Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Yurt-Camping in Kananaskis at Mount Engadine Lodge

Raise your hand if you like winter camping? In a tent. While it's snowing outside. After you've been skiing all day and you're already wet and cold. Thought so - I don't see many hands raised. And I don't blame you because I don't like winter camping either. "Usually."

Now ignore the classic idea of winter camping and picture this instead:
You drive up to your beautiful backcountry lodge perched on a bench overlooking a snowy meadow with awe-inspiring mountains in the background. You then grab your bags and set off on a two-minute hike through the forest to reach your cozy home for the night - a small yurt tucked away in a remote corner of the Mount Engadine Lodge property. The yurt is cool upon entry but you know that it will warm up as soon as you turn on the propane heater, and you look forward to crawling into your down sleeping bag later that night. First though, you have a three course gourmet meal waiting for you at the lodge (included with your stay) and if you've arrived early enough you can go enjoy afternoon tea in the sunny dining room complete with a charcuterie and pastry board (with home-made apple strudel also available if you're checking in on a Sunday.)
Now who's interested in winter camping?

Winter Yurt-Camping at Mount Engadine Lodge

The Mount Engadine Lodge Experience

This front country lodge is located in Spray Valley Provincial Park on the Spray Lakes Road outside of Canmore. The Spray Lakes Road turns into the Smith Dorrien/Spray Trail (highway 742 south) and the Lodge is located beside the road to the Mount Shark trailhead past the Spray Lakes Reservoir.

While the lodge is considered "front country" due to its drive-up approach, you will definitely get a backcountry experience as you stay in this remote setting for a night or two. For more information on the location and how to reach the lodge, visit their website for driving instructions.

Mount Engadine Lodge, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis

Accommodation at Mount Engadine comes in various options depending on your budget. The lodge suites overlook the meadow are ideal for families wanting to stay at Mount Engadine. Well-behaved pets are even welcome in some rooms at the lodge so you won't be stuck finding a dog-sitter during your stay.

Lodge Suite at Mount Engadine Lodge

The second option available for families is the Meadows Edge Chalet on the Mount Engadine property. The chalet has three separate rooms in the cabin, each with private bathrooms and showers. My favourite, the Whiskey Jack room has two bedrooms (one with a queen bed and the other with twin beds) and its own private deck.

The Meadows Edge Chalet at Mount Engadine Lodge

The third option for families at Mount Engadine is the yurt where we recently stayed. This is by far the cheapest option at $125 per person for a night (including all meals at the lodge.) Families wanting to stay without meals can rent the yurt for $50 per night and treat it as more of a real camping experience. Children receive a discounted rate and the yurt sleeps four people.

Winter Yurt Camping at Mount Engadine Lodge

Five-Star Dining at Mount Engadine Lodge

All stays at Mount Engadine include afternoon tea (coffee, tea, charcuterie board, pastries, apple strudel on Sundays,) a three-course dinner with soup or salad, main course, and dessert, breakfast the next day, and a packed lunch for your adventures.

And lest you worry about the "quality" of your food during your stay, this is 5-star dining at it's finest! Chef Gerard Garnier serves up gourmet meals that could include Eggs Benedict with smoked bacon for breakfast along with slow cooked bison ribs or rack of lamb for dinner. Even the sandwiches for lunch taste better than anything I could prepare myself with fresh baked bread and homemade cookies to take on the trail.

Charcuterie and Pastry Board at Mount Engadine Lodge

Enjoying Mount Engadine Lodge as a Day-Guest

Afternoon tea is available for visitors to the lodge every day between 2 and 5pm without a reservation if you just want to pop in after hiking or skiing in the Spray Lakes area. More information on the cost and on what's included is here at Afternoon Tea at Mount Engadine Lodge.

Dinner reservations can also be made if you just want to drop by for dinner without spending the night. Information on making reservations for dinner can be found on the website.

Winter Camping in Style at Mount Engadine Lodge

More on the Engadine Yurt Experience

As I mentioned earlier, we recently stayed in the yurt at Mount Engadine Lodge for a night. We spent the day skiing at nearby Chester Lake and then checked in with plenty of time to enjoy afternoon tea. We spent the rest of the afternoon  reading and playing games by the fireplace and enjoyed a fabulous gourmet dinner. After dinner we retreated to our cozy yurt and crawled into our sleeping bags for the night. We woke up the next morning and returned to the lodge for our breakfast with the other guests. We placed our lunch orders, spent some more time hanging out by the fireplace, and then left for our day's adventures.

A look inside the yurt at Mount Engadine Lodge

The yurt is primarily advertised for use during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, but if you are willing to "rough it" a little bit, you are more than welcome to make a reservation during the winter months as we did. The only request is that you  bring your own sleeping bags if staying in the off-season. During the summer months, bedding is provided for you in the yurt and it's more of a "glamping" experience.

We certainly didn't mind bringing our own sleeping bags and we were never cold in the yurt while sleeping. We didn't make use of the propane heater at night but it was there should we have wanted. We also had a fire pit located outside our little cabin which would be fun to sit around before bed.

The Mount Engadine Lodge yurt in its remote forest location

Other information you'll want to know before making a reservation:

  • The nearest bathrooms are located in the lodge, a short 2 minute walk away. The lodge is open all night though should you need it
  • If there are problems during the night, the lodge is always available for retreat. This is good news for families with little ones who may wake up early. You can just go into the lodge and hang out in the warm building at any time
  • The yurt does not have any furniture in it other than two bunk beds, a small table and a portable heater. Expect rustic. Fortunately you have the lodge just down the path and you are really only sleeping in the yurt
  • You are welcome to spend as much time in the main lodge as you want. You are official guests at Mount Engadine Lodge when staying in the yurt

Snowshoeing in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge

To make a reservation at Mount Engadine Lodge, visit the Mount Engadine Lodge website.

Big thanks to Mount Engadine Lodge for accommodating our stay in the yurt for the night. As always, all words are my own and I wasn't paid to write this story.

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