Opportunities for fun west of Banff National Park.
The Kootenay Rockies mountain ranges—majestic, inspiring and unsurpassed in their beauty—beckon with incomparable skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and exploration. The rush of standing atop of a mountain peak. The deafening quiet of magical snow-covered terrain. The heart-racing exhilaration of soaring through dry, champagne powder. The wild breathing life back into the wild within.
BANFF TO REVELSTOKE 283 km/176 mi
YOHO NATIONAL PARK Take the TransCanada Hwy west of Lake Louise. Crest the Continental Divide and descend into Yoho National Park wilderness (1-888-773-8888).
SIGHTS TO SEE • The Town of Field, 30 km/19 mi from Lake Louise, offers food, lodging and other travel services.
• Emerald Lake is accessed via Emerald Lake Rd. Stop en route at the Natural Rock Bridge. Ski or snowshoe the 5-km/3-mi lake trail, and have a meal at Emerald Lake Lodge (p 58).
• Wapta Falls with Ottertail Range backdrop, 100 foot drop is 23 km/14 mi west of Field. Access is by an 8.6-km/5.3-mi return ski or snowshoe trail.
TOWN OF GOLDEN Amidst Canadian Rockies, Selkirk and Purcell mountains at the confluence of the Kicking Horse and Columbia rivers, Golden (1-800-622-4653) is 83 km/52 mi west of Lake Louise. Discover a history steeped in the railway, logging and the Swiss Guides who pioneered tourist forays up peaks. With full amenities, and proximity to Yoho and Glacier national parks, Golden is a great staging area for skiing, sightseeing, backcountry adventure and family activities. The BC Visitor Centre, 111 Golden Donald Upper Rd, north of Hwy 1, is open 9 am-4 pm.
SIGHTS TO SEE
• Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge is North America’s longest timber-frame span.
• Edelweiss Swiss Village is a historic area where Swiss guides’ families lived 100 years ago.
• Golden Museum & Archives (1-250-344-5169; Mon-Fri 9 am-5 pm) has exhibits on Swiss guides, Sikh heritage and geographer David Thompson.
• Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre See nine resident wolves. Tours are offered year-round; Walk with the Wolves photo tour is a favourite.
• The World’s Largest Paddle (1-888-244-7117), 26 km south of town, stands over 60 feet.
• At Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (1-866754-5425), 13 km/8 mi from town, Golden Eagle Express Gondola rises to an upper ridge and allows a thrilling 1,260-m/4,133-ft run down. Four other lifts access open and tree-lined runs; Feuz Bowl is former heli-ski terrain. Both adult lift tickets and the Banff/Lake Louise Powder Express Ski Bus (1-877-565-9372) with lift pass are $90. New is a
Pony Family Zone expansion, a snow sport Learning Centre and childcare facility renovation. Eagle’s Eye with timber decor and great views is Canada’s highest restaurant; ride the gondola to lunch daily and dinner Friday and Saturday (reserve). The resort boasts the Tube Zone and on-site lodging.
• Cross-country ski Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre’s 35 km/22 mi of groomed classic and skate trails; there’s a chalet. Golden Golf & Country Club has 6 km/4 mi of classic groomed trails. At Moonraker Trails, ski or snowshoe by Cedar Lake.
• Heli- and cat-ski companies, and backcountry lodges, offer wilderness powder skiing and touring.
• Snowmobilers delight in 240 km/150 mi of groomed trails. Family-friendly West Bench Trail connects to Quartz Creek and Gorman Lake where advanced sledders tackle steep terrain. Rocky Mountain Riders (1-877-950-7533, p 63) offers snowmobile and snowcat tours and rentals with free Lake Louise/Banff/Canmore shuttle.
• Dog sledding is offered by Golden Dogsled Adventures (1-250-272-6874).
• Ice fishers snag trout at backcountry lakes.
• Skate or play shinny at Golden Arena. There’s basketball, badminton and volleyball at Mount 7 Rec Plex (both 1-250-344-2271 ext 225). Curl at Golden Curling Club (1-250-344-7457). Climb at Dogtooth Climbing Gym (1-250-344-6444).
Banff Mountain Film Festival screenings (Dec 11); Golden Farmers’ Market (Dec 19); Film Kicks: A Brilliant Young Mind (Jan 14), Timbuktu (Feb 4), Brooklyn (Mar 3). Wrangle the Chute Freeride (Mar 25-27), Sun Splash Funk Fest (Apr 2-3). GLACIER NATIONAL PARK Continue west on Hwy 1 to Glacier National Park and Rogers Pass, named for Albert Bowman Rogers’ expedition to find passage through the “impenetrable peaks” of the Selkirk Mountains.
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
• Rogers Pass Discovery Centre (1-250-8377500) offers exhibits, films and a fireplace. Get backcountry ski permits here. • Tour to Illecillewaet Glacier and ski powder.
• Backcountry A.O. Wheeler Hut and Asulkan Cabin are operated by the Alpine Club of Canada (403-678-3200 ext 0). CITY OF REVELSTOKE Nestled between the Selkirk and Monashee ranges, Revelstoke (1-800-487-1493) is 150 km/93 mi west of Golden. The town has rich railway and ski heritage, full visitor amenities and a historic, pedestrian-friendly downtown. It is easy access to Revelstoke Mountain Resort ski area, and Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier national parks. The Visitor Centre (301 Victoria Rd W) is open daily.
SIGHTS TO SEE
• Alpine skiing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort (1-866-373-4754) boasts North America’s highest vertical rise (5,620 ft/1,713 m), 3,000+ acres of open fall lines and glades, Revelstoke Gondola (and four other lifts), Turtle Creek Tube Park, cat- and heli-skiing, and on-site lodging. There is a new terrain park and expanded glades.
• Revelstoke Museum & Archives (1-250-8373067; closed Sun), offers a ski history exhibit. Visit the Railway Museum (1-250-837-6060) and location of The Last Spike at Craigellachie.
• Historic Roxy Theatre (1-250-837-5540) hosts movies, comedy and outdoor film nights.
• Heli- and cat-ski companies offer phenomenal backcountry experiences.
• Revelstoke Snowmobiling Club grooms Boulder Mountain and Frisby Ridge trails, and maintains day-use warm-up cabins.
• Scenic heli-tours of Mt. Begbie are hosted by Glacier Helicopters (1-250-837-9569).
• Mt Macpherson Nordic Trails are 25 km/16 mi groomed for classic and skate; some are night-lit.
• Revelstoke Aquatic Centre (1-250-837-9351) has pools, lazy river, slide, hot tub, steam, sauna.
• Revelstoke Forum has skating and shinny. Curl
at Revelstoke Curling Club (1-250-837-4356); bowl at The Cabin (1-250-837-2144). Soccer, basketball, badminton and volleyball are in town.
Indoor Farm & Craft Market (Every 2nd Thurs to May), The Nautical Miles Live (Jan 16), Snowed in Comedy (Jan 26), Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans (Feb 3), Motus O Dance Theatre Classics & Alice in Wonderland (Feb 13), Ballet Kelowna (Mar 3).
BANFF TO INVERMERE (152 km/94 mi)
KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK South off Hwy 1 between Banff and Lake Louise, the BanffWindermere Hwy 93S rises to the BC border, and descends into Kootenay Park (1-888-773-8888).
SIGHTS TO SEE
• Marble Canyon 1.6-km/1-mi return trail includes seven footbridges over the 40-m/131-ft deep gorge.
• Kootenay Valley Viewpoint at the height-of-land south of Settler Rd has impressive vistas. RADIUM & INVERMERE Exit Kootenay National Park through the red rocks of Sinclair Canyon to the Village of Radium Hot Springs (Visitor Centre 1-888-347-9331), 139 km/86 mi from Banff. Lodging, shops and restaurants (and often bighorn sheep) line Radium’s streets. Fourteen km/9 mi south of via Hwy 93/95 is Invermere-on-the-Lake (Visitor Centre 1-250342-2844). By Lake Windermere, Invermere has a vibrant downtown with shops, galleries and restaurants. Both Radium and Invermere allow access to skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort.
SEE & STAY
• Radium Hot Springs Mineral Pools (1-250-3479485, p 61) are set amongst cliffs and offer a huge hot pool, 25-metre cool pool (open even in winter), plunge pool, steam rooms and day spa.
• Queen of Peace stations of the cross sculptures are behind Radium’s Canadian Martyrs Church.
• The Radium Woodcarver (250-347-9208) Rolf Heer operates “the home of a thousand faces.”
• Windermere Valley Museum (1-250-342-9769) has heritage buildings (winter: open Tues noon-4).
• Bighorn Meadows Resort (Radium, 1-877-3442323) one- to three-bedroom vacation condos offer mountain views, fireplaces, kitchens and decks with BBQ. There’s a hot tub and free Wi-Fi.
• Panorama Mountain Resort (1-800-663-2929), 18 km/11 mi west of Invermere, is a 2,847-acre ski area with 1,225-m/4,019-ft vertical rise and 10 lifts. There is lodging, a terrain park, Nordic Centre trails, fat tire biking and massage studio. New are a Demo Centre, Burton Riglet Park for novice kids, Discovery Zone kids’ trail and expanded glades. Adult lift passes are $88, $99 with Banff/ Canmore Daily Shuttle (1-866-416-2034).
• Snowmobile Forester Creek Meadows, Catamount Glacier, Thunderwater and Whirlpool Lakes. Toby Creek Adventures (1-888-357-4449, p 63) snowmobile tours near Panorama access Paradise Mountain trails, powder bowls, icefalls, trapper’s cabin (lunch spot) and silver mining ghost town. They offer free Banff/Canmore transportation.
• Daily heli-skiing packages offered by RK Heliski (1-800-661-6060, p 52) at Panorama for intermediate to expert skiers and boarders include a guide, fat skis, transceiver, hot heli-plex breakfast and picnic lunch. A Banff shuttle is available.
• Hike or snowshoe from Radium to Redstreak Campground on 1.8-km/1.1-mi tree-lined Valley View trail, or south to Dry Gulch on 9-km/5.6-mi Old Coach trail with Columbia Wetlands views.
• Winter Whiteway on Lake Windermere is the longest skating path in the world; folks can crosscountry ski or walk the 34-km/21-mi trail too. There is also ice skating on Lake Lillian.
• Ice fish on local lakes; huts can be rented at Reel Axe Adventures (250-409-4276).
• Skate or play hockey at Invermere’s Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena (1-250-342-6712); the town has a Curling Centre (1-250-342-3315).
Horsethief Creek Pub Live Music (Mondays), Winter in Motion Festival (Dec 1-Mar 30). Panorama: Nor-Am Cup (Dec 12-18), Dragon Tail Loppet (Jan 9), Winter Yoga Retreat (Jan 22-24).
Dream Come True: Heli-skiing is for strong intermediates as well as experts
Snowmobile Safely: Go with a guide