When most people hear the words “road trip” they automatically think of summer, beaches, lakes, and riding with the windows down. But we decided to do a winter road trip this February and it just might be our new favourite thing.
With the help of CanaDream and the CanaDream Club app, we were able to assemble and plan the winter road trip of our dreams, hitting up 4 legendary ski resorts over 10 days and getting to know several iconic mountain towns along the way.
When you think about it, the Canadian Rockies are actually the perfect place to explore multiple ski resorts in a single trip. For the skier who likes variety, the Powder Highway in BC is absolutely bursting at the seams with incredible and diverse ski resorts, with something for just about everyone along the way! Sick of skiing? There’s more than enough food, entertainment, other outdoor winter activities and views to keep you busy for a day or two while your legs rest.
When CanaDream approached us to take one of their winter ready RVs on a road trip along the Powder Highway, it was pretty hard to contain our excitement.
What better way to explore some of the world’s best powder! Rv-ing is already a North American passion, but you rarely see them in the winter. It’s generally regarded as a bit of a summer pastime, probably because winter RV camping is still so unfamiliar to most people.
We’re here to demystify winter camping, show you how fun and practical it can be and show you how we explored the Powder Highway with our CanaDream RV, and why we think it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Which RV did we take on the trip?
First things first, let’s introduce our home on wheels! Our trusty steed and new BFF.. Max. Don’t let his size intimidate you, Max was a “Dream” to drive and we felt extremely safe on the road and even backing into our sites. (Max has eyes on the back of his head)
Model: Maxi Motorhome MHA
Sleeps: 4 adults, 2 children
Vehicle length: 29 feet
Includes: All bedding, fully stocked kitchen, ample storage for ski gear & luggage, portable heater, TV and remote, shower, toilet, winter ready window covers, slide-out dining table, rear-view camera, propane and electric heating options
What is the Powder Highway?
And we’re off!
The Powder Highway is a nickname given to the circular route through the Kootenay Rockies that includes 8 of the best powder ski resorts in the world, some pretty gorgeous hot springs and mountain towns overflowing with views.
The Powder Highway is where you’ll find some of the world’s best, fluffiest ,”champagne” powder, and it’s earned its nickname for sure, because it absolutely DUMPS on these resorts.
Is the Powder Highway really that good? Arguably the best powder day of my life was at Fernie, the best cat-skiing hands down was in Rossland, BC and the best heli skiing at Panorama. When it’s good, it’s really good.
The complete Powder Highway itinerary includes the following 8 resorts (the ones we visited on this trip are in bold):
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort (Revelstoke, BC)
- Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (Golden, BC)
- Fernie Mountain Resort (Fernie, BC)
- RED Mountain Resort (Rossland, BC)
- Whitewater Ski Resort (Nelson, BC)
- Panorama Mountain Resort (Panorama and Invermere, BC)
- Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (Fairmont Hot Springs, BC)
- Kimberly Alpine Resort (Kimberley, BC)
With limited time, we were only able to check off 4 of the resorts above, but overall I’ve visited 6 of the 8 so far and love each one for completely different reasons!
If you’re going to attack the whole route, I’d recommend taking at least a couple of weeks and doing the resorts in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction for efficiency. I’d also highly recommend using the CanaDream Club app to not only help you find the best campgrounds for your route but unlock special discounts to campgrounds, food, attractions and tours along the way.
5 Reasons an RV makes sense on the Powder Highway
There are a few reasons why a campervan or RV is perfect for this kind of trip.
- The drive is incredibly scenic and a camper van is the perfect vehicle to cruise along the highway at your own pace. There are dozens of scenic viewpoints along the way where you can stop for a picnic, a coffee, or a nap! In a CanaDream RV you’ll be taking the motto “Life’s about the journey, not the destination” super seriously.
- Some of the mountain towns can be extremely busy during certain times of the year, and you may not have too many great options for accommodation along the way. If you do manage to find a hotel, expect to pay a lot for it. Driving your comfy bed around with you is the perfect solution. Even better still, you can walk back to your RV after a long day on the hill and pass out on your bed without having to drive anywhere!
- There are plenty of great campgrounds along the route with hookups for RVs and plenty of gas stations where you can fill up. The resorts we visited all have designated RV overflow parking where you can park without having to worry about squeezing into a tight spot.It’s like the route was designed for RVs!
- All CanaDream campers come with fully stocked kitchens, which makes it super easy to make and plan meals on the road. We saved a ton of money by just loading up at the grocery store before we hit the road. There’s a gas stove, microwave, sink, a full dining table and all the supplies needed to cook up a tasty meal after a big day of skiing! Or just pop something in the microwave, nobody’s judging…
- Want to extend your stay or cut it short due to the snow report? Staying in an RV makes that decision super easy! We made a lot of decisions on the fly during this trip and now I’m absolutely hooked on the freedom. No more cancelling or trying to book a last minute hotel – such a massive relief!
How does Winter Camping in an RV work?
Not all RV’s are built the same, and our major concern was what would happen to the RV if we had an extremely cold day. Would the water lines freeze? Would we be human icicles?
Fortunately, our CanaDream RV was fully winter ready and was able to comfortably deal with temperatures as low as -30C (-22F). The entire cabin had 4 batteries and a propane generator to keep everything toasty at all times. We literally had our heating on constantly (at about 16 degrees Celsius) for an entire week and probably used only about half of our propane.
The hardest part was getting out of bed each day and into the driver’s seat… because the main compartment of our RV was insulated, but the cab wasn’t! But obviously after running the engine for a few minutes, that was no longer an issue.
During the day, if you’re away from the campsite, you can run the generator to keep the batteries charged and the appliances running. Obviously you’ll probably have groceries with you that you’ll need to keep cool as well, so keeping the RV running is super important!
Another big concern of ours was how driving a 29ft RV on winter roads would be. Fortunately, it was a really mild week and the roads were fine during our trip. Our trusty RV came with all-season tires and chains as standard, just in case!
I found the first hour of driving the CanaDream quite intimidating, but I quickly became used to it. We were extremely lucky to not come across any terrible road conditions, which is typical of Winter in Canada. But I felt completely confident driving the RV.
All of our windows also had extra winter insulation to keep the heat in. I can honestly say that we were extremely toasty the entire week. Louise likes to track her sleep score with her FitBit, and had some of her highest ever scores during our week in the RV.
At night, we’d plug in the camper at our campground to charge the batteries. At the same time, we’d also plug in our heated blanket for a bit of extra warmth. As someone who always runs too hot, it was perfect!
Our Powder Highway RV Trip Itinerary
We used the CanaDream Club app to help us find the best campgrounds along our route. The app also helps you find gas stations, attractions and things to do! It really was our best friend during this 10 day road trip.
Stop 1: Panorama Ski resort
Where we stayed: RidgeView Resort RV Park (located in Radium, BC)
Where we skied: Panorama Ski Resort
Favourite stops in the area: Radium Hot Springs pools, Cross-country skiing at Nipika Resort
First stop on our trip was Panorama. The views here are mind blowing! Our guide showed us some amazing powder stashes that we’d have never found on our own. Definitely keep an eye out for C-Spine along Taynton Bowl, my favourite run of the day.
Panorama is definitely an up and coming resort that’s reinvested a huge amount of money into its facilities. It’s probably one of my favourite ski in/ski out resorts in Canada and it’s a lot of fun.
They even have a sneaky little log cabin that serves only one thing – Raclette! – hidden away on the mountain (look for the Elkhorn Cabin and definitely make a reservation in advance!)
Panorama to Kicking Horse
Driving time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
This leg of the drive is absolutely stunning. It’s a short drive from Invermere to Golden, but you pass through the beautiful Columbia Valley along the way. You’ll be treated to million dollar views the entire time.
You’ll also pass by the famous Radium Hot Springs, a town that’s famous for its incredible hot springs. A great place to stop to soothe those aching muscles!
Once you get to Golden, there are some brilliant restaurants to check out (Reposados Tacos, the Island and more!). I recommend relaxing before a day at Kicking Horse Resort, you’re going to need all your energy for this one!
Stop 2: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Where we stayed: Golden Golf Club RV Park (as close to the ski hill as you can legally park overnight!)
Where we skied: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Where we ate: Reposados Tacos (book ahead to dine in their iconic igloos – this was the best Mexican food we’ve had in a while!). Eagle’s Eye Restaurant (possibly my favourite restaurant with a view … ever! Located at the top of the Kicking Horse Gondola, I promise your mind will be blown.)
Kicking Horse is probably my favourite ski resort in the Canadian Rockies. It’s 65% advanced terrain with some of the craziest features and chutes you’ve ever seen! It’s so extreme that it’s the only place in North America to make it on to the Free Ride World Cup Tour.
But don’t worry, there’s also some gentle stuff too, and let’s not forget about its reputation for champagne powder! You can find out more about why Kicking Horse is my favourite ski resort here
Kicking Horse is another ski in/ski out resort, but you don’t need that.. You’re in an RV! And luckily for you, the RV parking is right across the street from the ski hill. Not a bad place for an après ski drink either!
Golden, BC to Revelstoke, BC
Driving time: 2 hours
This is probably one of the best drives in Canada. From Golden to Revelstoke, you’ll jump onto the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1). As you head to Roger’s Pass keep and eye out for some absolutely epic views and, sometimes, wild weather conditions.
Stop 3: Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Where we stayed: Boulder Mountain Resort RV Park (cute cabins, plenty of RV sites, and a dreamy hot tub – highly recommend this spot!)
Where we skied: Revelstoke Mountain Resort (the most vertical in North America, these runs are steep and LONG!)
Where we ate: Kawakubo (the most insanely delicious and fresh sushi I have ever found in a mountain town – do yourself a favour and try it! They do get extremely busy so book ahead.)
Our favourite activities in the area: Snowmobiling with Great Canadian Tours (Revy is the MECCA for snowmobiling and my mind was completely blown by the phenomenal views)
The drive was amazing, the destination is even better. Revelstoke has the most vertical in North America and some of the most unbelievable mountain views in BC.
Revelstoke is absolutely MASSIVE. If there was a time to take a rest day, it would be between Kicking Horse and Revvy. Just one run from the very top down to the base takes a good half hour.
On a powder day, there’s not much that can beat Revelstoke. There are stashes of powder everywhere, hidden glades and huge sprawling groomers.
Revy is also buried in the mountains (read: it’s a mission to get to) so typically it’s a lot quieter than some of the other resorts. What that means for snow seekers is that the fresh tracks last just a bit longer than busier resorts.
Revelstoke is another resort that has plenty of RV parking. There’s special RV designated parking in the town too, if you’re looking to grab a meal or supplies.
Revelstoke to RED Mountain
Driving time: 4 hours, 7 minutes
This is the longest stretch of the loop, and will take you south from Revy through Nakusp, all the way to Rossland, BC. Along the way, you’ll have to take the ferry, and you’ll probably pass a few sneaky hot springs too!
Make sure you start the journey with plenty of gas and supplies and take your time in this beautiful remote area. The roads are generally pretty good here, unless you start venturing off the main routes to find hot springs. If you end up doing that, expect things to get pretty rugged pretty quickly!
Stop 4: RED Mountain Resort
RED Mountain is an absolute hidden gem, buried in the Kootenay Rockies far from the hoards of tourists further north. RED is located just outside the town of Rossland, a quaint little ski town with a small town vibe. There are a few great restaurants with extremely limited operating hours, and a few more interesting pubs, taverns and stores.
Hidden amongst all these quaint restaurants is probably the best Italian restaurant we’ve found so far in Canada; Gabriella’s. Our brains almost exploded when we stumbled across this little treasure.
The skiing in Rossland, which you’re probably more interested in, is once again, completely different to the other resorts. The lifts take you up high above the town where you’ll experience some of the most breathtaking ski resort views in the country. Endless views of distant peaks in every direction will leave your jaw on the ground.
The chair lifts are a little slow, but there’s no rush here. There are no lift lines, and half of the runs leave you feeling like you’re alone on the mountain!
They even have an “on mountain cat skiing operation”, where you can pay 10 bucks a pop for a cat ride up one of their peaks. It wasn’t running this season because of Covid, but you can guarantee any runs off that peak are going to be unreal!
What really makes RED stand out is the gladed tree skiing. There are thousands of acres of glades and some of the best tree skiing in Canada. The Cat skiing operation based out of Rossland is arguably one of the best tree skiing operations in the world!
Again, RED has plenty of parking that makes parking a large RV a breeze!
Taking an RV around some of the Powder Highway during winter was an absolute dream. I never expected the two things to mesh so well, but if anything, it totally enhanced the experience. Getting to wake up each day in the same bed but at a different ski hill was a fantastic experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for the best way to optimise their ski trip.
Huge thanks to Canadream for hooking us up on this trip of a lifetime, but as always, all of our thoughts and opinions are our own.