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Best of Canadian Rockies

Survival of the Fittest

Art by Colleen Campbell

Words by Nicky Pacas with help from Dieter Regett of Jasper Discovery Tours

Each year, after the harsh and inhospitable winter climate begins to soften into spring, the wildflowers (arguably the most resilient survivors of mountain weather) emerge alongside snowy and jagged trails, adding pops of colour to a grey landscape. As summer draws nearer, each major vegetative zone of the Canadian Rockies —Montane, Subalpine, and Alpine—plays host to a wide range of flora. In this issue, we’ve given you an illustrated guide to six varietals that bloom or change from the early spring until the end of September, each one playing an important role in its ecosystem.

Share your photos of these species in their natural habitat and use the hashtag #WhereRockiesWild for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue.


CUTLEAF ANEMONE; PRAIRIE CROCUS

 

Pulsatilla patens

A harbinger of early spring, the Prairie Crocus often begins to emerge from the ground before the snow has melted.

Blooming Period: as early as March, but often seen from late-April through June

Location: Blooms in the Montane Zone; find the Prairie Crocus in the Saskatchewan River Crossing area, on the north shore of Johnson Lake, on the Bow Valley Parkway, and on the trails starting from 5th Bridge.


GLACIER LILY

Erythronium grandiflorium

Another harbinger of spring, the Glacier Lily grows at the edges of melting snow drifts.

Blooming Period: Late-April through June

Location: Find Glacier Lilies in the Alpine Zone at Bow Summit, Sunshine Meadows, and at Parker Ridge.


PAINTBRUSH

Castilleja species

The flowers on a Paintbrush can vary significantly in colour; from red to orange, light pink to white, even purple.

Blooming Period: April-September

Location: Blooms across all mountain zones. Find Paintbrushes on the Opal Hills Loop in Jasper (look for the trail kiosk in the upper parking lot at Maligne Lake), the Flower Loop/Overlander Trail, and at Sunshine Meadows.


TWINFLOWER

Linnaea borealis

A sweet-scented and trumpet-like flower.

Blooming Period: June and July

Location: Find Twinflowers in the Subalpine Zone locations of Stewart Canyon (follow the Lake Minnewanka shoreline to the Stewart Canyon trailhead kiosk), Bourgeau Lake Trail (approx. 13km west of the Mount Norquay interchange), the lower falls of Johnston Canyon, and many trails around Lake Louise.


WESTERN WOOD LILY

Lilium philadelphicum

Generally a solitary plant, the Western Wood Lily is a strikingly beautiful flower. Because of its beauty, it is often picked by admirers, resulting in its disappearance from some areas.

Blooming Period: June and July

Location: the Wood Lily blooms in the Montane Zone and is often found in grasslands and woodlands. Look for lilies on the north shore of Johnson Lake, on the Bow Valley Parkway, and on the Montane Traverse Trail.


LARCH TREE

Larix

Although Larches are conifers, they lose their needles in the fall. Before the needles fall, however, they turn from a bright green to a brilliant yellow, adding one last burst of colour to the landscape before winter’s arrival.

Notable Change: the needles often change colour in mid to late September

Location: Look for larches in the Subalpine Zones of Larch Valley, Chester Lake/Chester Creek, and Healy Pass (leave from Sunshine Village, behind the main gondola station)


For a list of tours and guides who can help you access some of the locations mentioned here (in addition to many others), see pages 73 and 144 of our online magazine.

How to Survive a Vacation with Your Family

By: Nicky Pacas

If no one has a temper tantrum or slams a car door, did a family vacation even happen?

Photo Credit: Park Canada/Ryan Bray

We’ve all been there: excited for a family trip. The bags are packed, the hotel or campsite is booked, the car is gassed up — what could go wrong? It turns out, a lot! As much as we love our families, sometimes it seems impossible to survive a vacation with them. Luckily, we’ve compiled some tips and suggestions to help you maximize your trip and minimize your stress. Surviving a family vacation? Piece of cake.

1. Don’t Over-plan: Don’t plan on doing everything during your vacation; give yourself time to enjoy each activity and leave a little wiggle room in case you want to linger on a hike or on a canoe ride. Planning too many activities can make you feel frantic and leave you feeling like you might need a vacation after your vacation.

Using a tour company can alleviate the stress of dealing with details on your holiday. Because tour companies know the Canadian Rockies like no one else, you can trust that your adventures will be well-planned and organized. You might even be able to try something you wouldn’t have access to without a guide.

For early risers, book a Morning Wildlife Tour with Maligne Adventures in Jasper. Since most wildlife sightings occur early in the morning or later in the evening, depend on the expertise of the guides to get you to the right places to see mountain fauna (they have a 95% success rate) during a three-hour tour by vehicle.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

For rock lovers, book an experience with Canmore Cave Tours and explore water-worn passageways and the beauty that hides beneath the mountainous landscape. A guide and the right equipment gives you access to the places that go unseen by most. Cave Tours typically have a minimum age requirement of 10 years old, but some educational offerings are accessible to all ages.

If you aren’t sure what hike best suits the abilities of your family members, get in touch with White Mountain Adventures for guidance on their hiking packages. Don’t see anything you like? Book a private or custom tour for an expertly arranged experience.

2.Know your Limits: if you have never climbed a mountain before, don’t plan on summiting the highest peak for your first activity. Start with reasonable activities that allow you to test your comfort level and skills before trying something bigger.

Whenever possible, pick an experience that offers variation so as to accommodate everyone’s abilities. Banff Trail Riders hosts two different (but equally fun) ways of getting to their Cowboy Cookout at 3 Mile Cabin: by wagon or by horseback. For family members aged 8 and older, the horseback ride is a guided tour along the base of Sulphur Mountain. For family members younger than 8, or for those who aren’t as keen to ride a horse, the wagon ride gets guests to the cookout after a scenic tour along the Bow River. No matter how you get there, you’ll all be eating together.

Not everyone can hike to great heights. For the best alternative to hiking, see our hot tip on gondolas and chairlifts.

Photo Credit: Banff Trail Riders

3. Pack your Snacks:  Don’t rely on eating a big breakfast or a big lunch to get you through your activities in the Rockies; nothing ruins a great day like being hangry. Packing small, easy-to-eat snacks can be a life-saver when you’re out on the trail and still far away from the parking lot. Visit the bulk section of the grocery store to stock up on nuts and dried fruit to put in your backpack. Energy bars, beef jerky and bananas also make good trailside treats. Remember to pack out your wrappers and peels so that you don’t leave attractants for the wildlife in the area.

For a family-friendly restaurant that is perfect for pre- and post-adventure fueling, visit Communitea in Canmore. With a friendly and healthy menu for kids (and a play area to keep them occupied), adults can indulge in a meal for themselves. Bonus: Communitea opens early (8am) and celebrates Friday with cupcakes!

Photo Credit: Orange Girl Photo

For other family-friendly eating options that can satisfy even the pickiest eaters, visit Craigs’ family restaurant in Canmore, Earls in Banff, or O’Shea’s Restaurant in Jasper.

If you’re looking for places to buy your snacks, find a list of grocery stores in our magazine on pages 92, 102 and 156.

4. Pack your Clothes: The weather in the Canadian Rockies is predictably unpredictable; it can be hot and sunny at the base of a mountain, but windy up top. Make sure that you bring layers so that you can plan for sudden changes in weather. Having extra clothes also makes it easy to move between activities without having to first stop at your hotel room or campsite.

For a list of shops that will outfit you for the mountain weather, see pages 91, 98, 104 and 156 of our magazine. Don’t forget your sunscreen! On page 26, see some of our favourite products to keep your skin protected from the elements.

Photo Credit: Jade Wetherell

5. Think about Interests: Do you love water activities? Do your kids love water activities? Sometimes the things we’re interested in doing are very different from the things the rest of the family enjoys. Make sure that you balance everyone’s interests, even if that means going to a museum for an afternoon instead of riding bikes. Chances are that you will be able to persuade your family members to do the things you enjoy if you show the same interest in their desires.

If you are up for adventure but the rest of your family wants to cool down in the water, why not make the best of both worlds and go whitewater rafting? Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting takes clients (kids must be at least 6 years old) through exciting rapids for speedy adventure. Jasper Raft Tours offers a gentler alternative to whitewater rafting through their tours designed for the entire family. With local guides who have grown up in Jasper or lived in the town for a long time, visitors are led on a sightseeing adventure down the Athabasca River.

Photo Credit: Jasper Raft Tours

6. Have a Plan B: In Lynda Pianosi’s book, Take a Hike with Your Children, all of the hikes that Pianosi recommends have a “Plan B”—each hike is close to a playground or interpretive centre so that if your kids won’t budge beyond the trailhead, you can still make the most of your location.

Pick up a copy of Lynda’s book at Café Books in Canmore. Some of our favourite hikes include the Fenland Trail in Banff, Cougar Creek in Canmore, and Morraine Lake Shoreline in Lake Louise. The Red Squirrel Trail in Jasper is close to the townsite and accessible for all walking abilities.

Try turning your adventures into a treasure hunt by finding as many of Parks Canada’s Red Chairs as you can. The Red Chairs have been placed in special locations around Banff and Jasper National Parks, and are meant to encourage people to connect with each other and with nature. Some are easy to find, others require a little more effort, but all of them are worth the views they provide. There are 13 Red Chairs locations in Banff National Park, and 7 locations in Jasper National Park. Visit the Parks Canada website for the exact Red Chair locations.

Bonus: youth (17 and under) receive free admission to Parks Canada places this year. That means free admission to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada!

7. Find Time for Yourself: this is your vacation, too! Make sure that you set some time aside so that you can get some exercise, some alone time, or maybe even a meal at a restaurant that you’ve been eyeing. Take advantage of locations that have childminding or hotels that offer babysitting services.

If you need to take a little time for yourself but you aren’t travelling with a babysitter (let’s be honest, most of us don’t), there are still ways to keep your kid(s) occupied while you try some exploring or activities of your own.

Take advantage of the child daycare services at Lake Louise while you enjoy the Lake Louise Summer Gondola or an open chairlift. The daycare is fully licensed and will take kids as young as 18 days! Full day and half-day rates are available.

At Elevation Place in Canmore, get a workout in at the pool, in the gym or at the climbing wall while your little one enjoys the “Lil’ Bears Den” childminding services. A maximum stay is two hours and children must be between 6 months and 7 years old. If your workout lasts under two hours, take advantage of the Good Earth Coffeehouse on site and relax for a while—you’ve earned it.

In the Canadian Rockies, survival isn’t about being the fittest; survival (especially on a holiday with your family) is all about planning. But once you’ve made the plans, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself!

Keep reading through the magazine for hot tips on sightseeing, entertainment, food and more.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

Surviving the Sights

By Calli Naish

One glimpse of a turquoise-blue glacial lake peeking out from between the peaks is enough to remind you that the Rocky Mountains offer more wonder than one could ever hope to uncover in a lifetime. For over one hundred years, visitors from across the globe have come to discover the secrets that linger atop the summits and within the valleys.

Fishing near Banff, Byron Harmon/photographer, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Byron Harmon fond (V263/na-448)

Mountain Rivers

Known as the “greatest land geographer that ever lived,” David Thompson mapped 3.9 million square km of North America and went blind in one eye from constantly staring at the sun and the stars while navigating. He travelled from the Bow River Foothills to British Columbia by way of the mountain river systems to extend the fur trade routes to the Pacific. Accompanied by his wife and three young children (see our magazine for tips on surviving your own family road trip) he navigated the Columbia River and established Kootenae House outside of Kootenay National Park.

The many rivers, lakes and streams surrounding the Columbia River are known for having an abundance of trout, and the East Kootenays have become world renowned for fly fishing. Kootenay Troutfitters and Kimberley Fly Fishing offer tours for beginner and experienced anglers. If you won’t be travelling as far west as Thompson did, you can fish the Rockies on your own, or with Banff Fishing Unlimited. No matter where you cast your line, you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by the timeless beauty of the mountains.

Mountain Guides

As tales of the early Rocky Mountain explorers and surveyors made their way east, the Canadian Pacific Railway moved west across the Great Divide into British Columbia, bringing curious travellers with it. Seizing entrepreneurial opportunity, Tom Wilson (known for his rediscovery of Lake Louise and Emerald Lake) started a guiding and packing outfit in Banff, providing guides to accompany surveyors, mountaineers and climbers on their expeditions. Two of his most notable guides were Bill Peyto and Jimmy Simpson.


The town of Field, BC, was first established in 1880 and it quickly attracted visitors who wanted to explore the natural wonders of the area now known as Yoho National Park. Experience the allure for yourself by hiking around Emerald Lake  or by renting a canoe from Emerald Sports to paddle on the emerald-coloured water.



Bill Peyto was one of the foremost guides of the early days of tourism in the Rockies. He wore two pairs of pants, slept with a pistol under his pillow, and is rumoured to have once brought a wild lynx into a bar. He crossed Bow Summit to find an oddly shaped lake that would later become his namesake, and he was one of the first Park Wardens in Banff. He also guided the early climbers who dreamed of completing first ascents of Rocky Mountain peaks. In 1901 he guided one such climber, James Outram, to Mount Assiniboine where Outram became the first climber to summit the “Matterhorn of the Rockies.”

Bill Peyto bringing live lynx to zoo [Banff], ca. 1915, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Don Harmon fond (V265/123/na66-467)

If you’ve come to the Rockies for the heights that Outram sought, head to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort or Mount Norquay for a guided via Ferrata climb. At Kicking Horse, experienced climbers can tackle “465 m of pure bliss,” and newcomers can try a more progressive route. If you find the climbing daunting, opt for a walk across the suspension bridge instead. The via Ferrata routes at Norquay range from beginner to advanced, accommodating all types of adventurers.


If you’d rather sightsee than climb, take the short hike to the Peyto Lake Lookout, north of Lake Lousie on the west side of the Icefields Parkway, and see the same sights that Bill Peyto witnessed over a century ago. Adept hikers can explore the surrounding trails or scramble up higher for an even better view of the famous wolf-shaped lake. 


After covering most of Canada and the western United States as a railcar stowaway, Jimmy Simpson eventually settled in the Rockies. He had been inspired by a brief encounter with Bill Peyto and was “determined to emulate [him] or die trying.” Originally hired for his cooking skills, Simpson joined Tom Wilson’s guiding outfit and soon learned how to expertly ride and pack cayuses (mountain ponies). He became a revered packer and guide, leading scientists and big game hunters, as well as famous climbers and mountaineers. Simpson traversed so much of the Rockies that Mary Shäffer wrote of him, “Jim’s axe in this country has done more to make the old trails passable for future comers than any other…”

Jimmy Simpson, ca. 1908, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Jim Simpson family fond (V577/5/pg63/na66-265)


Stretching between Banff and Jasper National Parks, and crossing the Continental Divide, the Columbia Icefield  has been fascinating visitors for centuries. You can experience the marvel for yourself by booking an icefield tour or by walking the Glacier Skywalk, which overlooks part of the largest field of ice in the Rocky Mountains.


Simpson’s mountain exploits would not have been possible without his pack horses, and although there are now many ways to explore the Rockies, doing so by horseback still offers an experience unlike any other. Tour the Bow Valley with Banff Trail Riders and you can catch a glimpse of the Cave and Basin while you ride along the Bow River. In Lake Louise you can head out with Brewster Adventures and ride to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, or to the Plain of the Six Glaciers. And if you are in Jasper you can ride along the Athabasca River with Jasper Park Stables.


When Jimmy Simpson first saw Bow Lake in 1898, he regarded it as the most beautiful place he had seen in Canada and vowed that he’d “build a shack” there someday. Visit Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, his “shack” on Bow Lake, and appreciate the same beauty he was inspired by over a century ago.


Mountain Secrets

Mary Schäffer studied flower painting and began her Rocky Mountain adventures around Banff, Laggan (now Lake Louise) and Field, examining the flora of the mountains with her husband, who studied botany. Although her early travels did not take her far from the railway tracks, she ventured further into the wilderness with each return trip, ultimately setting her sights on finding an elusive lake. In July of 1908, after two summers of exploration, her party finally found itself on the shores of Chaba Imne, the fabled lake that had previously been known only to the Cree and Stoney People. And on a shaky, hand-crafted raft that they called the “HMS Chaba,” they sailed out on Chaba Imne, or as it is now known, Maligne Lake.


Though most people now come to Jasper by car, you can still explore the area in the same way the first tourists did: by train. Sundog Tours offers rail tours along the Fraser River with views of Rearguard Falls, Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Rockies), and the Cariboo Mountains.


While, the HMS Chaba had to be abandoned on the shores of the lake, there are thankfully a number of different (and more reliable) ways to discover Maligne Lake. You can rent a canoe from the Maligne Lake Boathouse or book a cruise and tour down the lake to Spirit Island, one of the most iconic locations in Jasper National Park. If you’d rather explore from the shore, visit the Maligne Lake Chalet or hike the Mary Shäffer Loop. By boat or by boot, be sure you keep your eyes peeled for the wildflowers that brought Mary Shäffer to the Rockies.

Travel has come a long way from canoes and pack trains, but the mountains still offer the same mysterious wilderness that drew the earliest visitors to the Canadian Rockies at a time when travelling the mountains was as much about survival as it was about exploration.

 

The historical photos in this story have been generously provided by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
The Whyte Museum is celebrating 50 years of sharing the history and culture of the Rocky Mountains.

Park Yourself in Banff for Fondue at the Distillery

By Calli Naish

When you move to a new town, you subconsciously search for old familiarity in the new surroundings. Cheese, bread, good whiskey—these are some of my old faithfuls – and thankfully, although I just recently moved to Canmore, I have some good company to share my food with. On a near weekly basis, we meet in Canmore, Lake Louise or Banff and study the comfort of food in one of far too many establishments to choose from. Our most recent savory library was Park Distillery.

As the name suggests, this restaurant offers no shortage of cocktails to choose from, and cocktails were our first order of business. We settled on two beverages of completely different styles both made from Park Distillery’s own spirits. The Backcountry Tea was selected for its rye base, sweet citrus flavours, and mint melodies. The tasting notes of the tea didn’t appeal to me, so I opted for the bolder flavours offered by the Observation Peak. I would be lying if I said I chose it for any other reason than the smoked cedar square it wore (which is currently being used as an air-freshener in my car, still exuding a log cabin fireplace aroma each time I open the door). Perfection.

With drinks suiting our personalities in hand, we were shown to our table and we sipped in happy silence while perusing the menu, which offers a variety of starters, smaller bites, shareable items, and full campfire-style dinners. It didn’t take long before we had decided that we were in need of a little cheese therapy and ordered the Banff Ave. Fondue to start and, believing that the chicken would be a nice lite fare after this decadence, two orders of the ¼ Rotisserie Chicken as our main. While we waited for our orders we took in the atmosphere, which is a little rustic Canadian, and a little industrial pub. Warm plaids and dark woods create a laid back feel, and are complemented by the denim-clad servers, while the garage doors and metallic sheen off the glass cased still remind you that this isn’t your average “backcountry cabin” themed restaurant. If we’d shown up on time we’d have been able to tour the distillery, but we showed up a little later than 3:30, and so simply admired its copper presence from a distance. The place was busy but comfortable, and thankfully there was minimal wait as we were quickly dipping into our first course.

We were presented with a large fondue pot of bubbling Gruyere, accompanied by several pieces of lightly toasted bread, a selection of pickles, sliced pear and radish. In a matter of minutes were considering asking for more bread as we had consumed all but the radish slices (neither of us particularly like radish) and were left staring longingly into the lingering cheese. Before we had a chance to ask for additional dipping items the forks had been drawn and the pot impolitely consumed sans bread. We shamelessly enjoyed every molten bite so much so that before our second course had even arrived, we were already discussing how we were going to be set for lunch the following day. Despite our fullness, we welcomed the delicious sight of two plates of rotisserie chicken on beds of mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, garnished with grilled lemon and tiny skillets of gravy. Needless to say, we made room and gorged ourselves on a second course that was as satisfying as the first.

An experience as fulfilling socially as it was nutritionally, the Park Distillery is definitely on my “again” list. With a cocktail list that has a variety of tastes in mind and fondue for days, it should probably be on everyone’s “try” list. If you do go, maybe pair your sharable dishes with some of the smaller bites. Or follow in our footsteps, allow your eyes to be far bigger than your stomachs and stretch your dining experience into tomorrow’s lunch.

Spring Skiing in the Rockies

With warmer weather in the forecast, we can finally start thawing out after a particularly cold and snowy winter. So take off your coats, put on your sunglasses, and head for the patio; it’s time for some spring skiing!

Photo courtesy of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Music

Spend a weekend at Sunshine because starting April 7th, Sunshine Village will be hosting concerts every Saturday and Sunday afternoon! Get a few runs in and then head over to Mad Trappers where different artists perform each weekend.

 

Visit Lake Louise on any of these incredible musical weekends!

March 31/April 1 – BIG FONTS

April 7/8 – Abbey Rodeo

April 14/15 – Aaron Pollock

April 21/22 – Sam Bailey Band

April 29 – Rumspringer

May 5/6 – DJ CAIN.1 + Friends

 

Head to Panorama for the High Notes Music Festival on March 23-25th. Friday night features an evening of live music, food and wine. See headliners Jay Gilday, The Burn Ins, and Scenic Route to Alaska on Saturday night!

 

Get excited for the Whitetooth Grill concert series at Kicking Horse!

March 24 – Eric Larocque

March 31 – John Jenkins’ Small Town Revival

April 7 – Eric Larocque

April 14 – The Pickups

 

Check out the Kokanee Freeride event at Marmot Basin on April 14th. The whole event takes place at the mid-mountain Paradise Chalet Patio so that you can catch a few rays while you listen to live music and chow down on a BBQ lunch!

 

Slush

Shake the Lake will have you dancing, feasting and cheering! On April 28th, head to Lake Louise and watch (or compete) in the Rail Jam/Slush Cup extravaganza! There will be a daytime après ski party and an after party in the Lodge of the Ten Peaks!

 

The Slush Showdown Pond Skimming Cup will be awarded at Panorama on April 7th. Can you make it across the pond?

 

The Slush Cup & Pig Roast Party takes place on April 15th at Kicking Horse. Throw on a costume and try to cross 75m of slush!

 

The Slushshine Rail Jam at Sunshine Village is part Rail Jam, part Slush Cup, and it is going to be a blast! So sign yourself up, or mark your calendar for May 19th, and watch riders and skiers take on a series of challenging features set up over water!

 

The Slush Cup on May 21st at Sunshine Village is the last slush cup of the year, so plan to be there and get rowdy while competitors attempt to make one last skim across the pond!

 

Just for Fun

Indulge your sweet tooth at the Kicking Horse Sugar Shack on March 24th and 25th where you can try maple syrup on snow, listen to live music, and eat A LOT of taffy!

 

Compete in the ShredAbility Fundraiser at Sunshine Village on April 7th! This mountain treasure hunt has teams of two completing adaptive challenges all over the mountain in support of Rocky Mountain Adaptive!

 

Test your building skills and design a dummy for the Panorama Dummy Downhill on April 8th! Can your creation make it down the slopes, or will it crash? (don’t worry there’s a prize for that too!)

 

Hula downhill on April 21st at Marmot Basin’s Aloha Cup! This all-ages race is full of banked turns, rollers and small jumps; it’s a fun way finish off the season. There are prizes for fastest run and for best costume, so grab your skis and dress to impress!

 

Get creative and build a cardboard sled for the Annual Lake Louise Cardboard Box Downhill Derby on April 22nd! Prizes will be given to the 3 fastest racers and the three coolest sleds, so remember: style counts!

 

Whether you are singing, skiing, or soaking wet (post-slush cup), enjoy your sunny spring days on the slopes!

Nordic Tradition in Canadian Plaid

By Calli Naish

Tall trees and taller mountains: there couldn’t be a more perfect backdrop for Alberta’s first Nordic Spa. Nestled so comfortably in the Rockies that it seems like it has been there all along, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa combines elements of relaxation with the healing properties of water to create a spa experience unlike any other. The best part? You can stay ALL DAY LONG!

Hot tub with a view

Relax in the Spa Lodge

Founded in the Kneipp tradition of hydrotherapy, the spa features a series of outdoor pools of varying temperatures. You begin in a hot pool, then move to a natural pool slightly above body temperature, followed with a quick dip in the cold plunge pool before doing it all over again. This heat-cool-repeat cycle is designed to stimulate circulation and detox the body. The spa’s laid-back atmosphere, however, means there is nothing keeping you from spending all your time in the hottest tub or lounging in the salt-water float pool.

Hot Pool and Heated Robe Station

Hot Pool 

Cool Plunge Pool 

The spa also features Finnish, Barrel and Banya saunas, heated hammocks, social fire areas, and two steam cabins. The Eucalyptus Steam Cabin will use eucalyptus oils and the Alchemist Steam Cabin will offer a series of aromatherapy oils to compliment the changing seasons. There will also be an exfoliation cabin (not open at the time of this post) where you can rejuvenate your skin through self-exfoliating aromatic salts.

Finnish Sauna 

Barrel Sauna 

The spa is designed to accommodate everyone. Those who thrive on social energy may join in the company of others on the social side of the spa; however, those who are interested in meditative healing may enjoy the waters of the quiet pools or while adrift in the float pool (to be completed this summer).

Comfort in the Spa Lodge

The Spa Lodge has eight treatment rooms (and two couples’ rooms) where you can book a deep tissue, hot stone, or relaxation massage. The lodge is also home to the Spa’s Bistro where you can sip and savour with a view of the mountains.

Champagne in the Spa Lodge

The Relaxation Lodge, which will open in the summer, allows you to pair healing water therapies with mental recovery (which we could all use a little more of). There will be a dream lounge, a meditation labyrinth, heated lounge chairs with personal music stations, and finally, a 30-person yoga studio complete with aerial silk hammocks that yoga enthusiasts will appreciate .

The Spa Lodge and Bistro

The spa sells natural and sustainable beauty products by [comfort zone]. Currently, two lines are available (Skin Regimen and Tranquility), with plans to include more product lines as time goes on. Additionally, [comfort zone] Aromasoul oil blends will be featured within the spa treatment rooms and lodge.

Skin Regimen by [comfort zone]

Tranquility by [comfort zone]

Creating a “hot tub with a view” may have been the original goal for the spa renovation, but the Kananskis Nordic Spa has become so much more. Spa creators, Hank van Weelden and Jennifer Buckler, speak with such passion about their vision for the Knordic Spa that it is clear the project is a labour of love. Every detail has been curated to create an environment of true Canadian hospitality. So forget the typical spa stuffiness and slip into a guest robe designed in Canadian plaid. The tartan represents the four seasons in Canada, and the spa creators hope that you will embrace each of these seasons with equal fervor.

Canadian Plaid Robes

It’s all in the details

Planks made from trees felled at the site

Live edge wood adds to the rustic atmosphere of the spa

Founded on tradition, built of trees felled at its site, and immersed in Rocky Mountain culture, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is designed to accommodate everyone by providing an atmosphere of collective healing and regeneration. Outside, the pools and buildings blend into the surrounding scenery seamlessly; inside, you are welcomed by the smell of cedar and the calm of a modern, yet rustic, communal space. Plaid robes, mountain air and Nordic knowledge: it is a place of mental and physical recovery enjoyed equally during the cold Canadian winter or in the short mountain summer.

Fireplace in the Spa Lodge

Phase 1 of the Knordic Spa is complete and will be open on weekends with most amenities available.

Phase 2 will be completed this summer.

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.

Top 10 Luxury Spas of the Canadian Rockies

By SARA SAMSON

Whether you’re looking for therapeutic benefits after a long day of skiing or hiking, or just pure relaxation, our spas have something for you. Here, we present our sampling of the top luxury spas in the Canadian Rockies region, each with their own techniques and strengths. Pick the one that’s perfect for you.

Willow Stream Spa (Photo: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts)

1. Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Banff Springs
This award-winning spa (Conde Nast Traveler’s third top spa in Canada) offers the ultimate in mountain luxury. Pulsating waterfalls and a mineral pool are reminiscent of the area’s natural features, while the steam room, outdoor whirlpool and eucalyptus inhalation room encourage relaxation. The spa has many signature treatments such as the Majestic Blue, which features organic mountain lavender (known as “blue magic”) and an invigorating mineral salt exfoliation, massage and luxurious wrap.
• Willow Stream Spa, The Fairmont Banff Springs, 405 Spray Ave., Banff, AB, 403-762-1772, website
Map and reviews

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Top 3 Iconic Hotels of the Canadian Rockies

By SARA SAMSON

The Rocky Mountains have plenty to offer in the way of luxury getaways, but the area’s grandest accommodations are original Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Canadian National Railway (CN) hotels. Now operated under the Fairmont brand, the Banff Springs, the Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge offer historical significance, luxury and alpine adventure. Here, we offer a brief profile of each for guests looking for memorable stay in an iconic Canadian hotel.

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