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Cradled by a bowl of jagged Rocky Mountains and gathered on the banks of the rapid, ice-clear Elk River, Fernie‘s setting can compete with that of any Canadian mountain town.

This makes first impressions of the town – a line of bland motels, chain stores and garages along Hwy-3 – a bit of a let-down, yet only block beyond, lie pleasant tree-lined streets, small wooden houses and lively little downtown shopping street.

Open-pit coal mining may form the town’s economic backbone, but Fernie’s outdoorsy appeal – particularly the world-class skiing and mountain biking – has brought in a more liberal demographic that’s reflected in the presence of
ski shops, art galleries, health food shops and delicatessen.

Meanwhile, the popularity as a resort has stimulated a series of gift shops and lackluster condo building, most of which lie en route to its ski resort, Fernie Alpine Resort, 5km away.


Getting to Fernie can be a bit of a headache. It’s around 3hrs drive from Calgary, but a scheduled shuttle operates in winter only but costs $125 one-way. This means that the best way is often to catch a lift with a local making the journey via the Fernie Ride Board website – people usually charge around $30 and you can post your requirements in advance.

For a taxi call Kootenay Taxi (250-423-4408).

Practical Info Practical Info icon

Bike Fernie

Eat Fernie

Sleep Fernie

Fernie Arts Station

Arts centre

Fernie Golf Course Nordic Trails

Groomed cross-country ski trails

Fernie Museum & Visitor Centre

Downtown tourist info & town museum

Fernie Visitor Info Centre

The larger of two Fernie info centres

Text © Christian Williams

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