By Where Writers
Too cold outside? Need a break from skiing? There’s another frontier to discover in the Canadian Rockies: the great indoors. Wind down or rope up with these favourite indoor activities in Canmore, Banff and Jasper.
Hanging by a Thread
Cabin fever driving you up the walls? Canmore’s Elevation Place makes wall-climbing fun. Those without climbing experience can clip into one of seven auto belay systems; staff give tips on how to start. People who have climbed previously can take a lead belay test and tackle a top rope climb suited to their ability. The 14-m/45-ft climbing wall has over 100 colour-coded routes, and shoe and harness rentals are on-site.
“It’s a great option during the winter when you can’t climb outside,” enthuses Jasper Johnson at Elevation Place. But if heights aren’t your thing, unwind in the steam room, hot tub and swimming pool. With a lazy river and waterslide, it almost feels like summer.
Broom it On
Sweeping usually isn’t much fun. Except when you’re learning to curl at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre, Jasper Activity Centre or Canmore Golf & Curling Club. Try a beginner classes (such as Banff’s $20 drop-in Wednesdays), and sheet and gear rentals can be arranged.
Since “curling looks easier than it is,” according to Jasper Activity Centre’s Lee Chorley, novices can ask for instructions to get a grip on the rules (and the brooms). “Bring clean shoes and comfortable pants,” advises Chorley.
Get creative while painting pottery at Banff’s Crock A Doodle. “The whole family can decorate together, and have a nice keepsake to take home,” says the studio’s Paige Arsenault. Make a colourful frame for your trip photos, or let your imagination run wild with a mug as your canvas. Kids love the cute piggybanks and puppy figurines. Crock A Doodle has idea books for the artistically challenged.
Canmore is 127 years old; the town was founded as a home for coal miners and railway builders. But the surrounding mountains are 75 million years older. Discover both heritage and science at Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre. Museum director Lachlan Mackintosh says their From Coal to Community exhibit gives visitors “a glimpse into Canmore’s history and how it contrasts with the beautiful modern town we have now.”
New in Town
Recently opened Jasper Library & Cultural Centre hosts a public library, Jasper Artists Guild gallery and Jasper Habitat for the Arts; it “gives the community a hub for culture,” says town staffer Christine Nadon. “It’s great to showcase our community spirit in such a beautiful facility.” Large windows display mountain views that compliment the local artwork on gallery walls.
Where the Wild Things Are
The Canadian Rockies are famous for mountain landscapes where grizzly bears, cougars and moose reside in the wild. But if you’re yet to check a bighorn sheep off your sightings list, stop by the Den Wildlife Museum hidden in the lower level at Jasper’s Whistler’s Inn. “We have all the animals you find in the mountains,” says manager Minerva Velazquez. The historic taxidermy exhibit has 130 species displayed in natural scenes. Velaquez says it’s a great way to “see what’s out there.”
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