The Powder Highway BC – Ski Road Trip with Kids

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Last update: January 10th, 2024 at 09:38 am

Ski BC Powder Highway

Visiting the Ski Resorts of The Powder Highway

Over two winters, my husband and I decided to take the kids on several road trips involving numerous BC and Alberta ski resorts. We followed what is famously known as The Powder Highway. “What is the Powder Highway?” you might be asking…

I may have wondered the same thing, had I not been inundated by articles about “the most vertical in North America’, and “knee deep powder”, courtesy of my husband, as he attempted to convince me that we could make this a family-friendly endeavor.

What is the Powder Highway?

The Powder Highway refers to a loop in British Columbia’s Kootenay Rockies (and nudging into Alberta), populated by numerous alpine ski resorts, lodges and snow sports operators (think also backcountry, cat and heli skiing). The area is famous for annual snowfalls of 30-50 feet, and dry, cold temperatures – making it a Mecca for powder hounds.

As it turned out, my husband’s timing was perfect. Just as he was working on his family vacation pitch, many of the ski resorts along the BC Powder Highway were working on family pitches of their own. They were adding daycares, babysitting, learning centers, ice skating rinks, tube parks, and more.

Eventually, I was able to be convinced that we could all enjoy such an adventure. (My initial fear was that I would spend most of the trip holed up in a hotel room with two children as my husband explored the alpine). While for him the appeal of the Powder Highway road trip was all about the snow, for me (an intermediate skier), the appeal was more about the whole winter in the Canadian Rockies experience.

The Canadian Rockies are populated by numerous quaint and scenic mountain towns (not swank mega-resorts). Each has their own unique character and history (the railroad town, the Bavarian mountain village, the hippie haven, etc.). I wanted to have those fleeting moments of “Maybe we should move here!” that inevitably would come after several glasses of wine and quickly disappear upon realizing that everything is closed on Sundays.

The Powder Highway Map

While there are many mountains that make up the ski resorts of the Powder Highway, the following 7 were those we deemed most essential to our experience: RevelstokeKicking Horse, Whitewater, Red Mountain, Panorama, Kimberley, and Fernie.

Due to the fact that we needed to work around a school schedule, we did the first four mountains on two separate road trips from Vancouver, and the last three by flying to Calgary first, renting a 4WD and heading out on a third road trip from there. With 10-14 days, however, you could do this whole road trip in one go.

I have included below a map of the general route, guides to several of the resorts (see update note in next section) and some essential Canadian Rockies winter driving tips. Happy trip planning!

BC Powder Highway Map

Powder Highway Map

2024 Update: I have recently removed my guides to Whitewater, Panorama, Kimberley and Fernie because we have not visited them recently. (I hate sharing old content.) We continue, however, to make return visits to the others because they were our favorites. If you have any specific questions about this trip, please feel free to shoot me off an email.

Powder Highway Mountain Guides

Other BC Ski Resort Guides

Other All-Time Favorite Ski Mountains

Tips for Driving the Powder Highway, Canada

Having spent a lot of time on B.C. and Alberta mountain roads in the winter, I want to offer a few quick driving tips.

Good Traction

Ideally, take to the roads in a 4WD vehicle with winter tires, or, at minimum, a reliable vehicle with winter tires (snowflake symbol – not “All Seasons”). Alternatively, carry chains and know how to put them on. Winter tires or chains are required on most B.C. and AB roads and highways from Oct. 1st to Apr. 30th.

Plan Your Route

Pre-plan your route using the DriveBC website/app. Make sure you are aware of any weather events, construction or road closures along your route. In many areas of BC you will not have a cell signal, so planning on the fly can be difficult. When you do have cell coverage en route, check for new updates and travel advisories (@drivebc /

Fuel Up

Plan to stay well fueled (charged) up. It is not unusual to find yourself stopped on the road for a while as closures can happen without warning. It is much less stressful when your fuel dial is hovering near “F” rather than “E” in sub-zero temperatures. (Although we also own an EV, we do not take it on winter trips. The battery depletes far too quickly for our comfort level when having to run defrost, heat etc.)

Plan for Unanticipated Stops

Make sure you have appropriate winter clothing, footwear, extra food and water in the event that you do get stuck somewhere. Does this really actually happen? Rarely, but yes it can.

Have a Well-Serviced Vehicle

Ensure your vehicle is in great working order and top up your wiper washer fluid. (I try to time my annual car servicing to be done in the fall before we head out on one of our big road trips.)

Drive in Daylight Hours

Plan your driving schedule around daylight hours. The roads are maintained more frequently (plowing etc.) during the day and you also don’t want to miss out on all of that amazing scenery. The sunset occurs as early as 4:15pm in the deep of winter at this latitude. You also lose an hour as you cross over from BC into Alberta.

Watch for Wildlife

Always watch for wildlife while driving. Honestly, I’m simply mad for wildlife and rarely see anything (and I’m always looking)…but there’s stuff out there for sure. Check out these Bighorn Sheep in Radium Hot Springs!

Wildlife BC Roads

I hope you have an amazing Powder Highway adventure! Once again, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out (DM me on Instagram or send me an email).

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