Rossland, British Columbia, is a laid-back, adventure-rich mountain town. It got its developmental headstart when Scandinavian gold-seekers brought their love of skiing to the Kootenay Rockies (along with their mining tools) in the late 1800s.
When the gold rush petered out, skiing in the region known as part of BC’s famed “Powder Highway” continued to grow. Today, Rossland and nearby RED Mountain Resort are all-season outdoor playgrounds. In this area, “Rosslander” refers to the fortunate locals, including those tourists that become residents.
For visitors, big-mountain adventures at small-town prices make Rossland a value destination. The deals are even better if you come from the US due to a favorable exchange rate. As of July 2022, one US dollar equals about 1.2 Canadian dollars.
When to go to Rossland, BC
The ski season typically runs from December to April, but there are ample outdoor adventure options on either side of winter and summer. In fact, during these in-between periods, you can experience multiple seasons on the same day, depending on what adventure you prefer. It’s possible to backcountry ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon in May. But otherwise, assume the usual mountain timelines: summer runs from late May to early September, with warm days and cold nights during the shoulder seasons.
How to get there
Rossland is about a seven-hour drive from Vancouver or Seattle, close to a three-hour drive from Spokane, Washington, and thirty minutes from Castlegar’s West Kootenay Regional Airport.
Rental cars and taxi services are available at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. During the ski season, a shuttle bus operates between Spokane and RED Mountain Resort.
What to do in summer in Rossland, BC
Rossland calls itself the “Mountain Biking Capital of Canada,” and while Squamish locals may object, Rossland is one of BC’s original bike destinations. Back in the early days of mountain biking, pioneering locals started riding abandoned miners’ trails and old railway lines. Today, over 124 miles (200km) of maintained single-track attract mountain bikers from around the world.
The Kootenay Columbia Trail Society develops and maintains purpose-built single-track throughout the region, including the point-to-point Seven Summits trail. This 22-mile route is challenging and technical, geared toward intermediate to advanced riders. It’s classified as an International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Epic route, one of only four in Canada. Epic routes are crowd-sourced and true destination rides. According to IMBA, “Epics are what mountain bikers live for.” Oh, and you don’t need to pedal — there’s a shuttle available all summer.
If white-knuckle descents aren’t your thing, the Columbia and Western Trail (CWT) is another world-class route suited to riders seeking a gentler grade and less technical trail. Part of the Trans Canada Trail, the CWT follows the abandoned Canadian Pacific Railway line for 101 miles and takes riders over trestles, past lakes, and through tunnels. It’s a full day in the saddle, but you don’t have to ride the entire route.
Rossland, BC will also please riders who prefer to leave the dirt on the trails and follow the wide paved roads on skinny tires. Spectacular scenery, lung-searing climbs, and local bike shops with all the goods make Rossland an incredible road cycling destination. Overall, there are many routes to ride in the region and not a lot of traffic.
One of the popular routes is to ride 37 miles out and back from Rossland to Strawberry Pass via Nancy Greene Lake. After a long steady climb, many riders opt for a plunge in the lake to cool off.
From family-friendly routes with plenty of places to stop for a snack, gentle wanders through old-growth forest, or spectacular day-long summit hikes like Old Glory (12 miles, 3,680-foot gain), Rossland delivers – and not just with well-marked trails, varied terrain, and eye-popping vistas. Once the snow melts, wildflowers cover the already stunning region in a quilt of colors come late spring.
Trails are multi-use, shared by all users (including bikes and equestrians), except for a few old-growth routes reserved for hikers. Outdoor adventure is super accessible in Rossland, so you don’t need to drive very far to most trailheads. Trails like the mostly forested Kootenay Columbia (known as KC to Rosslanders) begin in town. As you follow the KC trail to the summit for a bird’s-eye view over Rossland, keep your eyes out for art installations along the way.
Why walk if you can run? If this phrase speaks to you, you’ll love Rossland. Home to hardcore trail runners and one of BC’s most challenging ultra-marathons – the 31 miles (50 km) Broken Goat Trail Race – Rossland is the place to pick up the pace. Held in July, the Broken Goat begins at 5,164 feet (1574 m). Runners will summit four peaks and two ridges before reaching the Old Glory summit at 7,795 feet above sea level.
If you’re looking for a little less challenging or something for little ones, the Broken Goat offers charter options: a 15.5 miler, a 7.5 miler,) and a .6 miler for kids.
What to do in winter in Rossland, BC
When the snow flies, a lot of it lands in and around Rossland. With an average of 300 inches of snowfall per year, count on powdery snow blankets across ski runs, fat biking trails, and 137 miles of snowcat roads for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Skiing and riding
RED Mountain Resort, a five-minute drive from Rossland, is in the top 10 in North America when it comes to size. With 4,200 skiable acres, this IKON Pass destination promises (and delivers) one acre per skier – there’s always plenty of space. While the impressive 2,919-foot vertical, tree runs, and glades mean expert skiers will definitely have a good day on the mountain, there are runs for all levels at RED. And the famous Kootenay powder usually leaves everyone planning a return visit as soon as possible.
One of the world’s largest cat skiing operations, Big Red Cats, is minutes from RED Mountain and offers single or multi-day trips for intermediate to expert skiers and boarders. With over 20,000 acres covering eight mountain peaks, world-class tree skiing, and the region’s famously deep powder, Big Red Cats is one of the country’s top cat skiing operations.
Just two minutes up the highway from RED Mountain, Black Jack Ski Club offers about 28 miles of groomed trails for beginner to expert trails for cross-country and skate skiers. The club has three warming cabins, equipment rentals, 1.6 miles of illuminated night skiing trails, and even a doggy loop if you travel with Fido.
Although it’s a year-round sport in Rossland, fat bikes are the king of the trails when snow falls. In the winter, fat bike enthusiasts can explore over 12 miles of dedicated machine-groomed trails in the area. It’s easy to get started – just swing by a local bike shop like Revolution Cycles for the latest trail conditions, recommendations, and any gear you may need.
Where to stay in Rossland, BC
Rossland is a very small town but it’s artsy, extremely outdoorsy, and has lots of great restaurants and a very active community. So there are a lot of great options when it comes to where to stay (and what to do after your pop off your hiking shoes).
For a luxury experience, check out The Josie at RED Mountain. The boutique hotel has ski-in ski-out (or bike-in, bike-out) access, The Velvet Restaurant & Lounge, a ski valet, a spa, and slopeside cedar barrel saunas.
If you’d rather stay in a cabin in Rossland, check out The Constella, also near RED Mountain. The eco-friendly cabins sleep up to five guests and the on-site clubhouse has relaxing spaces, handmade seating, an indoor fireplace, select meals for purchase, and a non-alcoholic bar.
Travelers who prefer a more bed and breakfast-type experience should check out The Wild Turkey Inn, a freshly renovated, three-bedroom property just three blocks from downtown with laundry and a self-serve kitchen. And for a more budget-friendly stay in Rossland, BC, look at Nowhere Special, a modern, ski-in, ski-out hostel. It has a variety of room configurations and shared bathrooms and starts around $110 US.