Monday, March 18, 2019

5 Reasons to Spend Spring Break at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park

My child has less than a week of school left before spring break begins for ten glorious days, and I'm very excited for the free time that we'll have to spend together as a family. I'd be lying though if I said I was fully prepared, or that I wasn't scrambling for a few more activities to fill those days.

Spring break stay-cation fun at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park in Calgary

Fortunately, WinSport has us totally covered for spring break staycation fun at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, and they even offer day camps for those that still need to go to work while the kids are off school (myself included for at least a couple days.)

5 Reasons to Spend Spring Break at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park 

1. PD / Holiday Camps (with single day registration available)

"PD Day Camps provide new and avid skiers the chance to get outside and practice their skills. PD Day Camps are available throughout the school year and week-long camps are available over Spring Break by booking a camp each day of the week." (quoted directly from the WinSport website)

What I love most is that you can register your child for as many days of camp as you need childcare for (or for as many days as you can afford.)

The camps are booked per day and it comes to $99.99 per day of camp.
Camps can be booked on the Friday, March 22nd and through the whole week from March 25th - March 29th.

Parents can register children for a day of camp in a variety of levels from level 2 (beginner) all the way up to to level 5/6 (all mountain) and level 7 (which is an intro to freestyle)

There are also three options for camps (skiing, snowboarding, and hockey.)

Please visit the WinSport website for full information or to register your child for camp.

Register the kids for a day camp at Canada Olympic Park and watch them learn a new skill or two!

2. It's a great opportunity to try something NEW (adults too!)

I will never forget the day I first skied down the 22 foot super halfpipe at WinSport last spring with my 9 year old son. My son and I were riding up the chair with a couple young boys who told us how much fun they were having skiing the halfpipe. They assured me it was easy, and that we should try it. - and so we did!

Skiing down the 22 foot halfpipe at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park 

We followed them down (something I recommend doing if you aren't sure how to actually access the top of the halfpipe, just follow any group of teens off the Legacy Chairlift) and I'll admit that it was a bit intimidating looking down from the top. Once I dropped in though, I realized two things. One, you don't have to get air or ski up on the sides of the halfpipe. Two, you can just ski straight down the middle (it feels like you're dropping down a big canyon) and it's plenty wide for doing turns.

Skiing down the super halfpipe at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park is fun (even for adults!)

Just a few of the NEW things you can try at WinSport this spring:

  • For beginners, take an intro skiing or snowboarding lesson! Nothing fancy, not saying you have to jump into the halfpipe, just sign yourself or your family up for some lessons and give it a try!

  • If you're a skier, sign up for a snowboarding lesson. If you snowboard, sign up for a ski lesson. Who knows, you might like it!

  • If you're an intermediate level skier or snowboarder, try the halfpipes (there is a 12 foot beginner halfpipe at the bottom of the hill that everybody can practice in first - and trust me, it's not very scary.)

  • If you can confidently ski or ride a steep groomed black run, try skiing or snowboarding down the Junior Slopestyle Line through the West  Terrain Park. You don't have to actually hit the jumps! Just ski/ride up and over the big bumps and enjoy the thrill of dropping off the top of each one (It's quite exhilarating!!) - and this is located right beside the 22 foot halfpipe so you can devote an hour to trying both from the top of the Legacy Chair.

  • Spend some time in the Progression Park at the bottom of the hill (there's a magic carpet to take you to the top) and try out a few easy boxes. Or encourage the kids to try them while you watch from the bottom. (I personally haven't worked up to this one yet!)

  • Work your way up to steep groomed black runs by skiing or snowboarding the Alpine Pitch off the top of the '88 Express Chairlift. It always gives my heart a bit of a jolt when I first drop down the steep pitch, but I love it and do several laps down here every time I visit the hill.

  • Try out the beginner moguls at the bottom of the Alpine Pitch (just above the beginner area.) There's a very small area of bumps, and it's convenient if you're skiing or snowboarding with kids who want to try them (even if you don't!) I follow beside on the main run while my son skis them - and we each get a unique ending to our run down from the Express Chairlift.

You can see a map of the ski hill here if you want to learn more about the different features you can try on the hill.

Practicing on the moguls at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park 

3. WinSport's Canada Olympic Park is more than just a ski hill!

Family tubing

You don't have to ski (or snowboard.) Visit WinSport for a few hours and go tubing with your family. It's gentle on the joints, you don't have to spin (the attendants will ask, but just say no if you don't like carnival rides,) and sometimes you can even ride down together with your kids (if the track isn't sliding too fast.)

And note I say WITH your family. Adults, don't pass this one up. It's fun!! And like I said, it's gentle on the joints. (I personally gave up regular sledding a long time ago!)

If you're interested in tubing, you can check out the schedule and pricing here.

Winter bobsleigh, luge, or skeleton

Yes, just like the ones in the Olympics! - and I personally tried the luge which was a lot of fun, and is an activity children can try as well if they are over the age of 8.

If you want more information, follow this link for Winter Activities at WinSport.

Tubing with your children is a LOT of fun at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park 

4. There are several cool events happening at WinSport this month

WinSport closes for the season on March 31st, but there are several cool events happening over the next two weeks.

Servus Ski Wednesday - March 20th 

Ski for just $12 between 3-9pm on March 20th.

Snowboard Nationals and Junior Nationals - March 18th - 24th 

If you have kids who snowboard, there's no better way to inspire them than by watching some incredible athletes as they show off their skills at WinSport this month. Athletes will be training/competing in slopestyle, halfpipe, and big air. (and often you can watch just by going up the Legacy Chairlift.)

Freestyle Alberta Freestyle Ski Championships - March 28th - 31st

Here's another opportunity to take the family to WinSport for the day and to watch some incredible athletes showing off their skills, this time in skiing.

Sun's Out, Guns Out Rail Jam on closing day at WinSport - March 31st 

This is one you can actually register the kids for!

The schedule is as follows:

Grom age 10 and under: 10 a.m.-noon
Men’s skiing: Noon-1 p.m.
Women’s skiing: 1 p.m.-2 p.m.
Men’s snowboard: 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Women’s snowboard: 3 p.m.-4 p.m.

If you want to register, follow this link.

If you just want to show up and be a spectator, you don't have to do anything other than show up, ski or ride, and have a fun day at the hill.

Information on all events can be found here. 

Take your kids to WinSport to watch real athletes show them how it's done in the super halfpipe

5. Spring Season Passes! 

You can buy a spring season pass for your youth or teens and send them to the hill every day over spring break. Each pass costs $179.99 + GST which pays for itself in roughly 6 times (for youth) or 4 times (for adults.)

And while it's perhaps a little bit late in the season to buy these (since the hill closes on the 31st,) it would still be worth it if you had teens who needed something to do over spring break.

- and it's worth remembering for next year!! I myself had no idea that WinSport had spring season passes. 

Spend your spring break at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park with your family

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored, but my family has partnered with WinSport this winter and has received benefits including free skiing. As always, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

One Pair of Ski Boots (Four Sizes!) - Roces Adjustable Ski Boots Review

First of all, why am I publishing a review for ski boots in March at the end of the ski season? Because if you haven't started skiing yet this winter, NOW is the time to start. It's spring and that means warm weather, sunshine, extended lift hours, slopeside concerts, deals on overnight resort stays, and even spring ski passes for cheap skiing!

It's spring and the best skiing is still to come!

Now if you haven't done much (or any) skiing yet this season, chances are the kids' boots won't fit! They can probably make do with last year's skis for a trip or two, but boots need to be purchased annually - or do they?

One pair of ski boots (four sizes!!)

Roces Adjustable Ski Boots Review 

- and interview with Phillip Lund of All Out Kids Gear

I could tell you all about why we love our son's Roces ski boots, and how much I'm going to love them next November when I don't have to go shopping for another pair!!

I thought I'd leave it to somebody more knowledgeable than myself though and so I've interviewed the owner of All Out Kids Gear, Phillip Lund, and he's covered every question you could possibly have. (If not, please leave a comment below and I'll make sure I get you an answer.)

My son has been using the Roces Adjustable Free Ski Boots (size 22.5 - 25.5)

1. Why is it so important for you to carry the Roces Adjustable ski boots for children in your online collection of ski gear? 

Roces was one of the original companies that made us think about opening a kid specific outdoor store.

When we first discovered these boots, we had to order them out of the US, and we thought to ourselves: "Why are these not easily available in Canada?"

Last year the Canadian distributor stopped carrying them so we almost lost them again in Canada. When we were searching for a new distributor, the Roces main office in the US offered to sell direct to us, which was great, but now we were responsible for the shipping and customs, which significantly raise our cost on the boots.

We seriously considered not bringing them in, but in the end I knew we had to keep them available in Canada for families like ours. As it turns out, I think we may be one of the only places to order them online in Canada.

We appreciate that we can order great outdoor gear locally in Canada

2. Why do you swear by these boots so strongly for families?  

Skiing is definitely not a cheap sport, so really anything that can bring down that cost is great, especially when you are trying to ski as a family and have growing kids!

The Roces ski boots mean your kids can keep the same boots for 3 to 4 years instead of buying new ones every year.

As an example, one of my friends who has three girls was trying to pass down the regular ski boots his oldest daughter was outgrowing, but almost every year the boots would be just slightly too big or too small for his younger girls and he would end up going out and buying new boots. Now he has all three girls skiing in Roces and is super happy with them!

My son will be wearing the same pair of ski boots until he's my size!

3. Do your own children wear these boots? 

Yes, both my kids wear Roces boots. We had regular ski boots for the first year or two with my son (age 9) until we discovered Roces and since then, he has worn nothing but Roces. My daughter (age 7) has only worn Roces.

They are a good ski boot and we definitely didn't want to be in the "buy new ski boots every year" cycle.

When we go skiing as a family I am always ecstatic when a parent notices my kids' boots and asks about them! It's kind of funny when we go skiing, and I am always so tempted to stop other parents and ask: "Hey have you seen these adjustable ski boots! They work great and will save you some money down the road!" And it's not to try and just sell more ski boots, but it's because I think most parents would love them if they only knew about them!

"Most parents would love Roces ski boots -  if they only knew about them!"

4. Do you get concerns from families that think an adjustable ski boot will be “cheap” or “gimmicky” and that it won’t perform as well as a regular ski boot?

We do get a few people contact us, but I think there are more people that probably just dismiss them without looking into them a bit further, which I think is a real shame.

We usually let people know that we use the boots ourselves and would not be selling anything we did not personally use or believe in. I also tell people that no matter where they look, they will have a very hard time finding any negative reviews about the boots.

Almost all the time the reviews are incredibly positive.

You don't ski double black chutes in "cheap" or "gimmicky" boots!

5. How do you find the Roces boots compare with other high end brands available on the market?  

We always keep our eyes out for different gear on the market and do test different things from time to time. Really, the Roces are just as good as most of the other mainstream kids' ski boot companies, plus they have extra little features like micro- adjustable buckles which a lot of kids' boots do not have.

Roces ski boots perform en par with other boots on the market

6. How are the Roces ski boots different from other adjustable products? (We all know toddler skates for example lack the support and performance of regular skates)

We unfortunately tried the adjustable skates (not the Roces brand), and although the idea is still good, the ones we had were actually really bad in my opinion, and we have only bought traditional skates since then.

The unfortunate thing about bad adjustable products like that is then some people associate all adjustable kids' gear to be the same low quality, but in the case of Roces this is not true.

Not all "adjustable" gear is bad

7. Would you recommend the Roces boots for all levels of skiers? (Including performance athletes or kids competing in ski racing?) 

My son started skiing in the largest Roces ski boot last year, the Roces Free size 4-7, and they are a step up in performance for sure with a three buckle design with a power strap. That being said, all of them are designed to have enough performance for the average skier at their respective ages. Each bigger size of boot has a bit more performance.

I would personally say they are suitable for all levels of skiing, but I wouldn't recommend them for racing as racing boots tend to fit quite tight and are generally stiffer than normal recreational ski boots.

No matter the level of skiing, Roces adjustable ski boots perform!

8. For little kids just starting out, what’s the best thing about the Roces boots?

In general they are a bit wide and are quite comfortable for kids. They also come in multiple colors which is kind of nice as well.

The biggest benefit (mostly for the parents) is being able to keep the same pair of boots for multiple years.

Roces ski boots are very comfortable and easy to put on

9. What other selling features can you describe for these boots?

Besides being adjustable for length, they have micro-adjustable buckles which a lot of other kids' boots do not have. I seem to use this feature almost every time we go skiing and can't imagine not having them.

One of the other great features that we are asked about, is that the actual sole size that goes into the bindings does not change. So what that means is that when you make the ski boots bigger or smaller, they still fit into the same bindings without any other changes.

They also have a memory foam liner, and having multiple colors is nice.

No matter the day or terrain, my son's Roces boots have always been comfortable

10. How do the boots perform for comfort and warmth? 

In general I would say they are about the same as most kids' ski boots. They are possibly a bit wider than some, which helps fit a wider range of kids and gives extra wiggle room for their toes.

Dropping in to the steeps! No problem with Roces ski  boots

Personal notes and perspective from my family's experience with Roces adjustable ski boots

My son, age 10, has transitioned from skiing easy black runs, carefully picking his way down small bump runs, and moderate speed on groomers to skiing double black chutes this winter - in his Roces ski boots.

I think that speaks for itself that the boots are not holding him back, that they perform the way they need to, and they are not just a cute little "beginner boot."

My son has also learned to put the boots on by himself this winter, fully tightening them and doing them up with no assistance from us. I consider that a victory too.

The only complaint my son has had has been with cold feet, but we've been skiing when the temperature was as cold as -35C this winter so I don't think it's fair to blame the boots for this one! (The parents, maybe.)

Overall we've been very happy with our Roces adjustable ski boots

Ready to buy a pair of Roces adjustable ski boots?

All Out Kids Gear has been a great company to work with and my family personally uses their services to outfit our son with skiing, climbing, biking, and backpacking gear.

The company is based out of Red Deer, Alberta, and I love that we are shopping local and supporting an actual family (rather than some big corporation.) I can follow All Out Kids Gear on social media, see what their family is up to, and know that I am helping fund those adventures with my support - which is very cool!

I can testify that Phillip only carries the best gear in his online store, that shipping is beyond phenomenal (same week always) and that pricing will always be comparable. (And everything on his site is in Canadian dollars!!)

Read more about Roces boots, check out the sizes and colors, and order a pair for your kids

Outfit the kids in Roces adjustable boots and never have to buy new boots (at least for a few years)

Disclaimer: My family received a pair of boots from All Out Kids Gear in exchange for this review. I am also an affiliate for the store which means I might make a few dollars to put towards a ski pass if you buy a pair (but no pressure of course.) 

As always, all words and opinions are my own (or in this case, words/opinions of the owner of All Out Kids Gear.) 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Five Reasons you need to Visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with your Family

My family has spent a lot of time at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort over the years and it's always been one of our favourite places to spend a day while exploring in the East Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia. Recently we got the opportunity to experience "winter at the resort" with skiing, tubing, and deluxe cabin camping.

Winter or summer, Fairmont Hot Springs is a vacation wonderland for families and you have to experience it yourself.

Summer at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (vacation wonderland!)

Fairmont Hot Springs is located in the Columbia Valley between the communities of Radium Hot Springs and Invermere to the north, and the City of Kimberley to the south. From Calgary, the drive is just over 3 hours depending on where you live. It's easy enough to reach Fairmont on a Friday after work, and the drive is doable for a short weekend, returning to the city Sunday afternoon.

For a more relaxed visit, plan a trip out to Fairmont over a long weekend (Easter and Thanksgiving are beautiful times to travel here) or reserve one of the deluxe cabins for a week this summer. (It's a great vacation spot!)

Deluxe Cabin Camping at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Five Reasons you need to Visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with your Family 

One. The Hot Springs (of course!!)  - some of our favourite in fact!

It's no secret in our family that I love the Fairmont Hot Springs pools and that we will be visiting the resort (no matter where we stay in the Columbia Valley) for at least an afternoon.

Warm Swimming Pool at  the Resort (credit: Fairmont Hot Springs Resort)

Reasons to LOVE the Fairmont Hot Springs Pools:

  1. They are hotter than the ones at Radium Hot Springs. And while I do love Radium Hot Springs in the summer, they just aren't hot enough for me in the winter.

  2. The hot soaking pool and the warm swimming pool are side by side so I can spend my time happily soaking in the hotter pool while my son is playing with his friends in the other pool - and I can still keep an eye on them. (My husband also prefers the cooler pool so he's usually over there with the kids.)

  3. There's a dive tank for the summer months! (including a high board which is not common at a hot springs pool)

  4. You can spend the whole day here in summer. You'll find a large grassy area with lawn chairs, poolside cabana rentals, a cabana restaurant (where you can purchase drinks or snacks to enjoy beside the pool) and you can purchase day passes - useful if you're staying at the RV resort next door and want to come and go through the day. There's also a snack bar next door where you can purchase items to go (to enjoy beside the pool.)

  5. And, my personal favourite reason - there's a small shallow "hot tub" in the centre of the hot pool that's a few degrees hotter than the soaking pool. (So don't just plop your babies here.) What you want to do is lie down with your head on one side of the small pool, your feet on the other side, eyes closed, dreaming you're in Mexico. 

Winter at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

AND, if "natural" is more your thing, make sure you check out the Indian Baths, a short walk up the hillside from the Fairmont Hot Springs parking lot. This historic bath house and small bathing pools were popular with early settlers and explorers in the Columbia Valley.

Sunset from the Indian Baths above Fairmont Hot Springs

2. Accommodations for all Comfort Levels, Family Needs, and Budgets

We recently spent a weekend in one of the new deluxe cabins (open year round,) located beside the resort in the campground. And lest you think you'll be "camping," these cabins are pretty comfortable. Each cabin has a kitchen with a full sized fridge, a dishwasher, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, stove and oven, and everything you'll need for your family's needs. There's also a barbecue located on the deck of each cabin. Going one step further, the TV also has Netflix on it so you can hang out on the balcony with your glass of wine while the kids are happily entertained.

Deluxe Cabins at Fairmont Hot Springs

The cabins sleep four people and have two bedrooms, one with a queen sized bed for the parents, and the other with bunk beds for the kids. I loved the separate bedrooms because it meant I didn't have to go to bed at 8pm with my son. (The kids went to bed, and us adults could stay up and hang out in the living room.) It also worked out well when my son was awake at 6am the next morning - and needed a place to read books and eat his cheerios (without disturbing this mom's beauty sleep.)

Deluxe Cabins at Fairmont Hot Springs

Spend a few nights in one of these comfortable cabins and wake up to deer grazing outside your door. Start your day with a short walk over to the main lodge for a cup of coffee from Steamers Cafe or enjoy weekend brunch at the Antler's Restaurant. After that, you'll enjoy your proximity to the hot pools which you can easily reach in your bathrobe (adult robes provided in each room.) - bring your own bathrobes for the children.

And when you get tired of cooking, there's a great family-friendly lounge, the Bear's Paw Bar and Grill, in the main lodge. The pizza is incredible so I highly recommend at least one meal here.

Cabin to Hot Springs! (It was a short 2 minute sprint)

Other accommodations at Fairmont Hot Springs include:

  • Lodge rooms (some with lofts and kitchenettes) - they sleep 4-8 people

  • Summer duplex-style cabins - they sleep up to 4 people and are dog friendly

  • Summer cottages - they sleep up to 6 people

  • Juniper Lodge rooms (with kitchenettes) - they sleep up to 4 people and some are dog friendly. 

* All stays include access to the hot pools during your visit including a private hot pool for resort guests only.

** Many of the cabins and cottages work very well for groups or family reunions. Book a bunch of rooms or cabins side by side, bring your lawn chairs, and you can hang out on the lawn visiting while the kids run around and play.

For more information, please visit the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort website.

Private hot spring pool for overnight guests only

3. Ski and Soak! Downhill Skiing + Hot Springs for the Win!

Spend your day at the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area and then enjoy the best family après-ski experience in the Rockies! All lift tickets for the ski hill include complimentary entry to the hot springs at the end of your ski day - perfect if you're not staying at the resort since guests already get access to the pools.

Ski and Soak at Fairmont Hot Springs

Family-friendly fun at Fairmont Hot Springs
We spent a day at the ski hill on our recent visit to Fairmont Hot Springs and I was impressed by this "cute little ski hill." The resort has a total of 13 runs ranging in difficulty from green to black, two terrain parks, and a tube park.

There is one triple chairlift which we used most of the time, but my son also liked riding the Happy Trails Platter Lift by himself and skiing the short easy runs off this beginner lift while I'd warm up in the day lodge with a coffee.

While the resort only has a vertical of 304 metres, it's a great hill to learn on, it's affordable for families, and the longest run is 1.5 km long - which isn't bad for a beginner skier making his/her way down a mountain.

Most of the runs were groomed but skiers wanting more of a challenge will find it on the black runs where we definitely found moguls, glades, and the "real deal" for downhill skiing.

Tube Park Fun at Fairmont Hot Springs

We loved the cozy day lodge, the family-friendly lounge, Desperados, and had a lot of fun on the tube park - though do not ask for the spin unless you really like fast amusement park rides! (I was dizzy for an hour after one spin.)

Skiing at Fairmont Hot Springs Family Ski Area 
Successful family day in the mountains at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

4. Bike, Hike, and Soak from April through October!

Summer comes very early to the Columbia Valley and you can be mountain biking on dry trails by mid to late April! There's even green grass by that time. We also come out for Thanksgiving in October because it's definitely still warm and we can even camp.

April at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Some of our favourite family-friendly mountain bike trails are located near Fairmont so we always come out here in the spring and fall when it's not quite as hot.

Read more about mountain biking in the Columbia Valley here: The Best Family Bike Trails in the Columbia Valley 

Mountain biking in Fairmont - in May! (Full on summer weather!)

Other recommended reading: 

Spring hiking near Fairmont Hot Springs

5. Stay at Fairmont Hot Springs and Enjoy a Full Activity Program (year round) 

First, you have the hot springs, the ski area, biking and hiking trails nearby, Lake Windermere just a short drive away if you want a beach day, several golf courses in the area, and the Columbia River flowing through the valley for great paddling (or tubing in the summer.) In the winter you can also go ice-skating on Lake Windermere, the world's longest skating path with several loops to choose from.

Add to all of that, the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort also has a full activity program run by the "Activity and Experience Centre."

Hiking along the creek below the resort, a great place to see waterfalls and mineral rich pools

On our recent visit, we could have registered for a family yoga class, participated in a starlight challenge at the ski hill, or watched a family movie in the new games room the lodge has set up in the basement. - and this was all on Friday night alone! There were other activities running throughout the weekend.

Every day the lodge offers a fully equipped games room, grab and go craft bags, scavenger hunts, snowshoe rentals, and ice skating in the winter. Add s'mores nights on the Bear's Paw Patio, family activities and challenges at the lodge or at the ski area, cookie decorating, face painting, and more! There's always something going on - and most of these activities are included with your stay (no extra cost.) - note that there is a charge to rent snowshoes.

Waterfalls below the hot springs at Fairmont 

In the summer there are even more activities available including:

Note there are additional charges for most of the activities above and some of them are not guided by the resort. The Activity Centre will connect you with your tour operator though and make reservations for you. 

For more information, follow this link to Things to Do at Fairmont Hot Springs 

Family Exploring along the Columbia River 

Additional Recommended Reading

The Best of the Columbia Valley (Radium Hot Springs to Invermere - and beyond!)

Winter Guide to the Columbia Valley (Golden, Radium Hot Springs, Invermere - and beyond!)

Disclaimer: My family was hosted on our recent visit to the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Also please note that we have not tried all of the activities mentioned in this story (yet.) It's an ongoing mission of ours to explore every corner of the valley but it's going to take us a few years yet to try everything.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Find it ALL at Panorama Mountain Resort!

Every day should start with a rollercoaster ride and that's exactly what you'll get when you ski at Panorama Mountain Resort. Ride the Champagne Express Chair first thing in the morning to the top of the fast, and cruisy "Rollercoaster," immaculately groomed each day, and marvel in awe at the scenery spread out around you as you fly down the fresh corduroy, beaming from ear to ear.

Mornings are magical at Panorama Mountain Resort

What's so Awesome about Panorama

Panorama Mountain Resort is located 20 minutes outside the Community of Invermere in the Columbia Valley. From Calgary, it is approximately a 3.5 hour drive across the border into British Columbia. We've found that we can easily make it to the resort Friday night for a quick power ski weekend, but that it's definitely more fun to make a long weekend of it.

Panorama has a vertical drop of 1300 metres, top to bottom (4265 feet,) and the longest run is a full 6.5km in length! We love skiing down "View of a Thousand Peaks" as soon as the Summit Quad opens for the day, and I'm always amazed at how fast one can ski down a steep black run when it's been freshly groomed on a weekend. (My husband would say "dangerously fast" in my personal case.)

Summit to base with a vertical drop of 1300 metres and over 5km of skiing in one descent!

On our recent visit to Panorama, we connected View of a Thousand Peaks off the summit to "Zehnder Way" in the Founder's Ridge area, another steep black run that had been freshly groomed, and we marveled at the lack of lift lines (we rode three chairs to access the summit and never waited in a line - on a weekend!) We also expressed complete shock (and delight) that we didn't see a single other skier the entire time we skied down from the summit until we reached the top of the Discovery Quad at the bottom. We enjoyed 5.5km of steep groomed black skiing on that one descent alone, no line ups, and no other skiers in sight. Anybody loading skis in their car yet?

Morning on "View of a Thousand Peaks"

Discover Panorama's Signature Ski Tours

Panorama has three signature self-guided mountain tours, and they can each be enjoyed by strong intermediate skiers (customizing the Taynton Bowl Tour slightly for weaker skiers.)

Touring Panorama's Sun Bowl 

The Sun Bowl is a fun cruisy place to explore, especially in the afternoon when the sun has warmed up the snow. Most of the runs through the Sun Bowl are intermediate and there are always a few groomed options. 

Access is either from the top of the mountain via "Get me Down" (a blue traverse that serves as an escape route off the summit,) or from the top of the Champagne Express Chair via "Upper Canadian Way" (blue) and "Schober's Dream" (black, but groomed.) Skiers not ready for Schober's Dream can also bypass it on "Lower Canadian Way" (a blue traverse that gets your around the steep pitch on Schober's Dream.)

We were lucky on our second day at Panorama and discovered that they'd groomed the very steep "Roy's Run" off the summit, a black run that's usually filled with car sized moguls, and so we were able to link this to Schober's Dream.

Once in the Sun Bowl, opportunities for playful skiing abound and you'll end up at the bottom of the Sunbird Chair (where you can traverse over to the Village after you ride up.)

Access to the fun and playful Sun Bowl at Panorama

Hut to Hut Ski Touring across Panorama Mountain Resort

This has got to be the coolest thing about Panorama, and I always feel like I'm skiing in the Alps. Three chair lifts take you to the summit, climbing 1300 metres, where you'll be greeted by the Summit Hut, a great place to warm up and grab a freshly brewed Kicking Horse Coffee (the best coffee on the planet) before descending either Get me Down (blue) or one of the black runs to the top of the Champagne Express Chair.

Summit Hut at the top of the mountain

From the top of the Champagne Express, fly down Rollercoaster until you come to the Elkhorn Cabin. Here you'll find great views from a historic cabin perched on the side of the mountain. European Raclette is served if you time your visit for lunch, and otherwise, I highly recommend the fresh apple cider!

The historic Elkhorn Cabin perched at the edge of "Rollercoaster" at Panorama

It's a short ski from the Elkhorn Cabin down to the Mile 1 Hut (our favourite place to warm up on cold days with a coffee or hot chocolate.) They also serve great hamburgers at lunch, and this is the easiest hut for a beginner skier to reach off the Mile 1 Express Chair (which has several green runs off it.)

The Mile 1 Hut at the top of the Mile 1 Express Chair, Panorama

Make your way down from the Mile 1 Hut (my son loves to drop down through the giant terrain park off "Horseshoe") and you'll find yourself at the bottom where, you guessed it, there are even more options available for dining and snacking! My personal favourites are the Picnic Cafe for a sandwich or a fresh cup of coffee, or the T-Bar & Grill - which has amazing nachos!

Note that each of these huts is more "restaurant" than just a "warming hut" and that while you can definitely go inside to get warm on a cold day, you should plan on buying a cup of coffee or hot chocolate at the very least if you're going to take up chair space.

If you want an area in which to enjoy your own bag lunch, you'll find plenty of  table space in the "Great Hall" in the main Village. Here you'll also find a cafeteria and space to store bags or backpacks.

Picnic Cafe in the Panorama Village 

The Taynton Bowl Tour AND Pay Per Ride Cat Skiing

I am slowly working my way through the Taynton Bowl Tour but I'm not quite ready for double black skiing off the summit so I usually cheat by dropping down View of 1000 Peaks and Stumbock's, both often groomed, to connect to the Taynton Trail down below. Strong skiers will definitely want to give "Heli High" a try though before making their way further along Outback Ridge.

Views from the Summit of Panorama before dropping into the Taynton Bowl

My husband tried out the new "pay per ride" Monster Cat Skiing on our recent Panorama Trip and enjoyed fresh powder on a wide open (very deserted) run where he said he felt like he was the only person around for miles. (note to self, find him a ski buddy next time!)

Special Monster lift tickets can be purchased in the Village for $14.29 per ride (adult pricing) or for $49 (for a pack of 4 tickets.)

Note that the cat rides are available on weekends only and that you still have to ski/hike your way along Outback Ridge to the staging area where you'll enjoy the final ride up to the top of the Goldie Plateau (roughly 100 metres up from the summit hut.)

From the Goldie Plateau, expert skiers enjoy double black chutes and bowls as they make their way back down to the Village. All runs end up in the main village so you could technically do laps all day.

The Monster X Snow Cat 

A Ski Hill for ALL Abilities and Styles

Panorama for Beginners

Panorama is the ultimate hill for progression with discounted pricing available for the beginner lifts. A Discovery Zone lift ticket gives you access to the Discovery Quad, Silver Platter, Red Carpet, and Little Ripper Carpet.

Graduate from the Discovery Quad, and skiers will then find easy groomed green runs off the Mile 1 Express, the Toby Chair (which also has an amazing terrain park,) and the Sunbird Chair.

The Discovery Zone for Little Rippers

Panorama for Intermediate Skiers

I consider myself to be a strong intermediate skier because I prefer to ski groomed terrain (be it blue or black.) Panorama is the ideal ski hill for those who love flowy cruisers, who want a good assortment of groomed runs, and who enjoy steep black runs that have also been groomed.

Views for miles off the "Get me Down" Traverse from the summit

On our recent trip, I was able to ski 9 different advanced black runs, all groomed with beautiful corduroy. This was a record for me, and usually I'm lucky if a ski hill grooms one or two black runs for me.

The terrain at Panorama can be broken down into 20% beginner, 55% intermediate/advanced, and 25% expert, so you can see that it's an intermediate skier's paradise.

Flying down Zehnder Way in Founders Ridge

And lest you start to think that Panorama is only a hill for those who love groomers, despair not. There are plenty of natural runs filled with bumps, glades, and soft powder. My husband and son often split off onto other runs off the top of each chair to chase after terrain that was more challenging than what I was looking for.

My son's favourite run under the Sunbird Chair

Panorama for Expert Skiers

My husband would fall into this category and he loves the terrain at Panorama. This is the kind of resort you can ski regularly for years - and still find new places to explore each time you visit. Add the new monster cat skiing, and nobody's getting bored here.

Entrance to the Taynton Bowl and Outback Ridge

Panorama for Skiers who like to "Play"

My son loves terrain parks and is usually quick to approve of a ski hill if it has a good park. The Toby Terrain Park is one of the best we've found across the Rockies and we love that it has its own dedicated chairlift, a nice little short one, so you can spend more time playing in the park (and less time riding on the lift.)

There's also a more advanced park off the Mile 1 Express Chair where my son was given very clear instructions to "roll everything!!"

Playing around in the Toby Terrain Park at Panorama 

Want to read more about skiing at Panorama? Check out the story I wrote last year: Family Guide to Panorama Mountain Ski Resort 

This story has a LOT more photos because it was actually warm enough to take a camera out of a pocket. Our recent trip had weather as cold as -35C with wind chill at the summit so photos were limited.

Read my Family Guide to Panorama to find the location of the kids' secret tree house

Stay in an Authentic Alpine Village with Ski in/Ski out Accommodations 

This is one of my favourite things about Panorama and it would not be the same to visit for a day without staying on the hill. Stay at the resort and you won't need a car the entire duration of your visit. A small gondola connects the Lower and Upper Village (with free service through the day and evening) and there is no shortage of restaurants spread around the resort. You'll even find a grocery store (with alcohol for purchase) and a take-out pizza restaurant in the Lower Village.

Keep reading to learn more about why you want to spend your ski vacation in the heart of the Panorama Mountain Resort.

First in line for the lifts when you stay in the Village

End your Day in Canada's Largest Slopeside Hot Pools

If this doesn't sell staying overnight on the hill at Panorama, I don't know what will. Spend your days skiing and your evenings soaking your sore muscles as you relax in slopeside hot pools (the largest one big enough for kids to swim in!)

Kids love the bigger pool with it's "slightly cooler" temperature and space for swimming or splashing, and adults enjoy the hotter pool beside it (best enjoyed with a beverage in hand while the kids play in the other pool.)

Slopeside Hot Pools at Panorama Mountain Resort

The Panorama Springs Hot Pools are located in the Panorama Springs Condo Building, by far our favourite place to stay so far out of the options we've tried, but access to the pools is included with all stays at the resort. Make a booking with Panorama Lodging anywhere on the hill and you'll get to enjoy the pools as often as you like. (and in summer there's a cold swimming pool with waterslides as well!)

Panorama Springs Hot Pools 

Bring the Non-Skiers! Panorama is more than a Ski Hill!

We spend many weekends in the Columbia Valley and have visited Panorama for the day several times - without ever purchasing a downhill lift ticket! The beauty of this resort is that you don't actually have to like downhill skiing to enjoy spending time at Panorama. There are dozens of other activities you can try without ever stepping into a pair of ski boots or riding a chairlift.

The reality for many families and groups is that there will often be that one family member who wants to come along on your trip - but who doesn't ski, who prefers snowshoeing, or who likes the peace and quiet found on nordic ski trails. (My mother for example who recently joined us for a weekend at Panorama.)

Bring the grandparents, the baby, the toddler, the whole extended family, or even a spouse who may not enjoy downhill skiing (but still wants to spend the weekend with the family.) There is something for everybody at Panorama!

Try cross-country skiing on the Panorama Nordic Trails

Five Things to do for the Non-Skier at Panorama 

One. Step into a different kind of bindings and try cross-country skiing on the Panorama Nordic Trails

And these are GOOD trails, "real" trails, and trails I'd visit even for a day trip. This isn't a case of "ok, you nordic skiers, we groomed you a cute little 3km loop around the ski resort."

We like skiing up to the Pentagon and Hale Huts in approximately 6km round trip from the Greywolf Golf Course. I also love it when my family drops me at the golf course so that I can ski down the Prospector's / Valley Trail back to the Village. (And for those staying in the village, you can ski a 3km loop on the Valley / Prospector's Trails starting in the Upper Village and ending in the Lower Village, riding the Village Gondola back up to the top.)

You can purchase day passes for the nordic trails at Guest Services and they can direct you to the rental shop if you don't have your own skis.

The Hale Hut, reached on a groomed nordic ski trail

Two. Try snowshoeing on the Panorama multi-use trails

All of the nordic trails at Panorama are designated for "multi-use" sports, but you'll enjoy the inner loops more with a pair of snowshoes. The Valley Trail through the golf course is especially scenic.

You can purchase day passes for the nordic trails at Guest Services and they can direct you to the rental shop if you don't have your own snowshoes.

The Valley Trail is a multi-use trail for XC skiing, snowshoeing, or fat biking

Three. Take a walk along the river from the Lower Village or rent a fat bike to explore the trails

My mother enjoyed taking short walks along the river when we were recently at Panorama for a weekend and appreciated that she didn't need snowshoes on the well packed trail. She was able to walk out the door of our condo and could connect the Lower Village to the Upper Village afterwards via the Village Gondola to warm up at the Picnic Cafe.

We've also enjoyed fat biking on the Valley Trail and were able to rent bikes for our whole family. Bike rentals can be found in the Upper Village near Guest Services and you can loop the Valley Trail 3 with the Prospector's / Valley Trail for a moderate 3km ride on a packed/groomed trail. Resort roads connect you back to the top when you're finished.

Read more about cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking at Panorama in my previous story here: Panorama Mountain Resort  (much more than downhill skiing.)

Take a walk (or rent a fat bike) to enjoy an easy jaunt along the river at Panorama

Four. Enjoy the Village amenities and children's programs

Enjoy slopeside accommodations at Panorama and sign the kids up for a variety of children's activities, crafts, and unique programming each day ($,) try ice skating on the village rink (bring your own skates,) or try snow tubing in the evenings ($.)

Panorama has a small (but fun) tube park open evenings over weekends and holidays

Five. Enjoy mountain dining and après-ski hut tours

There is no shortage of options for the après-ski experience at Panorama (for skiers and non skiers alike.) 

  • Enjoy decadent walk in/walk out dining at a variety of restaurants in the Upper Village including my favourite, the Cabin Smokehouse. Another good choice is ElevenFIFTY at the base of the hill where you'll find regional cuisine including pizzas and homemade pastas.

  • Book a Heli-Fondue tour at the Summit Hut. Enjoy a flight with RK HELISKI up to the Summit Hut after the lifts close for an early evening après dinner of cheese and chocolate fondue. This is the best (and only) way for a non skier to reach the summit of the ski hill.

  • Book a raclette and lamplight ski out from the Elkhorn Cabin Saturday nights. Catch the last ride up the Champagne Chair at the end of your ski day, ski down to the cabin for dinner, and then enjoy a guided ski down the freshly groomed Rollercoaster run by headlamps. (for experienced skiers only)

  • Book a fondue dining experience at the Mile 1 Hut for a cheese and chocolate fondue dinner Saturday nights. Ride the Mile 1 chair up to the hut (with skis or in winter boots for the non skier) and then enjoy an easy ski down (the run is lit up for night skiing) or ride back down the chairlift if you are a non skier.

  • Try the brand new snowcat limousine dining experience at either the Elkhorn Cabin for raclette or the Mile 1 Hut for fondue. The tour runs Thursdays and Fridays and you must be able to ski down to the Elkhorn Cabin. You finish dinner with a ride in a snowcat back to the base. The Mile 1 Hut experience includes a snow cat ride both up and down, making it perfect for the non skier.

Information on all dining options can be found here and reservations are required in advance. 

Panorama doesn't shut down at sunset 

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Disclaimer: Our accommodations and lift tickets were provided on this hosted trip. As always, all opinions and words are my own and I was not compensated beyond trip expenses.