Bags? Check. Skis? Check. Passport? Check. Time to hit the open road and embark on a ski adventure that will take you to four resorts in two countries in seven days.
The thrill of the hunt for powder is palpable as the rising sun marks the start of what will be an epic road trip from Calgary, through B.C. and into Montana and Idaho, then back to B.C. and home.
Calgary to Fernie, B.C.
Fernie is roughly three and a half hours from Calgary, so you’ll need to wake up early if you have your sights set on a full day of skiing.
Head south via the scenic Cowboy Trail (a.k.a. Highway 22). About 30 minutes in, you’ll pass through the town of Black Diamond, where you can pick up a quick java at The Stop Coffee House and Gathering Place. Continue south along the Cowboy Trail before heading west on the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3) to Fernie.
Located in the East Kootenays, Fernie Alpine Resort has 2,504 acres of terrain and five impressive alpine bowls. With average snowfalls of 11 metres, the snow here is consistently deep, although Fernie is also known to get rain from time to time during the winter, which can quickly make the snow near the bottom of the resort heavy. Advanced skiers should take note that, on new snow days, the resort will open its expert terrain gradually — a result of having to complete thorough avalanche checks before giving
the go-ahead. While this can be frustrating if you’re itching to get up to the good stuff, the flipside is that, if you stay alert for opening announcements, you can get fresh tracks throughout the day.
No trip to Fernie is complete without an après-ski session at the resort’s legendary Griz Bar (named after the area’s mythical mascot). The bar shouldn’t be confused with the Griz Inn, a ski-in/ski-out lodge right at the base of the ski hill. It’s a good place to stay the night, since after après beers you don’t really want to be driving anywhere. You can also dine at the Inn’s Rusty Edge Restaurant, which offers a variety of pizzas such as the Barnyard with beef short rib, caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese.
Fernie is a fun town for bar-hopping, but you’ll want to get to bed at a reasonable hour as you have another drive-and-ski day coming up.