News from the snow
Describing itself as North America's 'best kept secret' Panorama is one of the largest ski areas in the Rocky Mountain region, nestling amid the breathtaking beauty of the Canadian Rockies. By contrast the resort itself is relatively intimate, designed to be fully accessible on foot. The Columbia Valley, often referred to as 'The Trench,' begins in central British Columbia and continues south into America marking the divide between the Rockies and the older Columbia mountains. Resorts on this western side have a slightly warmer climate than those on the east and temperatures at Panorama are generally around 10 degrees higher than Calgary and Banff. Lying on the edge of the Bugaboos, Panorama is arguably located in the largest heliskiing area in the world and with a good powder dump, some of the best skiing in BC is to be found here. With annual snowfalls of up to 1,100cm (36ft), the area is a skiers' paradise with spectacular scenery, expansive glaciers and high quality glade skiing. Since its purchase by the Intrawest Corporation, (famously owners of Whistler and several other North American ski areas) there have been huge changes at Panorama, which originally opened in 1962. Since Intrawest took over in 1993 many of old buildings have gone and new architecture in line with Intrawest's high standards of design have appeared in their stead. The Ski Tip Lodge is symbolic of the sweeping changes to Panorama and provides visitors with a warm, inviting welcome. It houses the Great Hall, with a choice of eateries, ski school desk, equipment rental and guest services whilst the upper three floors are taken up by luxurious condo units. A key feature in Panorama Mountain Village is the heated slopeside hot pool waterpark with hot tubs . To further enhance Panorama's village pedestrian plan a gondola has been installed to whisk guests between the lower and upper villages as well as providing direct access from the day skier parking area. Built by Doppelmayr, the world's leading gondola manufacturer, the 8-passenger open-air 'pulse' gondola was the first of its type in North America. In common with the Intrawest model Panorama is not just a winter mountain resort though and there is plenty to attract summer visitors. The Greywolf Golf Course, which was designed by award-winning golf architect Doug Carrick, was voted Golf Digest's Best New Canadian Course that year.
Located within the largest heli-skiing area in the world, and with one of the largest verticals in North America, Panorama offers skiing for all abilities. The Ski Tip Lodge provides excellent slopeside ski-in ski-out accommodation with the Panorama Hot Springs heated waterpark at your door.
Beginners will enjoy the gentle, groomed cruisers off Mile One quad chair, while intermediate skiers and riders can glide down Blue runs of the Champagne Express and Sunbird Chairs.
For families the “Horse Play Corral”. Spanning over 10 acres and accessed via the Catamount chair, is a children and family-specific area which feature contour grooming, a slow skiing and learning area and kids play trails that duck in and out of the main runs. The entire area has a wildlife theme.
For thrill-seekers, the growth o Taynton Bowl, has made the resort into one of the largest ski resorts in Canada and the addition of two new quads last season gets skiers and riders into this former heli-skiing terrain with ease and speed. The bowl features over 1000 acres of back country style naturally gladed skiing. The East-facing bowl normally captures exceptional snowfall throughout the season. Acquired from the local heli-ski company based at Panorama the area was brought into the recreational boundary with access off the Summit lift with skiing out over 5km (3 miles) to the village. The main chutes are over 1,700 feet (520m) vertical feet descent.
Advanced skiers will also enjoy the Extreme Dream Zone and the Sun Bowl.
The School of Skiing and Snowboarding (SOS) at Panorama Mountain Village offers excellent service and was voted the best ski school in Canada several times by Ski Canada Magazine. They offer powder, bumps or freestyle clinics to take advantage of Panorama's best terrain.
The Greywolf Beckie Scott Nordic Centre offers 20km of groomed cross-country trails. The Nordic clubhouse has knowledgeable staff, rental equipment, waxing service, lessons and refreshments. Women only instruction is on offer dubbed "chicks on sticks" sessions for women of similar abilities. The emphasis is on having fun, socialising and making new friends as well as improving skiing and boarding skills. Each weekly session begins or ends with a social event such as lunch, wine tasting, a cooking demonstration or group dinner.
Wee Wascals, the on-mountain daycare facility is convenient for parents and fun for kids. In addition to skiing and riding there are a host of other family focused activities available including ice-skating and horse-drawn wagon rides.
The resort also holds a baby sitting list o resort staff available on request.
After a day on the slopes try the Wildfire Grill for casual and contemporary cuisine; Chopper's Landing is also good for casual family dining. For aquick bite try the PicBNic Deli, Mile High Pizza, Great Hall cafeteria or Lusti's.
You can also opt to catch Panorama's "Dinner Bus" running throughout the week for excursions to nearby Invermere on the Lake where additional options like Strand's Old House, Black Forest Restaurant, Lakeside Pub and Angus McToogle's.
The Trapper's Cabin Wagon Ride and Chili Cookout is a popular family activity. After a moonlit tour along Toby Creek the wagon returns to the stables where a roaring campfire, piping hot chili, marshmallow roasting, hot chocolate, a beautiful view of Panorama Mountain Village and entertainment await.
There is an FIS regulation halfpipe in the Hoggflats area by the Toby Chair accessible during night skiing.