Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park
8 quirky and utterly unique things to do in Colorado
From the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, Colorado is a place for unparalleled adventure. Now all you need is an itinerary… Bordering Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Utah (it also touches Arizona at the famous Four Corners), Colorado is a Middle American state with immense character and an exhilarating history, with a rich Gold Rush heritage dating back to the 1800s and strong lineage to the Old Wild West.   However, where Colorado truly stands out from the crowd is within its picture-perfect landscape. Bountiful in mountains, forests, canyons, river plains and deserts, it’s an adventurer’s dream destination.   Shining a big spotlight on Colorado, we made it our mission to discover what makes America’s eighth-largest state well worth a visit. [caption id="attachment_46237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hike the peaks of the Rocky Mountains National Park.[/caption] Take a hike… …in one of Colorado’s four national parks or eight National Monuments. The National Parks are like giant playgrounds for visitors, especially in the summer. Rocky Mountain National Park boasts peaks that overlook vast plains, while the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park and the grand mountains of sand in the Sahara-esque Great Sand Dunes National Park will leave you speechless. [caption id="attachment_46238" align="alignnone" width="600"] Explore Mesa Verde National Park's ancient dwellings.[/caption] A shout goes out as well to the seemingly never-ending rock walls of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – truly a must-see.   The National Monuments are also worth working into your itinerary, especially the newest of the eight, Browns Canyon National Monument, which was awarded its prestigious spot by President Barack Obama in 2015. The stunning 8735-hectare spot provides fresh water and habitat for wildlife like bobcats, bighorn sheep and black bears, and is truly breathtaking to clap eyes on. [caption id="attachment_46239" align="alignnone" width="600"] No one photograph can capture the sheer scale of Gunnison National Park's Black Canyon.[/caption] All aboard a mystery rail trip Colorado’s historic rail routes will not only take you on a tour through history; they’re as entertaining as they are informative. For a thrill, hop aboard the Murder Mystery Train operated by Royal Gorge Route Railroad and find out who dunnit over a theatrical dinner. Climb a mountain, or 58… With 58 peaks in Colorado reaching well over 4000 metres (14,000ft) above sea level, these ‘fourteeners’ are a prominent natural feature of the state. The perfect spots to position yourself to view Colorado’s famous wildlife, the state boasts more ‘fourteeners’ than any other in the union. So the question is, how many can you do? Raft the rapids While it has mountains and picturesque landscapes aplenty, Colorado also boasts bodies of water perfect for whitewater rafting or casting a lazy line, for those hoping to reel in the catch of the day. Seven major rivers have their headwaters in Colorado, providing a nature lover’s playground, no matter what your speed. Get a dose of culture – and craft beer Dating back to the Old West era, Denver is a cosmopolitan, charming city that still boasts ties to its storied origin, giving guests a taste of the old and new in one gulp. To experience the best of Colorado’s outdoor capital city like a local, there are three things any visitor must tick off their list: western art, shopping and craft beer.   Packed with museums like the Denver Art Museum and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which hosts celebrated music acts, there’s no better way to wrap up a Denver day than with a pit stop at the Strange Craft Beer Company, or Freshcraft for a tipple of the best this town has to offer. Head back to the Old West [caption id="attachment_46240" align="alignnone" width="600"] Visit the town of Victor and get a taste of what the Old West was really like during the Gold Rush of the 1800s.[/caption] With 1500 ghost towns scattered across it, visitors can easily find traces of the Old West as they take a walk down deserted streets and peek through dusty windows. Towns like Carson, Victor and St Elmo give an insight into life during the Colorado Gold Rush of the 1800s.   Alternatively, become a cowboy (or girl) for a day by jumping in the saddle at a dude ranch to take the experience one (exhilarating) step further. Travelling 25 scenic and historic byways throughout Colorado on horseback is an increasingly popular way to explore the state’s four National Parks. Hit the fresh powder With 28 world class ski resorts, Colorado could well offer up the epic ski trail you’ve always wanted to hurtle down. In fact, Colorado’s slopes have been named America’s best and claim to be home to the most thrilling trails you’ll find country-wide. Challenge accepted! Soak your troubles away [caption id="attachment_46241" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take a soothing dip in Glenwood Canyon's hot spring. One of the 30 mineral-rich baths in Colorado.[/caption] The breathtaking natural features of Colorado don’t stop at mesmerising mountain peaks and rivers that stretch on as far as the eye can see. Oh no. One of the state’s most popular natural offerings are its hot springs. The coolest part about accessing these naturally heated pools, is that you’re never far from one. With 30 soothing mineral-rich baths scattered across the state, you’re just as likely to stumble across one in a luxurious resort as you are at a hike-in hideaway.   To find out more about Colorado and to plan your trip, visit  
Rossland, Red Mountain, Powder Highway
Escape the Aussie crowd on Canada’s secret ski highway
We discover the true heart of Canada in amongst some of its greatest snow spots. This morning a ‘granola type’ (as they call them around here) on the laidback streets of Nelson asked if I’d like a hug because he was giving them out for free.   Now a lumberjack type (think Russell Crowe between movie roles) is spitting tobacco ‘juice’ from the corner of his mouth and telling me I’m putting the wrong fuel in my vehicle – except he calls it a ‘vee-hick-al’, like he’s watched far too much Deliverance.   I’m guessing he’s not likely to give me any hugs, free or otherwise, and it’s not the first time on this road trip I’ve felt a hell of a long way from the sanctuary of Banff. Enter the Powder Highway Yep, the Powder Highway might be home to one of the highest concentrations of ski resorts on the planet, but you wouldn’t know it here. [caption id="attachment_26181" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The Powder Highway wraps itself around 1000km of the prettiest alpine landscape in North America (Photo: Tourism BC).[/caption] It's called a highway, but it’s actually a collection of five roads that run 1000 kilometres in a circular direction in the very south-eastern corner of British Columbia, and along these roads are ski resorts almost nobody’s ever heard of… hmmm, Red Mountain, anyone?   And there’s some that almost nobody’s ever been to – when was the last time Whitewater Mountain came up in your Canadian ski conversation?   All up, there are actually eight alpine resorts here, 11 Nordic ski centres, 15 cat-skiing operators and nine heli-ski operators in some of the prettiest alpine landscape on this Earth. [caption id="attachment_26178" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Ski resorts along the Powder Highway are famously low key and offer perfect untracked snow far from crowds (Photo: Tourism BC)[/caption] However there’s far more to the Powder Highway than high-country thrills and spills.   No, being here feels like a genuine cultural experience, for I’m not surrounded by Australians here as I am at Whistler.   Here, locals wear flannelette even when it’s 30-below, and there are towns on this road that sound like Dr Seuss had some thing to do with naming them – though try rhyming with Spillimacheen and Skookumchuck. [caption id="attachment_26170" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Kimberley reinvented itself with some of best skiing in BC and transformed its town into a little piece of Bavaria (Photo: RCR)[/caption] Find 'secret' Canada I’m avoiding some of the better-known resorts on the road, like Fernie Alpine Resort (see our Ultimate Guide to Fernie), simply because I’d like to disappear into a Canada that’s completely different to Australia, and where no Australians tread.   So I start my journey as far south as the highway goes, at Red Mountain – in fact, it’s just six kilometres north of the US border.   It’s the oldest ski resort in western Canada. There’s only six chairlifts here, and they sure move slowly. If you’re in a rush, you should avoid this place because nothing, and nobody, moves fast around here. [caption id="attachment_26171" align="alignnone" width="668"] The Kimberley cuckoo clock is the largest freestanding closk of its kind in Canda. (Photo: Herb Neufeld Flickr)[/caption] Locals are a mix of lumberjack types and ski bums who never really grew up and got real jobs.   I love the old hippies with their flowing beards that look a little like Willie Nelson – though when I try to follow them down ski runs I discover 50 years of riding these mountains has turned them into backcountry hellraisers who’d ski rings around wannabes 40 years their junior.   Happy hours at the Flying Steamshovel are legendary, though for those chasing a tad more culture than four-buck beers, aim your vee-hick-al north another 50 kilometres and visit Canada’s most famous counter-cultural town. [caption id="attachment_26177" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Ski gear lining the platzl at Kimberley (Photo: Mark Eleven Photography for Ski RCR).[/caption] You’ll find Nelson right beside Whitewater Ski Resort.   Nelson has to be one of North America’s prettiest towns – built as it is right on the edge of Kootenay Lake and in the shade of the towering Selkirk Mountains.   It may look sleepy, but the place buzzes with life – it has the most famous small-town arts community in Canada.   Everyone around here is an artist, it seems, except perhaps the guy on Baker Street trying to sell me an ounce of “Canada’s best weed” (or maybe he’s the biggest artist of all). Caution: you may want to stay Nelson is one of those rare towns you feel you could live in within minutes of walking its main street. It has over 350 heritage buildings and a fully restored street car, though mostly it’s the people who make it – while Canadians are famous for their friendliness, Nelson takes the friendly scale to dizzy new heights. [caption id="attachment_26176" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Sunrise at Revelstoke (Photo: Ian Houghton)[/caption] Locals round here favour hemp over flannelette, Birkenstocks over logger’s boots; though just east of here I find a street where people wear Bavarian-style lederhosen.   Few Australians head into Kimberley (see our Ultimate Guide to Kimberley), but it’s as stunning a town as you’ll see in western Canada, with its views out over the Purcell Mountains.   It was once the site of the world’s biggest lead-zinc mine, but when it closed Kimberley faced economic ruin.   To promote tourism, Kimberley re-invented itself as the ‘Bavarian City Of The Rockies’, building a downtown platzl (city square), Canada’s largest free-standing cuckoo clock and introducing the world’s biggest annual accordion championships.   Yessiree, you’ll see a little of everything on the Powder Highway.   Further north, I find a local out walking his pet pig in the historic streets of Revelstoke (see our Ultimate Guide to Revelstoke): the kind of town where barmen remember your drink, your name and where you come from.   Once not much more than a stop on Canada’s Union Pacific railway link, these days Revelstoke is the epicentre of the world heli-skiing industry.   But somehow town never forgot its humble working-class origins, even though many of the visitors here are forking out $2000-plus-a-night to stay in five-star heli-ski hotels. [caption id="attachment_26175" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Red Mountain is just 6kms from the US and the oldest ski resort in Western Canada (Photo: Ryan Flett).[/caption] And in this way I think Revelstoke epitomises the Powder Highway.   Somehow, in an area of the Rockies so spoilt for ski mountains and stunning alpine scenery, nothing got spoilt at all.   Towns still feel decades from being over-run.   The road is yours to ride alone, and it’ll take you into the breathing soul of Canada – if you’ll just let it. Exploring the Powder Highway: The Powder Highway stretches from Revelstoke in the west to Fernie in the east, and Red Mountain in the south to Kicking Horse (see our Ultimate Guide to Kicking Horse) in the north.   There are three gateway airports to start your Powder Highway adventure: Kelowna in British Columbia, Calgary in Alberta and Spokane in Washington. [caption id="attachment_26173" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Nelson main street. One of the prettiest towns on the Powder Highway, Nelson is built right on the edge of Kootenay Lake. (Photo: Tourism BC)[/caption] If you fly to Spokane, your journey will begin at Red Mountain; if you fly to Calgary you’ll start in Kicking Horse; and if you fly to Kelowna, you’ll begin in Revelstoke. Hire cars are available at all three airports.   For more information on the Powder Highway, check out, and the town of Nelson.
adventure discover food cafe mining bridge lake canada
Go from beach to brewery in BC hipster haven, Nelson
What do you get when a Canadian alpine sports hub develops a penchant for inner-city indulgences and bohemian flair? Nelson — the mini hipsterville in British Columbia’s breathtaking Kootenay Country. Writes Alissa Jenkins.
One of 700-plus craft breweries across Canada.
Eight things that surprise every Australian traveller in Canada
Beyond the world-class ski slopes and abundance of wildlife, we explore Canada's lesser-known delights. We all know Canada is home to some of the world’s steepest ski slopes, fiercest grizzly bears, and smoothest maple syrup, but what are the highlights that Australian travellers don’t expect before they arrive? Given the rising numbers of Aussies flying across the Pacific every year — some 352,000 of us visited in 2016, equating to a near 15 per cent increase within just 12 months according to Statistics Canada — there’s got to be more to Canada than what’s in the brochure. From culinary creations to social mores, here are Canada’s most pleasant surprises.   1. Hiking is for all, and it’s closer than you think [caption id="attachment_32270" align="alignnone" width="1500"] We’ve all seen atleast one photo of Canada’s innumerable hiking trails.[/caption] We’ve all seen at least one photo of Canada’s innumerable hiking trails, which no doubt brought your newsfeed scrolling to a halt with some vivid landscape shot, layered with soaring fir trees, gigantic mountains and azure, milky lakes. But you needn’t trek into the deep depths of the Yukon to see these breathtaking sights. With something like 30 per cent of Canada's total landmass occupied by forest (compared to 16 per cent of Australia's), you barely need to leave city limits to be treated to stunning hikes, especially in British Columbia. Drive as little as 30 minutes and there’s often a great wealth of walking options to choose from, suited to varying capabilities.   On the subject of capability, hiking isn’t just a popular pastime largely reserved for the greying demographic, as it tends to be in Oz. In Canada, everyone from all ages and fitness levels gets involved, regularly exploring the great outdoors on foot. 2. Clam juice is actually delicious [caption id="attachment_32264" align="alignnone" width="1254"] While the idea of drinking murky clam broth sounds about as appetizing as bear spray to the face; it’s a key ingredient in Canada’s beloved Caesar cocktail. [/caption] While the idea of drinking murky clam broth sounds about as appetising as bear spray to the face; it’s a key ingredient in Canada’s beloved Caesar cocktail. Mixed with vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and tomato juice, it’s usually served with a celery stalk in a celery-salt rimmed glass. Since Caesars are about as Canadian as the maple leaf, you can pick up bottles of the readymade concoction sans alcohol (known as Clamato juice), from any supermarket. It’s also what most bartenders use. But like Vegemite, which is met with similar skepticism from foreigners, it’s a hearty taste sensation that grows on you and will cure a beastly hangover. 3. So many craft beers, not enough liver After a day of outdoor sports, be it boarding, biking or bouldering, efforts are often rewarded with a beer from one of the 700-plus craft breweries across Canada, 200 of which are in Ontario (with a further 100 currently under construction). Whatever your pint preferences, chances are you won’t be far from a producer with a brew to suit you. Buy yourself a growler (a refillable glass jug) from your nearest brewery, a mainstay in any Canadian household, and top up at any other brewery of your choice. Fresh craft beer with minimal packaging — that’s an indulgence you can feel good about. Better still, it's exceptionally cost effective! 4. You can hit the slopes after a day in the office [caption id="attachment_32263" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Canada’s world-renowned snow scene is far from a surprise for Aussies visiting the Great White North, but it’s accessibility for city dwellers might be. [/caption] Canada’s world-renowned snow scene is far from a surprise for Aussies visiting the Great White North, but its accessibility for city dwellers might be. Yes, a memorable day on the slopes doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay in a resort town. Take Vancouver for instance, which is less than a two-hour drive to North America’s top ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb. Or for something even closer, try Cypress, Grouse or Seymour mountains. In winter, once the clock hits 4pm, many Vancouverites drive half an hour to any of these nearby mountains for cheap (under $50) nighttime skiing or snowboarding, with runs open until 10pm throughout the season. 5. Beauty standards are much more realistic Though much of Australia’s mainstream media would have us think that beauty equates to bronzed skin, skeleton waistlines and thigh gaps, Canada is much more realistic about what a healthy body entails. Rather than focusing on visual physicality, Canadians tend to place more value on strength and fitness, which as we know, comes in many shapes and sizes. This more relaxed approach to beauty standards also extends to Canadians’ sense of fashion, which refreshingly, is decidedly more casual and practical compared to say, inner-city Sydney. So on any night out you expect more Gor-Tex jackets and Birkenstocks than sky-high heels — no complaints here! 6. Vancouver is the most Asian city outside of Asia Some say Vancouver is as close as you can get to Asia within the Western world, which can only mean great things for the local food scene. Thanks to a vibrant Asian population and sublime Canadian seafood, VanCity is home to an enduring boom in Japanese restaurants. Be it sushi, ramen or sashimi, there are now well over 600 Japanese outlets operating in Metro Vancouver, making up roughly 10 per cent of the city’s culinary offerings. [caption id="attachment_32267" align="alignnone" width="1001"] Some say Vancouver is as close as you can get to Asia outside of Asia, which can only mean great things for the local food scene. [/caption] But it’s not just the quantity of these restaurants that impresses travellers; it’s also the quality of the food they serve, with some of the finest examples of Japanese fare at both the authentic and creative ends of the sushi spectrum. In fact, some argue that the beloved ‘California roll’ actually originated in Vancouver in 1971, created by a Japanese expat. 7. Yes, it gets hot in summer and it’s perfect for river tubing The funny thing about stereotypes is that they’re often wildly inaccurate; such is the case with the myth that all Canadians live in igloos. Quite contrary, it's not perpetually winter in Canada’s southern provinces, but (usually) gloriously sunny from May to September. [caption id="attachment_32268" align="alignnone" width="1500"] The funny thing about stereotypes is that they’re often wildly inaccurate; such is the case with the myth that all Canadians live in igloos. Quite contrary, it is not perpetually winter in Canada’s southern provinces, but (usually) gloriously sunny and warm from May to September.[/caption] With the sunshine comes a whole suite of summertime activities from canoeing and camping to underrated festivals. But of all the water sports to try, group river tubing (also known as floating) is the ultimate. Bring snacks and supplies on your inflated tube, tie your vessel to that of your friends and/or family (never go alone), and float down one of Canada’s many winding rivers under a blazing hot sun. It’s a great way to see some less explored forests, so be mindful of not leaving any rubbish. British Columbia has a plethora of tube-able rivers, including Shuswap River, Okanagan River Channel, Cowichan River and Kettle River. 8. Cannabis is as accessible as it is acceptable [caption id="attachment_32269" align="alignnone" width="1500"] BC [aka Best Cannabis] [/caption]BC [aka Best Cannabis] has a reputation for a reason — it’s here, it’s regulated but it’s surprisingly accessible and acceptable. While licensed marijuana dispensaries can be found across Canada, Vancouver really is the home of BC bud, and whether you smoke it or not, you’ll soon know the smell. With dispensaries almost as common as Starbucks, most people have an understanding of the differences between local strains, and the many forms they take from pre-rolled joints to medicinal oils and lollypops. Depending on where you stand on the green gamut, this could be either a welcome surprise, or, well, not.
Is Canada’s Powder Highway the best road trip in the world?
For skiers there is no road more wonderful than British Colombia's Powder Highway. If you’re a gambler, you can’t miss the Las Vegas Strip.   If you’re a fashionista, you can’t miss Rodeo Drive.   But if you’re a skier, you can’t miss Highway 95A, lovingly referred to as the Powder Highway because of the sheer density of world-class ski resorts that crouch around that one long, loose loop of bitumen carving through the Kootenay Rockies. [caption id="attachment_20841" align="alignnone" width="1500"] The gorgeous Kimberley Alpine Resort.[/caption] Clustered around the south-east corner of British Columbia, the Powder Highway encompasses a collection of eight alpine resorts.   While each is large enough to singularly host an entire holiday, there is a certain charm to a multi-destination trip.   Hitting all eight ski areas might be logistically difficult, but if you really wanted to take a crack at it, try starting at the far south-eastern point on the loop at Fernie, then track north-west to Kimberley, further north, for a few well-groomed runs at Fairmont Hot Springs with the kids. [caption id="attachment_20840" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Fun rules at Fernie Alpine Resort.[/caption] Duck west for a stop at Panorama, then continue north to Kicking Horse to practise your glade-skiing.   A curling, western arc will take you back down to Revelstoke for some extreme powder carving, then you need to gun it a long way south to reach Red Mountain and finally Whitewater, the last of the big eight, to complete the roughly 800-kilometre loop. [caption id="attachment_20839" align="alignnone" width="1500"] The sun rises over Fernie Mountain- phot courtesy of Henry Georgi.[/caption] Get going: Most resorts on the Powder Highway ( will have good ski snow from late November to April. Travel there with Ski Max Holidays. Location: The Powder Highway starts about 10 hours’ drive east from Vancouver, BC, or two-and-a-half hours’ drive west from Calgary. “BC skiing isn’t only about Whistler. Join the in-the-know locals at some of the province's finest alternative resorts instead.” – John Lee   << Previous | Next >>   Return to the ‘100 Things to do in Canada Before You Die’ countdown   var axel = Math.random() + """"; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');
First tracks in the morning at Fernie in BC, Canada.
The Ultimate Fernie Ski Guide
Together with its namesake town, Fernie ticks all the right boxes when it comes to epic ski vacations. By Adam Bisby
Legendary Revelstoke, also known as, heli-ski heaven
Enjoy your powder multiple ways at one of Canada's great hidden ski resorts.