Skiing the Canadian Rockies
Europe has the Alps, but North America has the Rockies. The Alps are pint size (750 miles in length) versus the Rockies (3,000 miles). Europe’s earlier start in developing its mountainous regions have blessed the Alps with world’s most famous ski resorts. North America is doing its best to catch up. Condition wise, the Rockies 3,000-mile swath through the United States and Canada are hard to match. It doesn’t matter whether its an El Nino year or a La Nina one. Every year, from Taos to Jasper, the Rockies will have good skiing somewhere.
Canada’s ski areas extend beyond the Rockies. Whistler-Blackcomb is in Western Canada in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains. Mont Tremblant is in Eastern Canada in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. But the heart of Canada’s ski areas are in the Rockies. I think of the Canadian Rockies the way I remember reading about resorts in Ski Magazines: the “Rockies,” the Trans Canada Highway (aka the “Powder Highway”), and the “Powder Triangle.”
Whistler-Blackcomb tends to suck a lot of the oxygen out of the room in any Canadian ski discussion. We’re not covering it here, at least not yet, because it is (1) not in the Rockies, (2) not really on the Powder Highway, and not within the Powder Triangle.
The Canadian Rockies and The Powder Highway (a.k.a. Powder Triangle) are the siren’s song to the avid skier. The Powder Highway, otherwise known as the Trans-Canada Highway connects Banff (Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Norquay), Kicking Horse, Panorama, Revelstoke and Sun Peaks. If you look at the triangle, you can add Fernie, Kimberley, Panorama, Nelson, Whitewater and Red Mountain.
The ski resorts are legendary. The scenery is as well.
Steve’s Canadian Rockies GNASA Route
The Canadian part of my GNASA took place in 2017, between March 10 and March 23. I skied Fernie, Banff (Lake Louise & Sunshine Village), Kicking Horse and Revelstoke. I started in Big Sky Montana, via Salt Lake City, and headed Northwest on Interstate 90 to US Route 93 to Canada, where it becomes Highway 93 (aka Banff-Windermere Parkway south of Trans-Canada Highway and Icefields Parkway North of the Trans-Canada Highway). From the Canadian border, its about 25 miles Elko, where you take Highway 3 East for 20 miles to Fernie. From Fernie, I went to Banff by taking 23 West and picking up Highway 93 North to Highway 1 East to Banff. Fernie to Banff is about 225 miles. Banff to Kicking Horse is about a 100 miles west on the Powder Highway. From Kicking Horse, its another 100 miles west on the Powder Highway to Revelstoke. From Revelstoke, its 190 miles south on Highway 6 to the US border (180 miles to Red Mountain). Kicking Horse and Revelstoke. I traveled back South down from Revelstoke via Route 23 to Route 6 to Washington State. Then I continued South on Route 31/20 to Coeur d’Alene where I picked up 90 South to 15 South back to SLC.
My Candian loop was probably the most enjoyable two weeks I’ve spent skiing. But I did not devote enough time to the loop. I spent two weeks, I could have spent two months.