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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.

Mount Robson | Mary Putnam, Tourism Valemount

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.

5 Mile Hill, Valemount BC | Kelly Funk

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.

Jackman Flats Skiing, Valemount BC | Tourism Valemount

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.

McKirdy Meadows, Valemount BC | Tourism Valemount

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.

Cold Fire Creek Dog Sledding | Kelly Funk

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.

Snowmobiling/sledding

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, Valemount BC | Throttle Ops Photography

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.

Mount Robson Helicopter Tour | Kelly Funk

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

www.visitvalemount.ca; [email protected]
785 Cranberry Lake Rd, Valemount; (250) 566-9893
winter hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (closed 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm)

For more information on Valemount, read our summer article.

Coast Along British Columbia’s Famed Fishing Highway 24 in the Cariboo

Sheridan Lake by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association
Sheridan Lake by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association

While travelling east-west between the Southern Cariboo’s 100 Mile House (above the Fraser Plateau) and the town of Little Fort in BC’s Thompson River Valley, you’ll find the historic Highway 24 – also known as BC’s Fishing Highway.

Only 97 kilometres in length (60 miles), this short yet incredibly scenic route offers quite a few places to relax, rest up and eat – along with plenty to do, see and experience – along the way. (More than fishing – think boating, swimming, wildlife viewing and more.)

Walter Mark 2lb 8 oz lake trout caught at Hathaway Lake
Walter Mark 2lb 8 oz lake trout caught at Hathaway Lake

Though paved and modern, what’s interesting is that the route for Highway 24 (or Fishing Highway) has remained essentially the same since gold seekers and fur traders used it so many centuries ago.

After the gold discovery in the Northern Cariboo region and the gold rush of the 1800s that soon followed, the area’s wilderness trails became important roads that led to the northern gold fields for thousands upon thousands of gold seekers. Along these routes, a myriad of roadhouses sprang up offering stopover points to these weary travellers.  As well, the water from the area’s hundreds of local lakes and connecting streams throughout these forested areas created a natural and rewarding setting for cattle ranching.

Bird Watching Deka Lake by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association
Bird Watching Deka Lake by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association

Today, the area supports key BC industries that include logging, ranching and tourism and several of the early roadhouses have been restored and are now used as recreational buildings and/or resorts.

This picturesque Highway 24 also follows a trail originally used by the Shuswap people as a trading route, and then later developed – in the early 19th century – by the Hudson’s Bay Company to bring furs from the northern BC region to Fort Kamloops and the Columbia River. In fact, sections of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Brigade Trail can still be seen towards the highway’s eastern end, which has been aptly preserved and named as a “heritage trail.”

Lac des Roches by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association
Lac des Roches by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association

Though named the “Fishing Highway,” this route offers seemingly endless wilderness with boundless outdoor opportunities such as bird watching, boating and canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, swimming and other activities.  (During winter, there’s also snowmobiling and snowshoeing.)

You’ll find this idyllic route dotted with beautiful lakes boasting picnicking areas (and bathrooms), along with cafes/restaurants, shops and places to rest up and stay for the night.

Jack Barnett Snowmobile Trail (Gold Rush Trail) by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association
Jack Barnett Snowmobile Trail (Gold Rush Trail) by Fishing Hwy 24 Tourist Association

Indeed, along this relatively expanse of highway, you’ll find nearly a dozen lakes dotting the scenery – with each offering opportunities to discover and explore the area, including Bridge Lake Provincial Park, Crystal Lake Recreation Site, Deka Lake (known for its sizable lake trout and rainbow trout), Eagan Lake, the peaceful and wilderness surrounded Fawn Lake (also known for its rainbow trout at certain times of the year), the five-kilometre long Hathaway Lake, the scenic Horse Lake offering views of rolling hills and vibrant colours in the fall season, Interlakes, the forested Lac Des Roches (which includes many little islands), Sheridan Lake (known for its crystal-clear water and abundant rainbow trout) and Sulphurous Lake (featuring a rocky shoreline and surrounded by low mountains).

Many of the above lakes also boast an array of other activities (along with fishing) and overnight accommodations that range from rustic cabins and RV parking to charming bed & breakfast spots, camping, upscale resorts.

Interested in learning more?  Check out this YouTube clip of the Fishing Highway in action and click here for more information on this popular route.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

If the Fishing Highway interests you, check our suggested drives:
Following the BC Gold Rush Trail through the Cariboo & Beyond
Canadian Rockies, Cowboy Country to Coast Mountains

For campgrounds in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc, #explorebc

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Published: October 11th, 2018

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