The Powder Highway (Part 1)

By: Shelley Seale
A road, the Great Alpine Highway, leads through the snow into the beginning of the Southern Alps, New Zealand. Getty Images / LazingBee


Where and What Is The Powder Highway?

Also known as Route 95A, in British Columbia, Canada, the Powder Highway loops between seven ski resorts that are guaranteed to deliver wintery adventures. The loop is renowned for great mountains and an abundance of quality snow and is also home to many cat skiing and heli-skiing operators. These seven ski resorts include Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Panorama, Kimberley, Fernie, Whitewater, and Red Mountain. There are also a few others that are worth the detour if you have the time and haven’t had enough just yet! These include Baldy Mountain, Apex, and Big White which aren’t far from Kelowna.


How to Get There

Anyone keen to drive the whole Powder Highway or any part of it, could consider starting from Calgary in Alberta, Spokane in Washington USA, or Kelowna in British Columbia. Renting a car and driving is popular if you are comfortable in snow conditions, alternatively, you might consider tour options, or shuttle services from airports and towns to the resorts.

What’s So Great About The Powder Highway?

One of the huge benefits of the Powder Highway, as opposed to some of the better-known ski resorts (thinking Banff, Whistler, etc), is that everything is relatively inexpensive. There tends to be less infrastructure but the feel and facilities of these resorts give you a more authentic, local experience and are usually far less busy!


The Seven … the Key Details You Need to Know


Ski Resort: Revelstoke

Located 2.5-3 hours east of both Kelowna and Kamloops, Revelstoke ski resort serves up plenty of snow (9-14metres / 29-45ft per season) and fast and efficient lifts providing access to the 5,629 vertical feet (1700m) of slopes. The runs at Revelstoke are mostly below the treeline and are made up of long steep or mellow groomed runs, moguls, glades, and tree skiing.

Skill: The more skilled you are, the more you can do at Revelstoke, however, there are increasing facilities for those with intermediate skills as well as families and beginners, such as inexpensive kids’ lift tickets and beginners’ packages. Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing is popular for those with the skills and budget. You could easily spend a week at Revelstoke Mountain Resort and not get bored.

Accommodation: The resort has upscale accommodation options suited to ski in, ski out or there are many other options in downtown Revelstoke suited to all budgets.


Ski Resort: Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse ski resort just east of Revelstoke has a better-developed village and has more alpine and expert terrain. The snow tends to be less (6.5m/21ft, but drier), and lift infrastructure isn’t as efficient as Revelstoke.

Skill: According to Kicking Horse Resort, which offers 1,260m/4,130ft of vertical runs, 45% are black runs and 15% are double black runs, testing the most skilled skiers and boarders.

Accommodation: The village at Kicking Horse is small but serves the number of visitors fairly well with a variety of accommodation options and eateries. Alternatively, Golden is the nearest more, affordable town, 14km away.


Ski Resort: Panorama

Heading South, Panorama ski resort quietly awaits as an impressive, but less known, ski destination. Located 3-3.5hours from Calgary, 2hours from Banff, and a good day tripper from Kicking Horse (all accessible via shuttle), Panorama offers 1,225m/4000ft of vertical runs, all below the tree line.

Skill: The Extreme Dream Zone offers double black diamond tree skiing and there is also backcountry skiing, however much of the resort is suited to the intermediate skier. Snowfall isn’t as high as other resorts (5m/16ft), but is dry and keeps well.

Accommodation: There are plenty of accommodation options and amenities and you can’t resist a dip in the Panorama Springs Hot Pools. Families in particular love Panorama for amenities and activities, but 20-somethings also love the terrain, the parks and pipes, and nightlife. In general, slopes are usually less busy than other resorts, allowing room for everyone. There is also heli-skiing on offer for those who are keen.

Up next: Part 2 to read about the other Ski Resorts, Kimberley, Fernie, Whitewater, and Red Mountain on The Powder Highway …