Columbia Valley in Winter
The Columbia Valley in winter is much quieter than in summer, but for skiing and boarding enthusiasts there are three downhill resorts. Many towns have their own low-key events, such as a curling bonspiel on Windermre Lake.
West of Invermere, Panorama (250/342-6941 or 800/663-2929, www.panoramaresort.com) is an ambitious year-round resort and residential development highlighted by a family-friendly resort. Skiing first put Panorama on the map, mainly because the resort boasts one of North America’s highest vertical rises (1,200 meters/3,940 feet). Lift tickets are adult $78, senior $66, child $32. The village is also home to R.K. Heli-Ski (250/342-3889 or 800/661-6060, www.rkheliski.com), one of the few heli-ski operations that specialize in day trips (from $800 for three runs). Accommodations in Panorama Mountain Village are all relatively new and well priced.
From early December to early April, Kimberley Alpine Resort (250/427-4881 or 800/258-7669, www.skikimberley.com, adult $70, senior $56, child $28) provides great skiing and snowboarding on a wide variety of slopes four kilometers (2.5 miles) west of downtown. Additional facilities at the resort include a mid-mountain terrain park, a cross-country ski area, accommodations, and restaurants.
Fernie Alpine Resort (14 kilometers/8.7 miles south of Fernie, 250/423-4655, www.skifernie.com) is another of the Canadian Rockies’ legendary winter resorts, boasting massive annual snowfalls, challenging skiing and riding, and uncrowded slopes. The 1,000-hectare (2,500-acre) lift-serviced area lies under a massive ridge that catches an incredible nine meters (30 feet) of snow each year, filling a wide open bowl with enough of the white fluffy stuff to please all powderhounds. Lift tickets cost adult $82, senior $68, child $34, under six ski free.