Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Epic Family Ski Weekend at Castle Mountain Resort

I'm always hesitant to use the word "epic" because it's such a subjective word (and honestly sounds boastful and competitive,) but when your 9-year old is shredding double black chutes at his new favourite ski resort, what else do you call it but "epic?!"

My 9 year old skiing the Lone Star Chute at Castle Mountain Resort 

Our weekend was "epic" for my husband as well because he has now reached that stage where he gets to ski the runs he wants to ski - with his son! He doesn't have to take off into the extreme terrain on his own, leaving us on the groomers way down below (just me left behind, and it suits this ski mom just fine!)

Finally, our Castle Trip was even "epic" for me, because I had been left terrified after a previous visit to Castle 15+ years ago, and swore I'd never go back. The terrain was too challenging for me at that time, and I don't think grooming even existed back then at Castle. Fast forward to our recent trip and I had a BLAST! I absolutely loved everything about this hill and can't wait to go back. (and I found plenty of easy groomed terrain I could chill out on.)

Happy family on top of the world at Castle Mountain Resort

Introduction to Castle Mountain Resort

Castle Mountain Resort is located in Southwestern Alberta, approximately an hour SW of the Town of Pincher Creek. Google maps says you can reach the resort in just over two hours from Calgary, but it would depend on where you live, because it's definitely closer to three hours from my house in the north.

We were easily able to reach the resort Friday after work (in time to get our son to bed at a nice early hour) and even after skiing until 3pm on Sunday, we still got back to Calgary at a decent time (though did have to stop in High River for dinner because we were all starving by that point.)

And of special note about this resort, it is located just east of the Continental Divide on the Alberta/BC border, and thus gets a LOT of snow each winter (up to 9 metres per year on average.) We were surprised by the lack of snow on the drive out until we reached the sign for the resort, where we suddenly transitioned from dry dirt to giant snow banks everywhere. (and it was real snow!)

Castle Mountain Ski Resort on the Continental Divide

Where to Stay at Castle 

We stayed at the Castle Ski Lodge, a simple facility with hotel rooms upstairs, and hostel dorm rooms (three bunks per room to sleep six people) on the main floor. We had a hotel room with a queen bed and a set of bunks. While nothing fancy, our room fit a family of four (three in our case) and it beats driving all the way down and back in a day.

And best of all, the lodge is located across the parking lot from the main resort so it's a very short walk to the lifts in the morning.

Our hotel room at the Castle Ski Lodge

We had a bathroom in our hotel room, but the hostel rooms have shared bathrooms in the hallway (gender specific.) We ate out the entire time we were at Castle (making use of the cafeteria in the day lodge and the T-Bar Pub for dinner) but there was a small kitchen and common room in the basement of the hostel that we'd definitely use on future trips. There was also a microwave, a coffee maker, and a kettle in the hallway of the hotel so you could make a simple breakfast for the family (and each room had its own mini-fridge for storing lunch supplies.)

Basic amenities in the hotel hallway for guests

Tips for Staying at the Castle Ski Lodge

  • Bring small bags you can carry up a flight of stairs! Big Bob, our giant hockey bag on wheels, was a bit heavy and thankfully my husband dragged him up!

  • Bring inside shoes/slippers if you want because all footwear must be left at the front door

  • Bring cool clothes for the hostel (the temperature was very warm inside)

  • Bring a baby monitor if you want to leave young kids in your hotel room. There is a small lounge area on the upper floor or you can retreat to the common room in the basement after the kids go to bed

  • You can use the hostel facilities even if staying in one of the hotel rooms since you share a building. This means you can cook your own meals in the kitchen in the basement

  • Plan to only use the bottom bunk in the hotel rooms if you have young kids. There wasn't much of a railing on the top bunk

  • There is free WiFi which is good because there is no service anywhere at the resort

Otherwise, for families wanting to take it up a notch in their accommodations, there are other options available on the hill from a bed & breakfast to a ski in, ski out rental house, or a chalet on the hill with suites available for rent. Visit the Castle Mountain website to view all options.

For pricing, follow this link and select either a hotel room or a hostel room. You can also view availability dates.

Our accommodations for the weekend at Castle Mountain 

Castle Mountain for Beginner Skiers and Snowboarders

The North Run at Castle
There is not a "lot" of beginner terrain at Castle Mountain so this wouldn't be my first pick for a hill if you have young children just learning to ski or snowboard. That being said, if you have mixed levels in your family, each person will be able to find something that works for their abilities at this resort.

True beginners can start off on the magic carpet until they are ready to advance to the "green chairlift." The Green Chair then accesses three short gentle runs at the bottom of the hill. This area was always full of families with young children and was very well used.

From the green chair, beginners have options off both the Huckleberry Chair or off the Sundance Triple Chair (the Blue Chair) where the North Run lazily winds its way down the mountain.

I actually loved the North Run off Sundance and spent a lot of time cruising my way down here. It reminded me of the ski out at Sunshine Village (minus the flats where you have to skate ski) and was essentially a winding road down the mountain.

Unfortunately, beginners can't access the top of the mountain until they're able to handle steeper terrain so Sundance will be as high as it gets for many families.

Starting off on the North Run from the top of the Sundance Chair
The best run for beginners at Castle: The North Run

Castle Mountain for Intermediate Skiers and Snowboarders

I'm a competent skier and comfortable on all groomed terrain, but I still consider myself an intermediate skier. Fortunately I had several choices off every lift and was able to reach the top of the mountain for the best views!

A true "intermediate" skier will want to start off on the Huckleberry Chair, a fabulous learning environment where nearly every run is groomed, and you won't accidentally find yourself on a black run. My boys did find some fun glades off Sidewinder, where there's also a terrain park when snow conditions allow, but other than that, the runs are relatively short and non-threatening.

From the Huckleberry, progress to the North Run (mentioned above) or "Easy Street" both off the Sundance (blue) chair. Easy Street is basically a cat track that accesses other runs such as "Sundown" and "Twilight," a solid intermediate combination. Or, if you follow my husband, he'll take you down "Mouse Trap," the first groomed run you come across after crossing the "Centre Run" - but this is a black run and I can assure you it felt very steep for my first run of the day!

Intermediate groomed skiing off the Huckleberry Chair

Once you're comfortable on the Huckleberry and Sundance Chairs, make your way up the Tamarack Chair (the red chair) to the top of the mountain where the views (and hopefully not the winds) will blow you away on a clear day. If it's a windy day, stick to the terrain lower down.

Views from the top of the Tamarack Chair (and the Skyline Traverse down below)

From the top of the Tamarack Chair, you'll find yourself on the Skyline Traverse as you make your way towards "Harkers Highway," the easiest way down. And honestly, this is pretty much a green run aside from the steep pitch at the top. Make it down that pitch, and the rest is a winding road.

Note, look at a map first and make sure you take the Traverse towards Harkers Highway and not towards the double black chutes!!

The gorgeous Skyline Traverse off the Red Chair

For more of a challenge, take the Skyline Traverse to "Bandito" or "High Noon." Each one has a short steep pitch but spits you back out on Harkers Highway lower down.

Finally, if you take High Noon (it was groomed my second day at Castle,) you'll come to a junction where you can go right to re-join Harkers Highway, or you can veer left and continue down the steeper run until you come to a cat track leading you back to the North Run below the Sundance Chair. (just make sure you go right on that final cat track and don't head for the North Bowl.)

Steeper terrain on Bandito off Harkers Highway
Easy skiing on Harkers Highway

Gorgeous views on Harkers Highway

Castle Mountain for Advanced Skiers and Snowboarders

Ready for more of a challenge and you've successfully tackled the intermediate terrain at Castle? Check out these tips below for progressions:

  1. Try the Ambush Glades off Sidewinder (Huckleberry Chair)

  2. Take Easy Street to Mouse Trap and Jelly Roll, a groomed black run (Sundance Chair)

  3. Try the Centre Run under the Sundance Chair. While it's only rated "intermediate," it was crazy steep and I was mildly terrified as I flew down this one at alarming speeds. Fortunately it's often groomed. (Sundance Chair)

  4. Try some of the black runs off the North Run. They are all quite short and spit you back out on the road lower down. (Sundance Chair)

  5. Drop down off the Skyline Traverse into the bowl under the Tamarack Chair (Deputy, Sherif, or Outlaw) are all good choices here) - and you'll end up back at the bottom of the Tamarack Chair. (Tamarack Chair)

  6. Try skiing in the Huckleberry Bowl (the opposite direction along the Skyline Traverse) - my boys really loved this bowl with its gentle angle. Alternately, try the Tamarack Bowl located right beside the Huckleberry Bowl.

  7. On a powder day, try Drifter, the first chute you'll come to just before you go through the gates into the double blacks. My boys found it to be ridiculously hard though and said you definitely need soft snow for it. 
Steep skiing in the Huckleberry Bowl 
Skiing a black run at Castle is serious steep business

Castle Mountain for "Extreme" Skiing and Snowboarding 

Once you're comfortable skiing black terrain at Castle, it's time to go play in the double black chutes off the top of the Tamarack Chair. (and I can't believe I get to actually post photos for this section!)

Heading into the Chutes 

My husband and son joined a morning tour at Castle with one of the mountain snow hosts, and were taken into the chutes to experience Lone Star - with a 600 meter fall line, a consistent 37 degree angle, and the longest continuous fall line descent in Canada.

Failing to get photos the first time, my boys chose to go back on Sunday to ski Lone Star again to get me the proof!

Note that falling on some of the steep black pitches (Drifter or Lone Star for example) isn’t an option when conditions are firm. A fall could land you in the ER. You must be able to arrest any fall to control your slide or you’ll go a long ways!!! And there are canyons to fall into on both Lone Star and Drifter. (If you're at all nervous about heading here solo, ask a Snow Host to take you on a guided mountain tour - just look for the bright yellow jackets at the bottom of the hill)

Skiing Lone Star at Castle Mountain Resort

Other things to do in the Castle Area

Castle Mountain Resort is located adjacent to the new Castle Provincial Park where you'll find no shortage of activities to enjoy. Bring your XC skis, snowshoes, fat bikes, or ice skates and you'll have plenty of options. Beauvais Lake Provincial Park is also nearby with groomed trails to enjoy.

Find more activities to enjoy here on the Castle Mountain Resort website.

Scenic Snow Cat Experience at Castle Mountain Resort (family-friendly!)

Finally, check out the options available for fun at the Castle Mountain Resort. Signature experiences include:

Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing (most groups get to enjoy 6-8 laps in the resort's cat skiing terrain per tour)

Last Tracks Snowshoe Tours

Full Moon Snowshoeing and Fine Dining Evenings

Scenic Snow Cat Tours

We got to try a preview of the Scenic Snow Cat Experience, and thoroughly enjoyed riding in one of the big snow cats! I highly encourage families to check this tour out - especially if you're not at the level to enjoy actual cat skiing. You'll enjoy the same views for a fraction of the cost as well and you'll enjoy snacks and hot beverages on the top of the ridge.

I had a lot of fun on the Scenic Snow Cat Tour 

Castle Resort Planning Tips 

Below are some miscellaneous notes I kept through the weekend that I hope are helpful for your planning:

  • Fill up with gas in Pincher Creek. The small gas station in Beaver Mines is not always open.

  • The resort offers half day skiing if you leave Calgary in the morning but still want to get a few hours of skiing in that day

  • The resort offers individual pricing for the beginner/intermediate chairlifts! You can pay a discounted price for just the Green Chair or for just the Huckleberry Chair (something I wish more resorts offered for beginners!)

  • Kids 5 and under are free (as they are at most resorts)

  • The resort offers multi day discounts

  • There is a multi-use trail on site for fat biking, snowshoeing, and XC skiing - with rentals available

  • Get free or discounted skiing if you have a Sunshine Super Card! Castle was added to the Sunshine discount card this year so if you have one of these cards, you can claim one of your free days at Castle. Otherwise, make sure you show your Sunshine Super Card for a discount if it's not one of your free days.

Looking up at the Centre Run underneath the Sundance Chair at Castle 

Final thoughts on what we thought of our Castle weekend 

- Castle Mountain really is "closer to heaven and down to earth" as the resort claims. 

There was an eclectic mix of people at the resort from the cowboy in his leather jacket, skiing in an authentic cowboy hat to the men we saw skiing in their work overalls, families who'd driven in from nearby farming communities, to groups of friends gathering for a fun weekend to ski or ride. I even saw a group of skiers in 80s retro ski wear You’d never see this mix of people at a resort in Banff.

This is an authentic "locals' hill" operated by "skiers who are driven by adrenaline, not profit," and while you'll have to do without the high speed chairlifts you'd get at a bigger resort, in exchange, you get homemade monster size cookies baked fresh that morning, lifties that send you off with a huge smile and a shout to have fun every time you ride up, and some of the friendliest staff you'll find at a resort.

A resort that believes in challenging terrain 

Add, no crowds, no lineups, no parking problems, and a day lodge where you'll always find a table - and you've got Castle.

And the 'Closer to Heaven" part  will be experienced as soon as you ride the Tamarack Chair to the top of the resort and look around. These were some of the best views I’ve ever seen from the top of a ski hill on a bluebird day.

Our weekend at Castle actually got us dreaming about looking for a house in South Calgary so this could become our local hill and about buying a vacation property in the area.

Final views from the top of the Skyline Traverse off the Tamarack Chair

Disclaimer: We participated in a hosted weekend to experience a family ski weekend at Castle Mountain Resort. As always, all opinions are my own and I wasn't compensated beyond costs for the weekend. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Perfect Adventure Basecamp in Banff (Canalta Lodge Review)

We recently spent a couple days in Banff and wanted to spend the night rather than driving back and forth from the city. We didn't need anything fancy, no two-bedroom condo or anything, but did want a basic kitchenette in our suite in case we decided to stay in for a meal or two. And an outdoor hot tub was imperative.

Courtyard at the Canalta Lodge in Banff (fire pit, hot tubs, cold plunge pool, and sauna)

The Canalta Lodge - Introduction and Location 

The Canalta Lodge is located on the main street in downtown Banff, on Banff Ave. (google maps link here.) From the lodge, it's a 15 minute walk to the heart of downtown at Cascade Plaza. You can easily walk to restaurants and tour around the town without having to jump in a car.

I also like that the lodge is located just far enough down Banff Avenue from the heart of the main action so it's a bit quieter and parking is easier to find. 

And for the purposes of this story, my family stayed in a single king with sofa and kitchen - loft room

Main living area in our loft room with fireplace, pull out sofa for the kids, and an HDTV.

Top 5 Basecamp "Must Have" Inclusions

This is my personal list of features I look for when booking a hotel room or planning an overnight stay:

Outdoor hot tubs to relax in at the end of a ski or hiking day

This one is imperative for me. And fortunately the Canalta Lodge has two outdoor hot tubs in a private courtyard protected from the street.

Facilities in our own suite or on the property for cooking meals

It gets too expensive to eat out the entire time we travel, so I want a kitchenette as a bare minimum. Even a fridge and a microwave is a big help with quick breakfasts before heading to the ski hill.

My husband also loves having a barbecue on the property if we're traveling in the summer. This makes dinner super easy to prepare.

At the Canalta Lodge, we had a suite with a kitchen so could have prepared our own meals if we'd have been staying longer than a night. There is also a barbecue in the courtyard which would be great for summer visits - and there's a common area both inside and outside with tables for eating if you choose to use the barbecue.

Outdoor courtyard with hot tubs

A separate bedroom or sleeping area for the kids!

My son goes to bed at 8pm which is a tad early for me. We book a regular hotel room, and guaranteed, we are either sitting in the hallway waiting for him to fall asleep or we're hanging out in the bathroom so as not to disturb the prince and his beauty sleep.

At the Canalta Lodge we had a loft suite with a king size bed. Our son slept on the pull out sofa on the main floor, so we had the option of retreating upstairs to hang out after he'd gone to bed. We chose to let him fall asleep in our bed upstairs though so we could enjoy the living room. We then transferred him downstairs when we went to bed.

A living area in our suite 

I like to have an actual living room aside from the basic two beds and television you get in most hotel rooms. Call me a princess but I like to be comfortable. The living area in our suite at the Canalta Lodge wasn't huge or anything fancy, but it had a fireplace and a comfortable sofa.

Free WiFi 

This is pretty common these days but I never take it for granted, and always appreciate it.

A bed for a princess at the Canalta Lodge upstairs in our loft

Bonus Inclusions that you get at the Canalta Lodge 

  • Heated underground parking (for an additional $7 per day) - or you can park on the street for free

  • A hot breakfast included with your stay - there is a breakfast buffet served each morning in the common area on the main floor

  • Happy Camper coffee shop in the lobby - this is a nice touch for those who want to grab a hot beverage at the end of their ski day to enjoy outside in the courtyard or in the common room while playing games with the kids

  • An outdoor courtyard that is unique from every other hotel or resort in Banff - Basically, you're getting a mini "Nordic Spa" when you stay at the Canalta Lodge. (2 hot tubs, a cold plunge pool, hanging hammock chairs, a fire pit, and a sauna.) Add the barbecue, tables for group eating, and the chairs around the fire pit, and you've got one sweet courtyard to enjoy!!

  • A common area on the main floor of the lodge - This big room has plenty of tables for playing games with the kids (board games can be signed out,) meeting up with other families traveling with you, or even sharing a meal if you brought in a take out pizza or you used the barbecue outside. This is also where you'll find the Happy Camper Coffee Shop.

  • Standard rooms are pet friendly

  • The lodge has ski lockers and a tuning bench

  • There is a full fitness facility on site

  • There are laundry facilities on site - Great if you're staying longer or you're traveling with young kids and have soiled clothes you need for the next day

  • Ski packages for tri-area resorts (Sunshine, Norquay, and Louise) - packages start at $329 per night based on dual occupancy for a Friday or Saturday night. (mid week packages also available and are cheaper)

  • Complimentary evening “s’more” service (coming soon)

Common Area on the Main  Floor with Coffee Shop

And, because I am no professional photographer, please visit the website to see more great facility photos

And so we're clear...


The website says that some of the rooms have "full size" kitchens. This is not a full size condo kitchen. It's basically a kitchenette with a fridge, a microwave, coffee maker, a sink, and a hot plate for basic cooking. (there is no oven so skip the frozen pizza unless it fits in the microwave.) Cooking supplies and dishes are also included along with dish soap and other basic supplies.

Also note that not all rooms have a kitchen. Make sure you ask for a room with kitchen if this is important to you. - and even if you don't get a kitchen, you'll still get free breakfast included with your stay, and you can use the barbecue in the courtyard. 

Also know that every room comes with at least a fridge and a microwave so this is pretty much all you need for a ski weekend (especially since breakfast is included and you'll be off playing over lunch time.) Grab a take out pizza for dinner and you're good! 

The kitchen in our loft suite at the Canalta Lodge

Lofts and Separate Sleeping Areas: 

Many of the rooms at the Canalta Lodge resemble your average "hotel room." If you want a loft so that you have a separate sleeping/living area, make sure you request one. 

And not all lofts have kitchens. So again, if that's important to you, request a loft with kitchen.

We had a single king with sofa and kitchen - loft room. This worked for our family of 3 because our son was content to sleep on the pull out sofa.

In the future however, I think we'd upgrade to a double queen suite - loft room so that our son could go to bed upstairs (and stay upstairs) rather than us putting him to sleep in our bed and then transferring him to the sofa downstairs. (these rooms also sleep 6 if you have a bigger family)

And if you have a big family, you have to check this one out! The double queen with bunk beds suite - loft room can sleep 6 people and nobody's sleeping on a sofa. Just know that you'll all be sleeping in one room (if that would be a problem.) Also, the sofa is in the same room as the beds so you lose some of your living area space once kids go to bed. The main floor has a larger dining area and kitchen though (along with a TV and fireplace.) - and there are two TVs in this suite, one up and one down.

Every suite is decorated with natural artwork showcasing local lakes and scenery

The Outdoor Courtyard: 

To save electricity, the sauna is not always turned on. If you plan to use it, give the front desk staff a head's up notice a couple hours in advance so they have time to get it going for you. 

Also, there was a lack of signage when we were at the lodge for how to turn on the hot tub jets. Again, ask for instructions at the front desk (maybe before changing into swimsuits.) Somebody will happily go outside and show you around.

Sauna and hanging hammock chairs in the courtyard 

Our Personal Experience Staying at the Canalta Lodge 

We were only at the lodge for one night, but we enjoyed staying in Banff after skiing at Sunshine for the day. We loved our soak in the hot tub and we had an amazing meal at a Mexican Restaurant downtown for dinner. 

We had brought groceries with us to cook breakfast the next day, so it was a pleasant surprise when we discovered that breakfast was included! Score!!

We didn't do much the next day but enjoyed a relaxed morning, stopping to skate on a frozen lake on our way back to the city.

Would we stay here again? Definitely! 

I'm already thinking the Canalta Lodge would be a fabulous spot for a girls' weekend away since the suites can sleep up to 6 people. 

The lodge would also be a great place to stay next summer with another family where we could enjoy the courtyard all evening, cooking dinner outside, and eating at the picnic tables by the hot tubs. 

Skiing at Sunshine Village before our stay at the Canalta Lodge 

Please visit the Canalta Lodge website for more information on rooms, rates, and ski packages

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Disclaimer: Our stay was provided for us at the lodge in exchange for this review. As always, all words and opinions are my own and I wasn't compensated beyond the stay. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Mount Engadine Lodge Glamping Experience (expect decadence!)

I don't know if you've ever gone winter camping before, but I just spent a night in a tent last month (my first time in a tent with snow on the ground,) and I would happily do it again - the "Mount Engadine Lodge way!"

Camping "The Mount Engadine Lodge Way"

Camping "The Mount Engadine Lodge Way"

I gave up sleeping on the ground in a tent years ago, but fortunately that's not part of the "glamping" package at Mount Engadine Lodge in the Spray Valley of Kananaskis.

Spend a night or two (more if you can) at Mount Engadine Lodge and you can expect nothing but comfort, decadence, and indulgence.

Mount Engadine Lodge Glamping Tents 

The Glamping Experience includes:

  • An "elevated" camping experience where you sleep in a canvas walled trappers tent, raised off the ground and accessed by a wooden walkway from the road.

  • Sleeping in comfort! There's no sleeping bags or cold hard ground here. Each glamping tent includes one king sized bed which can be split into two twins if sharing with a friend. There's also a pull out sofa for parents who want to bring the kids along.

  • Heat!!! You won't be shivering in your sleeping bag, waiting for the sun to come up when you camp at Mount Engadine. Each tent includes a propane fireplace and when the temperature drops, a second propane heater can be added for additional comfort.

  • Indoor heated bathrooms (in your tent!!) - I was pleasantly surprised by this one and had been expecting to have to run to the main lodge if I needed a pee break in the night.

  • No Cooking!! Tell me about the last time you went camping and didn't have to lift a finger to do any cooking or camp chores? I suspect most of you can't answer that one. At Mount Engadine, the lodge prepares all of your meals from the comfort of the main lodge. All you are expected to do is to rest, to relax, and to enjoy.

A look at the interior of our cozy glamping tent at Mount Engadine Lodge

This is camping with none of the work and none of the hardship or discomfort. It's all about other people taking care of YOU. (Moms' weekend away, hello!!)

Much better than sleeping bags on the ground in a cold tent!

Moms' Weekend away at Mount Engadine Lodge 

I visited the lodge last month with a girlfriend for a night and we had a delightful weekend away without any chores, responsibilities, children to take care of, or work to do. It was our time to play and to rest.

Mount Engadine Lodge Moms' Weekend Away 

Read our story and check out our photos below: 

We chose to stay at the lodge Saturday night so that we could spend two full days skiing and hiking in Kananaskis, while only spending one night away from our families. 

We spent Saturday skiing on the trails around Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and then we arrived at the lodge in time for afternoon tea, a charcuterie board and dessert (included with all stays.) We then enjoyed a couple of hours relaxing by the fireplace in the main lodge with books we were finally getting a chance to read.

Day one at Mount Engadine Lodge 

Dinner was served at 7pm and was a decadent three-course feast. It was a far cry from the pasta and chicken fingers my family would have been eating at home. And, as all parents of young children will be able to relate to, it was absolutely glorious being able to just sit and enjoy a meal, start to end, without ever having to get up. And to enjoy dinner for over an hour was quite a treat too!

The lodge is also amazing at customizing meals for guests so don't worry if you need to to contact the lodge before your stay to request special gluten free, Vegan, lactose free... meals (whatever your need, the lodge will do their best to accommodate you and will work around allergies as well.) - with enough advanced notice!

Dinner at Mount Engadine Lodge 

We retired early in the evening and retreated to our cozy tent, thankfully warming up with an additional heater that had been added (God forbid we'd actually feel like we were camping after all.) 

Another look at our raised tent at Mount Engadine Lodgde

The next day started with a delicious hot breakfast (with two choices to select from) and ordering our lunches to go for the day. The lodge packs bagged lunches for all guests with sandwiches (made with freshly baked bread,) and other snacks as chosen by the guest (lots of homemade cookies in mine.)

Morning at Mount Engadine Lodge 

We checked out of the lodge around 10:30 am and headed to the nearby Rummel Lake trailhead, conveniently located across the road for guests staying an extra night. We enjoyed a scenic hike up to the lake, and then drove home with plenty of time to rejoin our families for dinner.

Hiking to Rummel Lake from Mount Engadine Lodge

Read More about Mount Engadine Lodge

I've stayed here a "few" times now and have several stories you can read if you'd like to learn more about the full Mount Engadine Lodge experience.
Scenery like this is a short hike away from the lodge

So far, I've been fortunate enough to have stayed in one of the rooms upstairs in the main lodge, in one of the larger suites in the main lodge (great for families or guests traveling with their dog,) in the "palace" next door - my name for the two-bedroom Whiskey Jack Cabin located a short walk away from the main lodge, in the yurt (an authentic camping experience,) and now in one of the brand new glamping tents. - I may like Mount Engadine Lodge just a "little bit."

Family Winter Getaways at Mount Engadine Lodge - staying in the Whiskey Jack Cabin 

Paradise at Mount Engadine Lodge - our very first visit where we enjoyed some glorious snowshoeing at Chester Lake 

And, find more awesome places to try glamping here: Alberta Comfort Camping Destination Guide 

The Spray Valley has incredible views (and this bench is a 40 min. hike up from the lodge)

Please visit the Mount Engadine Website for more information on rates, packages at the lodge, and the various kinds of accommodations at the lodge. 

Disclaimer: Our visit was sponsored for this review. As always, all words and opinions are my own and I wasn't compensated beyond the stay.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Top Ten Family Adventure Stories from 2018 - did you miss any?

I like to go back and look at my most popular stories from the past year, to reflect, and to get an idea of what you'd like to read more about in the coming year.

Below are the most popular stories from 2018, purely based on the numbers and readership. I did not include my holiday gift guide (always a popular story each year) or my 2018 campsite reservation guide - which will be updated for 2019 shortly.

Top Ten Family Adventure Stories from 2018! Did you miss any?

Top Ten Family Adventure Stories from 2018

One. Local's Guide to Exploring the Best of Banff and Jasper

We have some amazing attractions and sites right on our doorstep that many of us locals pass over because we think "it's too busy, too expensive, too crowded, or just flat out too touristy."

Read about ten of my family's favourite attractions and sites in the mountain parks of Banff and Jasper. Each one is very popular with tourists, but equally enjoyable as a local.

Local's guide to exploring the best of Banff and Jasper 

Two. Biking the High Rockies Trail in Kananaskis with Kids

We can officially say that we have a favourite bike trail in Alberta, and we believe it is the most beautiful trail for mountain biking in all of Southern Alberta. It's also a lot of fun, and there was a lot of whooping and hollering going on in our party on the flowy descents.

Biking the High Rockies Trail in Kananaskis with kids

Three. First Summits for Families in the Canadian Rockies

We've been climbing mountains as a family since my son was too young to walk. We started with hikeable peaks we could carry a baby up, moved on to toddler summits, and then slowly walked our way higher each year.

First summits for families in the Canadian Rockies

Four. Our Favourite Autumn Hikes for Golden Larch Trees 

A larch tree looks like a normal evergreen tree until mid September when the needles turn bright golden yellow and begin to slowly fall off for the winter. New needles come back the following spring, making this a very unusual "evergreen tree" since it's definitely not green year round. In winter, you'd just see a bare trunk and branches (like any deciduous tree.)

Our favourite autumn hikes for golden larch trees 

Five. Family Adventure Bucket List for Golden, BC

My family recently spent a weekend in Golden and  I was made aware that Golden is so much more than a "refueling stop," more than a quick overnight stay on the way to the coast, and much more than the highway you see driving through town.

Family adventure bucket list for Golden, BC

Six. How to Become a Ski Family (without breaking the bank!)

I think we can all agree that downhill skiing is one of the most expensive sports a family can choose as a winter activity. By the time you've purchased gear for another season (somebody tell these kids to stop growing,) and perhaps invested in seasons passes for a local hill, you're easily spending upwards of $2000.00 (and that's if you were on the ball and bought passes at early season rates!)

How to become a ski family without breaking the bank 

Seven. 5 Reasons to Visit Lake Louise this Spring

Did you know that you can still go ice skating on a real mountain lake - in April? How about skiing in prime winter conditions (no slush here,) or even sledding (without a trace of dirt!) Lake Louise still has epic amounts of snow for all winter sports.

5 Reasons to visit Lake Louise this spring 

Eight. Take your Skiing to the next Level in 5 Simple Steps

Last year I could usually keep up to my child on the ski hill. I was faster on groomed runs, and I think I still might have been the stronger skier. That has changed this year, and my 9 year old is kicking my butt!

Want a good butt-kicking from your own kids on the hill? Follow these steps below and you'll see progress arrive quickly. Maybe too quickly.

Take your skiing to the next level in 5 simple steps 

Nine. The BEST of Spring in the Canadian Rockies (Gotta do THIS!)

It's starting to feel like spring in Calgary, and the warm sun has me dreaming about first hikes, camping trips, and dry bike trails.

The best of spring in the Canadian Rockies (Gotta do THIS!)

Ten. Yes, Take the Kids out of School for the Day - and Go Skiing!

I've always been a big supporter of regular school attendance and would never have considered pulling my son from classes for the day - to go skiing! That is until this year, when I did it for the first time, and realized how much fun it was to spend a day at a ski hill without the weekend crowds!

Yes, take the kids out of school for the day - and go skiing!

Other Adventure Stories You Might Have Missed 

Check out my Top Ten Adventure Highlights of 2018 post for other stories and adventures you may have missed.

Top ten adventure highlights of 2018