Crowsnest Pass - Three Ways to Winter


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Doc Pow & Nick Nault for #RockiesExploring

CROWSNEST PASS - Exploring the Crowsnest Pass three ways by water last spring gave us the inspiration to do it all again, only in winter. There’s excellent downhill skiing, some amazing opportunities for switching to the skinny skis for cross-country skiing or sledding amid 360-degree magical mountain views.

This southwest region of Alberta is a year-round playground (see the link below for our summer/spring adventures), and it was such a big hit we couldn’t wait to get back for some winter adventuring.

I caught up with Fernie-based photographer Nick Nault, who recently went on assignment for Seekers to #goCrowsnest to bring back some sweet shots that are sure to make you want to head to the Pass in winter 2020.

Here are some of the places we discovered.

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Alison Lake Provincial Park

Give a high five to Deb and her team behind the Crowsnest Nordic Ski Club for maintaining trails of more than 30 kms that puts you smack in the middle of 360 Rocky Mountain vistas. Check out the link to these maps to help you plan your route to fun and adventure.

“Being a Nordic skier, much of where I go is based on scenery,” says Nault, as we looked over his photos. “I don’t need perfect grooming (even though it was really good here), but I go where the scenery is, so I’ll be back for that alone.”

Nault was impressed with the healthy trail network across the ski club’s area. “I think it was around 30 odd kilometres – sounded like it was an out and back kind of a setup, but there were lots of places that you could cut across the lake and into another big network of trails.”

Photo: Nick Nault

CrowSnow Riders Club

From the Atlas staging area, sledder basecamp and day parking, Nault unpacked his mountain sled and got ready to head into the Pass. With TV legend, Joe Trotz of Mantracker fame, who is now lead snow-seeker for the Riders, he uncovered more than he thought he would.

“Within 15 minutes from the parking lot, all of a sudden you are out of town and up there sledding into some really good terrain with beautiful views,” said Nault. “So, for the lack of a long drive and into mountain awesome, Atlas and this region work.”

Photo: Nick Nault

 “The club members we went out with including Joe are really great sledders. I was impressed,” said Nault. 

Support the club and become a Crowsnow Rider. The $15 per year membership means you have access to 200 kms of groomed trails, 1,200 maintained trails, plus you’ll get to meet a collection of snow seekers who are loving life and living the mountain dream.

Pass PowderKeg

As Nault learned, Crowsnest Pass is also home to one of the country’s most unique alpine ski communities. “It’s really interesting. There are two parking lots, one halfway up the mountain, and one at the base, so you can literally ski right into town. I grew up on small ski hills in Ontario, they are usually a bit out of town, but here in the Pass, especially at night, you can see how connected the ski hill is to town. The lights of Pass PowderKeg are literally extensions of the street lights.”

Nault scored SnowSeekers the details of the hill’s new “Learn to Turn” initiative It’s gaining ground in helping bring new skiers to the sport. Never too old to learn, their snow school also allows any of us who might need a “brush up” on our skills or to feel more confident in tackling the Rocky Mountains. High five to the team at the Keg, for what sounds like a pretty good deal to us because they give you a season’s pass to the ski hill once you’ve rocked your four lessons.

Photo: Nick Nault

The group at the top of the Keg’s new dual slalom racecourse. It's new and fun.

Photo: Nick Nault

Like me, Nault is a sucker for old ski lodges. “Every time you go to one of these towns, they have a local ski hill and when you go into the ski lodge it shows what that hill is now, but probably what it’s been like for at least 40 years. It’s rare that you see a new lodge, (and) I personally like to see the character of those old buildings.”

Photo: Nick Nault

“For a smaller ski hill, there is quite a bit of elevation here. This shot is taken mid-mountain, and you can see town, and we are quite high here.”

When You Go

Explore a winter wonderland in the Rocky Mountains and let us know what you find. Search for #goCrowsnest and share what you find using #RockiesExploring.

Seekers encourages you to become members and support these local organizations we've mentioned because they keep winter awesome and accessible.

#goCrowsnest offers a bit more winter inspiration here.

Like this story? Make sure to Tweet it.

Fly YXC, the Canadian Rockies Airport, into the region, all within a few hours down the Crowsnest Pass Highway. (If your travel plans include air travel, we encourage you to do it sustainably by purchasing offsets to reduce your carbon footprint).

Miss604 and ZenSeekers uncovered three ways to experience the pass by water in 2019. Read the story here.

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