Winter in Valemount, British Columbia: Where the Mountains Move You
If you want to embrace winter without the crowds, head to Valemount in east-central British Columbia, a village with epic snow-filled adventures and activities. But be prepared, this place takes the white stuff seriously.
Nestled in the Robson Valley, along and east of Highway 5 (Yellowhead Highway) and between the Rocky, Monashee and Cariboo mountains (to the east, south and west), Valemount is the closest town to Jasper, Alberta, which is just over an hour by car. This area gets snow and the locals live for it, with many of them working in the winter tourism industry and eager to show visitors what their playground is all about. There’s even a winter party in Valemount and it’s aptly called Winterfest. Mark your calendars for February 17, 2024.
Skiing and snowboarding
You won’t find a traditional ski mountain in Valemount, which means no lift lines either! Its unofficial hill is Crystal Ridge, Canada’s only sled-assisted ski area, with six semi-cleared runs (670 vertical metres) and a designated up-track for snowmobiles. The access trail is 12 kilometres of stunning mountain views, and the descent has fantastic tree runs and often pure powder.
Just outside of town is Five Mile Road, a logging road which, in the winter, is fantastic for tobogganing, skiing and dog walking. People can ski tour or snowmobile up the logging road and come down in style.
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and more
Seasoned cross-country skiers and beginners can enjoy 14 kilometres of track-set trails at Jackman Flats (north of Valemount between the Rocky and Cariboo mountains) and Camp Creek (south of Valemount), both groomed by the non-profit Yellowhead Outdoor Recreation Association (YORA). With various loops to navigate, there are straightaways, curves and hilly stretches to have fun on. Camp Creek allows dogs and has a warming cabin and toboggan area.
Ungroomed ski trails can be found along the Fraser River at Tête Jaune Cache and overnight Nordic ski and snowshoe trips can be planned to cabins, though some are accessed via helicopter only. The McKirdy Meadow and Clemina Creek cabins are accessible via ski touring and snowmobile and are also maintained by YORA.
Overlander Falls Trail is close to town and Mount McKirdy is just minutes away and rewards snowshoers with remarkable lookouts. Snowshoeing and cross-country areas continue north and east of Valemount around the forests of Tête Jaune Cache, Rearguard Falls Provincial Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park, with the famous Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
For outdoor skating, visit Cranberry Marsh (officially called the Starratt Wildlife Management Area) to glide on the lake, snowshoe or ski the six-kilometre loop, and bird watch while you’re at it. This area is very important for breeding and migration.
Indoor public ice skating takes place at the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre and drop-in curling is at the Valemount Curling Club on Elm Street, while Tourism Valemount has information on winter hiking and a booklet on geocaching.
If dog sledding is on your bucket list check out Cold Fire Creek Dog Sledding (250-968-6808; 1-877-295-8505). The company offers a range of tours, from 1 hour to overnight excursions.
Moose Lake and Shere Lake are great ice fishing options when conditions allow. A provincial fishing licence is required for all recreational anglers.
Unique to Valemount is its many kilometres of managed sledding (snowmobile) terrain. VARDA, the Valemount & Area Recreation Development Association, oversees four snowmobiling areas. Its website details where the sledding is permitted and lists trail pass information. Passes are required when sledding on VARDA-managed trails.
Expect amazing scenery and powdery snow, but also be prepared for variable conditions. You’re in the mountains after all. Visitors are encouraged to book a guide if new to the region and to always be aware and up to date on avalanche conditions. Snowmobile rentals are available from Alpine Country Tours and avalanche courses can be booked with Frozen Pirate.
Allan Creek is the first trail to open each season. It has snow bowls, meadows, frozen lakes and steep hills to explore. Clemina Creek offers excellent tree sledding, Chappel Creek boasts elevations from 1,830 m to 2,440 m and generally some of the best snow in the surrounding mountains, while the Westridge Family Loop (22 km) is fantastic for beginners and offers landscape views and a warming hut. Note that backcountry safety equipment is mandatory while at Crystal Ridge sledding hill.
Cat and heli skiing, scenic tours
Treat yourself to a cat skiing adventure with Cariboo Snowcat Skiing, or an unforgettable helicopter ride, guided ski touring or heli-skiing with Robson HeliMagic or CMH Heli-Skiing It’s recommended to book in advance with these companies, though cancellations do arise.
Whatever you get up to in Valemount this winter you will surely be moved by the magic of the mountains.
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All visitors to the area who plan to venture out are strongly encouraged to educate themselves in avalanche awareness. For more information visit the Know Before You Go website, speak with a Tourism Valemount team member and check out the local webcams.
Note: Due to El Nino, the end of 2023 did not start out as a typical snow season in Valemount, and there was little snow in the community and at the lower lying areas such as Jackman Flats at that time. Check before you go regarding the condition of cross-country ski trails and ice conditions on Cranberry Marsh.
Tourism Valemount Visitor Centre
For more information on Valemount, read our summer article.
Published: January 4, 2024
Last Updated: January 4, 2024
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