Fernie, Canada

Fernie’s skiing story is born of myth, destruction, and rebirth. 

A legend is told of an epic fight between a large grizzly bear and a boy.

Amid a harsh and bitter winter, a boy was born in a bear’s den high in the mountains. As the bear slept through the winter, the boy grew strong. When the hungry bear awoke from hibernation, the two fiercely fought, but the boy prevailed.

Years later, a group of adventurous climbers spotted a huge man carrying an eight-foot musket while on a ski tour. The boy had grown into a strong man with six-foot-wide shoulders. As the skiers watched, the man shot into the clouds with his giant musket prompting a snowfall of dry, fluffy powder. 

And Fernie’s snow is one of the finest in Canada.

Don’t believe it? 

You just have to head on to Fernie Alpine Resort to experience it. 

Also, we didn’t do the Legend of the Griz justice in our overly summarized version. When you visit Fernie, find time to hear a local’s version. They may embellish a little, but it never gets old with each retelling.

We’re sure you’ll have a great time on the Powder Highway slopes of Fernie.

A Brief History of Fernie Canada – Destruction and Rebirth

Fernie’s history is rooted in coal mining. The most notable year is 1887 when pioneering coal miners struggled to get the needed resources to develop the mines. Ten years later, coal mining began in earnest and attracted a settlement that grew into a town.

As coal mining thrived and grew in size, so did the population. However, in 1904 and 1908, fires razed the town to its ashes. Having learned their lesson, the resilient Fernie residents rebuilt the town using bricks instead of wood.

The Great Depression of the 1930s brought Fernie to its knees. People and their businesses suffered, leading to a dramatic reduction in the town’s population. However, government subsidies kept the town and the coal industry afloat. To date, coal mining remains one of Fernie’s economic mainstays.

Early skiing in Fernie began in the 1950s when the Fernie Ski Club installed the Handle Tow lift on the South of Mount proctor.

Timeline of Skiing in Fernie

Location and Getting to Fernie 

Fernie is located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, in the Lizard Range section. Various trails and spots around the resort town share the mountain range name and include:

The resort is far from many major cities, making it relatively less crowded. It is located in southeastern British Columbia, in the East Kootenay region. It lies in Canada’s Powder Highway, an area renowned for its great snowfall and dry powder.

The nearest town is Fernie, BC, which is 5 kilometers from the resort. Alberta and the US border are over 60 kilometers away.

Getting to Fernie by Air

There are four airports through which international visitors can ingress Fernie. These are:

Arriving by Road

A road trip to Fernie on Highway 3 is fun. The road is well-maintained with fewer mountain passes. It winds through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Canada.

Transfer options from the airports include taxis and shuttle services. You can book the taxis or shuttles online or at the airport on arrival.

Approximate driving times differ and depend on weather conditions. Before departing, ensure to check prevailing weather conditions.

Skiing in Fernie

Fernie is a great town with friendly locals and great amenities. The town has beautiful red brick buildings with a wide selection of eateries, bars, and lodges. Various fun festivals are also held in Fernie, including the Griz Days Festival, folk concerts, and rail jams.

Ski resorts in Fernie get a decent amount of snowfall. The estimated seasonal average snowfall is between 7 and 11 meters.

The main ski area in this old coal mining town is the Fernie Alpine Resort.

Fernie Alpine Resort

Fernie Ski resort has an all-rounder terrain loved by beginners, families, and experts. Like other resorts in this town, this ski area is popular as it is less crowded. The town is also laid back with a friendly culture, ideal for families.

The General Terrain at Fernie Alpine Resort

The resort sprawls across 2,504 acres of skiable terrain, which rises up a 1,082-meter vertical. It has 142 kilometers of slopes, including ungroomed chutes and gullies, accessed by 9 lifts. The terrain also has a wide selection of well-groomed runs and trails that suit all abilities and levels. 

It features five wide bowls, which include:

These bowls are situated on the forested side of the mountain, with lovely glades that are a sight to behold.

The ski field is also renowned for its expert and side-country terrain that advanced and intermediate skiers and snowboarders love.

The terrain is further classified as follows:

Lift Access

The Mighty Moose area in the snow field has many green zones and is close to the base of the mountain. Snow lovers traverse the slopes using the fast Elk and Deer chairlifts.

The main access chairlift is the Timber Bowl Express, which provides access to the Timber and Siberia Bowls. These have the majority of the intermediate pistes, and the lifts transport revelers towards the mountain’s summit sector. The Timber Bowl Express provides Currie Bowl and Polar Peak access via the White Pass chairlift.

When you need to explore more than one ski resort in British Columbia, you can take advantage of the lift pass agreement that allows you to access Kimberley and Kicking Horse resorts.

Off-Piste And Backcountry Skiing in Fernie Alpine Resort

In addition to the miles of beginner and family-friendly trails, experts and advanced snow lovers love this resort’s challenging pistes. The resort's bowls have some of the best backcountry skiing in Canada. For example:

Most of the freeride terrain in the resort is in-bounds and has vast amounts of snow. It is also frequently monitored for the risk of avalanches. This makes it especially great for first time free riders who want to try out the challenging terrain.

Those daring experts with appropriate safety equipment and navigational knowledge can go completely off the map. However, most of these places are unmonitored, and skiing or snowboarding there is done at their own risk.

Fun Attractions and Activities at The Resort

The Fernie Alpine Resort is a holidaymaker’s paradise with some of the best amenities in Canada. There are plenty of attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Some of these include:

Besides snow activities, the resort also offers the following guest attractions:

When they are not shredding powder, visitors also enjoy exploring Fernie town. The town is walkable, with plenty of bars, restaurants, and shopping venues. The mining museum is a great place to start your day where you can learn about Fernie’s exciting history.

Fernie’s Accommodation; Lodging and Dining

The slope-side mountain resort has only a handful of restaurants and bars. However, it has plenty of condos for weary thrill-seekers. The ski village also has plenty of ski-in/ski-out lodgings and hotel-style accommodations.

If you want more variety, you’ll want to check out Fernie town. It has more accommodation options, plenty of dining locations, and lively nightlife.

Fernie’s hotels offer a wide range of services, ranging from luxurious to budget-friendly options. There are also various low-cost lodges within the town.

Visitors can rent cars, take taxis, or board shuttles for easy access between the town and the snow field.

Fernie town’s crown jewel is the award-winning Lizard Creek Lodge. It offers the following services:

Another option is the Griz Inn, which offers lodges at budget-friendly prices. It is the go-to place for hanging out with the locals and other revelers for a well-earned beer. Grizz Inn has one-bedroom units with a kitchen and a private bathroom. It is only a two-minute walk to the lifts.

If you want to learn skiing in Fernie, the local Telus Winter Sports School offers great lessons from qualified experts. To gain more confidence on the slopes, you can arrange for ski guiding, instruction, and tours with the Mountain Addicts.

There are also plenty of ski equipment hire services at the resort and Fernie town. If you need to switch gear quickly, the ski field’s own equipment rental service, RCR, is located right on the slopes. Great alternative rental services include Ski Base, All In Skier Services, and Gear hub Adventure Rentals.

Other activities at Fernie Alpine Resort

Discover More Winter Sports Destinations for Your Next Getaway

Fernie is one of Canada’s best skiing and snowboarding destinations. Its great snow and dynamic terrain attract thrill-seekers of different abilities and levels. The deep, dry powdery snow blanketing the Fernie Alpine Resort’s terrain enables epic snow sports activities.

Enjoy great amenities at Fernie town and the resort. You’ll find a wide range of services that suit different budgets and individuals. The facilities cater to individuals, groups, or people visiting with their families.

There are many great winter holiday destinations around the world. Brealpa helps you choose the best destination with great snow, fewer crowds, and superb on-mountain services. We provide you with first-hand and practical information on: