Monday, February 27, 2017

Panorama Mountain Resort (much more than downhill skiing)

Panorama Mountain Resort is a popular destination for Calgary families in the nearby Columbia Valley of BC. Situated just outside the Town of Invermere, the resort caters to downhill ski enthusiasts and has a variety of ski terrain for the whole family (with over 100 different runs serviced by 10 lifts.)

My family and I visit the resort every winter while staying in the valley but we have yet to actually purchase lift tickets for the ski hill. (And that's not because we sneak onto the hill or because somebody else is buying lift tickets for us.) The reason we haven't had to buy lift tickets at Panorama is because we've never used the ski hill when we've visited the resort.

Cross country skiing across the golf course at Panorama Mountain Resort

My family loves downhill skiing but we've always enjoyed Panorama for its Nordic trails. We love cross country skiing up to the Hale Hut, we ski around the Grey Wolf Golf Course, and we've enjoyed exploring the multi-use trails as well.

On our most recent visit to Panorama we also discovered that the multi-use trails are a lot of fun on bikes, and the Nordic Centre just happens to rent fat bikes for the whole family. (something I can assure you is rare at a ski hill! - trust me, I challenge you to find me another ski hill that has kids' winter bikes to rent)

Fat biking at Panorama Mountain Resort

Cross Country Skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort

There is a great Nordic Centre at the Panorama Mountain Resort where you can rent skis if you don't have your own. The trail fees are reasonable and the resort hands out easy-to-follow maps showing  trails for all abilities.

Our first time cross country skiing at Panorama (and my son still had strap on skis!)


Parking has become much easier for cross-country skiing at Panorama now that they've moved the trail centre to the Grey Wolf Golf Course clubhouse.

Drive up to the golf course from the ski hill where you'll find a large parking lot. Go inside the clubhouse, and you're set.

Inside the clubhouse you can pay your trail fees, get a map, ask questions about the trails, and rent gear if you need.

You'll also find bathrooms inside the clubhouse.

Easy skiing from the Grey Wolf Golf Course

The Ski Trails:

From the Grey Wolf Golf Course you can either ski up towards the Hale Hut on an easy/intermediate trail (roughly 6 km round trip from the golf course,) you can ski across the golf course on an easy flat trail, or you can ski all the way to the end of the Nordic Centre on the Great Scott Trail (roughly 17 km round trip.) 

There are 20 km of groomed trackset trails for classic and skate skiing at the Panorama Nordic Centre on dedicated (ski only) trails. They are groomed daily and some of them are open to skiers wanting to bring their dog with them.

The Hale Hut, Panorama Mountain Resort

On our last visit we skied up to the Hut for lunch in the warm heated cabin, skied back down, and then continued skiing down to the Lower Village on one of the multi-use trails since it's all downhill from here and super fun. 

Skiing up the Placer Trail to the Hale Hut

For more information on the ski trails at Panorama, visit the Panorama Mountain Resort website. Trail conditions are posted along with a map of the trails, and information on trail fees and rentals. 

You can also visit the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club for more information on ski trails in the Columbia Valley.

Easy family skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort

Fat Biking at Panorama Mountain Resort

So you've tried cross country skiing at Panorama and have another day to play - I highly recommend trying fat biking on the multi use trails that start out from the Nordic Centre or down in the lower village.

First, stop in at the Nordic Centre and rent a set of bikes for the family. The Centre rents fat bikes for adults and rents 20" and 24" plus sized bikes for kids (bikes with larger tires that are half way between a summer mountain biking tire and a fat bike tire.) The kids' bikes wouldn't work in deep powder but they work fine on the packed Panorama trails.

Fat bikes and Youth plus sized bikes for rent at Panorama

Once you've taken care of rentals, either bike up towards the Hale Hut on the new Mineral King Trail (an intermediate trail with climbing involved) or head downhill on the Mountain View Trail down to the lower village. (An adult will have to bike back up at the end to fetch the vehicle.)

Note if the kids are only biking downhill to the lower village, you will have to drive their bikes back up to the golf course.

Riding down one of the steeper hills on the Prospector's Trail

What to expect from winter biking at Panorama:

  • There's not a lot of "easy" beginner biking here unless you bike one-way down to the lower village. 
  • You must use the multi use trails for fat biking. You can not use the trackset trails for cross-country skiing.

  • The multi use trails are generally groomed or packed down for easy biking. 

For more information on the multi use trails at Panorama, visit the Panorama Mountain Resort website. Trail conditions are posted along with a map of the trails, and information on trail fees and rentals. 

Easy riding along the river at Panorama

Overall Summary and Recommendation

Regardless of whether you choose to bike, hike, snowshoe, or cross country ski at Panorama, there's something for each member of the family with rentals on site for everybody. The resort offers so much more than downhill skiing and you could easily spend a weekend here without ever stepping into a set of downhill bindings (and still have a blast!!)

Biking along Toby Creek at Panorama 

Disclaimer: We received complimentary bike rentals at Panorama Mountain Resort so that I could write this story. We have always paid for our own trail fees though when cross country skiing at this resort and I was not compensated for writing this review. As always all words and opinions are my own.

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