Canada's other resorts

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Canada's other resorts

Started by Char in Ski Chatter - 11 Replies

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Char posted Dec-2008

Hi I am new to this site, hello all.

I have been skiing in Canada before, to the big resorts of Whistler and Banff. I hear from friends that the smaller resorts like Kicking Horse and Fernie are far better. Has anyone skied these and are there any others I should think about?

Also how hard is it to get to these resorts as Whistler and Banff are pretty easy

Thanks

Steverandomno
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008

Depends on what you are looking for and what you mean by better. If you are looking for a huge choice of accomodation and bars restaurants then Banff/Whistler are pretty good places to start.

For challenging ski terrain with a quieter small town atmosphere, then Golden/Kicking Horse is a great choice. It is only 1.5 - 2 hours further than Banff from Calgary. There are several decent restaurants and some good places to get a drink but there are far fewer choices than Banff, which is a plus or a minus depending on what you want. Fernie is similarly an extra 1-2 hour drive from Calgary compared to Banff and is a bit more developed than Kicking Horse. It has great terrain, is great after a major dump, but can suffer more than Kicking Horse when there are warmer temperatures.

Revelstoke is a good 5-6 hour journey from Calgary, has some of the best and most extensive (highest vertical) terrain I have ever skied. The resort is just beginning to develop. There are a few decent accomodation options but nothing like banf or the other kicking horse / fernie (yet...). It is definately worth a day trip from Golden if you are staying there.

Two other great resorts are Big White / Silver Star have extensive terrain and some great value on hill accommodation. They are aimed more at the family market that the other alternatives mentioned, so they have a wider variety of different levels of terrain. Some of the tour operators had plans to fly directly to Kelowna (1-2 hour drive from BW and SS) which has a recently upgraded runway, but I don't know if those plans have materialized in the current climate. Otherwise they are a full 5-6 hour drive from vancouver or a 6-7 hour drive from Calgary.

Panorama is a similar resort that is another 2 hour drive from Banff. Great value accommodation and some good lift accessed pseudo back country areas like Taynton Bowl.

A great way to see what the other resorts have to offer is to do a road trip. I've done this a few times and it is great so long as you can stomatch a few long drives. Pay a bit extra and get a flight that goes into Vancouver and out of Calgary. Most major car rental firms will do a one way rental between Vancouver and Calgary. This way you can have a couple of days in Vancouver and then take in, Big White, Silver Star, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Panorama, Fernie and then back to Banff or straight to Calgary. It just requires a bit of planning.

If you want to stay in one or two places rather than travelling so much then I can highly recommend staying in Kicking Horse for a 4-5 days then doing a couple of days in Revelstoke followed by a few days back in Banff.

You will find most places outside of Banff and Whistler better value for money for accommodation and food/drink.

I'm sure RossF has some wise words also.
Edited 3 times. Last update at 10-Dec-2008

Mike from NS
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008

steverandomno wrote:Depends on what you are looking for and what you mean by better.
Not really in the resort class but a couple of nice hills in mainland Nova Scotia are Ski Martock, http://www.martock.com/ And Ski Wentworth, http://www.skiwentworth.ca/. Martock is about 45 minutes from Halifax, Nova Scotia's Capital and Wentworth about 90 minutes. Our climate is not very dependable for cold or snowy weather until mid January. However with enough cold weather these hills can make all the snow they need.
Good accommodations (in Windsor and Truro) can be found 15 and 30 minutes from the hills.
These hills will host the various ski events for the Canada Winter Games in 2011.

Mike :wink:
Age is but a number.

JamesA
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008

I agree with Steverandomno if you wanna to cruise the west you gotta road trip.

I live out here and have skied them all. The best way to go is to rent a good reliable 4x4 and follow your nose. It actually can be cheaper than a package. You should stay in the dumpiest of motels as they are the most fun. Look for the snow mobiles parked outside - that's the place for you. These guys always seem to find the cheapest motor hotels. You will get great ones and lousy ones but that's part of the adventure.

I always just drive into town cruise the "strip" and see what there is and then u-turn and drive into the motor hotel of choice. Always stay at motels not hotels for that real Canadian charm. I rarely pay more than $80 taxes in and am usually satisfied. Vacancy rates are highest in winter in the off the track places and you can often bargain the best room in the motel. I always beg for the room with the jaquzi (sp?) - you know the jet tub thiingy. I once had a room in Golden just outside the town with a king sized bed a whirlpool in the room and 3 tv's with cable all for $79.

There are some real gems out there. Try Castle Mountain just outside Pincher Creek Alberta. This hill is under skied for certain, it's a local secret, and will have many a challenging powder day. You stay in Pincher Creek a bit of local colour for a town and live the Alberta Cowboy lifestyle. You'll buy a belt buckle and snakeskin boots just see if you don't. Or ski Fairmont Hot Spring ski resort in BC , Apex Alpine outside Kamloops. Consider Red Mountain in Southern BC. WOW is the word for that place.

I even had a great ski, for 5 days, two years ago at Tod Mountain and the Sun Peaks Resort. I stayed in downtown Kamloops 40 minutes by car away and had over 20 restaurants within walking distance of my downtown Hotel that cost me $60 a night. That left lots of dollars for fine wine and dining. The skiing was great too with 3 dumps of a foot or so over the 5 day. I had my fat tele gear with me and skied the off piste and in the trees - I had a hoot.

The thing about the west is that there are so few people. We have 2 million in Alberta and they all live in two cities of about the same size, Edmonton and Calgary. The ski resorts are scattered all over AB & BC the towns nearby the resorts are about 2-3000 people in size and about 2- 3 driving hours between. The towns are mostly farming or logging towns with a few mining towns thrown in. You can ski and then drive to the next town dine and be in bed by 9pm - if that's your pleasure. Heck the streets roll up in these places at 8PM!

Just do it. Fly in, spend your first days wandering Calgary getting jet lag free then hit the road.

Life's good.

"If you don't do it this year, You'll just be a year older when you do" - Warren Miller
Edited 2 times. Last update at 11-Dec-2008

Char
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008


Wow! Thanks so much for all of this really useful information you guys really know your stuff. It sounds like there are loads of great smaller resorts to explore to get the genuine Canadian experience! I am going to get looking at the maps to see how far it is to drive around to these resorts that you have talked about.

One concern I have is that I am a girl, sorry to be a bit girly! And am a little worried about driving on my own around these resorts. Is it safe? Also I have never driven in the snow and not sure how hard it is. Do you guys come across people doing these trips on their own, especially girls?

Thanks so much

Char

Steverandomno
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008

Sure... Not specifically skiing related. But, I've met loads of people who have travelled arround the world by themselves. You just have to take the same precautions that you would anyware (don't pick up hitchers etc...). If I were travelling by myself I would spend a bit of time at one of the banff or Fernie youth hostels. The best thing about these places is that you will meet a whole bunch of people, young and old, who are travelling independently. It might be a good place to meet other people who you may want to team up with. They are also quite comfortable these days, some being much nicer than your average motel. I have done it a few times, a while back now. It can be a liberating experience.

If you are worried about driving in the snow just check out some of the winter driving advice on the canadian weather websites. Make sure you buy a big bottle of antifreeze windscreen wash. If you hire a 4x4 SUV you won't have to worry about chains. Also pack some emergency supplies should you be stuck in the cold for a few hours (water, chocolate etc...).

JamesA
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008

Hi! This is James's daughter responding, he asked me about skiing around the west coast on my own and thought that it'd be smart to relate my experiences to you!

I've lived out on the west coast for about 2 years on my own now and have surfed around the snow waves out here. The only thing I've really noticed is that it can get lonely - otherwise I've not had any problems with scary people. Yes the odd drunk but the easiest way out of that is to be buddy buddy with a random girl as we do understand the need for protection or just start chatting up one of the waiters or bouncers if you feel nervous - that's what they're there for.
As for the hill, it's rare that you'll ever be bothered other than the people who are there to help you out. Motels are usually safe as long as you follow usual precautions - you know the I'm a single girl I need to be a little paranoid. (Yes i know a little opposite but one must still be cautious)
But from all of my experiences in Kicking Horse, Fernie, Red Mountain, Whistler, Jasper and Banff I've never had a problem - save for being a little lonely but thank god for the invention of ipods! People who ski have a tendency to just be there to ski and want to have a great time on the hill.

As for your worry about winter driving - it can be really scary and dangerous if you're not prepared. Make sure that you have an emergency kit in the car: jumper cables, extension cord, flash light, warm blanket, batteries, battery charger, cell phone (look it up on the web for more ideas). Make sure that there's a tow truck in your cell phone, or road assistance - just in case. Best bet is to have winter tires on your car (or the one you rent), a fully working heater, make sure to take it in to a shop to have it checked over before a huge road trip - basically make sure it'll get you there and back in one piece! Read up about precautions about winter driving, the base of it all is take it slow and drive at your pace not other people's. You don't feel safe? Drive slower they'll go around. But for the most part it's pretty simple - just need to be a little more aware of the world around you.

It all comes down to, as a girl to a girl: I believe that if you show a little assertion and confidence you'll have nothing but a great time. Of course that also might depend on the snow, hahaha.
So don't worry too much and have fun!

Steverandomno
reply to 'Canada's other resorts'
posted Dec-2008

Sounds like great advice from JamesA's daughter.

Topic last updated on 15-December-2008 at 09:43

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Snow is next forecast to fall in Canada over the next 2 days, in at least 11 Ski Resorts including Grouse Mountain, Hemlock Valley, Horseshoe, Kimberley and Mount Washington.

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