Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everything for a family to love at Nipika Mountain Resort

My family recently had the fabulous opportunity to spend a night at Nipika Mountain Resort on the edge of Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.  We'd visited numerous times in the past to ski on the cross country trails connected to the resort but had never been able to spend a night.  I had always thought we didn't need to actually stay overnight if we could pay a small fee to access the ski trails as day users.  As soon as we walked into our cabin though, I knew I had been wrong.  Very very wrong.  You definitely need to spend a night, weekend, or even a week at Nipika to truly discover how magical the resort is!  I knew within five seconds of looking around our cabin that we would be back many times, that we'd bring friends next time, we'd bring more family, and that we'd tell everybody we knew to pack their bags right away for a weekend away in Nipika Paradise.

Nipika Paradise

Nipika Mountain Resort is a small Eco-resort built on 100 kilometres of trails for cross country skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and trail running.  The resort is open year-round and while you can drop in for a day from nearby Radium Hot Springs, you'll benefit immensely from staying in one of the eight cozy cabins on the property.

Our Cozy Cabin
Each cabin can accommodate from six to thirteen guests and one is even wheel-chair accessible.  While each cabin is unique, you'll find a kitchen, fireplace, living room, bathroom with shower and at least one bedroom in each cabin.  We stayed in the Richter Cabin which had a loft containing two single beds outside our bedroom with a queen sized bed.  It was perfect for a family of three or four and we appreciated having our own bedroom rather than having to share a room with our son in typical motel fashion. We loved the wood burning fireplace that added to the rustic charm of the cabin and we made use of the barbecue on the deck to grill steak for dinner.  We were very comfortable in our little cabin and I left thinking it would be lovely to come back in spring when days are warmer and sunnier.  I'd love to spend more time sitting on the deck drinking hot chocolate in the late afternoon sun.

Skiing Home for Lunch

The main appeal for us at Nipika as a family was the ability to have a base camp amidst Rocky Mountain wilderness from where we could participate in a dozen different outdoor sports right from the doorstep of our cabin.  We went cross country skiing twice during our one night stay, we tried out the skating rink, and we also tromped around the field outside our cabin on snowshoes.

Skiing across the Natural Bridge on the North Trails

Had we have stayed another night, we could have explored the resort's signed snowshoe trails as well but with a three year old, we found the open meadow in front of the cabins to be the perfect spot for snowshoeing.  We also discovered a great bunny hill mere steps from our cabin door that would be perfect for children working on their ski technique (on either cross country or downhill skis), and could make a good toboggan hill for young children.  (I would just make sure an adult was situated at the bottom of the hill to ensure no skiers were taken out by a runaway sled as a ski trail does pass below the hill.)  For older children, there is an official sledding hill called Mount Sledmore located a short distance away along the ski trails.  Some day we'll tackle it too!

Snowshoeing in the Meadow around the Cabins

Skiing Past the First Warming Hut
Summer opens up even more possibilities for recreation at Nipika with both wide ski trails and single track trails on the property available for mountain biking and trail running.  While still learning to ride a bike, my son would love the groomed ski trails in summer for riding his Balance Bike.  We'd definitely make it to the first Warming Hut on his bike and back.

I think it would be amazing to bike together as a family to the little hut, have lunch and bike back.  For young children, the short distance would be perfect at three kilometres return.  For families with school-aged children or teens, the kids would be in mountain bike heaven!

The comments in our cabin's guest book raved about the fantastic single track opportunities at the resort.  And then at the end of the day, guests can look forward to taking a cold plunge into the resort's pond, complete with floating dock for older kids to hang out on and make new friends.

The Upper  Canyon Falls Warming Hut - Great Destination for Biking, Hiking, Skiing or Snowshoeing

We absolutely loved the opportunities we had at Nipika to ski right out our cabin door onto the trails.
 We could also access the skating rink and wood fired hot tub after a short walk across the meadow outside.  Everything was very close and accessible.
Enjoying the Wood Fired Hot Tub

Accessibility was a very nice change for us from Calgary where ski trails are often found an hour's drive away and young kids sometimes spend more time in the car than they do actually skiing when they go anywhere.  At Nipika that isn't a problem.  You can ski for half an hour, go inside your cabin to warm up and have a snack, switch over to snowshoes, have lunch, go for a skate, return to the cabin for a nap, and then start all over again.  Nipika is true recreation paradise for families wanting to keep adventures short and sweet.

Learning to ski at Nipika
From skiing to snowshoeing, skating, sledding, or just playing in the snow, Nipika has something for every member of the family.  The Cabins were pure perfection and the scenery at the resort was among the best in the Canadian Rockies.

Powder and Perfection
We had fresh powder to play in, a cozy place to keep warm, and solitude to top it all off!  We actually didn't see another guest the whole time we were there since we'd decided to go mid-week.  I have a feeling though that even if you went on a weekend, there would be enough paradise for everybody to share amongst the 50 kilometres of groomed trails. 

Rustic Living at its Best
Nipika Mountain Resort is the classic Canadian Experience and the Wilson Family is to be commended for the Eco-friendly heaven that they have created.  Completely off the grid, you won't find TVs, telephones, or even cell service at Nipika - and don't bother trying to bring your hair drier because it won't work. This is rustic living at it's best!  What you will find is a resort that generates their own electricity through solar panels, a micro hydro plant, and a propane powered generator.  Wood takes care of everything else from the wood fired hot tub and sauna to the fire places in each cabin.

One other thing I took note of was the goal to not kill trees needlessly for the purpose of making the cabins and furniture.  All buildings and furniture were built on site using trees already killed by the mountain pine beetle.

If you get a chance when you visit Nipika, make sure you take some time to visit the environmental learning centre on site or to sign up for a tour of the resort with a knowledgeable staff or family member.

The Majesty of the Kootenay Rockies Spread Out Around You
If you need further evidence of Nipika's Magic, check out a few of the comments from our cabin's guest book (comments in brackets are mine):
  • Nipika is a Doggie Disneyland (yes, the resort is pet-friendly so bring Fido with you)
  • Nipika was our first choice for a honeymoon (in case you want to leave the kids at home)
  • It's all about getting back to nature
  • Nipika was the perfect place to spend Christmas
  • Nipika feels like home
  • We had the whole valley to ourselves for 3 nights
  • It was our first visit but it won't be our last (I understand that one completely!)
  • Nipika was the perfect first getaway with our baby

Skiing on the South Trails Beside the River
I learned that nobody visits Nipika just once, that you need to visit in more than one season to get the full experience, and that there is something for everybody from the parent skiing while pulling their toddler in a sled, to children doing their first single track bike rides, to grandparents who want to come along and share in some family bonding.  You also don't have to be super active, athletic, or outdoorsy to enjoy a quiet walk beside the river.

Based on my visit, I can confidently say that there is everything for a family to love at Nipika!   The only question is - how often will you return?

The Canyon Bridge - Great Destination for Skiing or Snowshoeing in Winter

Disclaimer:  Nipika Mountain Resort graciously sponsored this family trip. As always opinions and endorsements are entirely my own.

1 comment:

  1. The cabin is absolutely gorgeous and it's such a special place to go! And the hot tub? SO fun! I think the wintertime with its cold temperatures is a great time to be hot tubing ..I would love to get away to a place like this and just enjoy peace and quiet!