• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

Canadian Rockies

10 Tips for Winter Camping in Jasper National Park

 

By Calli Naish

Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

They say there are only two seasons in Canada: Winter and July. And while some Canadians curl up indoors only venturing out for their morning Tim Horton’s fix, the crazier Canucks refuse to miss an opportunity to get outside (even if it’s well below 0°). For those of you who need to test your cold temperature tolerance, here’s a list of winter camping tips (because being prepared isn’t just for the Boy Scouts!)

 

1. Location. Location. Location.

 

Photo by Jeff Bartlett courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

Choosing the right place for your winter camping excursion depends on your experience, your equipment, and ultimately, what your plans are while you’re roughing it. Whether you plan on skiing, snowshoeing or just sitting fireside, there are 5 campgrounds in Jasper National Park that can accommodate your winter adventures.

 

Photo by Adam Greenberg courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

For a detailed description of Jasper’s winter campgrounds, see the end of this post.

 

2. Pack Smart

 

Brian Catto, a Senior Parks Canada interpreter who organizes the programming at the Whirlpool Winter Hub (including the Learn to Winter Camp program), gives great advice for winter camping. He stresses that those who venture out need to understand that summer and winter camping gear are not the same. For example, most people who camp in the summer use a 1-season tent, but for winter camping you need a 4-season tent. Understanding these differences and knowing what to pack are essential to having an enjoyable winter camping experience.

If you are new to camping there are resources to help you get your packing started. MEC has put together a great Winter Camping Gear Check List and Parks Canada has a Winter Backcountry Equipment Checklist. Although these lists may include items above and beyond what you need for a short weekend camping excursion, they will help you build a customized list for your own trip. Add your fat bike and head to Pyramid Lake so you can try out the Pyramid Front Trail, or bring your skis so you can spend a day on the slopes at Marmot Basin.

 

If you have some unchecked boxes on your equipment list, you can find camping gear at any of these Jasper stores:

Totem Ski Shop and Everest Outoor Store sell tents, sleeping bags, various camping items, how-to books and even some packable snacks.

Gravity Gear sells camp stoves and fuel, as well as last-minute items like headlamps.

Wild Mountain sells tents and sleeping bags, including a sleeping bag that’s rated for -29°C!

 

3. It’s all in the Set-Up

 

Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

This tip is primarily for the tenters out there because if you are camping in an RV, you will have most of your set up already completed. No matter where you sleep, make sure that you have lawn chairs or foam pads for the picnic table so that you aren’t sitting in snow (try Heat-A-Seats for extra warmth).

 

Tent Tips

Dig a small area in the snow for your tent so that you have some shelter from the wind.

Pack down the remaining snow so that you have a flat surface for your tent and to prevent sinking in the snow at night. This will also prevent you from stepping in a soft spot of snow and tearing through your tent floor.

Stake that tent! Don’t be deterred by the hard ground, winter weather is variable and often windy so it is important to make sure your tent is secure. Though it is easier to drive stakes into the soft snow, you can purchase stakes that will push through the frozen ground.

 

4. Dress to Impress Stay Warm!

 

Photo by Jade Wetherell

 

The key to enjoying winter camping is never feeling too cold – this means layering! Brian Catto emphasizes the importance of knowing how to properly layer for winter weather. Lucky for you we have an entire blog (and article in our magazine) dedicated to teaching you how to layer for winter warmth. Make sure that you pack extra layers so that you always have a dry change of clothes. Also, throw an extra set of mitts and a spare toque in your bag because cold fingers and ears will seriously bring down your pro-winter vibes.

 

Facing a drop in temperature you aren’t prepared for? Stop in at Löle, Jasper Source for Sports, Totem Ski Shop, Everest Outdoor Store, Edge Control Ski Shop, Gravity Gear, Wild Mountain, or On-Line Sport for some last-minute layers.

 

5. Sweet dreams are made of heat

 

Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

The only thing worse than feeling cold is feeling cold when you are trying to sleep. To prevent a night of tossing, turning and shivering, you will need:

The right tent – the only tent for winter camping is a 4-season tent.

The right sleeping pad – those super comfortable, air-filled camping mattresses create a cold layer of air between you and the ground. For winter camping choose a sleeping pad with an R-value of 4 or more.

The right sleeping bag – you will need a sleeping bag that’s rated for the cold temperatures that you expect while camping. Brian notes to keep in mind that the accuracy of these ratings will vary from person to person. If you are the type of person who gets cold in September and stays that way until May, you’ll want to be prepared with some comfortable layers you can wear to bed.

 

6. Get Active

 

Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

If you are going to brave cold nights, make the most of your sunny days! There are tons of great activities in Jasper National Park that will let you explore and get your heart pumping, including cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and fat-tire biking.

 

Photo by Jeff Bartlett courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

If you don’t have your own equipment for an activity that you want to try, you can rent!

Edge Control Ski Shop (cross-country skis, skis/snowboards)

Everest Outdoor Store (snowshoes)

FreeWheel (fat bikes, skis/snowboards)

Gravity Gear (skis/snowboards, snowshoes)

Jasper Source for Sports (cross-country skis, fat bikes, skis/snowboards, snowshoes)

Totem Ski Shop (skis/snowboards, snowshoes)

 

7. More than Marshmallows

 

Photo by Chris Hendrickson courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

Sitting around a fire and roasting marshmallows might be the most iconic camping scene of all time, but winter weather takes round-the-fire moments from quintessential to essential. Fires are perfect for drying out your ski socks and warming up before calling it a night. Check out Leave No Trace for campfire guidelines and make sure that you are prepared with fire starters, paper, kindling, and an extra lighter.

 

Once you’ve built a roaring fire, throw on some fire resistant apparel before settling in for campfire stories; you don’t want to find holes in your GORE-TEX ski jacket in the morning. Wool is naturally fire-retardant so it’s a good time to pull out that oversized itchy wool sweater from grandma.

 

8. Don’t be Hangry

 

Cold weather and active days are going to leave you hungry, and making meals in mittens isn’t an easy task. Quick and easy meals will help you avoid hanger-fuelled moments that you might regret later. Single pot entrées, freeze-dried meals and no-cook eats are great options for winter camping meals. Plus there is no better way to wake up on a wintery morning than with a warm bowl of instant oatmeal and a hot cup of coffee.

 

If your campsite does not have water, don’t worry! You are surrounded by an abundance of it and, since you will likely need boiling water for much of your cooking, melting snow won’t even add a step. However, it’s important to remember that melted snow and clean drinking water are not the same thing. Boil snow for at least 10 minutes and consider using water treatment methods before drinking.

 

9. Let there be Light (and Power)!

 

It gets dark early in the winter, which means if you aren’t prepared for nightfall you will be setting up your camp stove, lighting your fire, and making your dinner in the dark. Although accomplishing all this sans light would be highly impressive and would likely earn you a nod from Bear Grylls, it is going to be worth your while to have a few extra flashlights and headlamps kicking around to light up your nights.

 

We all know that nothing kills a cellphone battery faster than cold weather. And while you might pride yourself on your lack of iPhone reliance, it is important to be able to call for help in case of emergency. Plus you will want to take pictures while you are out exploring. A portable power pack is small, packable and will keep your phone functioning long enough to snap a few shots of the winter wildlife and National Park scenery between selfies.

 

10. Turn up the Heat

 

You’ve probably noticed that the general theme of these tips has to do with keeping warm. Really this is the best advice anyone can give you when it comes to spending your days and nights outside in the cold Canadian winter. Here are a few additional notes on keeping your body temp up while you are accessing your rugged winter side:

 

Hand/foot warmers – instant warmth for frigid toes

Hot water bottles – pour a little of that boiled snow into a hot water bottle for added heat when you snuggle into your sleeping bag

Sleep with your boots – there is nothing worse than putting your warm feet into cold boots. Take the liners out of your boots and wear them while you sleep or put your boots in a waterproof bag in the bottom of your sleeping bag.

 

 

 

Camp on Campers!

 

 

Photo by Nicole Gaboury courtesy of Tourism Jasper

 

 

 

Wapiti Campground

Location: 5.6 km South of Jasper just off of Highway 93

 

Camping Style: RV/Tent

 

Suitable For: New campers

 

This frontcountry campground is a great place for those who are new to winter camping as it is close to town and has all the amenities of home including electrical, washrooms (with showers), and potable water. Each site has a fire pit, and firewood is included with your daily fire permit (just grab it from the pile). It’s also great for those looking to get out skiing as it is on the way to Marmot Basin, so you can be first on the road and first on the hill!

 

 

Whirlpool Winter Hub

Location: 21.4 km south of Jasper, just south of Marmot Road on Highway 93A

 

Camping Style: RV/Tent

 

Suitable For: Active families

 

A frontcountry campground great for active families because of the 25 km of groomed cross-country ski trails that begin from this location! The campground is also home to the Whirlpool Winter Hub where Parks Canada hosts a variety of interpretive activities on Family Day weekend. This campground is further from town than Wapiti and does not have electrical, potable water or flush toilets, making the winter camping experience a little more rustic. However, the sites do have fire pits and firewood is provided with your daily fire permit.

 

Note: Sites at Wapiti and Whirlpool Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it is recommended that you arrive early! These winter campgrounds are self-registration and daily fire permits are required.

 

 

Hidden Cove

Location: 4 km down Maligne Lake, 48 km from Jasper at the end of Maligne Lake Road (cross-country ski or snowshoe access only)

 

Camping Style: Tent

 

Suitable For: Experienced campers with prior cross-country ski/snowshoe experience

 

This is a great backcountry campground for small groups or families with older kids who are able to manage the trek in. The site has 4 tent pads, a fire pit, a grey water pit, a cook shelter, picnic tables and food storage lockers. Access to this site requires travelling over the frozen Maligne Lake so only plan to winter camp here between mid-January and early April. And make sure you read these guidelines on safe ice travel before heading out.

 

 

Big Bend

Location: 7.8 km south of Sunwapta Falls, 55 km south of Jasper on Highway 93 (access by cross-country ski or snowshoe)

 

Camping Style: Tent

 

Suitable For: Experienced campers with prior cross-country ski/snowshoe experience

 

Another great backcountry option for experienced cross-country skiers in small groups. The site has 4 tent pads, a fire pit, food storage cables and picnic tables. The trail follows a wide fire road and the campground is close to the Athabasca River with views of Dragon Peak.

 

Note: A permit is required for backcountry camping. You can obtain a permit online or by calling 1-877-737-3783.

 

 

Wilcox Winter Campground

Location: 107 km south of Jasper just off Highway 93

 

Camping Style: Tent

 

Suitable For: Experienced campers who are comfortable accessing the location by snowshoe (when conditions require)

 

Staying at the Wilcox Winter Campground allows hardy campers to stay in the Columbia Icefields (Parks experience the icefields parkway in winter). Wilcox Creek Campground is a frontcountry campground during the summer months, but is considered backcountry in the winter as camping is only permitted at the Wilcox Pass Trailhead. There are no amenities available at this location.

 

Note: A bivy/camping permit is required to camp at the Wilcox Winter site call 780-852-6176 for more information.

 

 

Best of the Backcountry: Mount Engadine Lodge

The last time I stayed at Mount Engadine Lodge, I was 16 years old and my dad was turning 50. I’d spent years within the same proximity of the Lodge, skiing and training on the Mt. Shark cross-country trail system a few kilometers up the road, but I never had the opportunity to stop in and see the space. During the celebration of my dad’s birthday (to which my parents had invited several close friends), I seem to recall everyone having a really good time. What I remember of my personal time at the Lodge as an unimpressionable 16-year-old is that I slid the family SUV into a snow bank after finally being granted the rights to a learner’s driving permit.

Looking to replace my shameful memory of bad driving, I found myself back at Mount Engadine, 16 years later, 16 years wiser, and ready to create new (but no less impactful) memories.

Everything about Mount Engadine Lodge is welcoming, even the signs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Engadine Lodge is located at the bases of Mt. Engadine and Mt. Shark in Spray Lakes Provincial Park. Easily accessible from Calgary and Canmore, and operated by Castleavery Hospitality Ventures Inc., the Lodge is a backcountry dream. It’s a space that reminds me of a deep backcountry lodge: there is no cell phone reception; there are no televisions; and meals are served so that everyone sits together at one big table, family-style. It’s a space that begs you to slow down and to enjoy being. Because of its location in the Provincial Park –one away from major highway traffic and light pollution— Mount Engadine Lodge is a good reminder of what silence sounds like; it’s a rare type of quiet that makes me appreciate being disconnected from my phone and email.

If you *have* to connect to wifi, it is available in public areas. Connecting with the fireplace is a lot more rewarding, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike a deep backcountry lodge, however, Mount Engadine is open all year and you can access it by car whenever you want. It doesn’t take a helicopter ride or an elaborate five-hour ski to get there. So if you want to bring your luxury bathrobe and a change of clothing for every possible weather event, go ahead and do it.

 

Even when the weather is frightful, the deck at Engadine is delightful. You can also see some of the guest cabins near the main lodge. Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you never left your room at Mount Engadine Lodge, no one would blame you (especially because the rooms come with locally-made soap from the Rocky Mountain Soap Company). Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like most backcountry lodges, the experience at Engadine is intimate. Accommodating a maximum of nineteen guests each night, the all-inclusive style of the Lodge encourages guests and staff to connect through conversation during meals, which often leads to conversations between meals, too. What begins as small talk about the day’s adventures among guests quickly evolves into praise for Chef Mandy Leighton’s three-course dinner (for your reference, during my stay I was treated to a plated appetizer of elk ribeye, a main course of grilled herbed chicken with mushroom and white wine risotto, and grilled broccolini, and finally earl grey crème brulée for dessert). It’s praise that comes upagain during breakfast, afternoon tea, and when you open your bagged lunch.

Brunch is made better with mimosas. Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re an adventurer, Mount Engadine Lodge’s location is perfect for quick access to backcountry skiing terrain, groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and fat biking trails. There are sets of snowshoes and two fat bikes designated for guest use, so if you don’t have your own equipment or if you want to dip your toes into some outdoor winter fun, the Lodge has you covered. And at the end of the day, no matter what you did (or didn’t do), you’ve earned yourself a seat in the wood-fired sauna.

Skiing in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo credit: Noel Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect grooming on the Mount Shark cross-country ski trails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Engadine Lodge really delivers. From the setting to the meals, and from the activities to the accommodations, the new memories that I’ve formed have successfully replaced the shadow of my 16-year-old self, and they encourage me to return to the Lodge as frequently as possible—something that I plan on doing, whether for the night or just for brunch.

For more information on Mount Engadine Lodge (including details on making reservations for Sunday brunch), click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Nicky Pacas

For the Love of Love! Valentine’s Day in the Canadian Rockies, Part 2

Let’s get real for a second: Valentine’s Day is so much more than one day. It takes coordination. It takes foresight. It takes the perfect card or box of chocolate curated well in advance of what is touted as the most romantic day of the year.

Remember in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast when the Beast asks Cogsworth how he should win Belle’s love? Cogsworth tells him to do the usual things: “flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.”

For Valentine’s Day this year, don’t be a Cogsworth.

Last week we gave you some suggestions for how to show your love, and we’re back with a new list for you this week. The editors at Where Canadian Rockies are rooting for your Valentine’s Day success!

 

Valentine’s Week at the Creek

Maybe you love love so much that you want Valentine’s Day to last longer than one day. Maybe you don’t want to feel the pressure of demonstrating your love on February 14th and you think the 15th is more meaningful. Whatever your feelings are, think about booking a package at Baker Creek Mountain Resort in Lake Louise.

When you book a room through their “Valentine’s Week at the Creek” package, Baker Creek offers you a sweet treat upon your arrival, complimentary skate and snowshoe rentals, a fire pit reservation with an unlimited wood supply, and a fireside gourmet hot chocolate and s’more station.

The offer runs from February 14th to February 18th and starts at $150/night. There is also a special Alberta Resident Room Rate that starts at $139/night.

If you really want to impress your Valentine (or yourself, for that matter), enjoy the specially crafted tasting menu at the Baker Creek Bistro ($39 per person, plus tax and service).

For more information or to book your room, call 1-403-522-3761

Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Cozy up by the fire at Baker Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love’s-a-Brewin’ at Kicking Horse

If ‘beer’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’ are synonymous for you, book a seat at the 2018 Brewmaster’s Dinner hosted in the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on February 16th.

At 7700 feet with 360-degree alpine views, experience mountaintop dining with canapés and an appetizer from the menu that boasts Surf & Turf and Vegan Pasta for entrées and a deconstructed lemon pie for dessert. Yes, you read that right: a deconstructed lemon pie (va va voom!)

You’ll also hear from Kent Donaldson from Whitetooth Brewing, and from Paul Walker of Stanley Park Brewing. At $79 (plus tax and gratuities) per guest, celebrate Valentine’s Day (or beer) on a Friday and show your true love that Brewmasters know how to do things right.

For booking or more information, call 250-439-5553

Dine on top of the world at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle's Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Picture yourself taking in the 360-degree mountain views during the 2018 Brewmaster’s Dinner. Photo: Liam Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For when Two is Better than One

Mountain Wellness Day Spa in Jasper makes it impossible for you to pull a Cogsworth with their Spa Packages for Two. Choose packages that range from a couple’s massage to body exfoliations and wraps (mimosas included!) to impress your best Valentine (or Galentine).

If you really want to step things up, book a Deluxe Package for Two offered exclusively at the Chateau Jasper location. Choose a Romance, Escape, or Wellness package and soak in their tub-for-two (…bathing suits optional!). Spa Packages for Two are offered all year, so we won’t blame you if you start celebrating Valentine’s Day on a weekly basis

For information or booking, call 780-852-3252

 

There is nowhere else you need to be once you’re on the massage table at Mountain Wellness Day Spa in Jasper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Market for Love

If you are in Canmore on February 14th, book a table at the Market Bistro in Three Sisters and enjoy an evening of delicious food and live music. The three-course menu features scallops, a baked goat cheese salad, beef brisket, salmon wellington, and a lava cake.

In 2017, the chef at Market Bistro was awarded “Best Chef of the Festival” at Canmore Uncorked and we can see why. The flavours on the Valentine’s Day menu are sure to impress, and at $55 per person, Valentine’s Day can be affordable but taste expensive.

Dinner seating begins at 5 p.m. with live jazz starting around 6 p.m.

For more information and for booking, call 403-675-3006

 

My Fair Romance

All year, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers a Romance Package and we think there’s no better time to take advantage of it.

Stay for two nights in a Fairmont Room and receive wine and chocolate truffles upon your arrival, a $300 credit at the Fairmont Spa, a dinner for two, and daily breakfast at the ORSO Trattoria.

Starting at $599 per night, the Jasper Park Lodge will make you feel like royalty.

For more information, click here, or call 1-866-540-4454 to book your package.

The Romance Package at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge includes a $300 credit at the Fairmont Spa

 

 

Top 5 Things to do at the Canmore Winter Carnival

Winter often gets a reputation for its harsh weather, keeping us locked indoors, and for a muted colour palette. But we think winter deserves to be celebrated! While winter weather can sometimes hurt our faces, it also lets us ski and skate and slide. We can drink hot chocolate without regret (we need it to stay warm, right?), we can cozy up to warm fires, and we can experience our mountain terrain in different ways. There’s also no better way to celebrate winter than to take part in the Canmore Winter Carnival, which runs from February 1st to the 11th. With lots going on, here are our top five things to do this year:

 

1. Opening Night!
Friday, February 2

Bring your kids and celebrate the opening reception of the Canmore Winter Carnival at the Canmore Civic Centre. From 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., grab a marshmallow and cozy up to a bonfire while you take in live performances and a DJ. A display of children’s art will also be on show.

Maple Taffy Temptations. Photo by Jvan Ommeren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Ice Carving Competition at the Civic Centre
Saturday, February 3

The Ice Magic festival in Lake Louise is over, but the magic lives on in Canmore! Watch carvers impressively transform blocks of ice into sculptures that fit this year’s theme of Hockey. Competition begins at 9 a.m. with judging at 3:30 p.m. Is there a sculpture that you like the most? Cast your People’s Choice vote and see who wins the award at 4:30 p.m.

Joe Martin of Canmore works on his first place award winning owl ice carving at the annual Ice Carving contest in the Canmore Civic Centre at the Canmore Winter Carnival on Sunday, February 5, 2017. photo by Pam Doyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Snowy Owl Kid N Mutt Races
Sunday, February 4

The Canmore Nordic Centre hosts world-class competitions on a regular basis, and this event is no different! Come up and cheer on teams of kids and sled dogs as they race for glory and kibble. Races are ongoing between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

While you’re up at the Nordic Centre, why not try a drop-in cross country ski lesson at Trail Sports? On weekends and holidays, the local shop located at the Nordic Centre hosts 1.5 hour group lessons (both skate and classic techniques are offered) for $45/person. No pre-booking is required, although you need to register by 10:30 a.m. Lessons begin at 11 a.m.

Kid N Mutt Races at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Photo by Pam Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rogers Hometown Hockey
February 10 & 11

If the good ol’ hockey game is the best game you can name, then make sure you experience a weekend-long celebration of all things community, and all things hockey! The event takes place in downtown Canmore on Main Street (8th St) and at the Canmore Civic Centre.

There will be performances by On-the-Bench and by country music star, Paul Brandt. You can also take part in family-friendly activities like the Rogers Fan Hub, the Sportsnet Virtual Photo, a McDonald’s Ball Hockey Rink featuring local Minor Hockey teams, a Playmobil Kids Zone, the Scotiabank Community Locker Room, a Dodge Stow n’ Go Challenge, a Dr. Oetker Giuseppe Pizzeria, and much more.

With community events like pancake breakfasts to fuel you up, you can be at your best for the live pre-game and NHL game broadcast between the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders, hosted by Ron MacLean and Tara Slone.

You can also catch a glimpse of hockey greats, Ryan Smyth, Brendan Morrison, and Lanny McDonald

Parking in Canmore is limited, so ROAM Transit is offering free local transit service on February 10th and 11th. For information on the transit schedule, click here.

For more information on Rogers Hometown Hockey, click here.

 

5. Log Sawing Competition
Sunday, February 11

Grab your plaid-print flannel and make your way down to the Log Sawing Competition. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., watch feats of Canadian athleticism as competitors aim to be the faster sawyer.

All cheering should be done in Canadian (eh! eh! eh!)

Dan Brown, left, and Clayton Williams compete in the log sawing contest as Woodpecker European Timber Framing project manager Markus Temmen supervises at the Canmore Winter Carnival on Sunday, February 5, 2017. Photo by Pam Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information on the Canmore Winter Carnival can be found here.

Where’s Where to Après Ski

By Where Writers

So you want to après ski, eh?

From ski hills to yoga studios, and breakfast joints to late night pubs, we’ve created the definitive list for après ski activities in the Canadian Rockies. Without bias, we can certainly declare that our list if the best list. Read on!

 

Pre-après your Day

Sometimes the most important part of your ski day happens before you squeeze your feet into boots.

Saltlik Steakhouse Caesar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stretch out before you head out with lululemon Banff. They host free Sunday morning classes so that you can get ready for a whole day of skiing … or recover from one.

Fuel the whole family at Craigs’ in Canmore. This classic diner serves hearty breakfasts that are sure to give you energy for the entire day.

Late night? Rally in Canmore with a fresh-pressed juice from Toniq or a Hangover Wrap from Harvest (718, 10 St., Canmore). If you are in Banff and feeling a little worse-for-wear, grab a day-saving Caesar at Saltlik. Rumor has it that any of these cures will have you back on the slopes in no time.

 

Wear your Ski Boots

In a mountain town you can wear your gear with pride, so long as you know where to go…

Get your après on at these on-hill locales (goggles optional):

  1. The Caribou Lounge at Marmot Basin offers food and drink specials every weekend from 2 till 5 (and that includes Friday).
  2. Mad Trappers resides in the original Sunshine Village ski lodge, so you can après the same way the very first skiers did. Sunshine’s other favourite end of day spot, The Chimney Corner, offers fireside lounging for cold days and an outdoor terrace for sunny ones.
  3. It’s said that the Kokanee Kabin at the Lake Louise Ski Resort has the “best draught deck in the Rockies,” but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
  4. Stop for a late lunch or an early après on the deck at Nakiska’s Mid-Mountain Lodge, or pop up to the Finish Line Lounge for a post-ski poutine.
  5. Pause for a pint at Norquay’s Lone Pine Pub before heading back down into Banff.
  6. If you’ve crossed over into BC for the weekend, treat yourself to a traditional Raclette Après at Panorama’s Elkhorn Cabin, or take in live music and après specials from the Whitetooth Grill at Kicking Horse.

If you can make it up the stairs in your ski boots, we’ll lay a bet that you can dance in them too. You might head to Wild Bill’s in Banff for the drinks, but you’ll wind up staying for dinner and likely late into the night when the live music starts and the real fun begins!

 

Grab Some Grub

Some of us are in it for the adventure, some of us are in it for the party, some of us are in it for the scenery, but ALL of us are in it for the FOOD!

Mountain Mercato Après Ski Special

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bite into the burger of your dreams at Eddie Burger (137 Banff Ave., Banff). The Grass Fed Rancher has us drooling, but maybe you’ll go for the Aussie Burger (topped with grilled pineapple, beets and a fried egg!). No matter what toppings you choose, we’re sure you’ll be satisfied.

If your post-hill cravings are for finer fare, the Juniper Bistro in Banff offers an après ski lounge menu starting at 3 pm, and Murrieta’s in Canmore offers half price appies and $5 beer and wine, Monday to Friday 3 to 6 pm.

Mountain Mercato (817 8st., Canmore) is a local favourite, and with their beer and panini combo for $15, we can understand why. Head there between 4 and 6 pm to get yours.

Baker Creek Bistro in Lake Louise offers their winter appetizer menu from 2 to 5 pm. These seasonal selections pair beautifully with fireplaces and afternoon cocktails.

 

Get Your Game On

If the slopes were great, but you spent all day worrying about the score, don’t worry; you can catch up on all your favourite teams (and Olympic athletes) no matter where you are in the Rockies.

Montana’s Game Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re in Jasper, O’Shea’s has game night specials and Montana’s has great game day door prizes.

In Banff you can cheer on your team at Melissa’s and you won’t miss one word of the commentary because each table has its own speaker. Join passionate locals at Tommy’s, a favourite hangout of everyone in Banff.

Pull up a chair anywhere at the Iron Goat in Canmore. The two-story restaurant has TVs on both floors so you won’t miss the game no matter where you are seated.

 

Après Hour is the Happiest Hour

We’re pretty sure that après ski is French for Happy Hour, no matter what you say.

Crazyweed Crab Fundido

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazyweed In House Smoked Camembert

 

Jasper Brewing Co. has great vibes and luckily, the end of your ski-day coincides nicely with their Happy Hour. From 3 to 6 pm, enjoy $4 pints of local brews and $1 off mixed drinks from the bar.

Canmore’s Crazyweed calls 3 to 5 pm “Crazy Hour”, probably because they offer a crazy awesome sharing menu including Taber Corn & Crab Fundido and In House Smoked Camembert.

From 5 to 7 pm you will find daily drink and food specials at the De’d Dog Bar & Grill in Jasper. This means $6 pints of seasonal ale and Sriracha cod Sandwiches on Saturdays, and steak night Sundays with $5.25 pints of Keith’s.

 

Soothe It Out

If dinner sounds nice, but your sore legs have you feeling wobblier than Bambi on ice, maybe try out a few of these active recovery methods first.

Wildheart Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildheart Studio

 

Do your stretches at Canmore’s Wildheart in their Snow Flow yoga class on Monday and Saturday evenings. This class is designed to help you relax into a deep stretch after a day on the slopes as well as build strength for your next lengthy ski day. Jasper Wellness offers a similar class, Après Activity, on Saturday afternoons at 4 pm. This class will help you finish off your day by re-lengthening.

The Willow Stream Spa at the Banff Springs offers a variety of massages including a deep tissue massage to help your muscles recover from strenuous exercise or you can soak it out in one of the three waterfall treatment whirlpools.

Come Home to Canmore

SPONSORED CONTENT

Greet Adventure from your Front Door

Those unfamiliar with Canmore may think of it as the gateway to Banff, but for those who live here, Canmore is the center of mountain adventure. It’s the kind of town that you can visit for a weekend, but as you get ready to leave, you realize that you’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what you can do here.

The clean alpine air somehow convinces you to get outside even on the coldest days, and mountain shade provides a welcome respite from the hot sun in summer months. The town is one that thrives on community and togetherness, and its growth is easily attributable to visitors quickly realizing that while a weekend in Canmore is nice, a lifetime of weekends is ideal. Here, living and adventure are mutually inclusive.

The landscape of Canmore is vast, but the amount of land available for residential building is small in comparison. Commitments to maintaining wildlife corridors and the natural environment for all who experience the town make opportunities to purchase a new home a rare commodity. Unlike Banff, which has a ‘need-to-reside’ policy preventing part-time and vacation ownership in the townsite, Canmore allows anyone interested in living in the mountains a place to hang their coat after a day outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stewart Creek, nestled at the base of the iconic trio of peaks known as the Three Sisters, is a burgeoning community of open and green spaces begging to be explored. It’s a location close to downtown, but it affords the quiet, laidback lifestyle for those trying to get away from busy urban centers. When you need them, scenic river pathways lead you into town where you can live the outdoors and experience the arts within minutes of each other.

The views are stunning: Pigeon Mountain to the east, Cascade Mountain to the west.

It’s an escape, but it’s not isolating. The innovative, contemporary mountain architecture of Stewart Creek reflects rustic lifestyle and luxury, and the community attracts newcomers and longtime residents, first-time homeowners and retirees. It offers something for everyone.

Stewart Creek extends to buyers the convenience of working with homebuilders, like Devonian Properties, Distinctive Homes, QuantumPlace, Renaissance, Versant at Stewart Creek, NuAlpine, and Legend Developments, who want to customize or modify homes to fit a buyer’s needs. Offering a range of homes, from single-family to duplex-style and multi-family units, the builders of Stewart Creek design and construct residences so that they accommodate the lifestyles of the homeowners living in them.

The best way to experience Canmore is close up, so do it! Come to town and visit Stewart Creek and pick out the views you will look forward to for decades. Take a walk though a show home or sales center and stay a while; this is your home now, too.

Visit tsmv.ca for more information.

 

 

What to do during Ice Magic & Snow Days

By: Calli Naish

 

The days are getting longer, the snow is getting deeper, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate winter in Banff and Lake Louise because Snow Days and Ice Magic start this week!

 

January 18, 19 and 20

Watch artists turn massive blocks of ice into glittering sculptures at the Lake Louise Ice Carving festival. The event takes place at the Chateau Lake Louise and although tickets are required between 10 am and 5:30 pm on weekends, the sculptures can be viewed for free outside of these times and during the week.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 19

The pressure is on at the One Hour, One Carver, One Block speed-carving event! Watch 10 carvers compete as fast as they can outside the Kokanee Kabin at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and then vote for your favourite sculpture. The carving will take place between 2:30 and 3:30 pm, but you can always check out the impressive results after the competition is over.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 19

Test your ingenuity and your nerve by entering the Cardboard Sled Derby and racing your own handmade sled down Mt. Norquay. Be sure to design a trendy toboggan because prizes are being awarded for best overall, as well as fastest sled and best crash. The event begins at 7 pm and entry is $10 at the door.

 

January 19 & 20

Lace up your skates and join DJ Hunnicutt and DJ Co-Op at the All-Canadian Skate Parties. The parties are family friendly and are hosted at the Banff High School field from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, and from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday.

 

January 20

Watch local and international snow artists put the finishing touches on the infamous Snow Days snow sculptures from 6 to 9 pm. You can find these masterpieces at the Bear Street festival area where there will be bonfires and dancing into the night.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 20 & 21

Celebrate the snow with FIS World Snow Days! To encourage families to get out and explore the snow, kids will ski for free all weekend at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Plus there are family discounts on tubing and on lessons, making it the perfect time for skiers and non-skiers to enjoy the slopes together!

 

January 20, 21, 27 and 28

Learn how to snowshoe at the Snowshoe Sampler! Meet on the Lake Louise shoreline between 10 am and 3 pm for some games and activities led by a Parks Canada interpretive guide. Snowshoes are provided so it’s the perfect time to try out a new winter sport.

 

January 26

Experience an evening of winter celebration at the Lake Louise Torchlight Dinner. The evening begins at 3:30 pm with après drinks and appies at the Whitehorn Bistro, where you’ll be entertained with an ice carving demo before doing some carving of your own as you ski by torchlight down the freshly groomed runs. The evening finishes off with a buffet dinner at the Sitzmark Lounge and live music by One Night Band. If an evening of dinner and dancing sounds great, but you could do without the skiing, no worries; you can purchase tickets specifically for the post-ski activities. This event is popular so be sure to book your spots ahead of time!

 

January 27 & 28

Excite your creative side at the Ice that Inspires carving demo, where one of the carving competitors will demonstrate the precision and artistry of ice carving. Tickets are required and the demonstrations take place between 10 am and 5 pm at the Chateau Lake Louise.

 

All Festival Long

Step 1: Consult this map (for snow) or head to Lake Louise (for ice)

 

Step 2: Find the 10 snow sculptures in downtown Banff (plus 2 at Mt. Norquay), or the ice sculptures outside the Chateau Lake Louise

 

Step 3: Take a moment to take in the magic of winter in the Canadian Rockies

 

Step 4: Tag @whererockies in your favourite winter masterpiece photos and we’ll feature them in our Instagram Story

 

Transportation

On January 20, 21, 27 and 28, free shuttles will run from the Lake Louise Samson Mall, to the Upper Lake Louise Parking Lot. The first shuttle leaves from the Samson Mall at 10:30 am and the last shuttle leaves from the Upper Parking Lot at 6 pm. No pets will be allowed on the shuttle.

 

Building 93 North

By: Nicky Pacas

Think of the coolest thing you’ve ever made. Maybe it’s the Christmas decoration you crafted in kindergarten that your mom still hangs on the tree. Maybe you’ve brewed some drinkable beer out of containers stored in your basement. Maybe you built a shelf that from afar, doesn’t look too crooked.

Yeah, your cool creations are pretty legit. But your cool creations are nowhere near as cool as what Max Flowerday and Sam McEwen are making.

Sam McEwen (L) and Max Flowerday (R) at their shop in Canmore, AB. Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Building 93 North

Highway 93 North is one of the most scenic highways in the world. It navigates through two national parks and connects Lake Louise with Jasper. It’s as infamous for its breathtaking views as it is for suboptimal driving conditions in the winter. It took 600 men ten years to build the road (most of it was completed by horse and hand because there was only one tractor per crew). And since its completion in 1940, the highway, also known as the Icefields Parkway, has been a hotspot for sightseeing, wildlife encounters, and as the starting point for some of the best mountain adventures the Canadian Rockies offer.

It’s also the inspiration for the name of Flowerday’s and McEwen’s burgeoning business, 93 North Skis.

Operating out of a small shop in Canmore, AB, Flowerday and McEwen are handcrafting skis. Both are mechanical engineering graduates from Queen’s University with backgrounds in ski racing. To say they’re still passionate about skiing would be an understatement.

The seed for 93 North Skis was planted when Flowerday and McEwen would go backcountry skiing together: conversations on the up-track about what makes a good ski became the catalyst to McEwen’s research on actually building skis. Then, as Flowerday puts it, “we met for a beer and we made a list of everything that we would need [to make our own skis].” A partnership was built.

Constructing skis initially began as a hobby. Working together in the evenings and on weekends, the pair would develop plans for building skis; they’d talk about it, and then they’d do some work. But, like with most hobbies, work and life would take over and the project would get dropped for a little while before its seductive charm would woo them back into production.

In July 2015, the first prototype was made and they tested it on glaciers before refining and reworking their ideas into other prototypes. Cut to a year later, and McEwen and Flowerday made the executive decision to leave their engineering jobs to pursue ski production fulltime. Originally, they planned to work in Calgary, but after considering the best fit for their business, a serendipitous opening of a shop space in Canmore pulled them westward. In September 2016, the team behind 93 North Skis had moved to Canmore, and by December, the products they made as hobbyists were transforming into something professional.

With the transformation from hobby to profession now complete, Flowerday and McEwen are building some seriously good skis. The Andromeda and Andromeda 166 are versatile skis designed for the variable conditions of the Rocky Mountains. Primarily off-piste skis with the capability to hold an edge on-piste, the Andromedas handle ice, wind-swept slopes, and powder—they’re durable, but they perform well. In other words, you can have your Andromeda cake and eat it, too.

It’s not by chance that the skis work so well in the Rocky Mountains; Flowerday and McEwen tested different materials in their prototypes and ultimately decided on constructing a ski with a maple core. The maple is durable, but lively. It is a consistent wood with minimal defects and a dense grain structure that ensures strong binding retention. The p-tex used as the sidewall material was specifically chosen because of its performance in cold weather (ABS plastic gets brittle in the cold), and poplar has been added to complement the maple. And though it doesn’t take 600 men 10 years to complete a pair of 93 North skis, it does take Flowerday and McEwen about ten man-hours to handcraft each set.

Sam McEwen and Max Flowerday working on a pair of skis.
Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Max Flowerday at work on a pair of 93 North skis.
Photo: Mikey Stevenson

The thoughtfulness in the construction and design of the Andromedas isn’t something you can easily see (it is something you can feel). But if you had to look for something indicative of precision and expertise, look no further than the artwork on the skis. Local artist Emily Beaudoin (@emily.beaudoin) was chosen by McEwen and Flowerday to create the top sheet designs for the Andromeda and the Andromeda 166. Her precise line drawings and integrated watercolours are a callback to artwork from a contemporary world of minimalist designs. Even if you’re not a skier, you could take a pair of skis home just to hang on the wall.

A pair of 93 North skis with art by Emily Beaudoin. Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Working with Beaudoin is only one of the ways that 93 North Skis is keeping things local. By establishing relationships with local guides and athletes, McEwen and Flowerday have set themselves up to be in Canmore long term. And like most locals, they’re super friendly and want you to pay a visit to their shop; they’ll show you their process and let you know how you can demo a pair of skis. You can even sign up for one of their ski workshops and build your own set of skis (just watch your cool factor increase when you replace your shoddy shelf with some sweet boards).

Visit 93NorthSkis.com to get in touch with Flowerday and McEwen or to read more about their hand crafted skis. You can also visit one (or all) of the retailers selling 93 North skis so that you can take advantage of the winter that has finally graced us with its presence.

93 North Retailers:

Ski West in Calgary
Vertical Addiction in Canmore
Pure Outdoors in Jasper
Soul Ski and Bike in Banff
Ernie’s Sports Experts in Grand Prairie

The photos in this story were taken by Mikey Stevenson. To see more of his photography, visit his website here.

Take a look at the Canadian Rockies

Our first ever magazine cover contest was a smashing success! We received an incredible 239 submissions from 29 photographers. After we chose our cover (and our Last Look on the final page by Bryce Brown –see below), we reached out to everyone who submitted to the contest and asked if they would allow us to showcase some of their work. Read on to see a few of our favourite entries and you’ll understand just how hard our selection for the cover photo really was!

Bryce Brown

@brycebrownimages

www.brycebrownimages.ca

Kahli Hindmarsh

@kahliaprilphoto

www.kahliaprilphoto.com

 

Pam Jenks

https://500px.com/jenksphoto

 

Elnaz Mansouri

@elnaz555

www.elnazmansouri.com

 

Leslie Price

@leslieprice1121

 

 

Brad Orr

@wbradorr

www.bradorr.ca

Tyler Parker

@tylerparkerphotography

Kyla Black

@gatheringdustphotography

www.gatheringdustphotography.com

 

Mike Hopkins

@mikehopkinsphotography

www.mikehopkinsphotography.com

 

 

Of course this list only scratches the surface of the work of these photographers and all of the incredible photography here in the Canadian Rockies. If you are dying to see more mountains, sunsets, skies and wildlife (who isn’t?) we’ve got you covered online (@whererockies)!

Thank you to everyone who submitted and keep an eye out for future contests!

Photographing Winter: an Interview with Cai Priestley

In October Where Canadian Rockies held a photo contest for our Winter magazine cover. For several weeks, we were overwhelmed by the number of quality submissions sent to us by photographers from all over the world. After much deliberation and debate, we chose Cai Priestley’s photograph of a red fox, taken on the Bow Valley Parkway, as our winner. The fox captured our attention because we couldn’t help but think it was looking right at us, demanding that it become our selection (we hope you feel the same way)!

Cai’s skills as a photographer extend well-beyond the fiery fox in the snowy landscape; his website (www.caipriestley.co.uk) offers stunning wildlife photography from Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa—we really think you should buy one of his calendars (!)

We wanted to know more about Cai, and he took the time to answer our questions about his bucket list, his training as a photographer, and the craziest thing he’s ever experienced while out photographing. Have a read below to learn more about the man behind the Winter 2017/18 cover:

WHERE ROCKIES: You are from Wales, but you specialize in Canadian wildlife photography; what brought you to Canada?

CAI PRIESTLEY: Back in 2008 I decided to do some traveling, with the intention of finding and photographing some wildlife along the way. I spent a couple of months in Africa and then came to Canada to meet some friends who were living in Banff.

My plan was to keep traveling around Canada for six months, but after seeing the mountains and some local wildlife, I decided to stay in Bow Valley for as long as I could. I’ve run out of work visas now, but I was able to live and work in Banff for five of the last ten years, and I hope to call it home again someday soon.

WR: You capture what seem to be really intimate moments with animals (a bear cub looking back at you while walking with her mom and siblings, the peek from a pine marten, the fox…!); how are you able to capture them so perfectly?

CP: I put in a lot of time looking for wildlife. I try to get out as often as I can, and by doing so, I’m always increasing my chances of having an incredible encounter with something really cool. When it comes to capturing an image that I’m happy with, it’s a whole other story. It’s not always glorious wildlife and great photos. There are a lot more failed attempts and missed opportunities.

WR: Were you formally trained in photography or are you mostly self-taught?

CP: I’m mostly self-taught, but I did do a short photography course as part of my art foundation in college. That was mainly working in the darkroom learning film processing and developing though. I’ve also had some great mentors along the way who have taught me lots, especially since arriving in Canada. John Marriott and Peter Dettling were both instrumental in helping me learn the ropes when it came to Canadian wildlife.

WR: On your website, you note that you came home because you’d reached the end of your working visa; do you want to come back to the Canadian Rockies anytime soon?

CP: I’d love to make the Rockies my permanent home someday, but in the meantime I’m visiting for a couple of months every year. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I can do at the moment until I’m in a better position to be able to move back for good.

WR: Is there anything that you haven’t captured on camera that still remains on your bucket list?

CP: The holy grail of Canadian wildlife for me would be a wolverine, a cougar or a fisher. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for wolverine but the chances of ever seeing one let alone photographing one, are incredibly small.

WR: How do you describe your photography style?

CP: I’ve never really pinned down a particular style as far as I can tell. I like shooting very wide scenes that show a subject in its environment or habitat, but I equally like a nice intimate portrait where fur or feather detail can be easily seen.

WR: Where is your favourite non-Canadian place to shoot?

CP: I love photographing on home soil here in Wales, but most of my photography is done abroad these days. I visited Alaska very briefly a few years ago and it’s somewhere I’d love to return to someday.

WR: In a landscape with sublime mountains (the Rockies), why animal photographs?

CP: I love the mountains, and I can’t say no to a good sunrise or sunset, but I’ve been obsessed with wildlife from a very young age, so wild animals will always take priority over landscape images for me. Every time I stop to shoot a sunrise, I can’t help but thinking there could be a pack of wolves waiting patiently for me in a meadow somewhere, and that’s all it takes for me to turn my back on the scene and keep searching.

WR: Can you tell me about some of your Rocky Mountain Favourites (best places to dine, visit, etc.)?

CP: I used to be a huge Barpa Bill’s fan, and I still recommend it to anyone looking for the best burger in town, but since turning vegetarian my favourite dining experience has got to be Nourish.
When it comes to my favourite places to visit or spend time at in Banff, I’d have to say the Cave and Basin or the Banff Springs Golf Course. Both places are seriously beautiful and great for a stroll close to town.

WR: What is the craziest thing that’s happened to you while photographing?

CP: Luckily I’ve not had many crazy moments when I’m out taking photos. I try my best not to put myself in those situations, or in scenarios that could potentially turn ‘crazy’. Sometimes though, things happen that are unforeseen, and there’s been a couple of times where things could have turned sour.
One that comes to mind was not long after I moved to Canada, and I got fairly close to a cow moose in a meadow in Kananaskis. I had made quite a long silent approach towards her, and I was fully visible so that I didn’t spook her. She was comfortable enough with me to carry on doing what she was doing, as I’d shown her that I wasn’t a threat.

What I hadn’t seen though, was the big bull moose that had emerged from the trees behind me and was making his way towards her. I got quite a shock when I eventually heard him thrashing his antlers in the willows just a few yards away. My exit was now blocked, and I had a river to my right that was way too deep and fast flowing to try and cross, especially with my tripod and camera. What ensued was a very intense twenty minutes where I stood still right in between the cow and bull, as the bull slowly closed the gap with his approach. Luckily, I didn’t have to get wet to make my escape in the end, as the cow decided to walk off in a different direction, which drew the bull away from my exit. As soon as I had enough room, I snuck out of there with a huge sigh of relief, and let him continue his advances alone.

Do yourself a favour and follow Cai on social media, @caipriestleyphotography + Cai Priestley Photography, you’ll be happy that you did.

The Winter 2017/18 issue of Where Canadian Rockies can be read here: http://rmvpublications.com/whererockiesdigital/

The Winter Issue of Where Canadian Rockies, featuring the photography of Cai Priestley

 

Ready to Play

In the spring of 2018, five years after the flood, the rebuilt Kananaskis Country Golf Course will be once again open to the public.

By: Jack Newton

Recently I visited an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in four years. Even though she had been under the weather and had endured a long road to recovery, she looked great and gave me a warm welcome.

My friendship with the Kananaskis Golf Course began at her public debut in 1983. Like most Alberta golfers, I was captivated by the mountain beauty that architect Robert Trent Jones famously called “the best natural setting I’ve ever been given to work with.” After depleting my mulligans and duffing yet another drive, her clear Kananaskis River waters and steadfast Mt Kid views would soothe my high handicap soul.

In June 2013, the Kananaskis Golf Course fell victim to the floods that ravaged southern Alberta. Trees were uprooted, pathways were ripped apart, and fairways were buried under tons of mud. Although the destructive side of Mother Nature was fully revealed, no one guessed that it would take four long years and $18 million dollars before golfers would again ply these Rocky Mountain links.

The picturesque Kananaskis River in September 2018 bears little resemblance to the ranging torrent that destroyed the Kananaskis Country Golf Golf Course during the June 2103 flood.

I was amongst the first to return. As an invitee at the September 19, 2017 Sneak-a-Peek media event, I was privileged to play the Kananaskis Golf Course eight months before its public reopening scheduled for May 2018.

During their pre-game presentation, course general manger, Darren Robinson, and head of golf, Bob Paley, spoke from the heart. “We want this place to again to offer decompression, connection for friends and family, and engagement with nature,” they said. “To have people ride into this golf course in a vehicle other than a dump truck is pretty special. It’s really good to get some hugs.”

Out on the course, the crisp air, sun-bathed peaks, and camaraderie of my fellow golfers (plus a hot turkey sandwich from the new Mount Lorette Snack Shack) contributed to the enjoyment of the day. But most impressive was the course itself.

Calgary golf course architect, Gary Browning, and a legion of landscape contractors were tasked with the rebuild. “They are artists,” Robinson had enthused during his presentation, “the skill set employed to restore this course is humbling.”

During construction, Browning and course operator, Kan-Alta Golf Management, conspired to make a good thing better. “We had a fresh start,” noted Robinson, “so we went hole-by-hole to see what could be improved.”

Championship golf courses of the 1980s such as Kananaskis were built to challenge. “The tougher the better,” suggested Paley at the presentation. But by 2017 the paradigm had shifted; today the objective is to make courses more playable. Indeed, recreational golfers like me want to a play their round in less time, and we’re no longer eager to be beaten up in the process.

So now, the new Kananaskis Golf Course features two extra forward tees. Golfers can choose from six tee box options and play a round from 3800 to 7250 yards. During our game we drove from the third box, positions that were called ‘ladies’ tees’ in less politically correct times.

Fairway bunkers that previously consumed balls of less-skilled practitioners were eliminated or reduced in size. Plus, popular nineteenth hole facilities have been rebuilt so that they are bigger and better. Snack shacks are more elaborate, and the clubhouse patio is twice its former size.

Photo Credit: Steve Baylin

Despite all the money spent and the improvements made, I found the new Kananaskis Golf Course to look and play pretty much as I remember. This is a good thing. The fabulous Robert Trent Jones layout that won so many awards and endeared itself to so many golfers remains intact.

Since the pace of play was faster and I was more easily able to avoid hazards, I concede that my old friend has mellowed a bit with age. But she’s still an enticing beauty with charms to draw me back to her presence.

If You Plan to Play:

-Kananaskis Country Golf Course is taking corporate group bookings now. Call 1-403-591-7070.
-Individuals will be able to book tee times for the 2018 season in March. Call 1-403-591-7070 or visit kananaskisgolf.com.
-The Mount Lorrette course was fully restored by Fall 2017; its 18 holes will be ready to play in May 2018. Nine holes of the Mount Kidd course will open soon after, and by July 2018 all 36 holes will be hosting golfers.

Photo Cred: Steve Baylin

My golfing partners at the September 19, 2017 Sneak a Peek media event were Impact Magazine editor Chris Welner, Calgary Herald columnist David Parker and CBC Radio Homestretch host Doug Dirks. All three are better golfers than me.

 

 

Take a Hike!

Today is the last day of summer, but the smell of pumpkin spice has been creeping into the Canadian Rockies for at least a week as the temperatures have been steadily dropping. As sad as we are to bid another summer farewell, we are equally excited to usher in a colourful fall filled with new adventures and hiking. If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies for the first time, you are in for a treat: it’s larch season! Because we want you to make the most of your visit, we’ve turned to expert hiker, Marie-Eve Bilodeau (the Mini Mule), to give us some of the best larch hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

If you are in the Lake Louise area, Marie-Eve recommends Larch Valley, the Tea House at Lake Louise, and Saddleback-Fairview Mountain. Should your visit have you in and around Banff, try exploring Taylor Lake or Healy Pass. Finally, if you are on your way to the Rockies from Calgary, consider stopping at Chester Lake/Chester Creek for a mid-drive hike.

We recommend that you visit Marie-Eve’s website for information on the hikes (and to get some ideas for other fantastic hikes in the Rockies).

Some the of scenery on the way to Chester Lake.
Photo Credit: Marie-Eve Bilodeau

For trail conditions, closures, and warnings, visit:

Kananaskis Trail Reports

Banff National Park Trail Report

Jasper National Park Trail Report

Yoho National Park Trail Report

Kootney National Park Trail Report

-Happy hiking!