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Fernie Day Trip

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Earlier I made a post about going on a trip to the Northeast, well that's been canceled and what a good thing it has been. I've had some family move to Montana so now I get the pleasure of going out west without having to pay for lodging 'cause I'm a bum like that. I was looking at what they have to the north of them in Canada and saw they are only 2h15m away from Fernie Alpine, making it feasible to visit on a day trip. What I want to know is it worth going through the border crossing hassle just to make a day trip? Schweitzer, Whitefish, and Turner are even closer so I have other options.  

post #2 of 19

Have you ever been convicted of driving while intoxicated? A drunk driving charge will prevent you from crossing (as will other criminal convictions). This surprises many Americans.


You will need a passport or some other type of enhanced ID to enter the US.


I have crossed the Rooseville border between BC and Montana several times. It is rarely busy and usually straight-forward. When entering the States, I usually have to pop my trunk. Had a full search once, which took about 45 minutes. Coming back into Canada has been a simple 'welcome back'. Your experience would likely be reversed.


It usually isn't much of a hassle, and Fernie is worth it. 

post #3 of 19

I agree.  It's a much better hill than the other three, if the snow's good.    I've crossed there a few times without any delays. 

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 


Thanks manchester81 and SHREDHEAD, it's nice to hear from people whom have actually crossed at Rooseville. The only reason I'm kinda worried is that I'm only 18 so I feel they might give me a hard time.

post #5 of 19

I had the same 45 minute "full search" crossing back to the US from Fernie.  A pretty easy drive, except for the truckers.  Whitefish is pretty good too.  I would ski both if you have time.


post #6 of 19

I've never even heard of Turner, but I have many fond memories of Whitefish.  Schweitzer is almost my home mountain (I prefer Silver, though most wouldn't), and I did Fernie last year.  One positive about crossing the border, at least North of Bonners Ferry, is there isn't very many cars trying to get across there, so the lines are virtually non existent, at least it was both ways for me.  I don't remember the details but I remember the agent sassing us a little bit re-entering the states.  I don't know why, it was myself, my Dad and my girlfriend and none of us looked suspicious.  Still only took a couple of minutes to get through.  I think you need a Passport these days to get back in?


As far as the hills, I do prefer Fernie to Schweitzer, I haven't been to Big/Whitefish Mountain in 10 years, but I probably prefer it to Schweitzer as well, although they both have a similar feel to each other.  I'd say if you're close to it, just go to Whitefish.  The long trip up to Fernie probably isn't worth it for a day trip vs. the other two if they are closer.


All 3 are good though.

post #7 of 19

I've provided him with an extensive "to be done" list for Whitefish tree skiing...  We're expecting a big year here due to the La Nina. 

post #8 of 19
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I've provided him with an extensive "to be done" list for Whitefish tree skiing...  We're expecting a big year here due to the La Nina. 

Stop bragging!

post #9 of 19

Hey, we suffered through a bad year last year.

Originally Posted by FujativeOCR View Post

Stop bragging!

post #10 of 19

The border north of Sandpoint has some jerks on both the US and Canadian side.  Rooseville, north of Whitefish is as nice a border as you can find.  I've crossed it about 50 times, moved up there and back, and never had a delay or problem.


The skiing in Fernie is worth the trip if you like steeps and the snow is decent.

post #11 of 19

Helpful hints for border crossing:


1. Have your passports ready before you get to the booth.

2. Be polite, but DON'T JOKE AROUND.  They really don't like that, unless they start it.

3. Answer all questions truthfully, but just the facts.  Don't blabber on.


I cross the border fairly often and it seems that I usually only get the stink eye when I don't follow one of the rules above.



The easiest crossing I ever had was in Blaine, WA which is the main I-5 crossing between Seattle and Vancouver.  This was not long after 9/11 and things were extra tense, checking every trunk, etc.  We were the next car to cross and were in the lane right beside the customs building which is the workers' headquarters.  Our guard was stepping forward when another one came out of the building, opening the door right into the crotch of the first agent.  He was looking right at us when this happened.  His buddy started cracking up, but tried to hold it in.  Our guard was really red-faced and obviously in some pain.  We were already pulling forward when this happened.  As I held our ID out the window and drew to a stop he looks at us and just waves us on.  I think he was somewhat embarrassed.   Don't count on this happening to you, however.


Don't miss Fernie.

post #12 of 19

I still say if you haven't skied any of the 3, then Whitefish and maybe Schweitzer would be worth it if they are much closer.  Fernie is worth it if you've already skied the other two, but Whitefish is pretty kicka$$ too!

post #13 of 19

I have never had any trouble crossing the border in various places, including Kingsgate, north of Sandpoint. I have never crossed at Rooseville.


Kingsgate is a "larger" crossing in that the Canadian side has Immigration personnel there as well as Customs.


Many small crossings have only Customs staff on the Canadian side, which is fine if you're just going skiing for the day. Be aware that many of these crossings are not open 24/7. For instance, I can't catch an early flight out of Spokane from my home because the crossing at Nelway/Metaline doesn't open until 8 am and that's still two hours from the airport. For any flight before about noon, I have to go down the night before. It could be bad if you stayed in Fernie for dinner and socializing and arrived at the border only to find that you can't go home.


The US will require a passport, passport card or "enhanced" drivers license or other enhanced ID to get back in. Be sure you have the correct document before you leave. Don't assume. A standard drivers license is not sufficient. A passport or passport card is recommended.


Note for others who may be flying: A passport card or other enhanced ID is not sufficient for air travel. A passport is required.


When you enter Canada, they want to know that you're going to leave and that you're not importing anything. Don't carry booze or guns.


You are more likely to encounter a search entering the US, even though you're a US citizen. Do not fill the back seat with junk. Make it easy for them so they don't have to rummage through a bunch of stuff.


Do not drink and drive in BC. Penalties start at 0.05%, and they're expensive. No alcohol before getting back in the car. Zip. Nada.


Fernie is a good hill, despite the efforts of RCR to make it less pleasant. It has some excellent, challenging terrain. Be aware that quoted lift ticket prices do not include 12% HST (so-called Harmonized Sales Tax).

post #14 of 19

Have never had any problems crossing into Canada from the US. I've done it at about 6 different crossings in Washington and Idaho. They ask where you are going, how long you are staying. They also now ask for a passport (required to get back to the states). They didn't even used to ask for ID. She might ask you to show a credit card, to prove you won't strand yourself in Canada (I got this when I was 18-21).  Never has taken me longer than 2 minutes to cross into Canada.


Coming back to the US is a whole other story... It really depends on dumb luck or the mood of the inspector on how much hassle you may go through. Your luck is heavily influenced by your age and short visit. I'm in my late 20's now, and got the most hassle when I was 18 or 19, traveling with similar aged friends. (Most of the crossborder pot smugglers are men in their early 20's, so they tend to make assumptions) Start by having your passport(s) in your hand, ready to go, when you pull up to the window.


I've had a full car search (at Kingsgate), to the point they looked at every card and receipt in my wallet. Had me roll down my socks, etc. Obviously, they found nothing and sent us on our way after an hour or so. Other experiences have been as easy as a quick passport check. I've been asked where I was born a number of times as well. Just be concise with your answers, they don't need any stories.


Make sure your border crossing is open 24 hours, if you plan to travel back at night. Many close at 8 or 9pm, and that could lead to a long detour.



If you end up staying in the states, Whitefish and Schweitzer are worth visiting. I've heard you get Turner Mt mostly to yourself, but it's only worth a visit on a powder day. It should be on the way to Schweitzer if you are driving from NW Montana.

post #15 of 19

I got hassled back in 2000 reentering the states North of Bellingham.  I was 19, and rather than a backseat, had a wall of subwoofers.  They made me go wait inside and took my car to first test the stereo to see if it was functional, then removed some woofers to look inside of it to see what I was smuggling. (15 Cubic Feet of Air).  Eventually they brought it back and sent me on my way but it wasted probably a half an hour.

post #16 of 19

So I am guessing your family is in Libby.  That would be the only place I can think of that both Schweitzer & Whitefish are closer than Fernie.  Anyway here is my 2 penny's worth.  I would plan on skiing all three.  I have never skied Schweitzer but it is on my to-do list this year.  Some friends of mine ski it every year and love it there.  I skied Fernie last year and even in a poor snow year it was worth the trip from Kalispell.  I would put Big Mountain (Whitefish Mountain Resort), in the don't miss category..  Fernie has some great expert terrain that the Big does not have but Whitefish has a better lift system and better intermediate terrain.


I cross the border at Roosville 2-4 times a year. I just went through last weekend.  I have never had any real problems.  Be prepared for questions about your driving record or arrest history on entering Canada.  Firearms & ammunition are absolute no-no's.   Fruit, veggies & meat may be questioned and confiscated.  As others have said,  be polite, no joking around, be ready to answer about where you are going, how long you are staying, where you are from, etc.  If you stumble over these questions, it can get you a car search.  Been there.   On the way back the are mostly concerned about what you purchased in Canada.  Same standard questions about where you are going, coming from.  etc.



Hey Sib,  how about shooting me that "to be done" list.

post #17 of 19

The US/Canada Land border crossings are sooooooo nice compared to the usual air-travel customs nightmare.......


Follow all the advice above and you'll be fine.


Chase the snow.... if MT is getting dumped on then take the local snow...... With the currency on par right now coming north isn't cheap!


However if Fernie is getting nuked and MT is a bit dry, come and say hi!

post #18 of 19

I'm sure I didn't tell him anything you don't already know about.  I didn't try and give directions to Coyote Flats and I certainly didn't assume he'd be doing anything like Super Mario.  I typed so much I got tired about part of the way into the spiel.  There's only so much you can tell someone who's not actually HERE.

Originally Posted by brownie_bear View Post

Hey Sib,  how about shooting me that "to be done" list.

post #19 of 19

I can remember driving at 85-90 mph for a few hours to make first chair at Jay Peak, only to be foiled by the customs officers searching every nook and cranny, and unfolding every crumpled up credit card receipt in my friends baggage asking what it was for and a bunch of other nonsense.  I guess that's what happens when you travel with someone from Peru.  At least we weren't strip searched.

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