best skiing and snowboarding in North America. Consistent snowfalls, legendary powder and some of the most scenic and spectacular mountain ranges in the world make the area a must-visit destination for winter-sport enthusiasts.

Check out our list of world-famous (and not so famous) Kootenay region ski resorts and get your powder on!

East Kootenay

Elkford - Wapiti Ski Club

It may be smaller than many of the big mainstream ski resorts in the area, but the Wapiti Ski Club still offers a great outdoor experience for visitors. There are 14 runs, suitable for all skill levels. Entirely operated by volunteers, the ski club is an excellent choice for families and people who are looking to avoid the big crowds.

Annual snowfall: 350 cm (137 in)
Number of lifts: 1

  • T-Bar

Number of runs: 14
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski and snowboard rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, ski and snowboard lessons are available for all ages and abilities Lessons are offered in both private and group formats.
Amenities: A day lodge with concession facilities is on site.

Fairmont Hot Springs - Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Winter means fun at Fairmont Hot Spring Resort! Featuring a family-friendly ski hill with 13 runs and tube and terrain parks, the resort is a great option for those looking to spend a laid-back day in the mountains. The Ski Chalet provides delicious dining options for hungry bellies before they get back to hitting the slopes.

Elevation: 1,584m (5,200 ft)
Annual snowfall: 254 cm (100 in)
Number of lifts: 3

People skiing down a hill at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

The Fairmont Hot Springs Resort offers up some great skiing, in addition to the world-famous hot springs. — Photo courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

  • platter lift (Happy Trails)
  • Pony Express Lift
  • triple chair (Sundance)

Number of runs: 12, ranging from beginner to expert
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski and snowboard rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: The Ski Chalet offers dining options and, of course, there’s the world-famous Fairmont Hot Springs to relax in after a long day of skiing.

Fernie - Fernie Alpine Resort

Known as one of the snowiest ski destinations in Canada, Fernie Alpine Resort attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the world. The resort sees an average of 11 m (37 ft) of snow annually and is a top spot for adventure-seekers and powderhounds. Another top draw for visitors is the nearby City of Fernie, which boasts a friendly, laid-back mountain culture and is a hotspot for dining and entertainment.

Elevation: 2,134 m (7,000 ft)
Annual snowfall: 899 cm (354 in)
Number of lifts: 10

  • 2 high-speed quad chair lifts
  • 2 quad chair lifts
  • 3 triple chairlifts
  • 3 surface lifts (1 T-bar, 1 tow, 1 conveyor)

Number of runs: 142, ranging from beginner to expert. The resort features more expert terrain compared to similar size resorts.
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski, snowboard, shoeshoe and fat bike rentals are available
Lessons available:  Yes, lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: Fernie Alpine Resort offers a variety of ski-in/ski-out lodging, dining and shopping options.

Golden - Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

The Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers up 1,133 hectares (2,800 acres) of spectacular terrain, ranging from steep bowls to soft and gentle slopes, making it a great choice for all skill levels. There’s a  ski-in/ski-out village that provides a selection of resort amenities. Not to be missed is a visit to the Eagle Eye restaurant—at its lofty 2,346-metre (7,697 ft) perch, it’s known as Canada’s most elevated dining experience.

Elevation: 2,505m (8,218 ft)
Annual snowfall: 749 cm (295 in) 
Number of lifts: 5

  • 8-passenger gondola (Golden Eagle Express)
  • 4-Passenger fixed grip chairlift (Catamount)
  • 4-passenger fixed-grip quad (Stairway to Heaven)
  • 2-Passenger fixed-grip chairlift (Pioneer)
  • surface lift (Pony Express)

Number of runs: 120+, ranging from beginner to expert
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski, snowboard and snowshoe rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers a variety of lodging, dining, shopping and services in the heart of the Village Plaza.

Kimberley - Kimberley Alpine Resort

A family-friendly resort, the Kimberley Alpine Resort features terrain that’s suitable for all skill levels. Surrounded by the Selkirk and Rocky Mountains, the resort offers 80 runs—ranging from beginner to expert—and has over 729 hectares (1,801 acres) of skiable area. The resort is known for its consistent and abundant snowfalls and glorious sunny days.

Elevation: 1,982 m (6,500 ft)
Annual snowfall: 399cm (157 in)
Number of lifts: 5

  • 1 high-speed quad (North Star Express)
  • 1 triple chair (Easter)
  • 1 double chair (Tamarack)
  • 1 T-Bar (Owl)
  • 1 magic carpet

Number of runs: 80, ranging from beginner to advanced
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski, snowboard, fat bike and snowshoe rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, for all ages and abilities. Kimberley Alpine Resort pros are certified and trained in alpine skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe tours.
Amenities: Kimberley Alpine Resort offers a variety of ski-in/ski-out lodging, dining and shopping options.

Panorama - Panorama Mountain Resort

Set amongst the stunning scenic mountain ranges of the Purcell and Rocky Mountains, the Panorama Mountain Resort is a favourite ski destination for serious skiers and families alike. Offering a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, the resort features plentiful sunny days and snowfall. For the less adventurous souls, relax in the resort hot pools, take a snowshoe trek or enjoy a twirl at the Panorama Resort ice skating rink.

Elevation: 2,451m (8,038 ft)
Annual snowfall: 520 cm (204 in)
Number of lifts: 10

  • 10 lifts & 1 alpine snowcat shuttle
  • 1 village gondola
  • 2 express quad chairs
  • 2 quad chairs
  • 1 triple chair
  • 1 double chair
  • 1 platter
  • 2 carpet lifts
  • 1 monster X

Number of runs: 133, ranging from beginner to expert. About 50 per cent of the runs at Panorama are suitable for beginners or intermediate skills, making it ideal for families.
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski and snowboard rentals, as well as fat bikes, ice skates and snowshoe rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: Panorama Mountain Resort offers a variety of ski-in/ski-out accommodations, on-hill and mountain-top dining establishments, and shopping.

West Kootenay

Grand Forks - Phoenix Mountain Ski Area

The Phoenix Mountain Ski area is a community-owned ski hill with 15 different runs, ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. The ski area also offers popular night skiing. Phoenix Mountain is a not-to-be-missed destination for the ski and snowboard crowd who seek a quieter and less-crowded outdoor experience, as well as families.

Elevation: 1,463m (4,800 ft)
Annual snowfall: 889 cm (350 in)
Number of lifts: 2

Aerial view of the Phoenix Mountain Ski Area.

The Phoenix Mountain Ski Area in Grand Forks offers up lots of exciting terrain to explore. — Photo courtesy Skiphoenix Instagram page

  • T-Bar
  • Rope tow

Number of runs: 15
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski and snowboard rentals are available
Lessons available:  Yes, private and group lessons are available for ages kids to teens
Amenities: The Phoenix Lodge offers a cafeteria and rental shop.

Nakusp - Summit Lake Ski & Snowboard Area

Affordable skiing and boarding for the whole family—what more could you want? Despite its smaller, low-key size and feel, the Summit Lake Ski & Snowboard area still boasts a lot that larger-size resorts also offer. There are eight trails—ranging from a bunny hill up to expert runs—qualified instructors and staff on-hand and equipment available to rent.

Annual snowfall: 381 cm (150 in)
Number of lifts: 2

  • T-bar
  • Rope tow

Number of trails: 8
Equipment rentals: Yes, there’s a ski shop with rentals (skis and snowboards) available
Lessons available: Yes, lessons with qualified instructors are available
Amenities: There’s a day lodge with cafeteria facilities located at the Summit Lake Ski area, but the cafeteria is currently closed for the 2021 season.

Nelson - Whitewater Ski Resort

With its local ski-hill vibe, Whitewater Ski Resort is anything but pretentious. It boasts some of the best annual snowfall numbers and has a nice selection of runs, ranging from beginner to expert. Slopes are generally uncrowded, the atmosphere is family-friendly and prices are affordable for a fun outing.

Elevation: 2,046m (6,710 ft)
Annual snowfall: 1,219 cm (480 in)
Number of lifts: 4

  • double chair (Silver King)
  • quad chair (Summit) 
  • triple chair (Glory Ridge)
  • handle tow (Hummer) 

Number of runs: 82
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski, snowboard and snowshoe rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, both private and group lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: Day lodge and dining facilities are available at the resort, including a cafe and pub.

Revelstoke - Revelstoke Mountain Resort

With the highest lift-accessed vertical of any resort in North America, the Revelstoke Mountain Resort attracts die-hard, serious adventure enthusiasts from around the world. Legendary snowfall and equally legendary runs make the resort one of the most popular destination spots in the region. While many of the resort’s 75 runs are designated as intermediate or advanced levels, there’s still plenty to offer less skilled skiers and families, including a terrain park and kid’s area.

Elevation: 2,467m (8,091 ft)
Annual snowfall: 1,049 cm (413 in)
Number of lifts: 6

  • 8-passenger Leitner-Poma high-speed gondola (Revelation) 
  • 4-passenger Leitner-Poma high-speed chairlift (Stoke) 
  • 4-passenger Leitner-Poma high-speed chairlift (Ripper) 
  • 4-passenger Leitner-Poma high-speed, fixed-grip chairlift (Stellar) 
  • magic carpet conveyor lift, located outside the Mid Mountain Lodge (Little Bit) 
  • magic carpet conveyor lift accessing beginner area and tube park at the Village Base - (Turtle Creek) 

Number of runs: 75
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski and snowboard rentals are available 
Lessons available: Yes, lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: Revelstoke Mountain Resort offers a variety of lodging, dining, shopping and services in the heart of the resort.

Rossland - RED Mountain Resort

At RED Mountain Resort, the terrain is spread out over 1,558 hectares (3,849 acres) and provides a huge variety of slopes and features, making it a popular pick for everyone from ski bums to families with small children. RED Mountain Resort provides a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and whether you’re looking for the ultimate challenge or just an easy day on the slopes, it can be found at this resort.

Elevation: 2,075m (6,807 ft)
Annual snowfall: 760 cm (300 in)
Number of lifts: 8
Number of runs: 119
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski, snowboard and snowshoe rentals are available
Lessons available: Yes, lessons are available for all ages and abilities
Amenities: The RED Mountain Resort offers a wide variety of ski-in/ski-out accommodations, dining, shopping and services at the resort, including a cafeteria, pub and childcare services.

Salmo - Salmo Ski Hill

Entirely run by volunteers, the Salmo Ski Hill provides excellent skiing opportunities for all ages and skill levels. It’s well known for its night skiing, and the hill boasts varied terrain—from gentle slopes and groomed runs to racing courses and half-pipes. Runs range from novice to expert levels and there’s a bunny hill area for beginners. Both rentals and lessons are available from qualified ski instructors and there’s a lodge that provides dining opportunities on the hill.

Elevation: 944 m (3,100 ft)
Annual snowfall: 300 cm (118 in)
Number of lifts: 2

  • T-Bar
  • rope tow

Number of runs: 5
Equipment rentals: Yes, ski and snowboard rentals are available.
Lessons available: Yes, group and private lessons are available for beginner and novice skiers
Amenities: Dining facilities and a rental shop can be found at the The Salmo Ski Hill Lodge. 

Salmo Ski Hill

It may not be as big as some the more well-known ski destinations, but the Salmo Ski Hill is well worth a visit. — Photo courtesy Salmo Ski Hill Facebook page

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