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backcountry lodges

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

Banff’s Backcountry Lodges

Jan. 25, 2016
Afton Aikens & Jack Wennot

Travel Alberta

Skoki Lodge, Travel Alberta

Snowshoe or ski tour to these rustic, log-built wilderness cabins that serve home-cooked meals and offer access to many fantastic trails. Reservations are a must.

Skoki Lodge, built by local residents in 1931, is 11 km from the Lake Louise Ski Resort over Boulder and Deception mountain passes. The lodge caters to skiers of all abilities, with ski touring and telemarking slopes, plus cross country routes nearby.

The main lodge and three surrounding cabins can accommodate 22 guests. Skoki does not have electricity or running water, but warm wash water is available. At night, candles and kerosene lamps light the lodge. Skoki is known for its delicious buffet-style breakfasts and dinners. Winter season runs to April 24.

(more…)

Olde Tyme Adventures

The “Gateway to the Rockies” exhibit at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies provides insights into the origins of tourism that visitors can use to enrich their present day mountain experiences.

By Meredith Bailey

The history of the Canadian Rockies reads like an epic adventure rich with hidden treasure, daring acts of bravery, forward thinking mavericks and passionate conservationists.

While in Banff, visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies’ new exhibition Gateway to the Rockies that showcases our region’s starring players and pivotal moments. And don’t forget that Canadian Rockies heritage remains alive and well. Indeed, today’s favourite hikes, historic buildings, interpretive tours and works of art are steeped in tradition. Armed with the knowledge of Then, take the next step and discover what you can do Now! (more…)