Monday, March 31, 2014

The Unwelcome House Guest - Dealing with Snow in April

I was going to mention "enjoying" the April snow in my story's title, but let's be realistic - We are all d.o.n.e with the snow!  At most right now we can learn how to make the most of these final snowy days where it feels like we're still shoveling every single morning. But, like the expression, "make hay while the sun shines," I think it's appropriate to say "go skiing while the snow falls."  I mean, what else are you gonna do besides crawl into a hole for the next few weeks and cry.  (and I don't think that's really an option.)

Fluffy spring powder day

This is how we spent the last few days:

Yesterday, a couple girlfriends and I spent 5.5 hours cross country skiing in Kananaskis through fluffy soft snow, we enjoyed warm weather, dealt with the occasional clumping on our skis, and embraced the snow.  Rather than fight with it, we made it our friend.  Snow = Fun.  Even in April.

Meanwhile, last Friday I took my son skiing for the day and he did his longest ski of the season at 6km.  It was warm and sunny, we had perfect conditions on trails groomed to perfection, we didn't have to worry about freezing our toes and fingers, and we could stop for breaks rather than skiing at a fast pace to stay warm.  THIS is the perfect weather for skiing with kids.  Even if it is April. 

Ski day at the end of March on perfect trails!


Need more inspiration that snow in April can still be enjoyable?

Check out this story I wrote last April:  Making the Most of the Late Season Snow 

Chances are, the kids aren't as tired of the snow as you are.

And, if you are truly done with the snow, check out this story I also wrote last April:  Waiting Patiently for Spring - No More Snow

No snow on the city pathways - so get riding!
I'll try to mix it up a bit but I still have a LOT of snow stories to share with you so I hope you'll bear with me.  :)

You can still have a spring picnic - even in the snow.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Does Adventure Have to be Fun?

Rain slowly fell around me in a steady drizzle as I made my way up to the pass, complaining miserably that this was not fun. What’s fun about backpacking through rain and snow (which we got the next day), setting up a tent in the cold, and then huddling under a small tarp eating freeze-dried chicken and rice—only to finally call it a day at 8 p.m. and go to bed?! I have many words that come to mind to describe our backpacking trip in Banff National Park last fall, but “fun” isn’t really one of them.

Fun?  Really? 
And with that introduction, the full story as published yesterday for Women's Adventure Magazine, proceeds to ask the question - Is Adventure Worth Pursuing Even WHEN It's Not Fun??

Brave Faces on a Cold Autumn Day
What is the real reason I embark on this kind of adventure in the backcountry? Is it for the fun? Do I carry a heavy backpack up a thousand metres to reach camp, placing myself entirely in Mother Nature’s hands and goodwill while suffering from blisters and bruised toes (I lost six toenails after this particular weekend), all because it’s just so much fun? Perhaps there is a different reason I choose to do this kind of trip. Something equally important to, or more important than, having fun.

Why do I do this again??

To read  the full story, go to Does Adventure Have to Be Fun at Women's Adventure Magazine. - and then leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Soggy Hiking above Shadow Lake

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Folllow Your Feet To Make a Difference

Most of you following my blog should know that I'm a proud Keen Canada Ambassador.  I wear their shoes and sandals with pride and have been crazy enough to even go backpacking in my Keen sandals.  They've been worn while hiking on a glacier, they've been my companion on my SUP board while out paddling, and they go on each and every camping trip!  They are my best adventure friend (along with my husband and son of course.)  Meanwhile, my Keen hiking boots have seen some pretty impressive places as well.  This Mama does not need and will not wear mountaineering boots!

My Keen Hiking Boots took me HERE.

Keen Canada has a new initiative right now called "Follow Your Feet - Make a Difference."  The idea is that if you follow your feet, live out your passions, and chase your dreams, you can make a difference in the lives of others.  By choosing to do what makes you happy, you will seek to influence others in the same way to spread the happiness.

Blissfully Happy - Who Wants to Follow Me?

I love paddling, climbing, hiking and camping but it's a new sport that's actually taken the lead for me over the past year.  I bought my first bike two summers ago after not riding since high school.  It was a cheap $100 Kijiji special, weighed a ton, and didn't exactly perform well on hills.   But, I loved that bike and have only just sold it this spring for a real mountain bike that will hopefully take me where I want to go this summer.

Riding with my son in Kelowna last summer

I bought my first adult bike and decided to give the sport a try after realizing my son had an all consuming passion for riding!  I could tell it was his ultimate summer passion for outdoor sports and I wanted to be able to enjoy it with him.  Now we’d both choose biking as our favourite activity. (with stand up paddleboarding a very close second for me.)

Biking in Radium Hotsprings last September

I followed my feet and ultimately my son's feet to find a new passion.  Since then, I've gone on to motivate and raise up a new generation of junior bikers in my city.  I've formed a Junior Biker Gang and I plan group rides at least once or twice a month from spring through fall.  It's based out of the Calgary Outdoor Playgroups community that I founded two years ago now and all of the riders are between the ages of 2 and 6.  Last year the large majority of kids were on balance bikes but I expect them to be ripping around on their pedal bikes this year.

Members of my Junior Biker Gang in Kananaskis last Spring

I wrote a series on my blog last spring called Kids on Wheels and in this series I covered everything from forming your own Junior Biker Gang to choosing a good bike, making bike riding fun for kids, and an introduction to bike hiking (a new sport I "created" by bringing balance bikes on hiking trails.)

Bike Hiking in Kananaskis last Spring

For more information on Keen Canada's new initiative and to read stories from other Keen Ambassadors, click here on Follow Your Feet - Make a Difference

For more information on my Junior Biker Gang or Calgary Outdoor Playgroups, visit the tab at the top of my blog or find us on Facebook

First Group Ride this Year in Confederation Park

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mount Norquay - Fun for the Whole Family in Banff

I've lived in Calgary for over ten years and have spent time at every mountain ski resort within a 5 hour drive of here - with Mount Norquay finally added to the list just this month!  Given that Norquay is located a short hour away from Calgary in the town of Banff, I'm not sure why we had never skied here before but I suspect it had something to do with the hill's reputation for being steep and great for expert skiers. One day at Norquay though, and I knew I had been wrong in thinking the hill wasn't suited to beginners or families.

Skiing Mount Norquay, Banff under the Cascade Chair

We arrived at Mount Norquay on probably the busiest day of the whole winter season while the Caribou Cup ski race was going on.  This is not a bad thing though because it allowed me to see just how vibrant the ski community at Norquay is for families, children, and youth. I'd estimate there were 50-80+ kids gathering in the ski school area as I walked my son to his lesson.  The day lodge was also packed all day long with youth participating in the race, parents hanging out with toddlers, and people of all ages grabbing a quick snack between runs.  It was definitely a happening place!  Add the busy action at the Tube Park and you definitely knew you were at the "IT" place in Banff that day.

Learning to Ski on The Beginner Hill at Mount Norquay

Mount Norquay's Snow School

We've had our son in lessons at a few different ski resorts now this winter, and I have to say that the instructors at Norquay stand out above the rest.  I hung around watching my son's lesson and have nothing but rave reviews for his teacher.  He taught Noah some clever techniques such as the "jet engine" where Noah had to pretend he was a jet racing down the hill with his skis straight, and then hold his arms out to turn his engine to the left or right.  It was cute but effective.  By the end of the lesson, his teacher had taken him up the chair lift (a first in any of Noah's lessons) and Noah was ecstatic that he was being allowed to go up!

Jet Engine Training

The teacher's attitude was what stood out the most for me.  He was relaxed, fun, and took all of Noah's nervous goofiness in stride.  Most importantly, he was willing to let Noah go up the chair lift even though he may not have been entirely "ready."  The rule at many hills is that kids be 100% free of any training devices before going up the chair lift in lessons.  That means no edgie wedgie, harness, etc.  And Noah still likes his edgie wedgie, aka "Mr. Noodle" on steeper terrain.  The teacher was completely relaxed though and said he'd take Noah up, see how he did, and worse-case scenario, help him down however he had to do it - even if it meant skiing with him between his legs.  Now, I know this is not standard protocol for helping your student down the hill, and I'm sure it wasn't necessary judging by our own experience skiing with Noah afterwards, but I admire the teacher's commitment to ensure Noah had a fantastic experience!

Noah making his way down the Cascade Chair

Mount Norquay for Beginners

As mentioned in the first paragraph, Norquay has a reputation as a more "difficult" hill.  Based on our first experience there however, I'd say it's also an excellent hill for beginners.  There is a great mid-week or weekend ski program that lasts most of the winter for families that want to make the commitment to coming out ever week (ski passes included,) and the beginner ski area has a decent grade allowing for kids to become competent at their turns before progressing to the chair lift.

Snow School at Mount Norquay

Once beginners are ready for the next step, the Cascade Chair is the place to be!  It's the closest chair lift to the beginner area and accesses nothing but green runs.  You can take your family up this chair and know you won't find yourself in the middle of expert terrain with no way down.  The next chair over, the Spirit Chair, is also a good place to spend some time with young skiers.

Dad and Son Making their way down the Cascade Chair (Tube Park in the distance)

After several runs down the Cascade Chair, we made our way over to Spirit for one run down with Noah.  The top was a bit steep for Noah but there is a mid-station exit point that accesses green runs lower down, skipping the tricky part at the top we had to navigate.  We'll be going back to Norquay in April and I know we'll have a lot of fun on both the Cascade and Spirit Chairs with our beginner Green-Runner.

The Easy Traverse off the top of the Spirit Chair

The Holy Grail of Tube Parks

When Noah tired of skiing, we made our way over to the resort's Tube Park.  The only tube park we've ever tried before is at Nakiska Mountain Resort in Kananaskis and while it was fun, Norquay's tube park blew it out of the water.  I screamed the whole way down my first run and was practically breathless from the speed and sheer thrill of it.  This is no tame toddler ride!  The Norquay Tube Park was designed for the whole family from young children to teenagers and their parents.  I actually thought it was so much fun, I'd go back to just play in the Tube Park any day.  It was AS much fun as skiing.  Truth.

Getting ready for our descent down the hill

There was a magic carpet lift to haul tubes and participants up to the top of the park, and there were multiple sliding lanes, ensuring minimal wait times.  The park was busy when we were there but we never had to wait before sliding down each time.  There were plenty of tubes for everybody and the tubes were also easy to maneuver.  I appreciated that each tube had a tow handle on it for the final climb to the top from the magic carpet.  (At Nakiska, you have to carry them.)

Looking down the sliding lanes with the busy magic carpet to the left

The final thing I loved about the Norquay Tube Park was that we got to go down together as a family.  All three of us rode down together in our tubes in the same lane, holding on to each other as we flew down backwards, sideways, and constantly turning.  According to the website, there's a children's play area and small sliding area as well which we'll have to investigate when we're back in April.  (Somebody remind me to bring my goggles next time!)

Happy Times at the Mount Norquay Tube Park

For more information about Mount Norquay, follow these links to the Mount Norquay Snow School Programs or the Mount Norquay Tube Park.

All other information on pricing, programs, and the amenities at the hill can be found on the Mount Norquay website.  (Bonus, this is the only ski resort in Banff that offers lift tickets by the hour if you are just out for half a day.)

Families with non-skiers may also be interested in knowing that Mount Norquay offers snowshoeing and sightseeing chair lift rides.  Snowshoes can be rented from the North American Lodge (the closest lodge to the Tube Park and North American chair lift.) 

AND, Don't forget the next Toonie Day on April 2nd where Alberta Residents can ski for just $2 per person. 

Noah pointing out the Beginner Area and Tube Park at Mount Norquay

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this story and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.  Our ski lesson, lift tickets, and Tube Park passes were graciously provided though by  Mount Norquay in partnership with Banff Lake Louise Tourism.  Big Thank you to both for making this day possible for us.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Banff History Lesson with Mineral Springs, Snails, and a Cave

Disclaimer right from the start - Our family does not typically visit museums, historic sites, or anything that could be considered boring by a 5 year old child or two parents that would rather be climbing a mountain.  That being said, we've been to Banff a LOT of times and had never, ever visited the birthplace of the whole Canadian National Park system - the origin of the Banff Hotsprings.  I'm not sure I even knew the full story of how Banff, our first national park, was birthed after three railway workers explored a hole in the ground with steam rising out of it by lowering a tree trunk in it to climb down and investigate.  I know the story now however!  That's after having visited the Cave and Basin National Historic Site in the town of Banff.

Checking out the Original Thermal Water Basin at the Historic Site

The thermal waters that the railway workers discovered in 1883 didn't exactly bring them the liquid gold or riches that they were hoping for, but they did birth the first National Park and paved the way for an entire park system across our country.  THIS is history worth checking out while you are in Banff before you visit the commercial hotsprings that we have today.

The Banff Upper Hotsprings as we have them today

Aside from history, why else would you visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff?

First of all, entrance to the site is included with your National Parks Discovery Pass!  

Few people know that, but if you have an annual park pass to get into the National Parks of Canada, you can visit historic sites like Cave and Basin as much as you want.  I for one, did NOT know that.  If I had, I'm positive we would have visited the source of the Banff Hotsprings a looooooong time ago because I've always been fascinated by the underground cave that contains the original mineral pool, and the protected Banff Springs Snail, found nowhere else on this planet.

The Cave at the Historic Site
The Thermal Pool inside the Cave

Second, the Cave and Basin Historic Site offers much more than a history lesson.

The site has been completely renovated or "renewed" over the last couple of years with year-round programming and interactive exhibits.  What's NEW:
  • Interpretive media exhibits including a new 4 screen HD video that takes you across Canada's National Parks, Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas
  • Tours and guided interpretive programs
  • Evening programs including a cinema under the stars on the original pool deck used by early tourists to the Banff Hotsprings, lantern tours and stargazing.
  • Winter programs including ice skating on a new ice rink that's been built onto the historic pool deck
  • Fun family-friendly events such as Magic Winter Saturday Nights and the Banff Winter Carnival, happening this month from March 26th through the 30th.

For a list of all events happening at the Cave and Basin Historic Site including the upcoming winter carnival, lantern tours, and cinema under the stars, visit the park website here.

Skating on the Historic Hotsprings Pool Deck
The Skating Rink and Site of Cinema under the Stars

Finally, for the outdoor family, there are hiking trails that all start right from the Cave and Basin site.  

The Sundance Canyon Trail has been a favourite Banff trail of ours for years now AND it's stroller friendly once the snow melts on a scenic paved trail that's also good for a family bike ride.  For a shorter stroll, check out the Discovery Boardwalk or the Marsh Loop.

Hiking the Sundance Canyon Trail

We did the Discovery boardwalk hike on our visit last weekend and it was really cool to see the cave vent that the railway workers would have found so many years ago.  We also enjoyed checking out two small springs on the hillside that were bubbling and alive with different colours of algae.

Looking Down into the Cave Vent
Exploring on the Discovery Boardwalk Trail
Checking out the Thermal Springs on the Discovery Trail

It was our first time visiting the Cave and Basin Historic Site but we'll definitely be back and the marsh trails are a lot of fun in the spring when you can search for rare plants and wild orchids.  Now that we know of all the cool programs happening at the site, we'll also be checking the calendar more regularly! 

Exploring the Cave and Basin Discovery Trail
And then after you visit the Cave and Basin site where Banff's thermal waters were first discovered, you can continue on to the Upper Hotsprings for a relaxing soak in the public pool.  (For a quieter visit, go early in the morning or maybe try around dinner time.  We found the pool to be busy even in the off-season.)

Relaxing at the Banff Upper Hotsprings in the Snow
Looking for more ideas for family-fun activities in Banff?  Check out my last story:  Playing Tourist in Banff - Without the Crowds. 

More ideas can also be found in my previous story:  Celebrating Spring Break in Banff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Playing Tourist in Banff - Without the Crowds

A couple of summers ago I wrote a story called Playing Tourist in Banff National Park.  We did all of the "touristy" things from riding the Banff Gondola to taking the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise and hiking some of the busy summer trails.  What we discovered is that these tourist sites and trails are popular for a reason - They are beautiful, the busy trails are often the nicest hikes, and who doesn't like summiting a mountain via a gondola that can climb 700 metres in 8 minutes!  (To put that in perspective, the average adult can climb maybe 300-500 metres in an hour.  Add children and you're looking at maybe 200 metres in an hour.)

Peace and Tranquility on top of Sulphur Mountain in Spring

The key to playing tourist however, as I've learned over the past couple of years, is to do it in the off-season.  We rode the Banff Gondola this past weekend and I was blown away by how awesome the experience was without the summer crowds.  It was still a popular place to be on a warm Saturday afternoon but I could actually take photos without 50 other people in them!  The walkway to the top of the Sulphur Mountain summit was uncrowded and peaceful.  Imagine that!  (Anybody who's done the hike on a weekend in the middle of summer knows what a treat this would be.)

Climbing Sulphur Mountain from the Upper Gondola Station

The experience was also very beautiful with the winter snow on the mountains surrounding us.  In summer, the mountains don't look nearly as pretty but at this time of year, Cascade Mountain and the other surrounding peaks are absolutely spectacular!

Looking down on Banff and across to Cascade Mountain from the top of Sulphur Mt.
Enjoying a Quiet Walk at the Top of Sulphur Mountain

While the price of the Banff Gondola is a bit expensive for the average day trip, kids under 6 are free and there are some pretty fun package deals right now.  Visit on a Sunday for brunch and get your gondola ticket included with your meal on top of the beautiful Sulphur Mountain.  You can also take your sweetie up the gondola for a romantic date night on Fridays or Saturdays for the Banff Alpine Lights special.  Enjoy a fine dining experience on top of the mountain with gondola tickets included.  And if you are that family that does everything together, you can take the kids too.  (we would be that family.)

If you are an Alberta Resident, you are also entitled to further discounts , and there is a one-way  down price as well for those wishing to hike up Sulphur Mountain on their own and ride down.  The trail looked to be in good condition but I would still recommend bringing some ice cleats or snowshoes for slippery sections.

However you do it, the gondola is a special treat and a very memorable experience.

Romantic Gondola Ride with my Sweetie
For more information on the Banff Gondola, visit their website at
You'll find all the details on their current specials, pricing, and hours at the website.
There is a cafeteria open at the Upper Gondola Station through the winter and spring season and be prepared to shell out a few extra dollars for a photo of your family as you make your descent back to the bottom.  There is a professional photographer on site taking photos as you get into your gondola - and the photos are really good!  (still kicking myself that we didn't buy ours!)

The walkways were in great condition and not slippery at all

A big thank you to the great folks at Banff Lake Louise Tourism who made our visit possible last weekend.  I highly recommend taking the gondola before the crowds descend on Banff for the summer and we had a fabulous time on top of Sulphur Mountain. 

The Banff Penguin on his way up Sulphur Mountain

Disclaimer:  I wasn't compensated for writing this story beyond gondola tickets.  As always, all words and opinions are entirely my own. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter Escape to Jasper National Park

I'm from Northern Alberta originally and when we went to the mountains for the weekend, it was always to the small town of Jasper, 4 hour west of Edmonton.  We never travelled south to Banff or Lake Louise because they were just too far away.  Now, living in Calgary,  we seldom travel north to Jasper.  Few of us here would ever think of driving 5 hours north to Jasper for a weekend to go skiing when Banff is so much closer. (One hour Vs. five hours of driving.)  However, Jasper is awesome in winter and needs to be visited at least once.  After that, you'll want to go back every winter.  (and maybe stay for a week!)

Maligne Canyon in winter

We spent the February long weekend in Jasper this year, thinking that three nights would be long enough to see and do everything.  Man, was I wrong!  We could have spent a week in Jasper and still have trails left to explore next winter.  It didn't help that our son  got sick late in the afternoon on our first full day there.   After an epic ice walk in Maligne Canyon and a fairly long hike on  the Pyramid Bench, our poor little Pook was all done, and proceeded to throw up all over the back of our truck.  Blah!  (one of the great joys of parenthood.)  Sunday was hence, pretty chill, and Noah spent the day sleeping in his sled or on the sofa of our hostel.  We contemplated going home early but a 5 hour drive would not have been fun with a child glued to a bucket!  We decided to stay put and make the best of it.

Poor Pook Resting at our Hostel

Reasons to Visit Jasper in Winter


Cross Country Skiing 

Cross country ski trails are plentiful in Jasper and from our home base at the Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel, we only had to go across the highway to access the nearest trailhead for Leach Lake.

We skied on the closed 93A Highway until we reached the lake 4km away.  It was an easy ski and very well groomed.

While we skied straight back to the hostel after, our friends stopped at the picnic day use area at the lake and had a great half day outing.

Skiing to Leach Lake on Hwy 93A

If you decide to go to Jasper for a winter cross country ski trip, just stop in at the visitor centre in town to get a winter trails guide.  It lists all the trails and rates them by their difficulty.  Next time we go to Jasper we want to ski the Whistlers Campground Loop.  It's only 4.5km long and the highlight with kids would be the ski-in fire sites in Marmot Meadows.  The campground is also lit for night skiing on Thursdays through Saturdays until 9pm!  Super Cool!!  For more information on ski trails in Jasper, visit the Parks Canada website for access to all trail maps.

Picnic at Leach Lake

Ice Skating

There are two awesome places for ice skating in Jasper and we chose to try Pyramid Lake since  Pyramid Mountain is one of my absolute favourite mountains in the Rockies.   I've paddled the lake, hiked on the island, and now I wanted to skate it!  Classic lake skating doesn't get much better than Pyramid, and the staff at Pyramid Lake Resort maintain a lovely oval on the lake.

Skating the Oval on Pyramid Lake

The other place I recommend skating is at the Jasper Park Lodge on Lake Mildred and Lac Beauvert.  Lake Mildred offers the biggest skating oval in Jasper with rectangular rinks as well for hockey.  Meanwhile, scenic Lac Beauvert is lit for night skating should you find yourself out this way after dinner.  Skate rentals are also available at the lodge.  For more information on ice skating in Jasper, visit the Tourism Jasper website. 

Skating on Pyramid Lake


Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing

Hopefully you read my last story on our wild and crazy ice walk in Maligne Canyon because this is the top winter hike I recommend in Jasper.  The story can be read here at The Wildest Winter Canyon Hike in the Canadian Rockies.

Hiking in Maligne Canyon with 40 Metre Tall Waterfalls

If you want something a little less slippery, there are plenty of trails along the Pyramid Bench near Pyramid Lake.  We did a short loop from the far parking lot at Pyramid Lake looping around Katrine Lake.  It wasn't the most scenic loop so I would recommend following our exact loop, but Noah did have fun on his winter snow bike.

Bike Skiing on the Pyramid Bench
And here is where I put in a shameless plug for Strider Snow Bikes because I LOVE these little bikes. And, who wouldn't love skis on their bike??

He was having so much fun on his bike!

Other suggestions for family-friendly winter hikes or snowshoe trips in Jasper:
Athabasca Falls Hike

  • Patricia Lake Loop, Pyramid Bench
  • Hiking along the Athabasca River from the Wapiti Campground
  • Maligne Lake Trails (the Mary Schaffer Loop is easy and scenic)
  • Athabasca River Loop from Old Fort Point to Lac Beauvert
  • Valley of the Five Lakes
  • Jasper townsite to Mina Lakes
  • Athabasca Falls

For information on the trails above, visit the Information Centre in Jasper for a summer day hiking map.  All trails will be shown on the map with distances.  For an online map that you can print and use for planning before you go, visit the Parks Canada website.

To hike the Athabasca Falls trail, park outside the summer parking lot gate which will be locked and walk in.  This is a good option for families wanting to experience similar similar scenery to Maligne Canyon with less risk.

Hiking in the Lower Canyon at Athabasca Falls

Where to Stay

While there is no shortage of hotels and motels in Jasper, we chose to stay at the Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel instead for a taste of soft winter camping.  The bathrooms are located outside (hence my reference to winter camping) but that's where the camping ends.  We slept in a warm cabin with room for three families.  Our cabin was divided into two private rooms and we had both rooms booked.  We fit two families (6 people) in the one room, and another family of 4 in the second room.  While it was a bit cozy to have two families sharing one room, it was doable and allowed us to all go to Jasper together.

Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel

The hostel only has two private rooms but they do have shared dorm rooms as well for bigger groups or for families with children over 5 years of age.  All sleeping rooms are for just that - sleeping, but the rest of the time you'll  be hanging out in the main cabin which is equipped with a kitchen, living room, and fireplace.  It's a very big cabin and I'm pretty sure we were sharing it with at least 40 people on our final night in Jasper.  And yes, that was very crowded, but if you avoid long weekends I would imagine the hostel would be MUCH quieter.

Family-Friendly Athabasca Falls Hostel

We love hostelling and often choose to stay in wilderness hostels over hotels whenever we get the chance.  Why???

One - We get to stay together with our friends and hang out with them in a common cabin to play games, cook, and eat together.

Two - We get a winter wilderness experience which is great when it's still months to go before camping season begins.

Three - There's more room for the kids to run around and play together.  (very much impossible in a small hotel room.)

Four - The kids can play outside in the snow, build snow forts, build a snowman, etc.  (again, hard to do from a hotel in the middle of a city.)

Five - We save money by staying at an affordable hostel and can cook our own meals rather than having to eat out.

Communal Life at the Athabasca Falls Hostel

For more information on the Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel where we stayed, follow the link to their website. 

Exploring Athabasca Falls, across the highway from the hostel

To read my story on Spring in Jasper, go to Spring Adventures in Jasper.

Old Fort Point Hike in Spring

Disclaimer:  Our stay at the hostel was graciously taken care of for our trip to Jasper.  As always, all opinions and words are my own.