The Grande Prairie Ski Club owns and operates the Nitehawk Recreation Area, and is dedicated to Nitehawk’s operation and future expansions. The Grande Prairie Ski Club was incorporated as a non-profit society on November 10, 1960. The first ski area for Grande Prairie was on the banks of the Smoky River near Bezanson.
The First Location
The first location of the ski area on the Wapiti River was on the hill directly south of the Wapiti river bridge. The old outline of the ski area is still visible. The first towrope was installed at this location running off a Ford chassis motor. The first Chalet was built at this location and was a clear span design measuring 30′ x 30’. The chalet was eventually moved to a location in Grovedale and used as a church for a period of time.
The Ski Area was relocated to its present location in 1972 / 1973. A chalet was built at the bottom of the hill and a T-Bar lift was installed. The Ski Club grew rapidly in the 1980’s from 385 members in 1981 – 1982 to 900 members in 1984 – 1985. In 1987 the chalet was relocated to the top of the hill, new runs added along with a platter lift. Major additions, including a lounge and pro shop were added to accommodate the larger skier numbers. In 1994 the Club installed a used Yan triple chair lift to replace the T-Bar Lift.
In 1998 The Grande Prairie Ski Club took over all revenue generating operations of the hill including the Rental Shop.
2002 saw a new Connector Run from the bottom of the platter to the bottom of Show Off was completed and the Ratnik Snow making fleet was brought up to 15 guns which allowed for faster and more energy efficient snow making.
The Summer Aerial Water Ramp opened in June 2004 and a new 3200 sq ft maintenance facility was completed. The snowmaking system was revamped from electrical compressors at the bottom to a diesel compressor located at the top of the ski area
The old maintenance facility was renovated in 2004 to include a ski school as well as locker rentals for season pass holders. The Rental Shop was renovated with new flooring and additional storage space for a larger rental fleet.
The snow making system added a new water-and-air line up Temptation and a second 5-stage pump. Peace Country Luge Association constructed the Canadian Tire Natural Luge Track at Nitehawk Ski Area and held back to back World Cups February 28, March 1,2,3,4, 2006. Construction of the Swan City Rotary Wilderness RV Park started in 2005 and opening arrived May long weekend 2006 with 57 full and power only sites.
Summer 2007 saw the development of the Gravity Mountain Bike Park. Nitehawk with the local bike club the “Bikehawks” started in February to put together a development plan to build a lift-assisted downhill mountain bike park. Bike hooks were added to the triple chair, a top ramp was built, the Bikehawks hired “Trail Crew Designs” to identify trail locations and to spearhead the trail building with lots of volunteer help. Some of the ski patrol volunteered as bike patrol. Three trails were built and the park opened to a wet August and ran until the end of September. There was a name change to “Nitehawk Recreation Area” to better representing the range of activities at our facility.
More trails were added the summer of 2008 and we operated from June to September with a continually increasing ridership. That summer also saw the completion of the Swan City Rotary Groupsite with 15 power sites and a closed in Pavilion.