Nipika is a Ktunaxa word meaning a higher power. It is a sacred term for the Ktunaxa, referring specifically referring to the spirit of the grizzly bear. A spirit can not be killed, the grizzly bear can no the pushed around, it is thought of as an ubiquitous spirit.
Nipika Mountain Resort is truly a special place to be able to visit there is a 100km of ski trail groomed regularly by the small team running the resort. In the 3 days our group spent skiing there it was rare to meet up with other skiers outside of our group. Located just north of Radium, BC on Settlers road east of Hwy 93 south. It is a logging and mining road, it is graded regularly, trafficked with logging truck and large dump trucks hauling rock. It is not required by personal traveller to carry a radio, the working trucks do and I recommend paying close attention at the curves for large vehicles.
We had to book this trip over a year ahead, it has become extremely popular. Nipika is an Eco-resort, all of the cabins run on solar power and wood fireplaces. They provide Kicking Horse coffee and insulated French presses. The Rocky Mountain Cabin that we booked to share with friends sleeps up to 13 people has 3 bedrooms with double beds, and a room with 2 twin beds, the basement open area also has 2 twin beds. Plenty of beds to sleep a crew and the living room has plenty of seating to relax in front of the fireplace. The long table in the kitchen is perfect for group meals and conversation. The kitchen is equipped with plenty of tools to cook a meal and a Wolf gas range with 6 burners! The veranda is great in place to store skis or hang out and enjoy the views and quiet. This resort is also pet friendly, there are dogs enjoying the outdoors at their leisure. The decor feels like a rustic mountain cabin, with antique skis, snowshoes and local mountain artwork. There is also historical local photography. A warm and cozy place to hang out between ski times.
We arrived on a Sunday we were lucky the area had received a little bit of fresh snow to cover the icy bits under the trees. All the trails were well groomed and they have over 100km of trails. The cross country ski trails are what our group primarily used, they also have groomed fat bike trails, tobogganing, ice skating, a snow shoe trail and a wood fired sauna! If you do not have skates they may just have your size on the shelf, sleds piled at the top of the toboggan hill. They even rent fat bikes and cross country skis if you need them!
Some of our crew headed out for a quick 1 hour cross country ski after we got our vehicles unloaded, they only met up with a trail dog who ran along with them for a few kilometres. The trails were still in good shape later in the day and they did not run into anyone else on the trail.
They headed out Main Street and at the warming hut, Daisy Meadow, they headed across the meadow to Henri’s Loop. This loop has a great view of the Kootney river, a nice long gentle downhill, as you loop back around in the direction you went down you come to a beautifully steep hill of about 500m in length and up!!!
Our fireplace was kept burning the entire trip, with the help of our son, he likes fire and he likes a very warm home apparently. It was decided that our group would divide the meal load up and everyone brought homemade frozen meals to reheat. This allowed everyone to relax and enjoy the entire trip more fully. Games nights are always a highlight on these trips, with no WiFi or cellular service, there were no interruptions.
We awoke to overcast skies and just below 0C weather. The morning ski venture was a trip to the Natural Bridge, and the addition of Henri’s Loop. To get to the Natural Bridge from the learning area head out on Main Street, generally north from the learning area. As you head out you will come to many junctions, we stopped at each junction to check the map and choose the route we would take. Each junction usually allows you to make a choice in trail and difficulty. Our group had a couple newer skiers or new again skiers so we made the most direct route.
Once we arrived at the bridge besides the oooo-ing and aweing I checked my Garmin for time travelled and distance, it was 4km. Turning around here and heading straight back is a good days ski. The few who had been out the afternoon before were excited to share Henri’s Loop. We skied back to Daisy Meadow where the warming hut is. At the meadow there are many junctions that meet up, to get to Henri’s Loop it is found by heading west at the meadow. The loop is well signed.
Back at our cabin for the trip, my Garmin stated we had gone 9.04km, with all our stops we were out there for just over 2 hours. We were out of cell service and no access to WiFi my Garmin did not break down moving time vs time recording. My route did show up once I got home but there were a few details missing.
One of our group choose to fat bike this day, freshly groomed trails and just below zero Celsius. All reports was the fat biking was excellent. I did not get out on my fat bike, the ski conditions were just too stellar to not ski!! That afternoon the staff shared that the weather was predicting 15cm of snow overnight.
That evening a few in the group used the wood fired sauna. A sauna in the winter is such a treat, I especially love a sauna that is wood fired. The sauna at Nipika has 2 walls partially underground, stone on the outside and cedar inside. This allows for most of the heat to be retained in the building. I highly recommend you take the walk from your cabin to start the fire about an hour before you want to sauna and take some time and enjoy the heat. If you are so inclined to the hot-cold method do it.
This was our last full day at Nipika Resort, I spent the morning helping my daughter in the learning area, for a couple hours. It was the perfect place for a new skier, about 4 am this morning it started snowing, it continued to snow the entire day. We could not see the mountain tops but we had stellar ski conditions, even with skier track set skiing it was amazing. The trail crew first groomed the learning area, this made for a perfect beginner experience.
After a hearty lunch I headed out for a quick ski just to the Natural Bridge, not having built a lot of ski endurance prior to this trip I felt this would be enough distance over 2 days. The Natural Bridge and the surrounding views make this my favourite destination at Nipika. After lunch I was still skiing fresh tracks or following skier track set. It didn’t feel very long to the Bridge for some photos, with snow still falling.
When I arrived at Daisy Meadow I checked the junction map and I wanted to take a blue back to the cabin. Well I misread the map and tried a brand new loop for about 3/4’s of it. I was headed back towards the Natural Bridge on a lovely open gentle uphills trail. As the day was losing light and I was skiing alone I decided to head back directly to the Meadow. Then onto Main Street (easy route) back to the cabin. I figure I ended up doing about 12km of peaceful quiet skiing in fresh snow.
A big highlight for our group was the fact that the trails were relatively people free, well covered in snow and well groomed. Despite the lead time it takes to book a stay at this amazing resort I highly recommend making a booking and spending a night or two. We are looking to get back there to test out the mountain bike trails this summer, maybe a round of disc golf.
The trail maps.