► Population: 3,729 • Location: 6.5 hours from Seattle
Back to the Future made a time machine out of a DeLorean. The town of Rossland, about two hours north of Spokane and just across the Canadian border, seems to have perfected time travel on a chairlift. Ride the rickety Red Chair at the town’s RED Mountain Resort (redresort.com), up past the inversion layer of clouds to the stunning BC sunshine above, and it feels like you’ve gone back 122 years to when the first skiers took to these snowy Monashee Mountains. Doesn’t matter if there are carbon-crafted K2s on your feet; these slopes beg for wool sweaters and wooden snowshoes, cable turtlenecks and knit hats with a poof at the top.
The chair really only dates back to 1973—it replaced an even older one, though for decades you had to use your feet to get uphill—but its vintage charm matches the town’s gold-rush roots. Canada’s first ski races happened here, and Canuck Olympians have trained on its snow. Of course, Red Mountain has newer chairlifts, including a brand new 1,000-footer that debuts this winter, plus inbound cat skiing (a ride uphill in a kind of snow tank) for just $10.
The Josie Hotel (thejosie.com) should stick out like a city slicker among ski bums on the slopes of Red, what with the lodge’s angular modern design and earth-tone linens. The new accommodation, open since last November, is as modern as it gets, but well-placed tree-bough chandeliers and sociable staff keep it rooted in the chummy locals-first vibe.
Just down the road in Rossland proper, there’s nothing contemporary about the facades that line downtown Columbia Avenue. Brick and wooden edifices create a streetscape as postcard-ready as the Monashees, a look that lands squarely between cowboy country and Frank Capra-esque.
But these downtown blocks are no museum piece; they are most alive at their coldest, when the annual January Winter Carnival (rosslandwintercarnival.com) ignites the whole town with live bands, bobsled races, pancake breakfasts, and snow sculptures. The event dates back to 1898, and while carnival founder Olaus Jeldness would be amazed by the current-day particulars of the festivities, his statue looms over revelry that’s fundamentally unchanged since the first time local miners took to the streets.