Want to try somewhere new outside the usual ski traps in the Rockies — Lake Louise, Sunshine, etc?
Just 2 hours from Calgary and 6 hours from Edmonton, Panorama is a spot to check out. The skiing is great, serving beginners to experts (for the latter, the back bowls are just majestic and have tons of double-blacks). The scenery is majestic, hence the name “Panorama”. We saw plenty of those. We loved checking out a new mountain, and it was close to a few towns I used to frequent with my parents as a child (Radium, Fairmont, and Invermere).
WHAT TO DO
Here in winter? Ski! Lift ticket at Panorama is $75 if pre-bought online, and even less if you’re staying at the resort. (Check rates here.) We consider ourselves intermediate-to-expert skiiers and were positively surprised with the variety and vertical, although some areas were too icy which we attribute to lack of recent snow (check snow reports first).
Other activities include skating at Windermere Lake (we didn’t do this as it was a bit too cold at the time but were tempted to– we skated at Lake Louise and Canmore’s The Pond instead).
If it’s cold out, nothing can beat a dip in natural hot pools. Bring your bathing suit! Try the nearby Fairmont Hot Springs or Radium Hot Springs Check times first; they may be open later, and I’d recommend hitting them post-skiing as nightlife is sparse around these parts. Radium is owned by the National Parks, so is cheaper; Fairmont does have a night-time special for $6.
WHERE TO EAT
There are lots of spots for anytime eating at Panorama’s village (including apres-ski!), which we didn’t check out for dinner, however we did eat at the base lodge and were amazed at the prices. After lots of skiing in the Rockies and being used to the surreal high prices (i.e. $15 hamburgers), Panorama’s prices were a cold breath of fresh air.
We got a combo (burger + fries + glass of beer) for only $12! And the beer choice was good, too – try the Granville Island Lion’s Winter Ale. Amazingly good for a ski break. Seriously, $12 for a combo like this knocked my ski socks off.
WHERE TO STAY
There’s plenty of places to stay at Panorama Village (about 20 minutes from Invermere), but even more in Invermere itself. The drive is short, curvy and pretty. We stayed at Best Western Invermere and got a rate just over $100/night (on New Years Weekend!). Nice hotel for a quick stopover and wifi and decent breakfast included.