I have truly arrived. Most of this sunny Kootenay winter day had been spent sessioning Kimberley Alpine Resort’s marquee kids run, known as the Mascot Trail. After a half dozen laps, I had become intimately familiar with every twist, turn, banked corner, camel bump and kicker that the little Mascot could throw at us. Now late in the afternoon, photographer Steve Ogle and I settle into deck chairs outside the Trickle Creek Lodge lounge in the sunshine, order some cold pints and watch our oldest kids Casey, 6, and Zola, 7, happily lapping the Owl T-Bar without direct parental support. The timeless ski resort classic rock soundtrack that seems perpetually trapped in the 80s – Joe Jackson, Talking Heads, Men at Work, etcetera – sets the après ski mood. I’ll speak for both generations and say that both generations are enjoying this newfound, mutually enjoyable liberty.
I’ll be honest, I had up until now given Kimberley Alpine Resort a pass in my ski travel plans, even though it’s a hill with an interesting past, built by millwrights and other trades people employed at the nearby massive Sullivan underground lead, zinc, silver and tin mine that ran for 92 years until its closure in 2001. My loss as I was to discover during a week in March, when Ogle and I traveled to the East Kootenays with our families to sample Kimberley’s skiing riches. What the resort lacks in bowls, chutes and alpine faces, it makes up for with a respectable vertical drop of 750 metres, long runs (like the 6.4 km long Ridgeway), steep fall line groomers, bump runs and glades that have produced more than its fair share of national level skiers and athletes. This fact is reinforced when we park our entourage of eight one afternoon at Kootenay Haus, a bring-your-own-bag lunch chalet, with a self-serve, pay-by-donation coffee pot, tucked on a knoll between a pair of blue runs and sporting a deck with a jaw dropping view of the Columbia Valley. Displayed on one of the inside walls are the mugs of the many Kimberley characters who have left their mark on the race courses and mountains of the world – Gerry Sorensen, Stan Hayer, Paralympian Josh Dueck, Seven Sumitteer, Pat Morrow, and telemark skier extraordinaire Monte Paynter, to name a handful.
Later that same day we connect with another local Heidi Korven and her skiing family to explore more of the hill. Korven is proud of her town and ski hill; for good reason. Kimberley’s heritage village core has traded in its Bavarian motif for something a little more contemporary with a bevy of new businesses that includes the awesome family friendly Spirit Rock Climbing Centre, a craft brewery, and popular eateries like the Pedal and Tap and Stonefire Pizzeria, all minutes away from the chairlifts. Heidi’s daughters, Sawyer,7, and Noa, 4, make the run call, and we navigate our way to Vortex, a black diamond that funnels down through the Black Forest glades and requires our kids to step up their game from the Mascot Trail. We lay siege to this narrow run, six kids seven and under getting it done. By the time we’re riding the fixed grip Easter Triple back to the summit, après is calling. We finish with – you guessed it – the Mascot Trail and half an hour later are commandeering the outdoor Jacuzzi at the Mountain Spirit Resort and I’m wondering why it took me so long to pencil in a trip to this East Kootenay treasure.
Nestled in the Kootenay Rockies, at the footstep of the Purcell Mountains you’ll find a charming town gently tucked into the mountainside with access to it all, Kimberley B.C. Known for it’s epic supply of fresh snow at Kimberley Alpine Resort during the winter months, Kimberley can fly under the radar when it comes to summer adventuring, keeping the gems of this town yours to discover! Endless options for exploration exist in all directions, but where to begin?
Trickle Creek Lodge makes the ultimate base camp for adventure with all the bells as whistles. With the P2P trail and Railway Trail literally out the lobby door, it’s too easy to hike, bike or run to your destination of choice. The extensive network of trails connect multiple parks with in town, most notably the Kimberley Nature Park. Connecting parks run into town, up the mountain offering incredible views for sunsets and all the way to Marysville. The best part? After a busy day of activities the outdoor pool and hot tub will be calling your name as the sunsets over the towering mountains. Finish the night with a bite and earned beer at the restaurant in Trickle Creek Lodge before crashing in that cozy bed to do it all over again.
Several extensive trail systems exist with in the Kimberley area including the braggable new downhill trails on Bootlegger Mountain. Much of the Kimberly Nature Park is also bike specific. Hosting over 50km of trails nearly all of them all bike-able at varying ability levels there is some loamy goodness for everyone. Bike to a variety of destinations for an extra enticing outing like the Halfway Cabin, Dipper Lake or into the Platzl for an après bike session!
Again with the Kimberley Nature Park, but it’s too good to not mention again! These manicured and town accessible trails offer views with elevation gain, family walks and educational hikes. A drive to area that won’t disappoint is the nearby Top of the World Provincial Park. Top of the World’s hiking network is easily accessible via a easy 6.7 km hike into a campground complete with cabin, from there the trails ascend quickly justifying it’s name as it produces endless alpine views. For a heli of a hike, connect with Boulder Hut Adventures and do just that, take a helicopter into a remote backcountry lodge location for some once in a lifetime hiking opportunities!
When not chasing an adrenaline induced adventure, relax downtown Kimberley and enjoy some local eats at Pedal and Tap, or spend an evening on one of the 3 golf courses in town. Take a paddle on St. Mary’s Lake or simply enjoy the stroll to Marysville Falls with an ice-cream in hand. Big or small, the town of Kimberley is the gateway to adventures for all.
Words & Photos by Abby Cooper
The Meachen Creek Falls (just off the road on the way to Hourglass lake) offers some absolutely amazing photo opportunities for your Instagram!
2) Farmers Market
Running every Thursday evening from 5 – 7:30pm until September 7th, visit Downtown Kimberley (Howard Street) to find fresh local and sustainable food as well as some local artisans. Started and still run by Wildsight, a company committed to protect biodiversity and support sustainable communities, Wildsight also offers educational programs for kids and families to learn more about the wild outdoors, recycling and much more.
3) Pool Party – Trickle Creek Lodge
Time to party! Trickle Creek Lodge has an outdoor heated pool and two hot tubs, with nearby BBQ’s it’s the perfect location to come for a road trip or week away. Hang with the family and entertain friends and have a pool party!
While there are many easier hikes in and around the Kimberley area (even a trek up the ski hill is easier than this one), if you’re looking for a real challenge, try Fisher Peak. Once scaled the views from the top are definitely hard to match! Read about the experience on our post ‘The Taunting Temptress – Climbing Fisher Peak’.
5) Rails to Trails
Opened in 2010, the Rails to Trails is a well travelled passage that has been used as far back as the early 1900’s as a railway to transport lead, zinc and logs between the Kimberley and Cranbrook area, eventually being revamped into the passenger track it is today (hence the name). Rails and Trails is open to anyone on foot, bike, skateboards (skis or snowshoes in the winter) and is a 28 km trail connected the two cities. For a full map of the trails visit the Rails to Trails website – northstarrailtrail.com.
6) Nature Park
Also known as ‘the gateway to nature’, the Kimberley Nature Park is the largest municipal park in British Columbia! Offering everything from guided hikes for everyone of any age to group mountain bikes and educational programs. Find out more about their programs and what to explore in the Nature Park on their newly redesigned website – kimberleynaturepark.ca.
7, 8 & 9) Golf Central
This gorgeous course is known for its wide open spaces and perfect greens. Hole #12 is the signature hole here and after playing the hole we think you’ll realize why.
Trickle Creek Golf Resort
Affectionately called ‘a golfer’s dream’ Trickle Creek is home to 18 challenging holes surrounding by the beauty of the mountains and is one of just a few Canadian Courses to be rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest. Don’t miss a chance to stop for a photo op at the signature hole #11.
Kimberley Golf Club
From their website – the Kimberley Golf Club is ‘proven to be one of the most scenic, charming and challenging courses in the B.C. Rocky Mountains’.
Trickle Creek Lodge is located close to all three courses and has a package to stay and play all three. See the Offers page on the Trickle Creek Lodge website and look up the package called ‘Golf Kimberley Package’ for this special offer.
10) Downtown Platzl
The pedestrian platzl in downtown Kimberley is not to be missed, with its quaint brick lined paths surrounding by locals restaurants and shops including a German themed bakery with delicious daily specials and fresh made items and the Kimberley Heritage Museum. Top it off with life size chess and a huge freestanding cuckoo clock (put a coin in the clock to see what happens).
11) River Sports
Through the Kootenay Raft Company you can sign up for a guided whitewater rafting trip (introductory or extreme tours available), or you can simply rent kayaks canoe’s or Stand Up Paddleboards. Whatever water adventure you’re in the mood for, you can find it near Kimberley! More iformation is available on the Kootenay Raft Co. website – http://www.kootenayrafting.ca/.
12) Black Spur Ultra
Trail Running has been gaining significant popularity in recent years and the Black Spur Ultra race event is no exception either. The course starts and ends at Kimberley Alpine Resort (meaning if you stay at Trickle Creek Lodge you can walk to the start and finish line) and is a challenging race that can be run individually or in a relay team. Teams have 12 hours to finish 50K and individuals or teams have 24 hours to finish 100K – now that’s a race with bragging rights! If you aren’t interested in racing, the event needs many volunteers to help run smoothly – get more information about racing or volunteering on the official website – blackspurultra.com.
Too many to mention! Other attractions to check out include the Comico Gardens, Mini Golf, Kimberley Skate Park, Kimberley Underground Mining Railway Tour, Spirit Rock Climbing Centre (and yes, there is still more). Get more information about all activities in Kimberley on the Tourism Kimberley website.
Canadian Rockies International Airport – The mountain airport that puts you in the heart of adventure
Carrying my skis over my shoulder after the last run of the day, the alpenglow stopped me in my tracks. Gazing up, the late afternoon sunlight was fading, casting a gorgeous peach and orange glow on the rocky summits across the valley. Although I had only arrived earlier that day, just like me, they looked rosy, rested and content.
For most mountain adventure seekers, finding an airport within a three or four hour drive of their destination is considered a win. Kimberley BC is nestled in the heart of the Kootenays’ famed “Powder Highway”, and has the Canadian Rockies International Airport a mere 20 minutes away, offering multiple flights daily from Vancouver and Calgary.
Surrounded by the jagged, picturesque peaks of the Rocky Mountain range, adventure comes as a 360 degree view of summits, slopes, forest, wilderness, lakes and more.
Located at an elevation of 3,084 feet and featuring an 8,000 foot long runway, the Canadian Rockies International Airport is small but welcoming, which means less fuss when you land or leave.
When you first arrive, you can’t help but feel the relaxed pace of the area, but only some things move a little slower here. Beyond the small town pace and “slow food” passions of many restaurateurs, the adrenaline that accompanies adventure thrives on the mountains and in the nearby wilderness areas.
Your journey can read like a choose your own adventure novel. Accommodation? The choice is yours: there’s slopeside hotels, condos, townhouses and mountain houses. Ready for an outdoor adventure? There’s four seasons of excitement. When the snow flies, the area is transformed into a winter wonderland. Kimberley Alpine Resort is one of the only mountain ski areas in Canada where you can be on the chairlift within an hour of landing at the airport. From there, choose your passion: Kimberley features 1,800 acres of alpine skiing, with night skiing available and access to a world-class Nordic skiing facility.
While often dubbed as “family-friendly”, the backside of Kimberley Alpine Resort offers powder stashes, steeper fall lines and graded terrain. With fewer crowds and plenty of storms, Kimberley is a secret hideaway for adventurers in the know.
Speaking of secret, ask a local to tell you the best place for a tranquil moonlight snowshoe, where to soak in natural hot springs, sip the best craft brew in the land, eat in a centuries-old barn, glide under the stars on perfectly-set tracks. The only thing you’ll be left wishing for is more hours in the day.
Photos: Mike Byrnes, YXC & The Real McKenzie Photography.
Your skis that is.
It’s recommended you wax your skis every 5 or 6 times out. The reason being the base of your ski is very porous (similar to your skin) with lotion (wax) you’ll have a better running surface. This will allow for increased glide over all snow conditions, less leg fatigue and increased speed. The layer of water that is created by the friction between your skis and the snow will wick away from the base of your skis and not get absorbed into the base thus allowing for better glide (even when you’re skiing powder).
Remember the base of your skis is just like your skin, when it’s dry you take care of this by putting on lotion. Hot waxing is the lotion for your skis!
Our Professional tech’s at the ski resorts will be able to take care of this for all of our guests, find them in the Repair area located in the Rental Shop in the base area at Kimberley Alpine Resort. For prices and services offered give our repair shop a call at 250-427-4881.
Don’t forget – if you’re a season passholder use this member benefit to get a free tune up – ‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free – buy 3 full tune ups for the price of 2, includes edge base and side, stone grind, Ptex and hot wax’. Just print off a coupon from the Member Benefits website and redeem it at the resort.
Find out more about why to wax your skis and what a tune up entails on Fernie’s YouTube channel (plus find out what the fancy machine behind Harry is used for too).
There’s something about mountain towns that I love. Maybe it’s the coziness that comes from feeling perfectly enveloped by peaks around you, or the gentle orange glow that bounces off the jagged summits at sunrise and sunset. At first glance, Kimberley feels like one of those towns inside a snow globe: Windows lit by fireplaces, smoke wafting from the chimneys, sidewalks blanketed in white. Quiet. But if you think Kimberley is a sleepy town “in the middle of nowhere”, think again.
Some of my favourite memories and laughs have come from adventures in Kimberley. From surprise powder days that provided fresh tracks with every run, to gliding on cross-country skis under a full moon, to discovering a snow pack so deep we could ski off a garage roof and land in a soft pillow of snow below (don’t try this one at home, kids).
And then there’s the culture of this mountain town – steeped in history, it has embraced the future and younger families and adventurers are eager to call it home. It permeates a zest for life that can sometimes be forgotten in the city.
In Kimberley, “do it now” attitude means something completely different here – it’s more like “go do it now”. This means that deadlines can wait just a little longer on a powder day, or that meeting can happen just as efficiently on the chairlift. Come evening, at the local watering holes, local legends help keep the stories alive that make a place unforgettable.
Here’s four reasons why adventurers are loving Kimberley now more than ever:
- Four seasons of fantastic – Snowy winters and sunny summers. Kimberley provides quick access to dozens of outdoor activities.
- Go fast, then slow down – Adventurers love to get out there, then wind down re-charge. With a vast number of outdoor activities, and the emergence of a local food culture and plenty of cozy accommodation options, it’s easy to find the perfect balance between “go” and “rest”.
- Powder stashes for days – When winter storms roll through the East Kootenays, they can provide a big powder punch. Quieter mountains like Kimberley Alpine Resort can provide fresh tracks days after a storm, particularly on the mountain’s “backside” which offers a variety of advanced terrain.
- Fly close – When the big city calls, the Canadian Rockies International Airport is located just 20 minutes from Kimberley, with daily service from Calgary and Vancouver. And speaking of flying, Kimberley is also home to world-class fly fishing on dozens of lakes and Rocky Mountain rivers.
So give that snow globe a shake, and find yourself living in a real-life version of one this winter in Kimberley. Go on, do it now.
Checking your Ski Equipment now is very important for many reasons, here are the 3 top reasons;
FAQ: I get asked all the time ‘Why should I check my Ski Equipment, as I’m not a great skier and spend lots of time on the beginner slopes with kids…”
My Answer: I always say try these- once you try new skis you are on cloud nine. Technology advancements, ski shape, size are some of the many reasons the new skis really do make a difference. You owe it to yourself as it will enhance your skiing skills, make skiing easier and give you more control on the slopes.
FAQ: I have a pair of skis in the garage- is it okay to use them?
My Answer: The key here is check the bindings- visit your local ski shop or most ski resorts have tune up shops in the rental areas as well. If you live in Calgary visit your local ski shop like the new Sporting Life store located in Southcentre mall to have a pro look at the bindings to make sure they still are in good shape and meet current binding standards.
FAQ: Do I really need to check the condition of the bases and edges of my skis?
My Answer: Now I don’t get my skis tuned all that regularly as I ski mostly in soft, powder snow. But if you are visiting ski resorts that have hard snow or icy conditions regularly then you should definitely get your skis tuned more often.
Unparalleled Savings! 1st, 4th & 7th ski day FREE & up to $40 (double discount period) savings every time you ski! Plus go Direct to Lift – just by linking your credit card.
- 3 FREE days The 3 Free Days can be redeemed at any RCR Western Resort.
- Cardholders receive their 1st, 4th and 7th ski days FREE and daily discounts every other day.
- Children 6-12 to get their very own RCR Kids’ Club Card FREE of charge. ($5 discount on full-day Child lift tickets at any RCR resort)
- Your Direct to Lift card can be linked to any major credit card at any of our resorts or at the Calgary office.
For more information visit the RCR Webstore. On sale until December 31, 2016.
Head north into Kimberley, and you’ll notice a billboard: “Smile. You’re here. We’re happy.” Ascend into a landscape of the highest city in Canada, the snowpack of surrounding mountains, the people readied for cold weather: steep metal rooves, wood-fired chimneys, Thule boxes stuffed with skis. Enter a town with tales of grandfathers who descended into earth, drilling, jackhammering, and blasting into what was the world’s largest underground lead-zinc mine. Pause for a moment, and you’ll notice Kimberley’s quiet charm, the mining homes built eighty years ago, kids who still wander into ravines and build forts, the town’s one traffic light, and for a loonie listen to the yodel of Happy Hans from the world’s largest cuckoo clock. When you ask directions, there’s a friendliness to the people. You’ll notice their smiles, like those settled in a place they needed to be. It doesn’t take long to discover, whether you live here or are just visiting, Kimberley’s a good place to be doing just about anything.
Among long-time residents, whose families carved Kimberley out of rock, is a new population calling Kimberley home: A younger generation, who’ve set roots here for the lifestyle and the vast array of activities right outside their door. It’s not long before they notice how long it takes to grocery shop, distracted by new friends telling tales of their latest adventures. As organic farmer and counselor Kelly Comishin says, “And all those adventures are from understated, humble folk, out because they love it. Not for bragging rights.” When you talk to the people of Kimberley, there’s a humility to them, and a sense that “good” is sometimes the quietest form of “best”. It’s a town of belonging, where everyone’s welcome. A town, once defined by mining, now by the eclectic mix of industry reflecting the culture of people who live here: skateboard manufacturing, coffee roasting, gin distilleries, climbing gyms, microbreweries, coffee shops and locally-sourced restaurants. All these, infused into the established culture of brick buildings, restaurants, hardware stores, and small businesses that have supported families and served the community for generations.
Kimberley’s a town that will charm you. You’ll never want to leave—there’s too many good things going on. When you enter Kimberley, you’ll smile.
Like the sign says, You’re here. We’re happy.
To Help Put a Smile on Your Face:
Kimberley Alpine Resort: Over 75 runs, five lifts and 2,465 vertical feet, with Rocky Mountain panoramas. Longest night skiing run in Canada.
Kimberley Nordic Club: X-C Ski Trails, with over 40 kms of snow-cat groomed trails; 3.3 km lit for night skiing.
Outdoors Adventures: The Kimberley Nature Park is one of Canada’s largest trail networked municipal parks; as well, a 25 km North Star Rails to Trails joins Kimberley to Cranbrook on a converted paved railway bed. Travel anywhere, just minutes outside of Kimberley, for an abundance of lakes, rivers, trails, and access to the Purcell and Rocky Mountains.
Golf: There are three public courses within Kimberley, and eight within a ½ hour drive.
Fine Food: Kimberley hosts the most restaurants per capita in Canada! Whether you’re looking for a German-themed meal in the oldest building in Canada, or a Rails to Trails chicken burger and mucky fries, Kimberley has a cuisine for everyone.
Activities and Attractions: Indoor climbing gym; aquatic centre; pedestrian-only brick-lined platzl, downtown shopping, and restaurant hub; underground mining railway.
Art and Culture: Galleries. Arts and cultural centre (Centre 64). Live performances. Heritage sites, and a variety of festivals.
Accommodations: In Kimberley, there’s an accommodation for every budget: from mountain chalets, to ski-in/ski-out luxury lodges. Enjoy the Rocky Mountain alpenglow from your bedroom or hot tub.
Getting Here is Easy: Kimberley is only a 20 minute drive from either The Canadian Rockies International Airport, or from Highway 3, one of Canada’s two primary east-west routes.
Photos: Cali Sammel, Raven Eye Photography & Mike Reece
If you’re thinking of booking a ski getaway this winter, now is the time to do it! With Early Booking Vacation Offers available for Christmas and Family Week vacations, as well as special long stay savings packages and spring skiing trips with savings of up to 48%!
Visit our Early Booking Offers page to book a getaway online or give our vacation specialists a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book over the phone.