It’s not every city that can boast that it’s located equidistant from three ski hills, two of which are ranked as the best downhill resorts in North America. But Castlegar can proudly exclaim it is truly at the centre of it all when it comes to world-class alpine skiing. Situated in British Columbia’s beautiful Columbia Valley, Castlegar is an easy 40-minute drive from Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson, and 30 minutes from the quaint, super-fun Salmo Ski Hill, which offers the only night skiing around. It’s also a quick 30-minute drive to Washington state line, meaning Americans can easily make the drive north to access the goods when the border opens again.
Both Red Mountain and Whitewater resorts have won Powder magazine’s annual “Ski Town Throwdown Awards,” beating out some of the more famous downhill destinations in America such as Crested Butte in Colorado and Sugarloaf in Maine. And the primary reason is the quality of snow that falls in and around Castlegar. In fact, the mountains around the city receive an average of 12 metres or 40 feet of the white stuff between December and April every year and the snow is so perfectly light and fluffy, it’s come to be known as “Cold Smoke.”
Aside from the amazing snow, Red Mountain also features 4,200 acres of skiing and almost 3,000 feet of vertical while Whitewater boasts 2,300 acres and just over 2,000 feet of vertical. And both mountains boast pristine environments unfettered by massive condo developments.
Meanwhile, the Salmo Ski Hill has been operating since 1962 and offers night skiing Monday to Thursday and full-day skiing on weekends. It’s a fun community hill that, given its cheap lift passes, is perfect for family outings.
Castlegar is an excellent place for skiers to base themselves because it’s easy to access both ski resorts, and, unlike other nearby communities, there’s a plethora of accommodation choices to choose from such as hotels that offer free shuttles to Red Mountain. They include Super 8, the Sandman Hotel, the Fireside Inn and Canada’s Best Value Inn.
Not only will you be able to enjoy alpine resorts during your stay in Castlegar, you’ll also be able to experience some of the best backcountry skiing in the province. For example, the world-famous Bonnington Traverse can be accessed via an easy 25-minute drive from the city. And once you’ve gotten your downhill fix, you can explore the city’s many other offerings that include riverside strolls or winter fishing on the Columbia, nordic skiing at Millennium Park, the Sculpture Walk, as well as the incredible variety of restaurants.
So if world-class downhill skiing is something you’d like to experience this winter, along with some affordable night skiing, be sure to triple your fun by staying in Castlegar where you can easily access no less than three resorts.