Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Have you ever heard of “cold smoke”? It’s a term that refers to the phenomenon when fresh snow, sunlight, and wind combine to form clouds of sparkling powder that appear like smoke.
It also refers to the perfect snow conditions for alpine skiers and snowboarders and the West Kootenays is famous for the stuff.
People travel to this region from around the world to enjoy downhilling through snow that is so dry and fluffy, it feels like you’re gliding through clouds. And there is no shortage of it here — the average annual snowfall in the mountains surrounding Castlegar is 12 metres! That’s over 40 feet of snow falling between December and April!
The city is the perfect hub for backcountry skiers, resort goers and snowboarders because it’s located equal distance (a 45-minute-drive) between two of the world’s best ski resorts: Red Mountain in Rossland and Whitewater Resort near Nelson. The latter just had a new quad chairlift installed and boasts incredible vertical and side-country opportunities.
And as for Red Mountain, people have been skiing there for over a century and it now boasts seven lifts and 110 marked runs. For those who want to explore areas away from the resorts, the good news is Castlegar is located within the Selkirk mountain range and there are is plenty of terrain just a short car ride away.
In fact, one of the best backcountry ski traverses in North America, the Bonnington Traverse, starts within a 20-minute drive of the downtown Castlegar.
To explore further into the mountains, consider booking one of the many heli- or cat-ski operations or lodges serviced by them — there are almost a dozen!
How to Get Here: Castlegar is centrally located within the best alpine skiing area in the world. It’s an easy 45-minute drive west to Red Mountain in Rossland or east to Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson. There are also plenty of cat-ski and heli-ski operations based nearby as well. And if backcountry is more your style, the Valhallas are also only a half-hour drive away as is the start to the world-famous Bonnington Hut Traverse.
Weather: The skiing season usually starts in early December and extends all the way to mid April in the higher elevations. The snow conditions in the region are the best in the world and the mountains surrounding the city enjoy an annual average of 12 metres (40 feet) of snow that’s light, fluffy and fun. That said, Castlegar enjoys mild temperatures all winter long (daytime averages are between -1°C and -6°C).
Types of Skiing: Castlegar is in the heart of the best skiing region in BC and visitors have their choice between two alpine resorts, about a dozen heli-ski, cat-ski and lodge operations and limitless backcountry terrain. Whether you prefer snowboarding, telemarking, splitboarding, backcountry or alpine skiing, there is something for everyone near Castlegar.
Resorts: There are two main alpine skiing areas near Castlegar and they include Red Mountain in Rossland and Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson. Both are conveniently located only a 45-minute drive from our city.