Friday, February 05, 2016

Family Guide to Fernie Alpine Resort

Fernie Alpine Resort used to be our favourite ski hill back in the day before we became parents and had to "tone down" our adventurous weekends. My husband and I would leave Calgary after work Friday, check into an affordable hotel room downtown Fernie, and then spend two days skiing the intermediate/advanced terrain on the upper mountain before driving home Sunday night in the dark. The lower mountain didn't exist (in our minds) and the "Elk Quad" was just something you loaded en route to bigger and better things above. Meanwhile, I am positive I never once rode the "Deer Chair" and I honestly don't recall the resort grooming anything on the hill.  Fernie was not the hill you visited for groomed corduroy (we had Kimberley or Nakiska for that) and it wasn't exactly what I would call a "beginner hill." (70% of the ski terrain is still intermediate or advanced)

Fast forward 7 years (yes, our child is now 7 and time has definitely flown) and we finally made it back to Fernie Alpine Resort as a family. We braved the long drive from Calgary, we rode lifts we honestly didn't know existed before, and we discovered glorious beginner-friendly terrain that was perfectly groomed and easy to learn on. Fernie gave us a very pleasant surprise and we might have a new favourite hill on our hands.

Skiing the lower mountain at Fernie Alpine Resort

First Impressions of Fernie Alpine Resort as a Family

The drive really wasn't that long from Calgary. It took us roughly 3.5 hours to reach Fernie via  the Crowsnest Pass into British Columbia and we even made it home Sunday in daylight! (totally doable if you leave early afternoon)

While the hill might only have 30% of its terrain dedicated to beginners learning to ski, we never ran out of runs to do as a family. We were pleasantly surprised at how many chair lifts we could go up together, how many different runs we could do as a family, and how much fun we had! We needed another two days added on to our weekend to fully appreciate everything this hill has to offer families.

There is tons of groomed corduroy at Fernie Alpine Resort! (and I'm a huge fan of groomers I can race down without a mogul or bump in site.) You'll even find intermediate terrain that's groomed.

End of the first day and we were ready to tackle intermediate runs together

The longest run that I skied (Falling Star) was 5 km long!! And it was a pleasant intermediate run that my son even skied it by the end of the first day. It was also perfectly groomed with fresh corduroy when I skied it Sunday morning first thing.

Ready to ski down from the Timber Chair together on our second day at Fernie

Ski In / Ski Out Accommodations at Fernie Alpine Resort

My fireplace in the Lizard Creek Lodge
We stayed at Lizard Creek Lodge at the base of the Elk Quad and I don't know if I can ever go back to staying in town and sharing a crowded day lodge again. It was so decadent being able to return to our condo during the day for lunch, and the fireplace in the lobby of the Lizard Creek Lodge quickly became my favourite place on the entire hill.

We enjoyed having breakfast at the newly renovated "Cirque" restaurant at Lizard Creek one day and also chose to eat out at the Kelsey's Family Restaurant on the hill for dinner Saturday night. Our condo had a full kitchen though and we made use of it for lunches and for Sunday's breakfast. Families on a budget would definitely appreciate being able to make their own meals right from the comfort of their own kitchen.

The other thing we loved  about Lizard Creek was the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, located right beside the ski hill. We could watch people ski by us from our cozy warm oasis at the end of the day. - and trust me, I could get used to a lifestyle like this!

Lizard Creek Lodge, Fernie Alpine Resort
Swimming in the slope-side pool at Lizard Creek
Hot tub anyone?
And a final note on Lizard Creek, make sure you check out the new ice bar if you visit Fernie this winter. We were pleased that they let us bring our son into the ice bar with us for our vodka tasting and they even let us split a tasting between my husband and I so that we could enjoy the experience without spending a fortune.

The Ice Bar Experience at Lizard Creek


Fernie Alpine Resort - A Winter Destination for the Whole Family

I really wanted to wrap up this review by mentioning that Fernie Alpine Resort is so much more than just a downhill ski resort! The resort maintains 14 km of cross country ski trails along with other trails dedicated to snowshoeing and fat biking. A family could spend a week at Fernie and never run out of things to do.

I went on a short snowshoe tour Sunday morning to get a feel for the trails near the resort and was very glad I did. The trail system was easy to follow and the trails were well packed down for easy hiking and biking. I saw several families out for a short morning walk with young children and I also saw many people out walking dogs on the trails. Having these extra trails right on the doorstep of your condo definitely adds to the resort experience and gives you more value for your money.

Both snowshoes and fat bikes can be rented at the resort as well so if you've been longing to try out this new "Fat bike" trend, Fernie will give you the opportunity.

Snowshoeing at Fernie Alpine Resort on the Multi-use Hiking and Biking Trails

We will definitely be back to Fernie next winter and we will have to stay longer than two nights! Next time I want to get up to Island Lake Lodge for some cat-accessed snowshoeing or cross country skiing. I also never did get the opportunity to try out the cross country ski trails at Fernie Alpine Resort. Just not enough time to do everything.

Family-friendly skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort (photo: C. Truman)

10 More Reasons for Families to Visit Fernie

Family-friendly Fernie Alpine Resort

The Fernie Alpine Resort website has a great list of reasons families should check out their resort this winter. Reasons include free night skiing for kids included with their day pass, $5 meals for the kids at Kelsey's, a kids' carnival in March, and a secret kids' ski area off the deer chair where the little ones can learn to ski trees just like mom and dad.

To read the full list, follow this list to 10 Kid Friendly Activities to Try this Season.

Exploring the Kids' Trails off the Deer Chair (photo: C. Truman)

For More Information...

For information on accommodations at Fernie Alpine Resort, please visit the Fernie Lodging Company website.

For information on the Ski Resort, please visit the Fernie Alpine Resort website.

For information on other activities and things to do in the Fernie area, please visit the Tourism Fernie website.


  1. Skiing is the great sport. Looking your pics makes me feel really want to play it now.

  2. Best resort skiing I've ever done!