Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Spring Adventure Guide to the BEST of Radium Hot Springs and the Columbia Valley

We spend a lot of time in Radium Hot Springs year round but spring is definitely one of our favourite times for exploring this quiet village. March brings warm weather for sunny ski days, and by late April you'll start to see green grass and trees beginning to bloom.

Everything is always a month ahead in the Columbia Valley for spring weather, and if you close your eyes in the hot springs, sun shining on your face, I promise you'll feel like it's even summer already.

Jump into spring in Radium Hot Springs!

Destination Overview

From Calgary it is a 3 hour drive to the Village of Radium Hot Springs and the gateway to the Columbia Valley. The drive is very doable for a 2-day weekend and many local families head out after work on Friday. You can spend all day Saturday and most of Sunday exploring before you have to head home Sunday afternoon.

It's easy to plan an active family getaway to Radium Hot Springs in the spring

5 Spring Activities to Enjoy with your Family in Radium Hot Springs

1. Warm up at the Radium Hot Springs Pools

We absolutely love visiting the Radium Hot Springs mineral pools where you can enjoy both a large hot soaking pool along with a separate heated swimming pool, open year round (complete with slide and diving board in the summer months.) We've easily spent hours here at a time, and on a warm day you can even lie out in a beach chair beside the swimming pool.

Note for 2023, the cold swimming pool is closed for repairs. Opening date is TBD.

Close your eyes and pretend it's summer!

2. Walk around the Village Looking for Local Wildlife 

We love walking around the Springs Golf Course in town before it opens for the season. You'll almost always find large numbers of bighorn sheep hanging out in the morning or late afternoon along with a flock or two of wild turkeys.

The bighorn sheep love hanging out on the Springs Golf Course 

You'll find no shortage of wildlife encounters as you walk around town

We also love the views over the Columbia River wetlands that you can enjoy as you walk around the golf course. We particularly like the views from the back nine where you can look down on the river from the escarpment beside the 18th hole.

I also recommend walking around the quiet village streets where you're almost guaranteed to find at least a couple of deer munching on the plants in somebody's front yard.

Looking down on the Columbia River from the Springs Golf Course

And for the kids, there's a great playground at the northeast end of Legends Field (where you'll also find a hockey arena, sledding hill, and a spray park in the summer months.)

There's an exercise circuit with an outdoor fitness gym beside the playground as well (and it's one of the better ones we've found.)

The main town playground is a fun stop along your village walk

And while you're out, I recommend stopping in at the Bighorn Cafe on the main street. Personal menu favourites include their breakfast burritos and their cinnamon buns. Most importantly, they serve good strong coffee.

Across the street you'll also find Screamers Ice Cream CafĂ©, newly renovated and now serving coffee, baked items, and daily lunch specials.

Always my second home when I'm in Radium Hot Springs 

Wild turkeys hanging out on the main street in Radium Hot Springs 

3. Take a Walk or Bike Ride along Sinclair Creek 

The Sinclair Creek Trail is another good walk for those wanting to find the local wildlife. We often see deer when we're exploring along Sinclair Creek in the shoulder season.

Easy hiking along Sinclair Creek where you'll often see at least a couple of deer 

The easiest way to access this trail is from the official parking lot off Forsters Landing Road where you turn into the Canfor Sawmill (a fun adventure in and of itself for the kids as you drive through the middle of the mill.)

The trail is relatively flat and offers very easy walking. There are a couple of pretty little bridges and the creek is fun to explore year round. 

Spring biking along the Sinclair Creek Trail

By mid April we also enjoy biking the trail along the creek. It's a wide gravel trail and perfect for novice cyclists. You'll also find a bike park and pump track if you follow the trail heading back towards Forsters Landing Road.

The Sinclair Creek Pump Track is fun with children and youth

4. Hike Sinclair Canyon

This trail is more difficult than the Sinclair Creek Trail above and if you visit in March you'll likely still want to pack a pair of ice cleats with you.

There are two access points for this one, the first one being much easier and flatter.

Access one: Drive down into the Canyon RV Resort and park beside the entrance to the "Creekside in the Canyon" property. Hike through the streets of Creekside, until you reach the trailhead for the Sinclair Canyon trail which follows Sinclair Creek.

* And in case you're confused, yes, this is the same creek I wrote about above, but there is no tunnel under highway 95 so you can not access the canyon from the Sinclair Creek parking lot in the sawmill.

If you access the Sinclair Canyon Trail from the RV Resort you'll enjoy a pleasant walk on a relatively flat trail through a beautiful forest. The hike is less than a kilometre one way until you reach the end of the trail at a large waterfall, mostly hidden from view further up the canyon.

Sinclair Creek as it flows through Sinclair Canyon

Access two: Take highway 93 up the hill towards the hot springs and park along the side of the highway at a viewpoint where you'll see a sign for the trail heading down into the canyon. The parking lot is just past the west gate and is on your left hand side as you leave Radium.

From here, you can expect a very steep descent down into the canyon which I don't recommend with young children if there's snow still on the ground. The trail is very slippery so you'll need ice cleats or spikes for sure.

Once you reach the bottom you can hike left towards the RV resort or go right to see the waterfall. If you cross the bridge you'll be on the Juniper Trail which climbs to the hot springs pools. Unless you want to follow the Juniper Trail, return the same way you came by climbing back up to the highway.

The Sinclair Canyon Trail is a magical place to explore

Extension for a more challenging hike: From the bottom of the canyon, cross the bridge and start climbing up the Juniper trail which gains 260 metres of height. The trail is 3.2 km long, one way, including the descent down from the highway.

The trail switchbacks steeply to a couple of beautiful viewpoints over the canyon and the highway before it drops back down to the hot springs pools.

Viewpoint at the top of the Juniper Trail 

I recommend returning to your initial parking lot on the Redstreak Campground Trail (3.2 km in length) which starts behind the hot springs pools. This trail takes you through an old growth cedar forest and is very beautiful.

Looking down on Sinclair Canyon from the Redstreak Campground Trail

Follow this link for more information and trail descriptions for the Sinclair Canyon and Juniper Trails on the Parks Canada website.

There is also a great trail map that you can download at the bottom of the Parks Canada page. The map is shown below.

And if you use the All Trails app, the full Juniper Loop with Redstreak Campground Trail is on there.

There are lots of great hiking trails around Radium Hot Springs

5. Go for a Hike around the Redstreak Campground Trails

Using the map above you can see several trails that start from the Redstreak Campground. You can't drive all the way up to the campground before it opens in May, but you can get as far as the Valley View lookout. Park there and continue on foot. (Fortunately, most of the height gained on the climb up to the campground is before this viewpoint, and is done with your car.)

The Redstreak Loop Trail offers a beautiful viewpoint of the Columbia Valley

Trail options from Redstreak:

  1. Valley View  Trail  - Follow the trail from where you park your car up to the campground entrance.

  2. Redstreak Restoration Trail - This trail starts beside the large campground wood pile and follows a scenic bench that looks over the village. We've often seen sheep on this trail.

  3. Redstreak Loop Trail - This trail starts in the E loop and climbs to a gorgeous viewpoint over the village. It's a steep trail and you may want ice cleats or spikes if it's still snowy.

  4. Redstreak Campground Trail - You can take this trail to the hot springs. The trail takes you through an old growth cedar forest.

You'll often see bighorn sheep on the road to the Redstreak Campground

We've also enjoyed biking around the campground before it opens in May. The road up to the campground is paved as are all of the roads around the campground. You'll find playgrounds as well for the kids along with several natural dirt paths that are fun to explore.

Bike around the Redstreak Campground for great wildlife viewing

Where to Stay in Radium Hot Springs 

We're planning a spring getaway to Radium Hot Springs this year and are going to be staying at the RidgeView Resort where we'll have an entire vacation home to use as our adventure base camp.

RidgeView Resort has 9 vacation homes that can be rented for a trip to Radium Hot Springs and there's also an RV Park where you can either lease a site for the season or rent a site on a nightly basis. 

Features of the vacation homes include: 
  • 3 bedrooms in each home

  • 2 full bathrooms

  • A fully equipped kitchen so that you can save money on eating out

  • A gas burning fireplace

  • A sun deck with BBQ 

  • High speed WiFi

  • Access to resort amenities including an indoor swimming pool and hot tub in winter, an outdoor pool in summer, fitness centre, arcade room, pickle ball court, beach volleyball, and mini-golf (May - September.)

Follow this link to see photos of the resort

Explore the best of the Columbia Valley from Radium Hot Springs this spring

RV sites include a covered cabana, a BBQ, and full hookups. For the hardy campers out there, the RV Resort also accommodates winter camping (and it can be pretty nice in the valley for a spring camping trip.)

Read my story about RV Camping at the RidgeView Resort here:

Plan a spring camping trip to Radium Hot Springs

Spring Day Trips from Radium Hot Springs 

If you've fully explored Radium Hot Springs or your feet are getting tired from walking all over the village, check out these fun options below for a fun spring weekend in the Columbia Valley.

1. Skate the Lake Windermere Whiteway (IF you visit early spring) 

Most families will park at Kinsman Beach in Invermere to access the Lake Windermere Whiteway and you can easily skate to the Community of Windermere approximately 6 km down the lake. When the skating trail on the west side of the lake is open, you can complete a 12 km loop between the two communities.

My family personally likes to access the Whiteway from the public beach in Windermere so that we can skate to Invermere for lunch. We bring our boots with us in a backpack so we can walk across the road from Kinsman Beach to reach the Station Pub, a great family-friendly restaurant.

Day use fees are requested, $5 per person, and can be paid at either of the trail kiosks in Invermere or Windermere.

Ice skating on the Lake Windermere Whiteway 

2. Visit Panorama Mountain Resort for some spring skiing! 

The resort is located a short 20 minutes from Invermere and is an easy day trip from Radium Hot Springs.

You can read all about the resort in my previous stories:

Read: Find it ALL at Panorama Mountain Resort

Spring skiing is glorious at Panorama Mountain Resort

Panorama Mountain Resort also has a great Nordic Centre and they groom/trackset their 20 km of trails daily for great March skiing.

Visit their website at Panorama Nordic Centre. 

Panorama Mountain Resort grooms 20 km of trails for XC skiing

3. Visit Nipika Mountain Resort  in March for a day of XC skiing or fat biking

Nipika is an eco resort set amongst a large trail network maintained for cross-country skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing in the winter months. In summer you can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and trail running.

The resort is located 40 minutes east of Radium Hot Springs and it's a great place to visit on your drive back to Calgary because you'll take Highway 93 back into Kootenay National Park to access the resort.

Nipika has 50 km of trails groomed and maintained for classic and skate skiing. You'll also find 30 km of trails groomed for fat biking along with other trails designated for winter hiking or snowshoeing.

We enjoy both cross-country skiing and fat biking here and you can rent any equipment that you need including fat bikes. They even have two youth fat bikes (one 20 inch bike and one 24 inch bike.)

Skiing over the Natural Bridge at Nipika Mountain Resort

4. Try Glamping in a cozy yurt at Radius Retreat near Radium Hot Springs

Radius is a forested year-round mountain side retreat offering hike-in yurt rentals and 1000 acres of explorable wilderness. The closest yurts are only 200 metres away from the parking lot, allowing for easy access to spend your days exploring around the Radium Hot Springs area. 

For a mountain-top camping experience, book a couple of nights at the "Perch," located 2.8 km from the parking lot. It's a gentle climb to the yurt and you'll enjoy your quiet retreat with no neighbors nearby.

Read about our stay at Radius here: Yurt Camping on top of a Mountain at Radius Retreat 

Backcountry yurt camping in Radium Hot Springs 

5. Go find the most awesome swings ever at the Eagle Ranch Resort

This has been a recent discovery for us and it's a great spring activity before the Eagle Ranch Golf Course opens for the season. The swings are located on a scenic bench above the Columbia River and are a very short walk from the golf course parking lot.

Become a parent superhero when you take your kids to these swings!

6. Bag your first peak of the season with an ascent of Mount Swansea

Save this one for late April when the snow is all gone from the mountain. For earlier hikes, make sure you bring spikes or ice cleats for lingering snow.

From the bottom parking lot, climb the Lower Swansea Trail (shared with mountain bikes) until you reach the Ashby Ascent Trail (hiking only.) This will take you to the summit of Mount Swansea. From the summit, descend the back side to the upper parking lot (which is closed in spring.)

From the upper parking lot you have two options. Either walk down the road (boring but direct,) or follow the South Ridge trail to the bottom (for a challenging loop that avoids walking the road.)

For a shorter loop, follow signs for the Tower Loop rather than climbing all the way to the summit.

For the best website descriptions, visit the Summit Trail Makers Website. This group maintains the Mount Swansea trails.

Mount Swansea is a great "first summit" for the season

7. Go exploring for natural hot springs!

Spring is a good time to go hunting for natural hot springs before the summer crowds arrive in the valley. The Lussier Hot Springs are the most famous and are a great day trip from Radium Hot Springs.

The Lussier Hot Springs are a great spring day trip from Radium Hot Springs

The Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs are worth a stop en route to Lussier as well. Park at the overflow parking lot by the zipline operation, and hike up the small hill where you'll see a historic bath house. I recommend running up in full clothing first to see IF there is water in the pools outside the bath house. Sometimes the pools are dry in spring.

Note the Indigenous Baths are "warm" and so make sure you choose a nice day for your visit. They are not hot. For truly "hot" hot springs, visit Lussier.

Soaking in the Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs

The Indigenous Baths offer pleasant soaking when there's water in the pools

8. Launch the mountain biking season early with great spring rides

Our favourite spring mountain bike trails are all located between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs. The trails dry out early and are usually in condition by mid to late April.

Singletrack trails off the Old Coach Trail near Radium Hot Springs

Recommended  mountain bike trails include the Old Coach Trail (with Deja View singletrack trails) near Radium Hot Springs, and The Spirit Trail south of Fairmont Hot Springs (with Teen Spirit singletrack trail.)

Singletrack trails off the Spirit Trail south of Fairmont Hot Springs

For paved biking, check out the Markin MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail between Invermere and Fairmont. The trail is approximately 25 km long and is a great workout with big hills and rolling terrain.

Beautiful paved biking on the Westside Legacy Trail

9. Go for an easy hike on the Wilmer Wetlands Trail outside Invermere

The trailhead is located north of the Village of Wilmer off Westside Road and it's a nice walk along a bluff overlooking the river wetlands. We happened upon this trail one day while geocaching and now it's become an annual favourite for a short one-hour walk. 

The loop is 4 km in total and dogs must be on leash at all times. Bikes are not allowed in this protected area.

The trail also shows up on Google Maps

The Wilmer Wetlands Trail is a great shoulder season hike

10. Geocaching anyone?

If you like geocaching, there are hundreds of caches to find throughout the Columbia Valley. One of our favourite places for geocaching is along the Old Coach Trail outside Radium Hot Springs where there's a cache hidden approximately every kilometre along the old road that you can bike or hike. (12 in total along one trail!)

We like to do the outing one-way from the Dry Gulch parking lot with bikes and send an adult back for the vehicle. From the north end of the trail you're at the edge of town so you can just head to one of the coffee shops in Radium Hot Springs to wait for your ride.

Thanks to geocaching we've discovered many new trails and fun places to explore throughout the Columbia Valley.

One of the micro caches hidden along the Old Coach Trail

This guide has been written in partnership with Tourism Radium Hot Springs and they will be hosting our spring stay at the RidgeView Resort. 

As always, all opinions are my own. I have used all of my own photography.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Plan a Ski Getaway to Alberta's Castle Mountain Resort (with slopeside accommodations!)

Want to "kick butt" at planning that next family ski getaway from Calgary? It all starts with a trip to Castle Mountain Resort in Southern Alberta.

With affordable slopeside accommodations, fabulous terrain for every ski ability, and the friendliest resort staff you'll ever meet, it's guaranteed to be a great weekend.

There's no shortage of epic ski terrain at Castle Mountain Resort!

Introduction to Castle Mountain Resort

Castle Mountain Resort is located in Southwestern Alberta, approximately 30 minutes SW of the Town of Pincher Creek. Families living in the south part of Calgary can reach the resort in 2.5 hours, making the trip very doable for a 2-day weekend.

The resort is located on the Continental Divide on the Alberta/BC border, and thus gets a LOT of snow each winter (up to 9 metres per year on average.) 

A peaceful Sunday afternoon at Castle Mt. Resort (no line ups!)

Castle has accommodations on site with options for all budgets, and if you fancy winter camping, you can also bring your trailer down and camp in the parking lot (It's absolutely allowed here!)

The ski hill itself is out of this world with terrain that easily compares to what you'd find at bigger resorts in the Rockies. My boys spend their days lapping the double black chutes while I meander my way down the gorgeous traverses and groomed intermediate runs top to bottom.

Castle has a dedicated beginner chair as well along with an intermediate progression chair with gentle groomed runs perfect for building confidence. 

Add small hill charm, uncrowded runs, the friendliest people you will ever meet at a ski hill, and a family-friendly pub with unbelievable food. 

Have you started to plan your next ski getaway yet?

Closer to Heaven, Down to Earth at Castle Mountain Resort

Affordable Skiing at Castle Mountain Resort 

One of the things I love best about Castle is that you can get the same experience that you'd find at a major ski resort in Banff, at a much more affordable price. Lodging is cheaper (see accommodations below,) lift tickets are more reasonable, and yet the snow is just as good as what you'd get at a big resort in  the Rockies. Add less people, an uncrowded resort, and a "simple" vibe, and what's not to love?!

If you think you'll visit the resort a few times this winter, I'd recommend checking out the resort's "Wonders of Winter" (WOW) card where you'll enjoy 50% off skiing every single day this winter.

The WOW Card starts saving you money after only your second day on the slopes. Once the card is in your pocket you’ll enjoy unlimited 50% off days, with no blackouts, at Castle Mountain Resort. 
Looking to maximize your time on the mountain? Upgrade your card to direct-to-lift, free of charge, so you never have to visit Guest Services again!  Whatever way you choose to WOW, it’s a no brainer if you’re planning to ski 2 or more days, this season!"


The resort has also expanded WOW Card eligibility to include ALL of their paid ticket categories – including children 6 – 12.  

Follow the link above for information on pricing and all details.

Affordable On-hill Accommodations

We've been spoiled by a few too many ski in-ski out trips and now it's a huge priority when we plan family ski weekends. I want to be able to have a leisurely morning without a long drive to the ski hill, and my son likes to be first in line for the lifts opening. This means that staying very close to the hill is almost imperative for us. 

At Castle Mountain Resort there is an affordable ski lodge located across the parking lot from the ski hill. It's not quite "ski out your door" lodging but I'm ok with having to carry my skis across a parking lot. It's also very handy on Sunday when you can pack up your car and go skiing without having to move the vehicle to a separate day-use parking lot. 

The ski lodge offers private hotel-style rooms with either 2 queen sized beds or a queen bed and a double / single bunk. 

There's no swimming pool and you won't get a luxurious condo here, but what you will find is a cozy base camp you can actually afford without breaking the bank, so you can focus on the real priority - the skiing! 

Simple but functional rooms at the Castle Mountain Ski Lodge 

The rooms don't have kitchens or anything fancy, but each room has a mini fridge, and there is a shared microwave, kettle, and coffee maker in the hallway so you can bring your own food for breakfast and lunch. 

The day lodge also serves a great breakfast (and opens at 8:00am) and so we always eat there when we go to Castle. For lunch, we've discovered that the day lodge also has great options beyond the typical burgers and hot dogs with choices like homemade lasagna or turkey pot pie. 

For dinner, I recommend the T-Bar Pub which accepts children and has amazing food. Alternately, there's a shared BBQ outside the ski lodge if you want to cook your own food. Pizza can also ordered for takeout from the pub and brought back to your room.

However you handle your meals, the ski lodge is a huge step up from many motels that don't even have a fridge to offer their guests in the rooms. Bring your own dishes, a cooler of ready-to-go food choices, and you can save a lot of money at Castle Mountain Resort by taking care of your own meals.

Follow this link for information on rates and availability at the Castle Mountain Resort Ski Lodge and make sure you order your discounted direct-to-lift tickets with your reservation.

The Castle Mountain Ski Lodge is conveniently located at the base of the resort

Tips for Staying at the Castle Mountain Ski Lodge

  • Bring bags you can carry up a flight of stairs if you're staying in the hotel rooms at the ski lodge. They are upstairs and there is no elevator. 

  • Bring inside shoes/slippers if you want because all footwear must be left at the front door.

  • Bring your own dishes if planning to eat in your room.

  • There is free WiFi at the ski lodge which is good because there is no cell service anywhere at the resort.

  • Each room has a DVD player so bring favourite movies with you from home or visit the free borrowing library in the ski lodge. 

Otherwise, for families wanting to take it up a notch in their accommodations, there are other options available on the hill including bed & breakfast suites, slopeside rental houses, or chalets with suites available for rent. Visit the Castle Mountain website to view all options. 

And, if you're interested in camping, overnight camping in the parking lot of Castle Mountain Resort is permitted with a few restrictions. (Follow the link.) It's a pretty sweet set up though and there's even a heated bathroom building to use. 

First tracks are easy to get when you stay slopeside

The Slopeside Win for a Family Ski Getaway

I know so many families who struggle with diverse ski challenges in their family from kids who don't want to wake up early to ski, to younger siblings who can't ski a full day, or to teens who want to ski solo without their parents following them around. Add beginners who might only want to ski for a couple of hours and it can be very hard to go skiing as a family!

A slopeside ski getaway at Castle solves most of the challenges above!

  • Sleep in and still get to the chairlift by 9am for fresh tracks!

  • Spend the morning on the beginner chair with young children and then retreat to your hotel room or slopeside house for the afternoon while the rest of the family continues skiing. (And parents can take turns supervising the little ones.)

  • Set the teenagers loose on the Huckleberry Chair where you can rest confident that they won't get into too much trouble (while still enjoying some independence.)

  • Enjoy your basecamp retreat for anybody in the family who finishes skiing early - while the rest of the family can continue to ski as long as they want.

Castle Mountain Resort also has a great snow school program including The Little Castle Club for youngsters ages 3-5 (in either a half or full day program.)

Castle Mountain Resort has terrain for all abilities from beginner to extreme!

Big Mountain Skiing at a Resort for all Abilities 

This section is copied straight from previous blog posts I've written because it's the information I'm always looking for when I visit a new ski resort. 

Castle Mountain Resort sets the bar high for progression. From the magic carpet to double black chutes, there is something for every ability. Best of all, there are dedicated chairlifts for beginners and intermediate skiers (so you won't accidentally find yourself in advanced terrain with a young child.)

The resort has two terrain parks as well which are definitely a hit with youth! The easier one is found off the North Run (from the Blue Chair) and the more advanced one is found off the Huckleberry Chair.

The resort also offers individual pricing for the beginner/intermediate chairlifts! You can pay a discounted price for just the Green beginner Chair or for just the intermediate Huckleberry Chair. 

There's something for every kind of skier at Castle Mountain Resort!

Castle Mountain for Beginners

There is not a "lot" of beginner terrain at Castle Mountain but if you have mixed levels in your family, each person will be able to find something that works for their abilities at this resort.

True beginners can start off on the magic carpet until they are ready to advance to the "green chairlift." The Green Chair then accesses three short gentle runs at the bottom of the hill. This area is always full of families with young children and is very well used.

From the green chair, beginners have options off both the Huckleberry Chair or off the Sundance Triple Chair (the Blue Chair) where the North Run gently winds its way down the mountain.

I actually love the North Run off Sundance and spend a lot of time cruising my way down here when I visit Castle.

Unfortunately, beginners can't access the top of the mountain until they're able to handle steeper terrain so Sundance will be as high as it gets for many families.

Cruising down the North Run at Castle 

Castle Mountain for Intermediate Skiers and Snowboarders

A true "intermediate" skier will want to start off on the Huckleberry Chair, a fabulous learning environment where nearly every run is groomed, and you won't accidentally find yourself on a black run.

The Huckleberry Chair is also great for teenagers who want a bit of independence. Set them free here for a couple of hours and you won't have to worry about them getting lost, sneaking into the double black chutes, or getting injured in the trees somewhere. 

From the Huckleberry, progress to the North Run (mentioned above) or "Easy Street" both off the Sundance (blue) chair. Easy Street is basically a cat track that accesses other runs such as "Sundown" and "Dawn" a solid intermediate combination. 

Intermediate skiing off the Huckleberry Chair

Once you're comfortable on the Huckleberry and Sundance Chairs, make your way up the Tamarack Chair (the red chair) to the top of the mountain where the views (and hopefully not the winds) will blow you away on a clear day. If it's a windy day, stick to the terrain lower down.

From the top of the Tamarack Chair, you'll find yourself on the Skyline Traverse,  the easiest way down. And honestly, this is pretty much a green run aside from the steep pitch at the top. Make it down that pitch, and the rest is a winding road down to the bottom of the red chair. - For the easiest way down onto the traverse, go left off the top of the chair and loop down to the traverse. This avoids the steep pitch from the chairlift.

For more of a challenge, take the Skyline Traverse to "Bandito"Harkers Highway" or "High Noon." Each one has a short steep pitch but spits you back out on the Skyline Traverse lower down.

Cruising down the Skyline Traverse to great intermediate terrain 

Castle Mountain for Advanced Skiers and Snowboarders

Ready for more of a challenge and you've successfully tackled the intermediate terrain at Castle? Check out these tips below for progressions:

  • Try the Ambush Glades off Sidewinder (Huckleberry Chair)

  • Take Easy Street to Mouse Trap and Jelly Roll, a groomed black run (Sundance Chair)

  • Try some of the black runs off the North Run. They are all quite short and spit you back out on the road lower down. (Sundance Chair)

  • Drop down off the Skyline Traverse into the bowl under the Tamarack Chair (Deputy, Sheriff, or Outlaw) are all good choices here) - and you'll end up back at the bottom of the Tamarack Chair. (Tamarack Chair)

  • Try skiing in the Huckleberry Bowl (the opposite direction along the Skyline Traverse) - my boys really love this bowl with its gentle angle. Alternately, try the Tamarack Bowl located right beside the Huckleberry Bowl. (Tamarack Chair)

  • On a powder day, try Drifter, the first chute you'll come to just before you go through the gates into the double blacks. (Tamarack Chair)

Adventure awaits when you ski into the chutes at Castle!

Castle Mountain for "Extreme" Skiing and Snowboarding 

Once you're comfortable skiing black terrain at Castle, it's time to go play in the double black chutes off the top of the Tamarack Chair.

My husband and son have a favourite run here called "Lone Star" - with a 600 meter fall line, a consistent 37 degree angle, and the longest continuous fall line descent in Canada.

Note that falling on some of the steep black pitches (Drifter or Lone Star for example) isn’t an option when conditions are firm. A fall could land you in the ER. You must be able to stop any fall to control your slide or you’ll go a long ways!!! And there are canyons to fall into on both Lone Star and Drifter.

Skiing Lonestar is an unforgettable experience!

Castle Mountain Resort Planning Tips

Below are some miscellaneous notes to help you with planning a trip to Castle Mountain.

  • The resort offers half day skiing starting at 12:30pm if you leave Calgary in the morning but still want to get a few hours of skiing in that day. 

  • Kids 5 and under are free (as they are at most resorts)

  • Get free or discounted skiing if you have a Lake Louise Plus discount card. You can claim one of your free days at Castle. 

  • Bring two-way radios to use for communicating between family members spread out around the ski hill. Our radios worked very well at this resort (and we appreciated having a method of sending message without cell coverage.)

  • Fill up with gas in Pincher Creek. The small gas station in Beaver Mines is not always open.

Contemplating options off the Skyline Traverse at the top of the mountain

For more information, please visit the Castle Mountain Resort website. 

Disclaimer: Our recent trip to Castle Mountain Resort was hosted. As always, all words and opinions are my own.