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Banff, Canmore & Area

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!

Canmore’s Summer Shopping List

By Keili Bartlett and Kaitlyn Forde

Venture into Canmore’s shops to see what the locals get up to when they’re not on alpine adventures. Creations of all kinds are inspired and made here.

Custom Made

Rudi Peet Canmore Jewellery

Where Canadian Rockies staff love the flowing, nature inspired shapes of Rudi Peet jewellery. Artist Alex Mukai Jr and publisher Jack Newton both commissioned Peet to design and handcraft their wives’ engagement rings, while associate publisher Glenn Miles purchased a Swiss watch for his wife. All three bring jewellery to Peet for quality repairs. “I trust him completely,” says Mukai.

Cherry on Top

Canary Frozen Yogurt Canmore

We’ve got the scoop on the best fro-yo in town. Canary Frozen Yogurt and Coffee’s cool, creamy creations start with homemade frozen yogurt or dairy-free sorbet. Choose from eight flavours, then add your favourite fresh fruit, candy and nut toppings. Indulge in a sugar high or a healthy-ish treat; the choice is yours!

DIY Souvenir

Canmore Quilt Sugar Pine

Do more than purchase a souvenir. Create your own! Sugar Pine Co Quilting and Knitting Shop Rockies-inspired quilting kits with unique and eclectic patterns of wildlife and mountains attract tourists of all ages. More of a knitter? Stop by Yarn and Co. for high-quality Canadian wool as well as classes for all levels. Check back in September 30 to October 1 for the Mountain Cabin Quilters Guild Show to see more than 100 quilts (some for sale!).

Sugar Pine Canmore Quilt Show

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Banff’s Sizzling Summer Style and Souvenirs

By Keili Bartlett and Kaitlyn Forde

Whether its the lifestyle or just the style, take your favourite part of Banff home. These momentos will whisk you back to your summer in the mountains, no matter how far you may get.

Mountain Style Makeover

Canadian Fashion Xperience espy Rebecca King (more…)

Canmore’s Street Art

By Where writers

Greeting visitors with a quiet welcome is Canmore's Big Head.

Greeting visitors with a quiet welcome is Canmore’s Big Head.

The Big Head sculpture comes to mind first as Canmore’s most recognizable public art installation. This summer a new contender joins the scene when the colourful Canada 150 mural is unveiled June 30 at the Civic Centre.

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Fun Ways to Sightsee

By Where writers

There are many sights to see in the Canadian Rockies, and plenty of ways to see them. Here are a few options:

Photo courtesy of Banff Trail Riders

Photo courtesy of Banff Trail Riders

  • By Bike: Rent one and ride to views off the beaten path. ROAM Public Transit and Hike ‘n’ Bike Shuttle allow one-way routes, while Rebound Cycle gives tours.
  • Walk and Talk: Learn about mountaineering and local legends on Discover Banff Tours guided hikes of the “jewels of the Canadian Rockies,” Lake Louise and Lake Morraine.
  • Giddy-Up: Discover the Old West atop a horse for an hour, day or overnight.
  • Your Way and the Highway: Download a GyPSy Guide driving tour app that automatically plays at activation points without data or cell service.
  • Hop on Banff: Jump off and on the bus to explore your choice of Banff, Bow Valley Parkway and Lake Louise attractions (403-609-5242).
  • Ultimate Explorer: Visit ultimate-explorer.com to buy value priced combo passes to popular Pursuit attractions like Banff Gondola, Mountain Lake Cruise and Glacier Adventure.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Seven Sizzling Summer Activities in the Mountains

By Where writers

Summer is well underway, and hopefully so is your bucket list! If you need help figuring out the best way to spend your time the Canadian Rockies, look no further.

Banff by Boat

Photo courtesy of Brewster Inc.

Photo courtesy of Brewster Inc.

Thanks to a new Roam bus route, isolated Lake Minnewanka is more accessible than ever. Take the classic 1.5 hour Banff Lake Cruise. Or, book a specialty trip such as First Nations history and myths, park wildlife or family excursion. On our cruise we nibbled cheese and sipped wine as our guide shared tips for photographing the landscape. We disembarked with beautiful photos, full bellies and a desire to return for another themed tour.

Canoe Like a Canadian

Photo by Dan Evans

Photo by Dan Evans

To find a peaceful activity with mountain views and wildlife spotting opportunities minutes from downtown Banff, walk three blocks to the Banff Canoe Club docks. Every canoe, kayak and stand up paddleboard rental includes basic instruction before you paddle the tranquil river, creek and lake waters. Tip: joining the Club saves you money if you rent for more than one hour.

Dog Days of Summer

Photo courtesy of Yamnuska Dog Sanctuary

Photo courtesy of Yamnuska Dog Sanctuary

Howl along with man’s (and woman’s) best friend as you tour the Snowy Owl Sled Dog Kennel or Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. Both facilities offer experts to explain unique breed behaviours, and opportunities to interact with the animals. Have your own pal? Let ‘em run free at Banff Off Leash Dog Park or Quarry Lake Park in Canmore.

Climb On

Norquary Via Ferrata Pic 3

Last fall I tackled Mt Norquay’s Via Ferrata course of assisted rock climbs, scrambles and a swinging suspended bridge. Despite knowing that my harness would always be fastened safely to the handholds or cables, I was nervous when approaching the first pitch. My adrenaline level was elevated, my heart rate increased and my hands trembled. But once I stepped on to the first rung, my feelings changed to pure exhilaration! The route was dynamic and fun, allowing for spectacular views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle.

Off the Beaten Path

Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo by Sebastian Buzzalino

Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo by Sebastian Buzzalino

Live clandestinely at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis. Although accessible by car, the lodge still possesses a solitary ambience. Sip your drink on the deck and overlook a mountain-ringed meadow often frequented by wildlife. Reserve a meal or drop in for afternoon tea by the fireplace in the rustic dining room. Enquire about hiking and fishing hotspots; bagged lunches are available if you call ahead.

Reach New Heights

Photo courtesy of Rockies Heli Canada

Photo courtesy of Rockies Heli Canada

I’ve been a passenger on many planes, but flying in a helicopter was a first. On my Rockies Heli Canada tour, the hovering sensation was exciting and smoother than expected. Soaring above towering mountains revealed a breathtaking new perspective. We landed in a high alpine meadow to hike an otherwise inaccessible area, and chatted with our pilot over tea. You can also pair your flight with yoga, camping or horse riding. Whichever adventure you choose, you’ll enjoy the ride.

Take Your Shot

Photo courtesy of Try Biathlon

Photo courtesy of Try Biathlon

Get your heart racing, bring it back down quickly and take your best shot at the Canmore Nordic Centre rifle range. The Try Biathlon class includes Bond-worthy action shots. Are you up for it?

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Canada Live on Stage at the Lux

By Keili Bartlett

This summer, live theatre takes centre stage at the Lux Cinema. Director Bridget Ryan offers three “hilarious and heart-warming,” plays that celebrate Canada’s beauty, community and music:

  • Family-friendly The Adventures of the Curious Bear and the Red Canoe follows a bear on the move across our country (2 pm, Tues-Sat, every 2nd Sun)
  • Canada the Musical features “every Canadian song you know and love.” (7 pm Tues-Sat)
  • The Mavericks of the Mountains introduces stories, adventures and stand-out personalities from our past (4 pm, Tues-Sat, every 2nd Sun)

Watch them perform Jun 22-Sep 3.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

A Guide to Mountain Top Moments

By Naomi Witherick

To get to the top, hitch a ride on a sightseeing lift. In minutes you’re whisked from the valley floor to heights of up to 2,400 m/7,874 ft where peaks stretch as far as the eye can see.

But gondolas and chairlifts give way to more than awesome views. While all five rides in Banff and Jasper national parks promise perfect mountaintop moments, each offers differences.

New Height, Historic Site

Hike or ride up Sulphur Mountain to look down on the Town of Banff. Photo by Brewster/Pursuit

Hike or ride up Sulphur Mountain to look down on the Town of Banff. Photo by Brewster/Pursuit

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Sounds of Summer

By Kaitlyn Forde

Canmore Folk Fest

Canmore Folk Fest

Don’t miss our summer music festival highlights:

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

Market on Your Calendar

By Kaitlyn Forde

Photo courtesy of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis

Photo courtesy of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis

“It’s like your soul wakes up,” says a juicing booth patron of the Canmore Mountain Market’s return on Thursdays. Or, visit Banff Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays. Both feature regionally grown produce, artisanal eats, handmade jewellery and crafts, and tunes courtesy of local musicians.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

>> Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at whererockies and tag your Canadian Rockies posts and photos with #whererockies

A Toast to Craft Beer and Local Liquor

By Keili Bartlett

Something’s brewing in the Canadian Rockies, and it’s not just the bubbling hot springs. Local businesses have tapped into the fresh (and cold!) glacier-fed waterways to produce a more alcoholic type of liquid.

Park it here. Gleaming stills and tanks are prominently positioned for all to see at Park Distillery.

Park it here. Gleaming stills and tanks are prominently positioned for all to see at Park Distillery.

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