The Powder Highway – What is it?

Most things you need to know about the Powder Highway in five simple steps.

Snow.Guide Ski Editor, Rob Stewart, recently did some talks at The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard shows in Manchester and London about a trip he did last winter called The Storm Chasers, based on the Powder Highway in British Columbia, Canada.

One of the questions was, ‘What is the Powder Highway’?

If you don’t know what it is then we will explain exactly what it’s all about in our five step guide to the Powder Highway.

1. Where? It’s all in British Columbia, Canada.

Skiing in British Columbia might be dominated by the resort of Whistler, but the Powder Highway is right on other side of the state, inland and closer to Calgary than Vancouver. It stretches all the way from the American border, close to Montana and Idaho right up to Glacier National Park and level with Banff in Alberta. Calgary provides the closest international airport and it’s about a three hour drive to Golden and the resort of Kicking Horse – the perfect place to start your Powder Highway experience.

2. What, how big?

Let’s just say you could fit the country of Wales into the Powder Highway area and even then, it’s just a tiny spot within the state of BC. There’s a lot of mountains out there and really not that many people. The route around the Powder Highway is approximately 700 miles long – scenery includes mountains, mountains and more mountains….with some lakes and rivers thrown in too. If you’re European, especially from countries such as the UK, Netherlands or parts of Germany – your mind will be blown by the sheer vastness of the wilderness that seems to never end.

3. There’s powder in them hills.

Well it’s not called the Icy Highway is it! Interior British Columbia packs a punch when it comes to snow quality and depth. According to the snow information website Weathertoski.co.uk, three of the Powder Highway resorts come in the top ten of ‘Top 10 Powder Destinations in North America’. These resorts are Fernie, Big White and Revelstoke with Fernie receiving up to eleven metres of average snowfall through the winter – that’s more than any ski resort in the Alps. Unlike the coastal resorts such as Whistler, the Powder Highway gets more consistent lighter snow due to the colder temperatures inland.

4. True adventure playground for all budgets.

The Powder Highway isn’t just about the ski resorts that are spread around its route – there’s a whole pantry full of delights to keep even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders happy for weeks. As well as all the lift serviced resorts, there’s also cat skiing operations such as the one at Valhalla and a huge choice of heli ski set ups including Kingfisher, Eagle Pass and Great Canadian. Cat skiing is when you’re driven up in a vehicle similar to the ones you see making ski runs smooth, but there’s a warm cabin to sit in and you get to ski where others don’t – I think you can guess what heli skiing is? Not into powder? Then why not try Nordic skiing, there’s plenty of trails available on the Powder Highway…….for people who clearly require medical attention.

Heli Skiing Powder Highway

Heli-skiing on the Powder Highway

5. It’s a road trip – get a vehicle.

You can pitch up and stay in one resort, but let’s face it, the whole point is to travel around and experience what the highway has in store. Start in Kicking Horse, head to Revelstoke, maybe a little Eagle Pass heli on the way? Then down to Nelson, ski Whitewater, a bit of Valhalla Cat Ski and then over to Fernie – there’s a fun packed week for you. Accommodation includes lodges, hotels, motels and condos (that’s an apartment to you and me). Get out and explore or find someone who knows the way and can take you to the best spots.

Oh, and I forgot to mention – go ski some powder!

Rob Stewart Skiing

Snow.Guide Editor Robert Stewart skiing The Powder Highway

Trips on the Powder Highway are available from Kicking Horse Powder Tours who also organise the Storm Chaser trip, as seen in The Telegraph.

The Powder Highway is part of Kootenay Rockies Tourism with resorts and operators working as independent organisations throughout the Powder Highway region.

For more information visit – www.kickinghorsepowdertours.com

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Rob has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 25 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Rob is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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