Our family is always up for a new adventure. After reading an article about the mountains and resorts that make up British Columbia’s Powder Highway, we decided that a great Canadian family ski trip was in order. Over the next two ski seasons, we set out to visit seven B.C. ski resorts, each one offering something unique in terms of beauty, terrain, and character.
One of the mountains that we had heard a lot of chatter about (especially from our Alberta friends), was Fernie Alpine Resort. We were intrigued by its 5 great powder filled bowls, known to receive upwards of 30 feet of snow per season. We were also curious about what kind of terrain and facilities they would have for kids. In our family, we span the range of the skiing ability chart, running from my husband, who is most happy when exploring blacks and double blacks, down to our youngest who is just starting to straighten out her skis from pizza to parallel. We love a ski mountain that can cater to all of us. Take a quick peek at all the fun we had at Fernie Alpine Resort in this 1 minute Youtube video, or just read on.
Exploring Fernie Alpine Resort with Kids
Fernie Alpine Resort – The Terrain
We were actually quite surprised by the amount of skiable terrain Fernie has to offer. There are over 2500 acres to explore, 142 runs, and those 5 alpine bowls. The popular Polar Peak Chair allows skiers to experience 3550 feet of vertical and some of the longest runs in the Rockies.
For kids, Fernie has extensive beginner’s terrain, reached via the Mini Moose magic carpet, the Mighty Moose Platter and the Deer Chair. Something I found particularly nice as a parent, was how wide open and crowd free the runs are. I could watch my youngest ski, without feeling like I had to block her from potentially dangerous skiers. Like most kids, mine loved the Minute Maid trails carved out of the woods, and for the more advanced and daring, there is also a rail park under the Deer Chair.
Fernie Kids Ski Lessons, Child Care and Babysitting
Fernie offers all kinds of options for kids ski and boarding lessons, from 1/2 day beginner to multi-day packages (for children 6 and up). If your family skis at close to the same level, the mountain also offers half and full day family coaching sessions (2 adults and up to 3 kids). For younger children (18 months – 5 years), the resort has a day care right in the main village. For little ones that can’t wait to get started on the hill, you can book child care packages that also include ski lessons.
Need a night out without kids? During school holidays, Fernie runs a popular Kids’ Night Out program several evenings a week.
Fernie Ski Resort Hotels – Family Friendly Accommodations
It would be hard to beat the ski in / ski out lodging luxury of the Lizard Creek Lodge. Our family of four was able spread out in our 1 bedroom, plus loft suite (sleeps 6). Although we absolutely could have self-catered in the ample kitchen, we opted to spoil ourselves a little by eating most of our meals at Cirque, the hotel’s mountain view restaurant. While upscale, we still felt very comfortable there with our kids and they did offer a kids’ menu for the dinner service (not for breakfast).
The lodge has a decent sized gym and a lovely mountain-side pool and hot tub, making for a great place to soak tired legs after a day on the ski hill. For those so inclined, the hotel also recently opened an ice bar as well as a spa (Névé).
Reviews: 80% of reviewers rate as very good or excellent on TripAdvisor.
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Room Tip: Request a mountain view room.
Helpful to know:
1) The rooms do not include robes or slippers. If you have space in your luggage, you may want to pack them along as they are nice to have around the pool and hot tub.
2) It is a short walk uphill to the main village, Snow School and day care. I noticed more than one parent pulling their little ones around in a sled, which seemed like a good (and fun) solution.
For rates and availability see: http://lizardcreek.com
For more hotel options and reviews see: Fernie Hotels on TripAdvisor
Best Fernie Restaurants
In addition to eating at Cirque, we also wanted to try out some on mountain dining. We enjoyed lunch at the Lost Boys Café (top of the Timberline Quad). So much so in fact, that we ate there two days in a row for lunch. The only caveat with this restaurant is that you must be able to navigate an intermediate run to get back to the base. If this is not an option, you can also enjoy family friendly dining at the Slopeside Deli and Kelsey’s Bar and Grill in the main village.
Wanting to get a feel for the town of Fernie, we enjoyed a great dinner one night at the popular latin american restaurant Nevados (no kids menu – but lots of children enjoying their food), and with more time we would have tried the highly rated Yamagoya for sushi . We also had nice crêpes and excellent service at Freshies early one morning on our way back to Calgary. The owner was so disappointed to learn that I had already had my morning coffee, that he insisted I try his organic blend for free. You can’t help but love that kind of small town hospitality.
Getting to Fernie Alpine Resort
The closest international airport to Fernie’s ski hill is Calgary International (YYC) from which Fernie is then a 3.5 hour drive. Regional airport options include Spokane, WA (+ 4 hour drive), Cranbrook, BC (+1.5 hour drive) and Kaspell, MO (+2 hour drive).
During the winter, you should expect full winter driving conditions (black ice, blowing snow, wandering wildlife etc.). Despite the significant premium, I was so glad that we had rented a big winter ready SUV. As part of our trip we traveled to Banff, Lake Louise, Panorama Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort and then Fernie. Throughout the drive we experienced the full range of winter driving conditions and saw many vehicles that had slid off the road.
Note: We found the best rates with Alamo. They were the least expensive of all the major brands of car rental companies that had a YYC airport pickup, and they also kindly gave us a free upgrade. With kids, I try at all costs to avoid having to take a shuttle to a rental car lot after a flight.
Want to learn more about Fernie Alpine Resort?
Find out everything you need to know about Fernie Alpine Resort at: http://skifernie.com
Disclaimer: During our stay at Fernie Alpine Resort, we were kindly hosted in part by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc. All opinions in this post are entirely my own. As always on this site, however, I strongly encourage you to also thoroughly read recent reviews from other travelers prior to making a property booking.
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