Far up in the interior of British Columbia there’s a famed string of mountains that skiers and snowboarders dream about aptly called the Powder Highway.

The Powder Highway passes through the Rockies, winding around alpine resorts, numerous backcountry lodges, and plenty of heli and cat skiing. The area is known for its consistent deep snowfall and is truly a dream trip. It’s off the beaten path for most, so if you ever wanted to go all out with your skiing or snowboarding trip, this is the place to be.

What is the Powder Highway?

The Powder Highway is the official name for a circular loop through the Canadian Kootenay Rockies. The route passes by a string of mountain resorts as well as backcountry lodges, and numerous heli and cat skiing operators. The magic of the Powder Highway is in the snow. The cold air of the Rockies hits clouds loaded with moisture from the Pacific, making it dump huge amounts of extra dry, extra light BC champagne powder.

Where is the Powder Highway?

The Powder Highway is in Canada, tucked into the southeast corner of BC, almost reaching the border of adjacent province, Alberta.

Where to stay on the Powder Highway

All the resorts on the Powder Highway offer lodging in their villages. Airbnb is a good option too since you should have access to a vehicle and can stay in the small towns adjacent to the mountains. The mountains are mostly small enough that you can drive from the adjacent town to the mountain in less than an hour in most cases.

revelstoke mountain | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to travel the Powder Highway

The best way to experience the highway is via a car equipped with good snow tires. The closest major airport to the Powder Highway is Calgary International Airport (YYC). It’s about 3 hours to Golden, BC, which is where Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is located.

Travelling the powder highway from Vancouver

Another popular option is to start from Vancouver (YVR). In this case, it’s about a 6 hour drive to Revelstoke, which is the closest mountain. You can/should stop by some of the other mountains on the way, such as Big White or Sun Peaks, to break up the drive.

Travelling the powder highway from the USA

If you want to fly in to a US town and rent a car from there, Spokane is your best bet, as it’s only 3 hours from there to RED mountain resort.

What kind of vehicle do I need for the Powder Highway?

A 4×4 vehicle with good snow tires is absolutely necessary. Canadian highways can get icy and the snow removal isn’t as good as you might expect, owing to the fact that all Canadians are born knowing how to drive in snow. You probably won’t need to carry chains if you have 4 wheel drive and snow tires, but they certainly will help on some of the steeper mountain passes.

What are the mountains on the Powder Highway?

Many different alpine resorts dot the powder highway, each with their own charms. If you want to go to all eight, you can start anywhere on the loop.

revelstoke mountain | www.iamafoodblog.com

1. Revelstoke Mountain Resort

If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, you’ve probably heard of Revelstoke. It has a legendary reputation and people speak of it in breathless terms, in regards to both the terrain and snow. Revelstoke has the most vertical in North America and thrill seekers love the in bound big mountain experience.

The snow

Above average amounts of light, fluffy, dry powder. That being said, because the mountain is so large, there’s a lot of variability in snow quality – the snow at the top can be amazing while at the base can be patchy.

The lifts

There’s a main gondola (Revelation I) from the bottom of the mountain that takes you mid-mountain where you can decide to get off or switch to the next gondola (Revelation II) tay on to continue to the upper mountain. There are 3 other lifts that service the mountain that are fairly fast.  Lineups are basically unheard of at Revy.

Who is the mountain for?

The mountain is geared towards intermediates and experts but there are a couple of areas for learning on slightly more mellow terrain. If you’re with a group that has varying ability levels, it’s definitely a doable mountain, especially if it’s a group of beginners and experts. If you have someone who’s on the beginner intermediate arc, they’ll probably alternate between being bored and being scared out of their minds on the wide open green groomers – they tend to be a little pitchy.

The lodging

There is lodging right at the base of the mountain, but Revelstoke the town is super charming and staying in town is just a short – as in, 5 minutes – drive away. You sacrifice the ski-in, ski-out ability, but there are lots of options and budgets to choose from. Plus the bottom of Revelstoke isn’t really a mountain village in the way you think at most resorts – it’s smaller with fewer offerings. Staying in town gives you infinitely more options for food. One of our favorite places to stay is Boulder Mountain Resort.

2. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Kicking Horse isn’t particularly well known outside the ski and board community, but those in the know, know. KHMC has massive potential and so much fun, variable terrain.

The snow

Light, dry powder. KH typically doesn’t get as much powder as the other resorts on Powder Highway, but what it does get is excellent.

The lifts

There are 5 lifts at Kicking Horse, including the star of the show, the 8 person Golden Eagle Express Gondola, which takes you from the bottom of the mountain all the way to the very top. The other four lifts consist of: a beginner chairlift, a chairlift near the top that services one ridge, and two chair lifts that serve the lower mountain. At first glance, Kicking horse seems like a small mountain, but that’s really only because the main lappable gondola is so well laid out.

The levels

Kicking horse is more of an high intermediate, expert mountain, with 45% black runs and 15% double black runs. There is beginner terrain at the base of the mountain, but intermediates might feel a bit stuck doing the same runs unless they are aiming to level up their skills on expert runs. This isn’t really a good mountain to be learning on.

The lodging

The beauty of resorts is that the lodging is right at the base and Kicking Horse is no exception. They have multiple lodges, resort homes, and town homes to choose from via their website. You can also go the airbnb route. There are plenty of ski-in, ski-out rentals right on the slopes. Check out the Cedar House Chalets.

panorama | www.iamafoodblog.com

3. Panorama Mountain Resort

Right at the heart of Powder Mountain, you’ll find Panorama. Surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, Panorama offers up a variety of terrain that’s perfect for everyone, from beginners to experts.

The snow

Light, dry, snow, but questionable coverage, unless you hit a good storm cycle, then you’re in for a treat! If you are comfortable with hiking and skiing the double blacks, the Taynton Bowl tends to keep every bit of snow it gets, making for a fantastic time no matter what the snow conditions on the rest of the mountain are like.

The lifts

There are 6 chairlifts at Panorama (plus some magic carpets and a mini village gondola). The lift system leaves something to be desired, especially if you want to ski top to bottom. There are a lot of cat tracks that connect the different ski areas together and while that’s not horrible, it can definitely discourage you from lapping your favorite runs. That being said, it’s one of the ONLY resorts that lets you boot pack your way to the area that is accessible by paid snowcat, so if you’re interested in side country that’s in-bounds, Panorama is an amazing choice.

The levels

Panorama is an amazing mountain for basically everyone, so if you have a group with varying ability, this is the mountain to go to. For the experts, Taynton Bowl (you can ride a CAT to the top or bootpack) is one giant in-bounds backcountry style playground. There are pitchy groomers for intermediates, and there’s a Secret Forest discovery zone for the beginners/kids.

The lodging

You can stay on the mountain – there’s a central check in and a bunch of different types of places to stay, from lodges to apartments to hotel/hostel room. Panorama is about 30 minutes from Invermere, the closest town. We definitely recommend staying on the mountain so you can have that ski-in, ski-out experience. The hotel offerings are a little old but they are working on renovating them.

4. Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

This is officially a stop on the Powder Highway (thanks to the Kootenay Tourism Board) but it is probably not a stop you want to make if you are here for the skiing, the food, or the luxury accommodations. It’s a little older and a little more neglected than the other stops.

5. Kimberly Alpine Resort

Sunny days, reliable snow conditions, and easy lift line ups are the hallmarks of this under-the-radar resort. They market themselves as a family friendly resort, but they have plenty for everyone.

The snow

Kimberley calls their snow Purcell powder (they’re located in the Purcell mountain range) and it’s light, fluffy, and dry. The central location in the middle of the Purcell range means that it gets fairly reliable cover. The snow that falls tends to stay nice and dry. They don’t get a huge amount of snow, but they have a lot of sunny days to make up for it.

The lifts

Kimberley has 3 lifts that service their skiable terrain – one that runs up the front face of the resort, and two that access the backside of the mountain.

The levels

Kimberley has varying terrain abilities. Beginners can stick to the frontside of the mountain where experts can check out the black diamonds on the backside. Intermediates will enjoy long groomies. Highlights consist of: plenty of glades, good fall lines, minimal lift lines, and night skiing, if you’re into that.

The lodging

There are a couple of ski-in, ski-out options at the village with apartments, townhouses, and hotel rooms, but most people opt to stay in the town of Kimberly where you can stay in an airbnb or a hotel such as The Larix.

6. Fernie Alpine Resort

Varied terrain with plenty of side and backcountry makes Fernie a great mountain. It’s on the laidback side with a chill vibes local mountain feel.

The snow

LOADS of snow. The quality tends to be variable, but they do get a lot of it. If you’re lucky, you’ll be swimming in dry Rockies powder, if you’re not, you might get hit with rain at the base. Pray for powder.

The lifts

There are 7 lifts, 2 of which are high speed quads. The lifts are fairly spread out, which means that there’s a lot of traversing between ski areas. Not the greatest lift system, but it makes up for it with relatively short lift lines and an uncrowded resort, especially on weekdays.

The levels

There are five large bowls to play in and Fernie is one of the few mountains on the Powder Highway that really caters to all ability levels. It has great beginner terrain with a dedicated learning area free of speedsters. Intermediates will enjoy progressing into off piste areas that are close to groomed trails as well as wide open bowls. As for expert terrain, it’s amazing, especially off the Polar Peak chair, which boasts steep, long lines.

The lodging

Slope side on Fernie has a lot of ski-in, ski-out condos as well as a village that has hotel style rooms. If you opt to stay off mountain, the town of Fernie has a cute little town centre that’s only 5 minutes from the mountain with lots of options. One of the best ways to avoid airbnb fees is to book directly with the local rental companies.

7. Whitewater Ski Resort

Whitewater is a local mountain with a community ski resort feel. They are small, fly under the radar, and want to keep it that way.

The snow

Powder galore with an annual snowfall of 12 meters (this is a lot). Dry, fluffy, and perfect.

The lifts

There are 3 lifts at Whitewater. Seeing as the skiable acreage is small, they service the area pretty well. They’re not super speedy, but there are virtually no lines. They’re adding a brand new quad for the 23/24 season, which means that there will be an entirely new area of terrain accessible.

The levels

The resort is on the smaller side so there’s not a lot of terrain, but it makes up for it in snowfall. It’s an all abilities mountain with gentle slopes for beginners, groomed cruisers for intermediates, and plenty of off piste steeps, bowls, glades, chutes, and trees for experts.

The lodging

The 2023/24 season is bringing on mountain lodging into play with RV sites and a lodge with a suite. Other than that though, there’s no on-mountain lodging, so you’ll be staying in the cute nearby ski town of Nelson where you can find hotels, airbnbs, and even cute cabins.

8. RED Mountain Resort

Red (they like to style themselves as RED) boasts 5 different peaks, 119 marked runs, and 3850 skiable acres, which is on the same level as Whistler -or- Blackcomb and about the same size as Revelstoke or Mammoth. They’re one of the oldest resorts in Canada, they’re independent, and proud. Tree runs, steeps, groomers, and wide open bowls makes this a great mountain for terrain.

The snow

Red gets a fair amount of pristine, dry powder but they don’t get huge dumps like Whitewater, which is right next to it. Because Red’s elevation isn’t the highest, the snow has the tendency to deteriorate, especially on the sunny, south facing slopes. The snow, when it dumps, is amazing.

The lifts

There are 7 fixed-grip lifts at Red, which means they’re slow, which is a definite con, but because the mountain is fairly uncrowded, it means short lift lines. Think of it as a nice break in between ripping the long runs.

The levels

Red leans more towards an intermediate- advanced expert mountain, but it can be for everyone. For the intermediates, there are wide cruisers, well spaced off-piste trees. Beginners can explore Granite and Grey Mountain, and there’s a dedicated learning area at the base. Advanced skiers can play in the trees in Powder Fields and War Eagle Trees. Experts will enjoy the steep pitches, chutes, tight trees, and drop offs found on the north side of Granite Mountain.

The lodging

Red has opened a new, stay mid-mountain alpine cabin area and they also have a modern hostel. There are on-hill condos, and a lux boutique hotel. Plenty of options for ski-in, ski-out and if that’s not your vibe, Rossland is just minutes away for airbnbs and hotels.

I hope you consider the Powder Highway this season. May your all your days be powder days!

Read More


  1. Hannah says:

    Long time reader of your blog and Revelstoke resident, never thought I’d see Revy mentioned here :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *