Castlegar offers lots of fun outdoor winter recreation, from snowmobiling to the best cross-country skiing in the Kootenays, and the weather is mild enough that you’ll actually want to get outside to do them. Here is a list of everything there is to do and after reading it, we’re sure you’ll agree winter doesn’t suck in Castlegar.
We genuinely enjoy winter in Castlegar, and you can too. There are endless outdoor activities and the temperature is so mild, you actually want to get out there and do them. And once you’ve finished playing outdoors, there are plenty of warm, inviting places to stay, eat and drink.
To get started, we’ve put together a list of all the reasons why winter in the city is great. From outdoor recreation to comforting, indoor dining, here are the 10 reasons why winter doesn’t suck in Castlegar.
#1. Castlegar Enjoys Lots of Sun and Very Mild Winter Temperatures
There are people out there who says Castlegar is the Arizona of the Kootenays because the winter months offer some of the warmest temperatures in the region and the only other community that rivals it for full days of sunshine is the small town of Creston in the East Kootenay. In fact, winter temperatures average -3°C, which means there are plenty of days where you can walk around town in the sun without even a toque on and yet the scenery is still beautiful with all the snow
#2. Castlegar Offers The Best Cross-Country Skiing in the Kootenays
Castlegar has the best cross-country skiing in the Kootenays, hands down. This is because there are innumerable free places in which to enjoy classic nordic skiing as well as over 50 kilometres of groomed skate ski and classic tracks taken care of by the very active Castlegar Nordic Ski Club. Plus, because the temperatures are so mild (unlike Canmore or Banff for example), you’ll actually want to get outside and do it. For more about cross-country skiing in Castlegar, read the following blogs:
Whether you prefer skate skiing for fitness, or relaxed nordic skiing through untouched snow, Castlegar has the best cross-country skiing in the Kootenays.
The Castlegar Nordic Ski Club trails offers the best cross-country skiing on the Paulson Pass that incorporate 45 kilometres of groomed trails. These are our favourite trail loops.
#3. Castlegar is Located Between Two World-Class Ski Resorts
Both resorts were voted North America’s best by Powder magazine and so by basing yourself in Castlegar, you can easily access the two of them. In addition, there’s world-class ski touring 30 minutes from downtown. And there’s a fun community hill that offers night skiing in the town of Salmo, a 30-minute drive from the city. To learn more about alpine skiing opportunities near Castlegar, read our article: Castlegar is at the Centre of the West Kootenay Ski Scene.
Castlegar is equidistant from three ski hills, two of which were awarded best downhill resorts in North America. 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 the Salmo Skil Hill.
#4. Castlegar Offers More Hockey Than Any Other Kootenay Community
There’s no question Castlegar is a hockey town. With two indoor rinks (Pioneer Arena and the Recreation Centre) and multiple outdoor ones, there are lots of spaces to play Canada’s favourite sport. Plus there’s plenty of opportunities to cheer on your favourite players given that there’s a local Junior league team, the Castlegar Rebels, and a varsity team, the Selkirk Saints. Hockey games can be viewed virtually this year and you can find out more information about the history of hockey in the city by reading our article “Successful Castlegar Hockey Players.”
#5. Castlegar is a World-Class Snowmobiling Destination
Snowmobiling is a one of the most popular winter activities in Castlegar. This is because the mild winter temperatures make it enjoyable to be out there, there’s tons of snow (over 10 metres of it fall in the surrounding mountains) and because there is lots of terrain to explore. In fact, there are so many places to visit via snowmobile around the city and in the surrounding mountains, it would take a lifetime to see it all. For everything you need to know about snowmobiling in Castlegar and for our picks of the best trails, including those groomed and maintained by the Castlegar Snowmobile Association, read the articles listed below.
There are many reasons sledding is a popular winter activity in Castlegar. Here's everything you need to know about snowmobiling in Castlegar.
#6. Castlegar Has Many Places to Skate and Play Shinny (aka Pond Hockey)
Not only can you watch excellent hockey in Castlegar, you can also play it casually. There are leagues that play in the city’s two indoor skating rinks as well as opportunities for family skates. (Note: the arenas are currently closed for the 2020-21 season.) There are also many places in and just outside of Castlegar where you can skate. Kinnaird Park is one such rink that is maintained by the city for those who want to play an informal game of shinny or practice their salchow. Plus there are lots of lakes in the nearby alpine that freeze over in the winter and where you can go skating.
#7. Castlegar Offers Lots of Winter Activities For Families
There are many fun things to do in Castlegar with the family during winter. As mentioned above, cross-country skiing, skating and snowmobiling are popular past-time for people of all ages. Plus, for those families that downhill ski, there’s excellent beginner to expert terrain at the world-class Red Mountain Resort in nearby Rossland as well as the fun community ski hill in Salmo, which offers night skiing. (Salmo is a 30-minute drive from Castlegar.) There’s also tobogganing at places such as Cone Hill, Verigin Tomb Memorial Park and Dove Hill as well as snowshoeing around Millennium Park and, well, anywhere really. For more ideas, read our article “Things to do With Your Family in Castlegar in the Winter.”
#8. Castlegar Has Sculpture Walk and Other Art Showcases Year Round
Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean Castlegar ceases to be the “Sculpture Capital of Canada.” There are always statues and artwork on display throughout the city, especially in the downtown core, and it can be especially enjoyable to see them against a white backdrop when there aren’t any flowers and trees distracting you. Indoor art venues include the Kootenay Art Gallery, which remains open for the winter 2020/21 season. For more about the art scene in Castlegar enjoy the following articles.
#9. Castlegar Has Amazing Eateries and Cafés
After some time outside during the winter months, there’s nothing better than to come in and enjoy a warm environment, a hot drink, and a delicious meal. And Castlegar offers up all of those things in spades. Whether you’re looking for a hot artisan coffee, a quick bite, or a fine-dining meal, there are dozens of restaurants, cafés, and eateries located in the city. For more details about some of our favourite establishments, read the articles below.
#10. Castlegar Offers Year-Round Fishing
One of the most popular outdoor pursuits in Castlegar is fishing. That’s because the city is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers and the toe-end of the Arrow Lakes system. Plus there are thousands of streams, creeks, ponds, and lakes in the nearby mountains. And the best part about angling in Castlegar is the season never ends. Yes, there are ice-fishing opportunities at certain nearby mountain lakes, but because the valley-bottom temperatures are so mild, people can troll, cast and fly-fish year round. Just be sure to check with provincial regulations about the seasons for certain fish and remember to get a fishing license, no matter what time of year it is.
One of the best ways to get out and about in Castlegar is to explore the thriving river culture, specifically fishing. Throwing out a line into one of the many nearby lakes and rivers is joyful and talking about it with friends over beer afterwards even more so.
Fishing is an incredibly popular activity in Castlegar for anglers of all ages but how does one get to the stage when a child is reeling in a fish on the end of a line? In this article we explain the five steps to getting your family involved in fishing in Castlegar.