Whitewater

British Columbia, Canada

Deep in British Columbia's famous Kootenay region, there is an incredible ski resort with it all that's fast becoming one of Canada's top places to ski - Whitewater Ski Resort. Renowned for it's consistent snowfall, epic powder days, and distinct lack of crowds, Whitewater is a community ski resort - simple but perfect for real powder skiers and families who want to escape the larger (and busier) ski resorts in BC. The terrain offers plenty of options for advanced skiers and snowboarders, with endless chutes and bowls, and memorable tree skiing. Whitewater is also a great spot to experience a true mountain town, with nearby Nelson thriving with arts and culture, and scattered with heritage buildings, funky restaurants, and a great winter vibe. A hippie town combined with an awesome mountain is what makes Whitewater truly unique and one not to be missed!

 

Scout Loves

  • Being off-the-beaten-path with no crowds and fresh tracks all day!
  • The day lodge has really, really good food for your mid-ski energy boost
  • The town of Nelson (great microbreweries & coffee & hippie vibes!)
  • Head to Bibo for fantastic food & apres

Scout Tips

  • Some of the best skiing can be found off the Summit Chair
  • Silver King has some great gentle slopes for beginners & intermediates
  • Stay at the Hume for classic but upgraded comfort, and in a central location
  • The chairlifts are old, but the terrain they access is amazing, so enjoy the ride.

Scout Review

Whitewater Ski Resort has to be up there as one of Scout's favourite resorts (and we've seen quite a few!). 

We love everything about Whitewater. Being a lesser known resort in BC means this true local's mountain rarely gets crowded, and there's plenty of powder snow to go around. Don't expect all the frills of a big ski resort at Whitewater, but it has everything you need. 

The tree skiing among the glades, especially on one of the many powder days, is truly memorable, as well as the bowls and chutes at the top of the Summit Chair. It does take a while to get up there due to a old-school chairlift system (only two slow double chairs and one triple chair), however, the views are stunning and the terrain that the lifts access are worth the wait. It's a good time for a bit of a yarn with the locals and get tips on where the best lines to ski can be found.

For mid-ski breaks or a pick-up, the day lodge offers some really great food, especially at Coal Oil Johnny's Pub, or Fresh Tracks Cafe (where the have a no-grease policy!). Teamed up with a locally brewed beer, you'll find it hard to find to tighten up those ski boots and get back out on the slopes.

At the end of the day, what we loved the most was hitting the local town of Nelson - a true hippie slash hipster mountain village, with a super laid back and friendly vibe. History is that the town's hippie heritage stems from those Vietnam War draft dodgers in the US, who fled to Nelson to start fresh. There are so many options for apres and a night out on the town, from heritage-building-esque bars and restaurants, and a line of microbreweries, the main question was 'where first?!'. The town is small enough to explore on foot, but large enough to offer a good variety of fun activities. 

Whitewater is a smart addition to a roadtrip itinerary - stay a couple of days or a whole week. The resort is sure to impress even the most avid powderhound, and be prepared to want to up-root your life and move to Nelson for the ultimate mountain lifestyle!

Whitewater Skiing

What we love most about Whitewater is the distinct lack of crowds, inexpensive lift tickets, and incredible powder snow. Such a perfect combination. Teamed up with great tree skiing, lift-accessed backcountry, and plenty of opportunities to get 'steep and deep', Whitewater has become one of our favourite resorts to ski.

The terrain caters well to advanced and expert skiers (roughly 68% of the resort), especially the via the Summit Chair. Over 2044ft of natural terrain with countless chutes, wide bowls, and glades means you'll be getting those powder face shots in no time (bring your snorkel!). Advancements in lift operations has almost doubled the ski area, and increased the vertical drop creating some unforgettable great tree skiing. Beginners and intermediates will enjoy the gentle slopes of Silver King, and the long groomed runs (up to 3km) from the Summit back to the base.

There are also plenty of opportunities for awesome lift-accessed backcountry touring from the resort, and avalanche knowledge and safety equipment is a must. Several companies in Nelson offer great guiding options, run by locals so they know exactly where to go to find the best lines.

With over 40ft of annual snowfalls (and no snow making needed), Whitewater has some of the most consistent snow in terms of quality and quantity. Freshies fall constantly throughout the season so powder days are almost guaranteed.

Whitewater For Families

This is a wonderful resort for families who are a little more independant and don't need all the frills of a big ski resort. You'll need to be prepared to stay off-mountain and make the trek up to the resort each morning (only 20 minutes by resort shuttle).  There are plenty of great family-oriented accommodation options, from motels and guesthouses to self-contained cabins, and you'll be sure to experience some true Canadian mountain hospitality. Stay in Nelson also means you're close to great amenities, including restaurants and cafes, convenience stores, retail shops, and the hot springs (always a hit for families).

Lift tickets, rentals, and lessons are relatively inexpensive compared to other resorts in BC. At the Whitewater Adventure Centre, there is a good range of ski school and guiding options. The ski school is well organised, however only have the option of 2 hour lessons (AM or PM) for ages 6 years and up. They do have a great mid-week program for the little kiddies aged 3 - 5 years - their Wee Skiers group lessons run morning and afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, giving you a 2.5 hour kid-free powder session.

For those down days, there are a stack of tour companies based in Nelson that offer plenty of day tours and adventures for families and kids. 

Whitewater Accommodation

Whitewater has no on-mountain accommodation, so base camp will need to be down in the small mountain town of Nelson (only 20 minutes from the resort). Nelson has plenty of accommodation options from classic cabin-style to high-end luxury, there is something to suite every budget. We like the family-oriented motels and guesthouses that are scattered throughout this unique town. Prestige Nelson is perfectly location in town, and with amazing views of the lake. 

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Resort Activities

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If the amazing powder skiing at the resort is not enough, there are plenty of other things to do in Nelson and the surrounding mountains.

There are over 15km of groomed cross country skiing and touring trails, which snake between the valleys and mountains with incredible scenery to admire as you ski along. Snow shoeing and snow biking is also popular and a great way to explore more of the wilderness of BC. 

Due to it's consistent snowfall, Nelson is popular for cat-skiing and heli-skiing, and day tours are quite affordable for an unforgettable experience. Selkirk Snowcat Skiing and Valhalla Powder Cats are the two largest operations in Nelson, and offer single and multi-day experiences in the BC backcountry. Big Red Cats in nearby Rossland is also another great option, and bookings are highly recommended prior to arrival as it can book out fast! If you were after an experience above the clouds, Stellar Heli-skiing offers fantasic multi-run packages with all your safety equipment and instruction included, and are a perfect way to experince the ultimate in backcountry powder skiing.

Getting There and Around

Whitewater is barely a 20 minute drive from the town of Nelson. A daily shuttle operates from multiple pick-up points (morning shuttles between 7:50AM - 8:50AM, and return shuttles at 3:00PM & 4:45PM) and you can purchase tickets on the day. Multi-day ticket books are good value if you're sticking around for a week. 

Flying into Castlegar Airport is the best option, with transfers operating daily to Nelson. Airport transfers are also available from Spokane Airport (in WA state, USA). 

A car provides the most flexibility for experiencing the whole famous 'Powder Highway' in BC, and allows you to visit multiple resorts. We're a fan of self-drive as you can stay in the local towns like Nelson and Rossland and enjoy a true mountain town vibe.

If you were partaking in a multi-resort ski holiday, there are transfers that run from Rossland to Nelson every Wednesday and are only an hour in duration. Good way to ski both Red Mountain and Whitewater on the same trip!

When To Go

Historically, the best snow is mid-February to March. The resort receives fresh snowfall until the start of April during most years. Its location in the Southern part of BC means it’s super cold in January (down to - 8 degrees). 

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 5400ft / 1646m Gondolas 0 Beginner 10%  
Summit Elevation 6700ft / 2045m Express Quads 0 Intermediates 32%  
Vertical Drop 2044ft / 523m Quad Chair 1 Advanced 58%  
Skiable Area 1184ac / 958ha Triple Chairs 1      
Annual Snowfall 40ft / 12m Double Chairs 1      
Longest Run 1.86 miles / 3.0km Tow 1      
Operating Hours 9.00am – 4.00pm          
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