Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beyond Lake Louise - Where the Real Magic Begins

We went to Lake Louise for the annual Ice Magic Festival at the end of January but after an hour at the overcrowded lake, I was practically running to get as far away as possible.  I wanted to find someplace quiet and off the beaten path.  To find a beautiful mountain lake we could be alone at.  And to look around and see not a blessed other person!

Bow Lake:  Solitude found on the Icefields Parkway North of Lake Louise

Our Retreat on the Icefields Parkway

Fortunately, solitude can easily be found only half an hour away on the remote Icefields Parkway, north of Lake Louise.    Based out of  Hostelling International's Mosquito Creek Hostel, we spent two nights in a beautiful wilderness location far away from the craziness that is Lake Louise.

Paradise at Mosquito Creek

I've written lots about the Mosquito Creek hostel on this blog because I honestly believe it's one of the best places to stay as a family in the Rockies.  Forget the fancy hotels, staying at a wilderness hostel is a real mountain experience, and the Mosquito Creek hostel allows you some extra privacy you won't find at many other hostels.  A private cabin on site accommodates two families nicely with two bedrooms (5 beds per room), and your own kitchen/living area.  Unlike most hostels, you aren't sharing cooking facilities or common space with other hostel users, and it doesn't matter how crowded the hostel gets; You can use the fireside room in the main hostel or just retreat back to your own cabin any time you want.

Dinner in the Private Cabin at Mosquito Creek
The Hostel is simple but comfortable.  There's no hot water but there is a tap with drinking water in the cabin, and the kitchen is equipped for basic cooking.  Just don't plan to go too gourmet and you'll be fine.  Bathrooms are located outside, giving it a real rustic feeling, and it's about 400m from the parking lot to the cabin so plan to bring a sled to haul your gear and food in to the cabin.

The Mosquito Creek Hostel
Think winter camping with a cozy cabin and only 400m to walk instead of a big ski backpacking trip.  Totally family friendly, right?

Sunset over Mosquito Creek
To read more of my Mosquito Creek stories (and see a lot more photos from our past trips), follow these links to: Winter Paradise at Mosquito Creek or Winter Camping in Style

Staying at Mosquito Creek is Snow Awesome!

Day Trip to Bow Lake

It's a 15 to 20 minute drive from the hostel to reach beautiful Bow Lake.  We retreated here when we grew tired of the crowds at Lake Louise and found what we were looking for - solitude, peace, and a winter wonderland all to ourselves.

Winter Hiking at Bow Lake
While you could hike all the way to the back of the lake just by walking across the middle of the frozen lake, we only went a kilometre out at the very most, played around, and headed back.  Still, it was one of the most beautiful hikes I've done in the Rockies.  We made snow angels, played in the snow, and reveled in the fact that it was all ours to share with nobody!

Enjoying Winter at Bow Lake
Next time, we're going to hike to Bow Glacier Falls at the back of the lake.  Fingers crossed for April!

Bow Lake is a great place to hike with a sled

Playing at the Mosquito Creek Campground

The other magical thing we discovered during our stay at the Mosquito Creek Hostel was found right next door at the summer campground.  A group of Scouts had been staying there overnight and built  a village of snow quincies for us to play in.  Thank you!  We had so much fun!

No better place to play!
These were some pretty sweet quincies!
The kids could have played in the campground ALL day.
Who needs a playground?!
We may have almost toppled this one.

We also had fun hiking along the creek in the campground, and what child doesn't like being pulled through soft powder in a sled?

Hiking through the Mosquito Creek Campground
Hiking over the frozen creek on a snow bridge

We had the best weather we've ever had for our annual trip to Mosquito Creek and it guarantees we'll be back for more adventures next year.   Lake Louise is a great place to visit, but the real magic begins on the Icefields Parkway!

Snow Angels on Bow Lake
Big thanks to Hostelling International for taking care of our stay at the hostel.  As always, all words and opinions are my own.  Thanks as well to the great friends that joined us on our trip.  Playing in the snow is always more fun with friends.

1 comment:

  1. I've driven past that hostel many times bit never spent the night. It looks like a great option for the winter - & the photos of your kids on Bow Lake are spectacular. I like the sound of the April hike.