SNOWBOARDING THE WESTERN US & CANADA
The road trip to beat all road trips - three thirty-somethings packed in a small SUV, three snowboards, two sets of skis, and a hunger for sliding down mountains. Rob and I and our friend Matt set off on the ultimate ski trip through the western US and Canada. We based our road trip itinerary loosely on the idea of Canada's Powder Highway. We wanted to ride at as many ski resorts as possible, but also have some downtime to explore some cities.For a little background, the Powder Highway is a loop through the Canadian Rockies with the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America. It's a haven for skiers and snowboarders looking for amazing powder and challenging terrain. At many resorts, you can go full outdoor adventurer with heli-skiing and cat-skiing!
Mount Bachelor is one of the largest ski resorts in North America with over 4,000 acres of ski-able terrain and 101 runs. The majority of the runs are intermediate level (about 60%), but there is also beginner and expert terrain.
Stevens Pass gets an average of 460 inches of snow a year! It's safe to say they've got a lot of coverage. The elevation is relatively low, but cool air coming off the Cascades keeps things nice and cold for all that snow. They have 52 runs, of which about 50% of them are intermediate level, and 35% are expert level. It's probably not the best resort for beginners. Leavenworth is the cutest little Bavarian-style town, just wandering around and appreciating the architecture is fun. But I know that won't take too long, so heading out to some hot springs is always fun. They are a little bit out of town and you do have to hike a bit but that steamy water is well worth it.
Whistler and Blackcomb are two different mountains, which used to be two different resorts but have since combined and are connected by the world's longest and highest gondola. Vancouver is one of the largest cities in Canada. It's got the big city vibes but is surrounded by mountains on one side and water of the other so nature never seems too far away. There is a thriving nightlife as well as tons of arts and culture to enjoy.
Revelstoke might seem like a small resort because there are only six lifts (and two of those are magic carpets, so do they really count?), but from those few lifts you get access to 5,620 vertical feet of terrain. This mountain has a lot of elevation! Over 80% of the terrain is intermediate to expert level, and I will admit some of those intermediate runs are very steep.The little town of Revelstoke might be small but there is still a lot to do when your not up on the mountain. Take a tour of the Mount Begbie Brewery to learn about the brewing process of one of Canada's best beers (they've won quite a few awards). Cruise around downtown Revelstoke, it's super cutesy and has a bunch of great little shops, also don't miss the bear statues! And if you have some extra time head out to Halcyon Hot Springs, it's about an hour away and you have to cross the river on the ferry but it's totally worth it!
Kicking Horse has some of the longest runs I've ever done, you can ride from the very top of the mountain to the bottom, 1,315 vertical feet. The snow there is great and it's the perfect playground for intermediate to expert riders.
Banff Sunshine sits on the continental divide in Banff National Park, because of its location it gets more snow than any of the other ski resorts around it. Sunshine offers a wide variety of terrain from beginner slopes to expert as well as backcountry areas. There is a little something for everyone here.Lake Louise is also in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. They have a pretty even spread of terrain for all levels from beginner to expert. One thing to note is that there are only two lifts going up the mountain from the main lodge and parking lot which can get really crowded on busy days, causing long lift lines. However, once you've gotten to the upper mountain and backside there are a lot more lifts.