Find your winter wonderland in British Columbia’s Arrow Slocan region

by Vince Hempsall 

Nordic skis? Check. Downhill resort set-up? Check. Backcountry skis and snowshoes? Check and check. Bathing suit? Yep. 

Nestled in Canada’s Selkirk Mountains, an easy four-hour drive north of Spokane, Washington, the Arrow Slocan region of British Columbia is the perfect destination for winter enthusiasts because of the plethora of recreational activities available. Within the 62-mile-long Slocan Valley and along the Arrow Lakes, there are 50 miles of groomed Nordic and skate skiing tracks spread out between five different areas. There’s a community-owned ski hill, snowshoeing trails, two hot-springs resorts, as well as four backcountry lodges and a heli-ski operation that together access tens of thousands of acres of pristine off-piste skiing. And, there are dozens of restaurants and accommodations in the quaint communities that appeal to every type of traveler.  

In the northern part of the Slocan Valley is the Summit Lake Ski area, which offers a truly unique downhill experienceand night skiing! The hill has been around for 61 years and volunteers run it and local taxes help subsidize it. If flatter terrain is more your style, there’s a Nordic skiing and snowshoeing loop at Summit, plus 5 miles of set ski tracks on the Wensley Creek Ski Trails located just east of Nakusp. Further south in the valley, you’ll find 6 miles of groomed skate and classic ski trails at Valhalla Hills Nordic area between the communities of Nakusp and New Denver and a number of groomed sections on the scenic Slocan Valley Rail Trail and K&S Historical Trail Network. 

For big descents, check out the heli-ski offerings of Canadian Mountain Holidays, which uses its Kootenay Lodge in Nakusp as a base to access the world-class terrain in the surrounding mountains. Guests bag multiple 1,000-foot runs off an assortment of peaks in a single day. Alternatively, visitors can stay at elevation at various backcountry lodges including Valhalla Mountain Touring, Sol Mountain Lodge, Ice Creek Lodge and Valkyr Adventures. Aside from skiing, there’s designated snowmobile terrain in the region as well as snowshoeing opportunities, including the Jackrabbit Interpretive Trail located a five-minute drive from Nakusp.  

Once you’ve enjoyed a day of skiing, sledding or snowshoeing, there’s nothing better than relaxing at Nakusp Hot Springs or Halcyon Hot Springs before falling into bed in your room adjacent to the pools. There are even private Airbnb accommodations just north of Nakusp that offer personal hot springs. In fact, you’ll find a number of cozy, boutique Airbnb offerings throughout the region that offer incredible views of the surrounding mountains, as well as inns, hotels, and a variety of B&Bs that put you on the doorstep to winter adventure while offering a cozy respite when the day is done.    

 

 

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