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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › How should one go about planning a trip to interior BC? Whitewater, Revelstoke or Kickinghorse?
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How should one go about planning a trip to interior BC? Whitewater, Revelstoke or Kickinghorse?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Here is the deal. I live in NYC and I HATE to drive. I also have limited time for a "big" ski trip each year (9 days max usually, then lots of 2-3 day ones) so that I tend to avoid places that require lots of traveling after the flying. As a result I generally have been sticking to Utah and Whistler.

Many 3/4 day trips to Utah and a nice 9 day chunk in Whistler isn't bad, but I REALLY want to get more into the interior of BC and check out Revelstoke/Kickinghorse or Whitewater or some place like them. IE, I am tired of skiing places that are super accessible to large cities and are hence crowded. I am looking for big mountains, deep snow, small crowds and great backcountry/sidecountry.

Then I look at what it takes to get to Revelstoke or Whitewater or Kickinghorse, and I jut don't see how its feasible. At least 1 layover from NYC, followed by 2-6 hours of driving in what is very likely to be perilous road conditions. Short of hitting the lottery and chartering helicopters, is there a better way or destination?

Is there some ski area I should consider that I havent in BC, or is there a good company that can arrange the Flight/Shuttle connection (most seem pretty unreliable) that I should checkout?
post #2 of 23
Fly into Spokane, they have pretty good connections, and rent a car.  Rosland BC, Red MT. is about 2-2 1/2 hours.   Nelson and Whitewater 90 minutes from Red.  Revelstoke another 200 miles+_  from Nelson. 

You are headed out West there will be miles (other than Utah).  Ski all day and drive a couple hours to the next location.  It will make waking up a real adventure, spectacular country.

Another option out of Spokane 90 minutes to Sandpoint, Schweitzer.  Sandpointe to Fernie BC, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  You could do worse. 

Spokane has pretty good connections with several major carriers.  Have a hoot and tip a Kookeny for all of us.
post #3 of 23
 Come to Jackson Hole and ski a big mountain with great side country.  Come around Jan 7 and there will be great snow with tumbleweeds blowing through all the lift lines.  I think there is a buy 3 get 1 free deal for airfare into Jackson.  It's likely some hotel will want to negotiate for that week as well.  You shouldn't need a car here.  
post #4 of 23
 Fly into Kelowna or Kamloops rather than Calgary/Spokane... maps.bing.com says 3 hours.  Time it so you're going during the day (for scenery), and you'll be glad you drove.  
post #5 of 23
TR: Kicking Horse & Revelstoke. B.C. 2/25-3/7

If Delta is still doing flights to Cranbrook, it's not  a bad way to approach Fernie, Kicking Horse & Revelstoke.  Panorama is also along the way, but I would only recommend that if they have above average snow.  SLC is a hub for Delta, so you could probably connect there.  It is a less than 2 hour flight from SLC to Cranbrook.  From Cranbrook 1 hour to Fernie, 2 hours to Panorama, 3 hours to KH add another 2 or 3hrs. to Revy depending on weather.  The drive over Rogers pass is beautiful, but does get closed for Avi control. 

For Red & the Nelson area, Spokane is probably the best way to go.  Lots of people do Calgary to the Banff areas & then KH.  Kamloops is close to Sun Peaks.

One advantage of flying into Canada is that they didn't charge me for my ski bag, which at the time they would've had I flown to Spokane on a domestic flight.

Have fun!
JF
Edited by 4ster - 10/18/09 at 5:55pm
post #6 of 23
My suggestion is to fly direct to Calgary from New York (no layovers) and then drive.  It's only about a 2.5 hour drive to Kicking Horse from Calgary, and from K.H. you can easily head to Revelstoke.  You can also ski for a couple of days in Banff, if you choose, on your way to Kicking Horse (just over an hour to Banff from Calgary).  Flying into small locations like Cranbrook, Kelowna or Spokane means you'll be dicking around with plane transfers as well as longer drive times, and ultimately adding who knows how many hours to your travel day.  Keep it simple and fly Air Canada or United (Air Canada code share) direct from Newark to Calgary in 5+ hours followed by a relatively short drive on a major highway.  As far as I know, there's no charge for skis on Air Canada.
Edited by exracer - 10/18/09 at 11:33pm
post #7 of 23
 If you choose to fly to Kelowna there are direct flights from Toronto.  I suspect the connection from NYC shouldn't be too difficult.

From Kelowna there are also the more local areas of Big White and Silver Star that are worth a couple of days each.  Silver Star is probably 40 minutes from the airport and I'm nearly positive that there are shuttles.

Interior BC is not like Utah.  Things are spread out all over the place and it's not that easy to get to.  That's part of the reason that it is such a great destination.  It keeps the less dedicated away.
post #8 of 23
Fly to Spokane if you want to hit Red Mountain and Whitewater (I suggest also hitting Schweitzer in Sand Point, Idaho on that trip), and Calgary if you are going to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke, which have more than enough terrain to keep you happy for one trip.  As noted, you also pass close to Sunshine and Lake Louise between Calgary and KH.

You can drive between those two parts of BC, but doing it in the winter can be sketchy and is probably not worth the hassle, unless you want to just check off more areas on your hit list. Flying to small BC airports in the winter is a much bigger gamble than anything in the US.  They are often closed due to weather or fog.
post #9 of 23
 Kelowna has a good airport, but if you are looking for big mountain terrain, Big White and Silver Star probably aren't your best options. If you want to focus solely on Revelstoke, Kelowna might be the best airport choice, but Kelowna to Kicking Horse is no easier than Calgary to Revelstoke.

As others have said there should be a direct flight from a new york airport to calgary. I agree with exracer, and think including banff with KH and Revy is a good way to break up the drive times. If I had a week this would be my plan:

Day 1: fly to Calgary and drive to Banff (1 hour and 15 minutes from the airport)
Day 2: Ski  Lake Louise (40 minutes from banff) then drive to golden  (45 minutes from lake louise)
Day 3: Ski kicking horse and drive 2 hours to Revy
Day4: Ski Revy
Day 5: Ski Revy and Drive 2 hours back to golden
Day 6: Ski Kicking Horse and drive 1.5 hours to banff.
Day 7: Ski Sunshne (10 minutes from banff) and Drive 1.5 hours back to calgary airport then catch flight home.

I guess you might need an extra day. Although there is a lot of driving, it is broken up. All of these resorts should be empty midweek, and revy should be uncrowded on the weekends. 


I think a Kicking Horse-Revelstoke trip should be independent of a Red, WW, Schweitzer trip (fly to spokane). Another area you might want to try would be Whitefish-Fernie-Castle. 
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

 Come to Jackson Hole and ski a big mountain with great side country.  Come around Jan 7 and there will be great snow with tumbleweeds blowing through all the lift lines.  I think there is a buy 3 get 1 free deal for airfare into Jackson.  It's likely some hotel will want to negotiate for that week as well.  You shouldn't need a car here.  
I was thinking the same thing.  I was there at the end of the 2007/2008 season with some friends and we got a half day of skiing in (for free) on the day we arrived.

Tahoe would be another suggestion since Reno is so close but I would rather go to Jackson Hole.
post #11 of 23
Interior BC is tough if you hate to drive. If you're flexible, fly to Castelgar, but they cancel tons of flights there.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post

Interior BC is tough if you hate to drive. If you're flexible, fly to Castelgar, but they cancel tons of flights there.
 

Yes, flying into Cancelgar in the winter is sketchy. Don't depend on it.

You've gotten some reasonable advice above. Spokane is a good approach to the Nelson/Rossland area. Cranbrook isn't bad, either.

Red and Whitewater don't really qualify as Big Mountains. They have some wonderful attributes, but large in-bounds vertical is not among them.

Whitewater only has two rather elderly fixed-grip double chairs. This, plus the tendency of many of the locals to ski out of bounds, limits the number of people on the hill, but the lift lines are intense on powder mornings, regardless of the day of the week. Eight inches fresh, and everybody comes up and skis their favorite lines before going to work. Nonetheless, it doesn't get skied out like a major ski area, and there are always stashes to be found. Plus, there's the backside...

With all that said, it would be a shame if you came out here and didn't go cat skiing. The Nelson area has one of the greatest concentrations of cat skiing operations on the world. If you're confident skiing deep snow in the trees, you shouldn't miss it.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by prosen View Post
. Short of hitting the lottery and chartering helicopters, is there a better way or destination?
 

Renting an RV in Calgary and dropping it in Vancouver works really well and should be on every skiers bucket list. 
Many of the BC area's let you camp in the parking lot and have hook ups. Just sit in the back with your cocktail and watch porn.
I am sure you could find someone on a certain ski website that would do the driving.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by prosen View Post

I am tired of skiing places that are super accessible to large cities and are hence crowded. I am looking for big mountains, deep snow, small crowds and great backcountry/sidecountry.
 

Big Sky.  There are several shuttle services from Bozeman to Big Sky.
post #15 of 23

First the bad news--you are probably going to have to drive. Now the good news, you can hit 5 nice hills from Kelowna without going over gnarly mountain passes in a reasonable time period. Big White: 45 minutes, Silver Star: 45 minutes, Apex: 90 minutes, Revelstoke: 2 1/2 hours, Sun Peaks (BC's second largest resort) about 3 hours. That would provide you with a good solid week's worth of skiing (particularly since you'd want to spend at least two days at Sun Peaks. As someone who drives out that way a couple of times a year from Calgary, I always figure that once I've reached Revelstoke I'm out of the difficult driving. (Of course my comparator is driving the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff at 6:00 am in a snowstorm.) With the exception of the Sun Peaks trip, all of these can be easily driven in the morning and still get you there in time for first chair.

Flying to Calgary will add some significant time to the trip (as well as the possibility of more problematic driving). From Calgary I usually drive to Revy (4 1/2 hours) after work, ski there the next day, push on to Silver Star or Big White, and then hit the other hills in the Okanogan/Shushwap. Coming back I'll work in a stop at KH and/or Louise/Sunshine. If I do the south route it's Castle Mtn. then Fernie, and on to Red/Whitewater. Coming back I can hit Kimberley/Panorama/KH and the Banff area, or do a backroads run up to Revy by way of the Arrow Lakes Ferry. Not all of these are big or well known hills, but they have their charms.  

Take two weeks and you can do it all, you won't regret it.

 

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

 Come to Jackson Hole and ski a big mountain with great side country.  Come around Jan 7 and there will be great snow with tumbleweeds blowing through all the lift lines.  I think there is a buy 3 get 1 free deal for airfare into Jackson.  It's likely some hotel will want to negotiate for that week as well.  You shouldn't need a car here.  

What tetonpwdrjunkie said^^^.

I drove from Revelstoke to Calgary in the summer and it's difficult. Considering that I like to drive and once raced sports cars at club events, This is not a statement I make too often. Locals tell me to forget making that drive during winter unless the sun is out and the roads are dry.

I would ski Jackson Hole or just make a trip to Banff and ski Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. These are three world class steep-n-deep resorts. Any one of these three provide the same challenging terrain found in Utah and the experience is first class.

Michael
post #17 of 23

Air Canada and United fly non-stop from Newark to Calgary. From there you can shuttle bus service to Kicking Horse. If travel time from Calgary to KH is too much, Sunshine and Lake Louise are fine alternatives that have similar flavors.

 

There is no ski destination from NYC that fits your criteria better than Salt Lake. If you want variety, you're going to have to earn it. There are plenty of fine resorts you can choose from that are 1 day of travel from NYC (1 stop and < 4 hours ground by public transport). Jackson and Big Sky are very similar ski experiences to Whistler and SLC. Tahoe (e.g. Squaw) should be on your list. There are also quite a few resorts close to Geneva that could fit your criteria.

 

I've driven from Vancouver to Apex, Whitewater, Fernie, Panorama, (passing by Kicking Horse) Sun Peaks and back in winter and it wasn't difficult. .... Brutal, but not difficult. Ok - maybe I'm just a little crazy. BC is a beautiful drive any time of the year, but you should not let grandma do the driving.
 

post #18 of 23
Flying into Calgary and driving to Kicking Horse is not a bad trip at all.  Plus, as others have said you can ski Lake Louis and Sunshine on the way there or back.  If you're looking for an uncrowded, great mountain then Kicking Horse is fantastic.  I haven't been to Revelstoke yet, so I can't say anything about it, but I imagine it's similar to KH. 

For Utah, maybe you should just pick different resorts here if you want to avoid the crowds.  Instead of  the PC resorts and Alta/Bird,  think Solitude/Snowbasin/Powder Mountain. 
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post

Locals tell me to forget making that drive during winter unless the sun is out and the roads are dry.

This is done to allow faster access to the good stuff on a powder day..... the less non-locals on the road the better!
post #20 of 23
Calgary to KH and Revelstoke on the Trans-Canadian is usually not bad, but driving in interior BC in the winter can get pretty sketchy. Wet snow, fog, and very long stretches of empty road are not for the timid or uninitiated.
post #21 of 23
If you really hate driving, think about flying into Kelowna and book into Big White and Silverstar. They are owned by the same company, so I'm pretty sure that you can get shuttles from one mountain to the other.  I spent a winter at Silver Star and loved it.  It doesn't have the vertical of places like Whistler, but it has great weather, great snow, some great steeps, and not much in the way of lines.  For me that was my introduction to western conditions, so I was in heaven:  moguls with snow!  What a concept!

Big White also doesn't have the big mountain feel but I believe the vertical there is close to Whistler's. Problem though is that there is a network of ski lifts so you tend to only ski part of the mountain because otherwise you're going all over the place to get back up.  The other problem is that it has the nickname the "big white out" for a reason. When the weather is good there, it's awesome; but I've skied there on days where I could barely see 2 feet in front of me - not ideal at high speed!  

Sun Peaks is also great and only a couple of hours north of Silver Star, but I don't think you'd get there without a car.  Too bad though as it has great snow and something like 350 days of sunshine a year (maybe I have that number wrong but it's a lot).

I found Whitewater was a bit disappointing but that's because I'm not a backcountry skier (yet!).  That said, the town of Nelson is maybe the cutest town ever - it's where the movie Roxanne was filmed.  Red Mountain is also amazing, but for both of those spots, you'd need to drive, and if you don't like driving I wouldn't recommend it as it's a real mountain drive, and on a snow day it's not so fun in a rental car without snow tires. 

I'm sure you'll have an awesome time wherever you go.  

Elsbeth
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnjantzie View Post

Flying to Calgary will add some significant time to the trip (as well as the possibility of more problematic driving). From Calgary I usually drive to Revy (4 1/2 hours) after work, ski there the next day, push on to Silver Star or Big White, and then hit the other hills in the Okanogan/Shushwap. Coming back I'll work in a stop at KH and/or Louise/Sunshine.


Actually it's exactly the opposite, in my opinion.  Flying into Calgary will probably cut your travel time in half and allow you to arrive at your destination feeling good rather than exhausted and stressed out.  The drive from the airport is the least important part of your travel day.  What you need to be concerned with is the flights and how much time you will spend flying and sitting in airports before you even get to your rental car. 

Flying to Calgary International (rated one of best airports in the world). is a direct flight, and you can be in the car on the way to your first ski area in less than six hours after leaving New York.  If you want to fly into a place like Kelowna, you will need to transfer either in Calgary or somewhere in the U.S.  After you've deplaned and waited to catch your next flight (I can almost guarantee the small number of connections to Kelowna won't match up well with your flight from NY) your entire day will be shot.  And THEN you need to get into your car, tired and beat from a whole day of travel, and proceed to drive on secondary highways to reach whatever ski area you plan on visiting, arriving well after dark after driving on a road where the conditions are probably sketchy.

If you were to fly into Calgary you can access the world class skiing of Banff (Sunshine Village and Lake Louise) in a little over an hour.  If you don't want to stop in Banff, then simply drive another hour and a half and go to Kicking Horse for a few days followed by a jaunt over to Revelstoke, since those seem to be the areas you're interested in.  Pretty simple, and the Trans-Canada highway between Calgary, Banff and Kicking Horse is excellent and almost always in tremendous condition.

I'm often amused by misperceptions about travel time.  I get a kick out of friends in the U.K. who will spend 12 to 16 hours to get to a ski resort somewhere in continental Europe, but won't consider coming to the Canadian Rockies because they think it's too far to travel.  The reality is that it's several hours less travel time to come over here because of the direct flights to Calgary and the short drive to skiing from the airport.
Edited by exracer - 10/30/09 at 2:17pm
post #23 of 23
 You are correct in your assumptions that it is hard to get here [to the kootenay's - home of Whitewater and Red] but there is a good reason for that. This place is a secret that has yet to get out and if you pay your dues getting here you will be rewarded with epic light snow and lots of it, no lift lines and a great laid back atmosphere. I have skied all over BC and I feel that WW [Whitewater] is the best, ok maybe not the fastest lifts or longest vertical - but you cannot beat the alpine terrain [ the ski area starts at 5400' ]. I have been here 8 years and would never go back to the east. A guide book for the backcountry skiing that abounds around here was just released as well if you are into that? check out www.backcountryskiingcanada.com and see what I mean. Give the kootenays a try but just don't tell anyone else about it once you return home - we don't want this place to turn into Whistler!
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