Cross Country Skiing

Fold the seat down or open up the roof rack for your cross-country ski gear; mild winter temperatures and over 100km of beautifully tracked Nordic trails await on a road trip to the Kootenays.

Start your journey in Rossland, home to the acclaimed Black Jack Ski Club. The high alpine setting means that the seasons are long and the conditions are solid. Over 40km of expertly groomed trails for classic and skate offer a mix of intimate forest and panoramic vistas. A lit night loop, terrain park for kids, biathlon range and a doggy loop provide plenty of additional options.

Over 20 different trails provides plenty of options to choose your own adventure loops. Challenge yourself to a 300 metre climb from the main base area to the trails surrounding the biathlon range or head for mellower and shorter routes with multiple connections. Either way, you’ll find a couple of cozy warming cabins on the trail. Guests can also rent gear on site.

Further up highway 3B is the Paulson XC Ski Trails, part of Castlegar Ski Club, with oodles of terrain. Most of the interconnected trails sit above 1300 metres and receive enough snow for skiing to often start in late November and last late into the season.

Most of the network is rated as intermediate and features moderate to gentle grades with rolling terrain and changing landscapes. The Ben Shaw Trail is a cruisy beginner loop, with a shelter at the halfway point. A total of five shelters are spaced out over 40km of trails, providing convenient destinations to warm up and plan your next segment.

Just ten minutes from Nelson at the turnoff to Whitewater Ski Resort is the Nelson Nordic Ski Club, featuring 30km of groomed beginner and intermediate trails. A series of short winding loops along the Salmo River and near the main shelter offers family-friendly skiing, including a night loop.

More adventurous skiers can challenge themselves to the Clearwater hill climb. Get the heart rate going on the uphill, then savour the speedy downhill all the way to the Busk parking lot. Three shelters are available at the club. If you don’t have gear head to Gerick’s Cycle and Ski in Nelson buy or rent skate or classic equipment.

An hour from Nelson is the scenic waterfront town of Kaslo, where a passion for winter runs deep. The local Kaslo Nordic Ski Club features 12km of groomed classic trails and two warming huts. Other cross-country ski options in the region include the Balfour Golf Course, Great Northern Rail Trail between Nelson and Salmo, and the hilly Nordic trails at Whitewater Ski Resort.

From leisurely loops to challenging climbs and full day outings, you’ll find all kinds of cross-country skiing options on a Kootenay road trip.

To learn more about cross-country skiing in the area visit the local tourism websites.


Red Mtn

What’s red and white with powder all over? The two top ski resorts in the West Kootenays of course. With Whitewater and Red Mountain just an hour away from each other, you don’t have to go far on a Kootenay road trip for an unbeatable ski getaway.

The nearby mountain towns of Nelson and Rossland are the home communities for these two fabled ski resorts. With a mix of heritage charm, distinctive accommodations, a lively apres-ski scene, and impressive mountain backdrops, Nelson and Rossland are often recognized as the best ski towns in Canada: 2012 Powder Magazine and 2020 USA Today. Or it might also have something to do with the acclaimed skiing in their backyard.

Just 20 minutes from Nelson, Whitewater Ski Resort serves up some of the finest lift-access powder skiing in the world. Perched way up in the alpine at a base of 1646m, the resort receives an average of 40 feet of snow each year. Three mountain faces are home to dozens of runs, including oodles of tree skiing terrain with secret powder stashes. If you fancy the backcountry, the resort offers unbeatable access to some serious big terrain on the shoulders of Ymir Mountain and beyond.

No wifi or cell service means the emphasis is on reconnecting with your immediate surroundings. Whether you’re in line for the next chair or one of Whitewater’s signature meals, conversation and good vibes flow naturally. Gathering intel for which runs to hit means asking around instead of scrolling your screen. Don’t miss soaking up the ambiance in the lodge with a locally brewed cup of Oso Negro coffee or craft brew and some of the finest ski resort food in the country from Fresh Tracks.

While you’ll find cell service and loads of modern amenities at Red Mountain Resort (including a brand spanking new chairlift and a boutique slopeside hotel), its small-town charm and alpine heritage are still part of the appeal. Home to the first chairlift in Western Canada, the resort has steadily expanded over the years to meet the demands of powder hounds from Rossland and beyond.

With over 3,850 acres of skiable terrain, it’s in the Top 10 of the largest ski resorts in North America. And with 8 chairlifts and minimal crowds, you’ll feel as though you have the place to yourself. An average snowfall of 760cm and mild -4C temperature makes for ideal conditions that are the goldilocks of the skiing world; not too cold, not too mild, just right.

Wide-open groomers, secret stashes of powder in sweet tree runs, and $10/run cat skiing provide plenty of variety. Multiple eateries will tempt your taste buds, including the historic Rafters, one of the best ski resort bars in North America. Stay in style and convenience at a ski chalet or the recently opened slope side Josie Hotel.

With a combination of acclaimed ski towns and that famous Kootenay coldsmoke powder, it’s easy to embrace your true patriot love for Canada’s winter wonderland at Whitewater and Red Ski Resorts.

To learn more about alpine ski resorts in the area visit the local tourism websites.



Red, white and whoo! Home to the best ski towns and backcountry terrain in North America, adventure is calling in Rossland, Nelson and the many cat & heli-ski operators.

Grab your skis, board and outdoor gear for some of the finest powder skiing in the world. Red Mountain Resort in Rossland BC features 119 runs, 8 lifts, and 890m/2,919ft of vertical and over 3,500 skiable acres of snowy bliss. An average snowfall of 760cm and mild -4C temperature makes for ideal conditions that won’t freeze your face or have you dodging dirt.

All that terrain helps to spread out skiers and make you feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. Wide-open groomers, secret stashes of powder in epic tree runs, and $10/run cat skiing provide plenty of variety. Multiple eateries will tempt your taste buds, including the historic Rafters, one of the best ski resort bars in North America. Stay in style and convenience at a ski chalet or the recently opened slope side Josie Hotel.

An hour to the east is Nelson’s own alpine playground, Whitewater Ski Resort. Sitting way up high at a base elevation of 1,646m, the resort receives a gob smacking average snowfall of over 12m/40ft. No cell service means you can focus your attention on all that legendary powder spread over three mountain faces. Don’t miss some of the finest ski resort food going at Fresh Tracks Café and Coal Oil Johnny’s Pub, featuring innovative twists and fresh flavours. Happening hostels, boutique hotels, spacious inns, and unique vacation rentals provide plenty of accommodation choices in and around Nelson.

Backcountry skiers will find a world of possibilities in the region, from lift-access areas on the edge of Whitewater to extensive terrain at Kootenay Pass, Kokanee Creek Provincial Park and beyond. Local shops provide all the gear you need, while backcountry guides will get you to the goods safely in small groups.

The Nelson and Rossland region is also world-renowned for incredible cat and heli skiing. From day trips to epic weeklong stays at fully inclusive backcountry lodges, you’ll find some of the very best skiing on the planet with the help of these passionate local operators.

You’ll also find some mighty fine cross-country skiing and snowshoeing nearby. Just minutes from Rossland, the acclaimed Black Jack Ski Club features over 40km of superbly groomed trails. Nearby Castlegar Nordic Ski Club is located at the lofty Paulson Pass, and offers an extensive interconnected system of trails with warming huts in a remote alpine setting. Shorter loops and challenging climbs are the hallmark of the Nelson Nordic Ski Club and Kaslo Nordic Ski Club, both located a short drive from their home communities. Snowshoers will find multiple trails to explore at Strawberry Pass above Rossland.

When you’re done playing outside for the day, you’ll find our legendary ski town vibe going on at independent pubs, breweries, and restaurants. From modern smokehouses to historic taverns, trendy restaurants to top-notch alehouses, mouthwatering meals meet delicious craft drafts. With perhaps the finest powder skiing in North America, it’s easy to fill your cup with all the outdoor adventure you can handle on a Kootenay Road Trip.

To learn more about winter activities in the area visit the local tourism websites.


Mountain Biking

Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine goes road-tripping in our backyard to discover the best trails and ales. Giddy up.

By Vince Hempsall. Photos by Peter Moynes.

Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine photo editor Peter Moynes and I are on a “Slaycation” road trip around the West Kootenay visiting the region’s newest mountain bike trails and breweries and we’re starting on the East Shore, which, as we discover immediately after disembarking the ferry, is like driving back to 2005 because we can’t see one person on their smartphone.

“The East Shore” is a local term that refers to the area on the east shoreline of Kootenay Lake encompassing Riondel, Crawford Bay, Gray Creek and a few other tiny communities. It can be accessed via Highway 3A from Creston or the Kootenay ferry, the longest free scenic ferry in the world. At its eastern terminal is the quaint Ladybug Coffee stand that serves the heartiest breakfast sandwich in the province and it’s here we realize we can ditch the Trailforks app and just chat up the locals for beta on where to ride, kind of like we all used to do at the turn of the century.


Mountain Biking

Relaxing at the Trail Bluffs overlooking the Columbia River.

To learn more about mountain biking in the area visit the tourism websites.


Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip

Behold, adventure seekers. The Kootenays are calling. From high above to the lakes and rivers below, get ready to find your outdoor thrills.

It’s no secret that we love getting high in the Kootenays – high above the trees that is. Experience a bird’s-eye-view for yourself by taking the ultimate aerial plunge at Kokanee Mountain Zipline. Test your limits by soaring through the forest on six lines including a 2400 foot cross-canyon mega ride.

Mountain biking is a way of life out here, and our steep terrain provides the setting for some of the most challenging and rewarding trails in the world (for real!). Downshift into your climbing gears to pedal your way up into the alpine; the thrill of the downhill awaits. Challenge yourself to the epic Seven Summits trail in Rossland or the extensive network of trails around Nelson at Mountain Station or Morning Mountain. You’ll also find bike parks throughout the region to develop your skills or watch the youngsters defy gravity and fear.

Road cyclists will savour the unbeatable winding waterfront and backroads in the region. Rolling terrain, satisfying climbs, diverse scenery and ideally located cafes and accommodations are ideal for skinny tires. Choose from leisurely half day rides to epic multi-day loops.

Interested in going underground? Discover a vast network of stalactites and stalagmites at the otherworldly Cody Caves near Ainsworth Hot Springs. Guided tours of the underground labyrinth reveal the secrets of this amazing place. If you’re more the terrestrial sort, you’ll find great disc golf courses in Rossland and Ymir.

Water sports and long warm summers go hand in hand in the Kootenays. Rent a canoe, kayak or SUP and enjoy the panoramic views of Kootenay Lake in Nelson or Kaslo, or challenge yourself to river surfing on the Columbia River in Trail. Hire a local guide to take you fishing in the hopes of landing a prize trout any time of year.

Pack your gear to choose your own adventure and get yourself on the trails or on the water.

In the Air

On the water

On the Ground

To learn more about summer adventure in the area visit the tourism websites.

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip

It doesn’t matter if it’s early spring or late fall, hiking is accessible all across the area. Lower elevations take you on long walks along the Kaslo, Kootenay and Columbia rivers, and along the shores of Kootenay Lake. As the snow rescinds to unveil the wild flowers at higher elevations, the old growth forests and evergreens flourish and welcome visitors. It really is a magical hiking experience, for all ages and levels of fitness.

Fancy an adventurous hike to the alpine with soaring 360 vistas? Got ‘em. How about a quick and accessible hike for a bird’s eye view of our charming mountain towns? Yup. Or a leisurely walk in the woods or along the river that even the little ones will love? Oh yeah, we’ve got those too. Big crowds from the big city? Nope, sorry. Just awesome hikes with all kinds of natural beauty and peaceful quiet.

With multiple communities on the shores of our rivers and lakes, there’s all kinds of lower elevation trails to choose from. Our mild climate means that most of these trails are accessible from early spring to late fall. And with loads of great restaurants, cafes and even ice cream and chocolate shops in town, you’ll take comfort in knowing that you can treat the kids (and yourself) to a post-hike reward just around the corner.

Head to Kaslo for a gentle hike along the town’s namesake river that feels like something out of a fairy tale. Mossy banks, towering trees and burbling waters are bookended by twin picturesque covered bridges on the 3.2km loop trail. Take the scenic Kootenay Lake ferry to the East Shore and explore Pilot Bay Provincial Park with an extensive network of trails. A short hike leads to the beautifully restored lighthouse overlooking all three arms of Kootenay Lake.

Stretching from the shores of Kootenay Lake all the way to the town of Salmo, the Great Northern Rail Trail is another family favourite option. A 5km out and back from either trailhead in Nelson features soaring trestles and easy grades. At just over 1.5km and 100m of elevation gain, the Kootenay Columbia Trail in Rossland leads to a stellar viewpoint overlooking the mountain town. Link up with other trails or head back to town and imagine how much snow must fall to explain those super steep roofs that sit like a hat atop all the houses.

If getting high (in the alpine) is your thing, you might want to extend your stay. Take a scenic drive to Meadow Creek and up quiet forest roads to the trailhead for Monica Meadows, one of the most incredible hikes in North America. Glaciers, wildflowers, fiery larch trees in the fall and real deal wilderness are your reward. Between Nelson and Balfour is the gateway to Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, featuring some truly jaw-dropping and challenging hikes to alpine lakes and scrambles to rocky summits. If you want to stick closer to Nelson, you’ll find our version of Vancouver’s Grouse Grind. Follow the steep trail to Pulpit Rock for great views, or keep going all the way up to Flagpole for over 650m of heart-pounding hiking. If you’d prefer more peace and quiet, tackle nearby Toad Mountain for a more mountainous expedition.

Rossland is home to some meaty hikes too, including the punchy Old Glory Trail. With over 1000m of elevation gain and just under 20km out and back, make sure to pack a few energy bars and lots of liquid. The celebrated Seven Summits Trail is even longer, with a rollercoaster route that features plenty of scenic vistas and is a brag-worthy bucket list hike.

With multiple communities and all kinds of hikes to choose from, take your time to explore the region and enjoy the mild to wild trails.


Family friendly hikes are all around the area, and sit at lower levels so they can be done spring to fall.


To learn more about hiking in the area visit the tourism websites.

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip