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Your guide to Fernie
All About Fernie
The town of Fernie is synonymous with snow. More than nine metres of powder coat its mountains every year, and some of the world’s best heli skiing and cat skiing happen in its stretch of the Rocky Mountains. While Fernie belongs to British Columbia, it’s much closer to Calgary than Vancouver, sitting at the far southeast edge of the province in an area called Elk Valley. The Elk River flows nearby, teeming with fish and white-water rafters keen to catch the rapids in spring.
Historic buildings line Fernie’s downtown, lending it a storybook feel that’s only heightened by the rosy alpenglow of its sunsets. Second Ave, between Fourth and Ninth Street, is where you’ll find the majority of Fernie’s shops and restaurants. It’s also a great place to grab some espresso and a bagel before setting off for a day on the slopes — assuming there isn’t a “gone skiing” sign hung over the businesses’ front door.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Fernie?
Fernie is primarily known as a powder town, but all four seasons have their appeal.
The “official” winter season runs from November through April, when the Rockies receive their payload of snow and the slopes are groomed into fresh corduroy. Fernie’s Lizard Range is also a winter haven for cat skiers, who climb the mountains to forge their own downhill paths. In spring, snowmelt turns the Elk River into a white-water playground, and ski runs turn into downhill mountain biking trails. The Griz Days Festival, which spans a full week in March, is one of the town’s most iconic celebrations; competitions run the gamut from pancake-eating to axe-throwing, and each year’s winner gets a hand-forged crown. Summer inspires more biking and hiking in the Rockies, closing out with Canadian indie jams at a well-attended music festival in August.
What are the top things to do in Fernie?
Silver Spring Lakes
When the weather heats up, there’s nothing like a swim in a refreshing mountain lake — or three. The Silver Spring Lakes trail, just 30 minutes from most Fernie condo rentals, climbs past three deep-blue pools perfect for cooling off mid-hike. The 500-metre hike to the first pool is a steep one. From there, it’s a gentler 3.7 kilometres to the second and third pools.
Fernie Heritage Library
Fernie’s library isn’t just a place to browse the paperbacks — it’s also a piece of Fernie history. The building, which served as a post office in 1909, was restored in recent years to make a home for the library. Today, it’s a beautiful, historic space with a research floor, public computers, and stacks of books waiting for a reader. Temporary library cards are available for visitors.
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to carve a trail. In Fernie, “fat biking” — named for the sport’s thick, powder-ready wheels — lets mountain bikers take on trails without waiting for the snow to melt. Routes are numerous, but the Elk Valley Trail is a good place to start. Rental bikes and gear are available in town.