Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How to Spend all Winter in the Canadian Rockies for less than $200

How's this for a good deal - Spend the whole winter skiing, snowshoeing, or exploring in the Canadian Rockies with unlimited overnight stays at the Hostelling International wilderness properties for less than $200 per person! That's right - unlimited! You could spend every single night in the mountains this winter between November and May for less than the cost of one night at a fancy resort. All you have to do is buy a wilderness season's pass.

Stay here all winter?!  Yes Please! (Photo: HI-Rampart Creek)

HI Wilderness Season's Passes - how it works

Unlimited Stays at the HI Wilderness Hostels from November 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016!  (weekends included)

Stay at 9 different wilderness hostels in Kananaskis, Banff and Jasper National Parks (note that the Whiskey Jack Hostel in Yoho National Park is not open between November and May.)

Free stays at HI-Nordegg (Sunday to Thursday) with 20% discounts on weekend stays

20% discounts at HI-Jasper (any day) and 20% discounts at HI-Lake Louise, HI-Banff, and HI-Fernie (Sunday to Thursday)

The Fine Print:
"As part of its mission, Hostelling International provides safe, comfortable and affordable accommodation to travellers. The Wilderness Season's Pass is intended for outdoor enthusiasts who wish to explore and experience winter in the Alberta Parks to its fullest extent. This pass is not valid for accommodation of seasonal workers or individuals working in the area."
Get Lost this Winter at HI-Hilda Creek

How much does it cost?

Steps away from HI-Maligne Canyon, Jasper

EARLY BIRD HI-Member Rate: $189 (including tax)
Regular HI-Member Rate: $229 (including tax)

Early Bird rates are available from September 1, 2015 through October 31, 2015 and can be purchased through Central Reservations at 1-866-762-4122

The Fine Print:
"All Wilderness Season's Pass holders must be HI Members (HI-Membership is available for purchase at any hostel or via phone 1-866-762-4122)"




How this works for families

The pass is valid towards shared dorm room accommodation only. Technically this means kids must be 6+ years old to make use of a pass or to stay with you at a wilderness hostel.  Younger children are not allowed in shared dorm rooms and must stay in private rooms available at several hostels.

BUT, before you dismiss the idea of getting a pass because you have younger children, consider the following:

1.  The wilderness pass is great for moms and dads who plan to get out for some solo adults-only ski trips this winter.

Girls Ski Weekend at HI-Castle Mountain

2.  Many hostels have small co-ed dorm rooms that sleep as few as 6 people. Others are larger and sleep 12 people.  Either way, grab another family or two, book an entire dorm room, and it doesn't matter if your kids are under 6 years old.

Just make sure if you are doing this that you explain yourself very clearly to Central Booking!  You'll want to make sure they understand there are children under 6, and that you want to reserve a full dorm room (that is not shared.)  Also, plan to have one person call in to book all of the 6-12  beds.  Don't call in individually - which would be super confusing!!

Also, don't be afraid to ask for the direct phone number for the hostel you want to stay at and contact that manager directly to explain your family or group's needs.

Family Weekend at HI-Mosquito Creek

3.   HI-Hilda Creek only sleeps 6 people total (in the whole hostel!!)  Book all 6 beds and you have just booked an entire hostel for your family or group - and thus it won't matter how old the kids are. Just know that Hilda Creek is the equivalent to staying at a backcountry wilderness cabin and that winter camping skills are required.  Read more here at Raising Tough Kids - Hilda Creek Wilderness Trip

Can I just move in here for the winter?? (Photo:  HI-Hilda Creek)

Inspiration and Extra Reading

Rampart Creek:  Our New Favourite Wilderness Hostel

Playing in snow caves outside HI-Rampart Creek

Winter Paradise at Mosquito Creek

Five Reasons to Take your Family to Mosquito Creek this Winter

This could be you this winter at HI Mosquito Creek

Winter Camping in Style

Beyond Lake Louise Where the Real Magic Begins

A ten minute walk from HI-Mosquito Creek

Winter Camping in Kananaskis 

Christmas in Kananaskis 

Winter camping at HI-Kananaskis

Raising Tough Kids - Hilda Creek Wilderness Trip

Easter at the BEST Wilderness Hostel in the Canadian Rockies

Playing around at HI-Hilda Creek

Winter Escape to Jasper National Park

Winter Road Trip to Jasper National Park

Hiking doesn't get much better than this near HI-Maligne Canyon in Jasper

For more information on purchasing a wilderness season's pass with Hostelling International, please visit their website.

Disclaimer:  I will be partnering with Hostelling International for another winter to help them promote their great accommodations. We have stayed at their wilderness hostels close to 15 times now as a family in the winter season over the past few years. Needless to say, we love these properties and know them well. As always, all words in this story are my own unless otherwise quoted from Hostelling International's website and I wasn't paid to write this piece.


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