Want to experience the very best of British Colombia’s deep pow and legendary terrain? Head to the Powder Highway. This 1,000km road-linked loop includes seven of Canada’s most powdery destinations: Fernie, Kimberley, Panorama, Red Mountain, Whitewater, Revelstoke and Kicking Horse. Renowned for its awesome pow and terrain, it's no coincidence that 90% of the world's cat and heli skiing operations are based here.
To get the most from this freeride mecca, our snow safari rolls our favourite resorts into a single trip, with everything from guiding to accommodation thrown in. Four resorts, two weeks, 13 days on snow, six days of expert coaching and 109 feet of combined average snowfall. Here are 11 reasons why you should join us.
1. Several resorts, one trip
The beauty of the Highway is the opportunity to visit several resorts in a single trip. And these aren’t just any old ski resorts. They’re some of the world’s very best destinations for steep and deep. Each cult-status resort serves up a unique combination of incredible terrain, big snowfall and local charm.
The challenge is in planning a perfect trip that maximises your snow time, cherry-picks the best resorts, and makes the most of each one. It can take weeks of planning and expert knowledge to put the perfect trip together, so a pre-planned safari can really max out your time.
On our two week Powder Highway road trip, we visit four of the best resorts – Fernie, Red Mountain, Revelstoke and Kicking Horse – and use local experts to seek out the best terrain in each one.
2. Epic powder, guaranteed
They don’t call it the Powder Highway for nothing. These resorts have some of the deepest, driest and most consistent snowfall on the planet. Average annual dumps are around 30-feet-plus, and Revelstoke (known locally as Revy) and Fernie regularly top the charts for powder days.
And it’s not just the quantity of the pow that’s so legendary, it’s the quality of it. Fluffy, floaty and often untracked, good times are guaranteed. The snow in places like Fernie ridiculously light and feathery, thanks to the low temperatures and perfect snow-to-liquid ratio of moist Pacific air meeting cold, dry air from the Rockies. Serious powderhounds: this is your mecca.
3. No crowds
Finding freshies on a powder day is easy. Off-the-beaten-track, the Powder Highway resorts are deliciously uncrowded, with endless freeride terrain ready and waiting. The scope for adventure is huge – there are more than seven million acres of big mountains and small towns, with vast wilderness in-between. Here, there’s no need to rush – on the Powder Highway, there’s plenty of pow to go around.
4. Awesome terrain
With an incredible variety of terrain, no two days are the same. From open bowls and powdery chutes, to remote ridge walks and hair-curling double-black diamonds, this is where it’s at. It’s practically a crime to come here and not head off-piste. Take Revvy, which boasts the biggest vert (5,620 feet) in North America and 3,000 acres of open bowls. Northeast of Revvy, Kicking Horse has powder-filled bowls, almost limitless heli-ski terrain, and more black runs than any other grades. The much-loved resort of Fernie is legendary for its five alpine bowls, ungroomed steeps, chutes and open glades. And Red Mountain is steep, deep and quiet, with world-class tree skiing.
5. The birthplace of heli-skiing
This is the place to tick the big one off your bucket list. The world’s first commercially successful heli-skiing operations were born in BC, around 50 years ago and, today, some of the world’s most renowned heli-skiing operations are scattered across the Powder Highway.
The epicentre of BC backcountry, Revvy has a choice of heli operators, ready to whisk you high into the Selkirk and Monashee ranges. Floating back down through vast bowls and old growth forests that sparkle with fresh snow is an experience you’ll never forget.
6. The capital of cat skiing
Aching for a heli-ski fix but haven’t got the funds? The Powder Highway serves-up an equally good alternative. Cat skiing was born in BC’s Selkirks in 1975, and powderhounds have been purring ever since.
Here in the homeland of cat skiing, you can get heli-ski style kicks at a fraction of the price. Jump in a snowcat and climb into the backcountry, then float back down through a white wilderness, catch your breath, and do it all again.
With plenty of cat skiing operations peppering the Highway, you’ve got lots of choice. Several are based near Fernie and Red Mountain, and we take you with Big Red Cats on our stop in Rossland.
7. The ultimate adventure
Touring along the Powder Highway is not your average ski trip. Far from it. Every day rolls out another adventure; every curve in the road reveals another epic view; and no resort is run-of-the-mill.
This part of the planet feels wild, raw and remote. And despite its chart-topping credentials, it has an undiscovered and intrepid quality. Just ask your friends how many of them have skied Red Mountain – most will look back at you blankly. If it’s adventure you’re after, this is where to find it.
8. The place to push yourself
With some of the steepest, deepest and wildest terrain in North America, the Powder Highway is the place to push yourself. Don’t come here to simply pootle around the pistes and sip hot chocolate – this is your chance to elevate your riding, whatever level you’re at.
To make the most of this playground, you’ll need an expert coach and guide – a true local expert who can take you straight to the best powder stashes and untracked terrain and give you tips along the way. When you’re only spending a few days in each resort, you don’t want to waste time trying to find a fabled spot.
With a Nonstop snow safari, you can make this trip really count, with six days of professional coaching and guiding, plus seven days of free skiing to cruise at your own pace or push yourself even further.
9. Authentic mountain culture
Totally different to the North American mega resorts, the Powder Highway has uncommercialised mountain hubs with year-round communities. Welcoming towns and villages like Fernie, Revelstoke, Golden (Kicking Horse) and Rossland (Red Mountain) promise a real taste of authentic mountain life, with a funky, local ski-hill vibe.
Each settlement is unique, from the adventure-loving atmosphere in Rossland, to the long ski heritage in Revelstoke, and Fernie’s atmospheric old mining town – voted The Coolest Town in North America by Rolling Stone Magazine.
10. Save your energy for skiing
The time and effort it takes to plan the perfect Powder Highway road trip can be the biggest hurdle to making it happen. With a ready-made safari that’s been planned, tested and fine-tuned by us, you can do away with the hassle, and have a better experience to show for it.
Everything is organised for you, from guides, coaching and lift passes, to heli-skiing and cat skiing. And there’s no car hire to arrange, no routes to plan and no accommodation reviews to trawl through.
More importantly, you can maximise your energy for skiing. Your safari includes a host, so you can sleep off the jet-lag and rest your legs on each road trip. In fact, all you need to do is head to the hill each day and shred.
11. Ready-made friends
Has the Powder Highway has been on your bucket list for eons? Are you still trying to get a group together to make it a reality? Quit hanging around for your mates, it’s time to go solo.
Join a Nonstop Powder Highway snow safari and you’ll meet a like-minded group of mountain-lovers that are as thirsty for adventure as you are. With average group sizes of 12, and no more than six people per guide, you’re guaranteed a sociable trip. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple or a small group, you’ll fit right in and make new buddies for life.
Book your Powder Highway safari
We look forward to speaking with you.