Explore Golden and Invermere BC

5-Day Nordic Getaway

By Tanya Koob

Choose the Kootenay Rockies in south eastern British Columbia for your cross-country ski getaway this winter. Within the Communities of Golden, Radium Hot Springs, and Invermere you’ll find three different Nordic Centres to explore.  There are fun options for every member of the family, including soaking in natural hot spring pools and skating on the world’s longest ice trail.

Day 1 – Calgary to Golden

Nordic skiing in Golden BC - Photo credit Maur Mere Media

Leave Calgary and drive west on the TransCanada Highway passing through Banff and Yoho National Parks. Without stops, it is a 3 hour drive to Golden. If you’re able to leave in the morning, stop at Emerald Lake as you pass through Yoho for a ski across the lake and around the Alluvial Fan Trail. It’s a short 7 km ski, but one of the prettiest in the Rockies especially on a bluebird day. Check out the trail report before you go here.

If stopping at Emerald Lake to ski, you can either bring your lunch to eat on the trail, or you can grab a bite at the Kicking Horse Lounge inside the Emerald Lake Lodge. It’s a great place to warm up with a hot drink after your ski as well.

Arrive in Golden and check in to your hotel or resort. See a list of accommodations on the Tourism Golden website. 

Enjoy dinner at one of Golden’s diverse restaurants before winding down at your hotel and resting up for a great day of skiing tomorrow. One of my personal favourite restaurants is the Wolf’s Den, a casual restaurant that specializes in gourmet burgers and steaks. Another popular favourite in Golden is the Eleven22 Restaurant where you’ll be treated to a fusion of Canadian and Asian cuisine.

Day 2 – Ski Day in Golden at Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre

Nordic skiing in Golden BC - Photo credit Maur Mere Media

Start your morning off with breakfast at the Bluebird Café which you’ll pass on your way up to the Nordic Centre. You can also get grab-and-go lunch items to take with you.

Fueled up for the day, your first stop for skiing should be the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre where you’ll find 30+ km of professionally groomed trails for skate or classic XC skiing. The Centre has options for all abilities so you can start off with a loop on the green trails that circle the chalet before moving on to the advanced Raven Loop (my personal favourite trail here).

Snowshoes can also be rented from Dawn Mountain for family members who don’t ski, and there are a couple of short hiking loops located near the Nordic Centre. Dawn Mountain also has a beautiful day lodge where you can warm up between ski loops or have your lunch inside.

For novice skiers, the Golden golf course trails are also recommended, and if you like natural ungroomed terrain, head to nearby Cedar Lake where you’ll find options for some easy light touring.

Wrap up your day with another fantastic meal, and if you like Mexican food I recommend Reposados Tacos Y Tequila because nothing tastes better than authentic tacos and fresh margaritas after a day of skiing. 

Day 3 – Golden to Invermere – Cross country skiing on the Lake Windermere Whiteway

Check out of your hotel and grab a quick breakfast at one of the cafes in town because you’ll be heading south today for an action-packed day en route to Invermere. The Village of Radium Hot Springs is a short 60 minute drive from Golden, with Invermere another 15 minutes further to the south. 

As you pass by Radium Hot Springs you might be inclined to stop in for a soak at the hot springs, but you’ll enjoy the relaxation more at the end of your ski day tomorrow.

Your destination for the day is  the Lake Windermere Whiteway which I actually recommend accessing from the next community further down the lake. Continue driving south until you reach Windermere and make your way down to the Windermere Public Beach. Windermere is a short 10 minute drive from Invermere. 

Park at the beach, step into your skis or grab your ice skates for this fun adventure on the world’s longest ice skating trail at over 30 km in length. The Toby Creek Nordic Centre also grooms a loop around the lake for classic and skate skiing. From Windermere you’re going to be skiing or skating down the lake to a pub for lunch in the neighboring community of Invermere. The distance is approximately 12 km return with your lunch break in between.

The Station Pub is located across the road from Kinsman Beach in Invermere so make sure you pack your boots or shoes with you if you’re ice skating. (And you can bring your skis or skates with you to the pub.) I also recommend checking out your location on Google Maps so you end up at the correct beach in Invermere.

Day use fees of $5 per person are requested to support trail maintenance. They can be paid as you access the lake. And you’ll need to bring your own ice skates if you choose to skate. There are no rentals at the lake.

Skate or ski back to your vehicle, and then make your way back to Invermere to check in to your hotel or resort. You’ll find several good options for condos near Lake Windermere featuring full kitchens and separate bedrooms. See a list of accommodation options here. 

For dinner, I recommend either the Black Forest Restaurant for traditional Bavarian food or the Birchwood Restaurant for a gourmet adult dining experience with a very eclectic menu.

Alternately, see a large list of dining options here. 

Day 4 – Cross Country at Panorama Mountain Resort

Start your morning off with breakfast from one of the cafes downtown (I recommend Beginnings.) And you won’t need to grab a lunch to go because there are several options at Panorama.

Panorama Mountain Resort is your destination for today, 20 minutes away from Invermere.

Access to the Panorama Nordic Centre trails is from the Greywolf Golf Course where you’ll find easy parking and be able to pay your trail fees. Here you’ll find more than 20 km of scenic trails along Toby Creek professionally groomed for both classic and skate skiing. We like to ski up to the Hale Hut and back, an intermediate outing which visits two warming huts in approx. 7 km round trip. The Hale Hut is heated and makes for a great snack or lunch spot. 

For a longer ski, continue to the end of the trail system on the Great Scott Trail for an 18 km return outing. You can turn around whenever you’re tired or ready for lunch.

Dogs are allowed on some of the trails if you purchase a special $5 pooch pass. There are also separate trails for hiking and fat biking (with fat bike and snowshoe rentals on site if you have non skiers with you).

Once you’ve finished your ski you should be famished, but fortunately you’ll find the amazing Cliffhanger Restaurant inside the Greywolf Club House. 

And, now you might want to consider returning to Radium Hot Springs pools for a soak before dinner. 

Return to Invermere for another fabulous dinner out, and if you like spicy food I recommend the Spice Hut for an authentic taste of India.

Day 5 – Invermere to Calgary - Explore Nipika Mountain Resort

Check out of your hotel early and grab a quick breakfast and a lunch-to-go at one of the cafes in town because the drive back to Calgary is going to include more skiing as you head north via Kootenay National Park, enjoying a different route home. And along the way, you’ll get to stop at one final Nordic XC destination, one of my personal favourites in the East Kootenays.

Nipika Mountain Resort is located 40 minutes east of Radium Hot Springs and is a cross country ski mecca with 50 km of groomed trails for classic and skate skiing. There are trails for all abilities as you ski alongside the Kootenay and Cross Rivers, and you’ll also find three warming huts on the trail system which are very appreciated on cold days.

This is also the only Nordic Centre I’ve found where dogs are allowed and encouraged to run alongside you off leash while you ski.

Trail fees apply to ski here and you can pay them inside the main day lodge. You can also rent skis, fat bikes, or snowshoes - and the resort maintains an extensive trail system with separate trails for all user groups.

Enjoy your ski and then hit the road for Calgary, 3 hours away via Kootenay and Banff National Parks.