B.C. ski towns named best in continent

Downhill skiing in the snow ghosts with views of the valley at Red Mountain Resort near Rossland. The communities of Rossland and Nelson were voted best ski towns in Powder Magazine recently. - Dave Heath/TourismBC
Downhill skiing in the snow ghosts with views of the valley at Red Mountain Resort near Rossland. The communities of Rossland and Nelson were voted best ski towns in Powder Magazine recently.
— image credit: Dave Heath/TourismBC

Nelson and Rossland have been named by a popular ski enthusiast magazine as the best ski towns in North America.

Powder Magazine chose the two communities located in the Kootenay Rockies region that is known as much for its printing rivers, lakes, mineral hot springs as it is for its snow-capped mountains. Four of British Columbia’s, seven national parks are located there. The communities were chosen by Powder readers in an online contest where towns went head-to-head in voting. Some of the other towns Rossland/Nelson beat include Whitefish, Mont., Crested Butte, Colo. and Sandpoint, Idaho.

It is no wonder why, considering during the winter the Kootenay Rockies offers some of the continent’s finest powder skiing and snowboarding, from head-rushing descents to great expanses of groomed cross-country trails.

Rossland is set on an ancient volcanic valley deep in the Monashee Mountains and is an outdoor adventure mecca. Rossland may be a small city ( population: 3,278) but it’s pretty big on activities. It was also voted Canada’s No.1 Outdoor Town in 2007 by Canadian outdoor magazine Explore.

With the Monashees towering the area, they boast spectacular views, varied terrain and exceptional skiing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, backcountry skiing and cat-skiing at nearby Red Mountain Resort which also boasts 88 runs. The resort is just a two-minute drive from town and its high elevation affords a reliable snowfall each winter. Groomed beginner and inter mediate runs, a ski/snowboard terrain park, rentals, lessons and plenty of other winter activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing offer families a lot to do. Those looking to push themselves further will find phenomenal advanced and expert runs with a vast amount of open glades, chutes, tree-lined and backcountry-style runs that twist and turn down steep lines covered in champagne powder.

The town itself is just 10 km west of Trail and Rosslanders are a sociable and community-minded lot, welcoming to visitors who share their passion for the outdoorsy lifestyle. There are, blissfully, no traffic lights or malls in town, just friendly owner-operated shops and boutiques that help contribute to Rossland’s small-town charm. Ski and snowboard season at Red Mountain runs from early December to mid-April depending on the weather conditions.

Nelson is a small city with a big personality and is situation in the heart of the Selkirk Mountains. Home to an eclectic mix of old Nelson families and urban refugees, the vibrant Victorian town also boasts hundreds of well-preserved heritage buildings, a crazy number of good restaurants, bustling coffee shops, retail stores and no shortage of sidewalk cafés.

While the mountains, lakes and rivers provide many activities in the summer, in the winter the focus shifts to a community ski hill known for its deep champagne powder. People move to Nelson to ski Whitewater Ski Resort, located just a half hour from downtown.

Whitewater also has cross-country trails and for extreme adventurers, local suppliers offer private help-skiing tours. Receiving over 12 metres of light, dry, powder snow each season beneath the ski resort’s majestic Ymir Peak, the high quality of snow and uncrowded hills offer guests an unforgettable winter adventure. Powder Magazine gave the area fourth overall in its powder per person rankings. The Nelson Nordic Ski Club has groomed skate and cross-country ski trails throughout winter that cater to all levels of ability.

Whitewater hosts many events, but the most popular is the annual Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest — a celebration of everything to do with backcountry skiing and snowboarding, combined with a photojournalism competition. The seventh annual event is being held Feb. 22 to 24.

When back in Nelson you will find the downtown in compact, walkable and packed with unique boutique style stores that reflect the diversity of the community. Performing

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