Roy Maxwell first came to Valemount, B.C., by default. It was the closest mountain snowmobiling destination to his Edmonton home, five hours west on the Yellowhead Highway. He kept coming back because of the variety and quality of the riding, the amazing dry snow, and the well-managed trail system. After a couple of winters, he bought an acreage just out of town and built a log vacation home in 2007.
“Prices are really reasonable, and it’s got everything I’ve ever wanted in the mountains,” he says.
The town sits in a wide valley, with the Cariboo Mountains to the west, the Monashee range to the south, and the Rocky Mountains to the east. The snowmobile club, one of the most active in the province, grooms and maintains three mountain riding areas and another family-friendly loop near town.
“The destinations are limitless,” says Curtis Pawliuk, the general manager of the Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association, the group that manages the snowmobiling. “It would take a lifetime to go everywhere.”
And when the snow melts, there’s even more things to do. “At first I thought we’d just come in the winter and then rent out the house in the summer,” Roy says. “But we just kept coming all year round.”—Ryan Stuart
Laid-back, quiet, and friendly, Valemount has historically been a logging and railway town. Today its 1,020 residents mostly work in tourism. The town has most services, including a grocery store, hardware store and a brewery.
To get there
Most cottage owners in the area come from Edmonton, 489 km east on the Yellowhead Highway. Valemount also sits midway between Kamloops and Prince George, about three-and-a-half hours south and three west, respectively.
To stay there
Many cottagers opt for a more rural feel and buy acreages outside of town. A run on property with the approval of a ski resort in the valley has tightened supply. But John Peterson, a realtor with Yellowhead Realty, says prices are still reasonable: two acres with a home and separate garage goes for about $360,000. Several operations in town rent cabins by the night year round, including Whisper Creek Cabin Rental. Their cabins start at about $275 a night and can sleep up to 10 people.
Deep snow and cold winters characterize the mountain ranges on most sides of Valemount, but the town is comparatively dry and mild. Winters are still long, with snow on the ground from November until April most years.
Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, topping out at 3,954 metres, but seems bigger because of its staggering relief above the Valemount valley.
Valemount Glacier Resort received full approval in 2016. The proposed four-season ski resort and sightseeing development will see lifts rising above Valemount on the slopes of Mount Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Until it’s built—the date of completion is still uncertain—the closest skiing is an hour east at Marmot Basin ski area.
Valemount is home to one of the only designated sled skiing areas in B.C. Six glazed runs are cut into the forest on Crystal Ridge, but there is no chair lift. Instead, skiers and boarders get to the top on a snowmobile.