Backcountry skiing is the fastest growing winter sport in western North America and nowhere is it more enjoyable than the Kootenay region of British Columbia. Around Castlegar we boast perfectly light and fluffy snow, nicknamed “Cold Smoke” and there’s lots of it. Almost 12 metres or 40 feet fall in the nearby mountains each winter. The best part is Castlegar is conveniently located at the centre of three mountain ranges, each boasting excellent backcountry skiing and riding. To the east is the Rossland Range of the Monashee Mountains where you’ll find the Big Red Cats cat-skiing operation. Twenty minutes south is the start to the world-famous hut traverse that takes you across the Bonnington Range. And to the north are the Valhalla Ranges of the Selkirks serviced by multiple cat skiing operations and backcountry lodges.

How to Get Here: Castlegar is centrally located within the best backcountry skiing in the world. The Valhallas and Rossland Range are only a half-hour drive away and the start to the world-famous Bonnington Hut Traverse is 20 minutes south of the city. The West Kootenay Regional Airport is a 10-minute drive from downtown and the international airport is Spokane is a three-hour drive. Castlegar is equidistant between Vancouver and Calgary (eight-hour drive) and four hours from the Kelowna International Airport.

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 you’ll enjoy powder that’s light, fluffy and very, very deep.

Operators: There are multiple cat-ski and heli-ski operators in the area as well as all forms of backcountry huts from luxurious, full-service lodges to basic cabins. See the right-hand side of this page for a short list of operators.

More Info: To learn more about backcountry skiing near Castlegar, we recommend visiting Backcountry Skiing Canada, which details various day trips, traverses as well as commercial operations.

Ice Creek Lodge Episode 6 : The Powder Highway from Vshaw Productions on Vimeo.