Nancy Greene Provincial Park is nestled in the Monashee Mountains and is known for its alpine and Nordic skiing. The park and a nearby provincial recreation area are named after Canada’s world-famous Olympic skier Nancy Greene, who originated from the Rossland-Trail area. These parks encompass 8,100 hectares of mountain wilderness, including the subalpine Nancy Greene Lake.
The park offers opportunities for a variety of recreational activities including canoeing and kayaking. Anglers frequently have good luck catching rainbow trout in Nancy Greene Lake. During summer and fall, hikers can take advantage of the more than 20km of low-elevation trails offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and its wildlife. A small band of mountain goats ranges along the west side of Old Glory Mountain until winter conditions drive them down into Sheep Creek. Other wildlife found here are pikas, Columbia and golden-mantled ground squirrels, and other small rodents. Blue grouse, Clark’s nutcrackers, juncos, Steller’s jays, and red-tailed hawks are frequently observed. Many migratory songbirds are heard, if not seen, in the subalpine forests.
In winter Nancy Greene Provincial Park is a popular location with cross-country skiers who like to cut their own tracks. For those who would rather enjoy groomed runs, the Paulson Cross-Country Ski Trails, directly adjacent to Nancy Greene Provincial Park on Hwy 3, provide an extensive network of easy to advanced cross-country trails. There are warming shelters and trail maps at strategic locations on this trail system, which also makes for good mountain biking in summer.
In 1947, a progressive group of local skiers installed Western Canada’s first chairlift at Red Mountain. Of course, if you had powder skiing at your door the way the folks in Rossland do, you too would want the newest-fangled technology to get you to it as quickly as possible. So fabled are the snow conditions in this town tucked away in the southeast corner of the province that a century ago, Red Mountain hosted the first Canadian Ski Jumping and Ski Racing Championships. One of the local Scandinavian miners, Olaus Jeldness, not only organized the championships but won the event.
There must be something in the water here, for in more recent times Rossland has produced two of the best women skiers to ever represent Canada, Nancy Greene and Kerrin Lee-Gartner, as well as several dozen national alpine ski team members, among them Felix Belczyk and Don Stevens. (Although the mountains around Rossland may not look formidable, the town itself is perched closer to the peaks. At an elevation of 3,385 feet (1023 m), it’s higher than most other towns in Canada.)
Red Mountain is honeycombed with mine shafts tunnelled in the 1890s; most of these mines were exhausted by the 1930s. In many ways time has stood still here when compared with the upstart activity on ski slopes in the Okanagan Valley and at Whistler, especially over the past two decades. That suits the townsfolk here just fine. First-time visitors may feel slightly underwhelmed upon arrival at the base of Red and Granite, the round-shouldered sister mountains that stand side by side and are serviced by four chairlifts and a T-bar. There’s always plenty of snow, but after driving through some of the province’s more rugged ranges, such as the Coast Mountains, the Monashee Mountains look diminutive by comparison. (In geological terms the Monashees are a half-million years older and more worn down by successive periods of glaciation.) Be of good cheer: there’s a vertical rise of 2,800 feet (853 m) between the base and the top of the Granite Mountain, the fourth largest in British Columbia.
When you know that there’s more to a mountain than meets the eye, it’s best to enlist the help of a local guide. One of Red Mountain’s volunteer mountain hosts will gladly take you straight up the Silverlode triple chairlift, from which you’ll sight fluffy untracked powder in the evergreens. The trees in the forested slopes surrounding the cleared runs are spaced just widely enough to provide room for quick turns. As gentle as the terrain appears from the bottom, there are challenging chutes aplenty through which to plummet, with lots of knee-high powder to slow your descent. Occasionally you’ll pass one of the many funky old skiers’ cabins tucked away in the woods.
Nancy Greene Provincial Park is a popular overnight stop with 10 vehicle/tent campsites, as well as 5 day-use/picnicking sites. It is a place to enjoy a cool night’s rest away from the heat in the valley, and you can often catch your supper of rainbow trout. Basic facilities are provided – picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, firewood and water. There is a boat launch available on the lake, but powerboats are not permitted. The park is open from May to September.
Nancy Greene Provincial Park is located in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, 26 km west of Castlegar, 44 km east of Christina Lake and 22 miles north of Rossland on Highway 3.
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