Thursday, June 30, 2016

Gotta Do THIS - July Edition (with GIVEAWAYS)

It's summer and here's my next edition of Gotta do THIS - focusing on some great adventures you can enjoy with your family over the next couple of months. There are also TWO giveaways so make sure you check them out and enter to win at the bottom of this post.

Gotta do THIS - July Edition (with GIVEAWAYS) - photo: Sunshine Meadows, Banff



Gotta do THIS - July Edition


 

1. Hike Sunshine Meadows with New Summer Gondola Access (with giveaway)


Sunshine Meadows is easily Banff's most beautiful family hike. I recommend it to every tourist who contacts me for travel suggestions and I've enjoyed the hike with my own son many times. This year, the hike just got better though!

This summer you can now access Sunshine Meadows by gondola rather than taking the old yellow school bus from the Sunshine Village base area.

"It’s official—Sunshine Village is set to open its 8-person gondola and the Standish high speed quad lift for sightseeing each weekend (Friday – Sunday) and on all long weekends starting on Canada Day, July 1st. Beat the Banff crowds and enjoy the views at Sunshine Village.
Ride the Standish quad chairlift to over 2,400 m (7,875 ft) – the highest sightseeing elevation in the Banff and Lake Louise area-- and experience 360 degree views of the Rocky Mountains that surround you. From there, catch even more breathtaking scenery from the Standish viewpoint platform and take in the view of the three high-alpine lakes; Larynx, Grizzly and Rock Isle."
Rock Isle Lake, Sunshine Meadows, Banff

Rock Isle Lake is an easy 1.5 km hike (one way) from the upper gondola station. Beyond this first lake, families can enjoy a scenic loop around Larynx and Grizzly Lakes for a bigger hike of approximately 8 km (return distance from the gondola.)

To make the Sunshine Meadows hike even easier, ride the Standish chairlift (newly open for this summer season) and enjoy an easy 1 km downhill walk to Rock Isle Lake.

Alpine Hiking in Paradise! Sunshine Meadows, Banff



Of Note to Sunshine Village Season Pass Holders:

"Did you have a season pass last season or did you buy one at the early bird price? If so, you’ll receive 50% off your gondola ticket in addition to a free Standish lift pass. Just bring your 2015-16 pass or 2016-17 receipt to receive your discount."

And Last Minute Suggestion for the Canada Day Long Weekend:

"To say Happy Canada Day, Sunshine is offering the Standish lift as a FREE add-on to a gondola ticket for the Canada Day long weekend only."

GIVEAWAY: Go to the bottom of this post for your chance to win a family pack of tickets: two child and two adult tickets for both the gondola & chairlift courtesy of Sunshine Village, good for weekends from July 1- Sept 5, 2016.

For more information on the Sunshine Village summer gondola, hours, and pricing, please visit the Sunshine Village website.

Sunshine Meadows and Rock Isle Lake, Banff

 

2. Go Canoeing in Banff and view Mt. Rundle from the Water (with giveaway)


We love canoeing, kayaking, and even stand up paddleboarding in Banff. We've paddled on all of the lakes around the Town of Banff and have even been down the Bow River from Banff to Canmore. Of all the outings we've done though, my favourite remains the same: Downtown Banff to Vermillion Lakes and back.

From the Banff Canoe Club docks you can paddle up Echo Creek and 40 Mile Creek to the First Vermillion Lake. It's easy paddling (even in the up stream direction) and you might be lucky enough to see beavers, muskrats, or loons amongst other wildlife. Once you arrive at the First Vermillion Lake, you'll be awarded with views of iconic Mt. Rundle and you can sometimes paddle up a small channel to the Second Vermillion Lake.

Canoeing on the First Vermillion Lake with Mt. Rundle in the background


Float back downstream to the canoe club docks and if time permits, paddle up the Bow River a short distance. When you get tired of paddling up river, turn around and float back down. This is a very scenic section of the Bow River and is easy for novice paddlers.

Don't have your own canoe or boat? Don't worry because you can rent boats (including stand up paddle boards) from the Banff Canoe Club. Prices are cheaper for members so if you plan to do this more than once this summer, consider becoming a member. You'll appreciate how easy it is to drive up and grab a boat without having to transport one out to the mountains yourself.

Stand up paddling on the First Vermillion Lake


For more information on rental prices, membership, and hours, please visit the Banff Canoe Club website

Also available from the Banff Canoe Club are canoe tours in guided voyageur canoes along with offsite boat rentals should you wish to take a boat to one of the other nearby lakes.

GIVEAWAY: Go to the bottom of this post for your chance to win a two hour canoe rental for your family courtesy of the Banff Canoe Club.

Easy paddling on Echo Creek from the Banff Canoe Club


3. Try the Brand New Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort


This is my summer's MUST try new activity or tour and I'm very excited to ride the new pipe mountain coaster when we're in Revelstoke in August. Till then, I just keep watching the video over and over (and over.)



 I don't have to say much about this one because the video should say it all. You're either screaming "no freakin' way!" or else you've already got your calendar in hand and you're trying to find a free weekend to visit Revelstoke.

And yes, younger kids can ride tandem with you so don't worry about them having to miss out on the fun. And you can control your speed to make the ride as exhilarating or as tame as you'd like it to be.


For complete information on the new Pipe Mountain Coaster, pricing, and hours, please visit the Revelstoke Mountain Resort website.


The all new Pipe Mountain Coaster (photo credit: Revelstoke Mountain Resort)


4.  Road Trip Feature - Explore Fernie, BC


We LOVE Fernie any time of the year. Summer is magical though with mountain bike trails for all levels, amazing camping nearby at Surveyors Lake, and lift-accessed hiking at Fernie Alpine Resort.

Polar Peak Summit, Fernie Alpine Resort


Check out some of the previous stories I've written on summer in Fernie and the surrounding area. (only 3 hours from Calgary!)

The Best Family Bike Trails in Fernie

First Summits - Polar Peak, Fernie Alpine Resort

Camping in British Columbia: Kikomun Creek Provincial Park (Surveyors Lake)

Lakeside Camping at Surveyors Lake near Fernie

While you're in Fernie, make sure you check out the following events/attractions:

  •  Sign the kids up for a Little Critter Fun Ride in downtown Fernie

  • Take a scenic chair lift ride on the Timber Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort for lunch at the Lost Boys Cafe. From the top of the Timber Chair, the Lost Boys Lookout is reached in less than a kilometre in distance. Ride and Dine packages are also available

  • Visit the Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort or try out the resort zipline!

  • Visit the Kids Aerial Playground at Fernie Alpine Resort (FREE!) This playground includes climbing features, a mini zipline, slackline, bridges, and swings

  • Ride the new Lazy Lizard Trail  to Island Lake Lodge for lunch. And my understanding is that the trail flows best for younger children (read, all downhill) in the direction from the lodge back down to the road. Consider setting up a vehicle shuttle and let the kids ride one way down hill.

Mountain biking near Fernie


5.  Climb a Mountain! This month's feature - Barrier Lake Lookout 


My son and I love climbing mountains so I aim to feature one summit each month. This month's peak is an easy one that requires no scrambling or tricky moves. It is pure hiking and without any real difficulties - and technically, isn't a peak. It is however a gorgeous viewpoint and worthy of including as a summit.

From the Barrier Dam day use area, follow the Prairie View hiking trail until you reach the ridge and are rewarded with gorgeous views down to the lake and over to Mt. Baldy opposite you. Take a well deserved rest, strike your best mountain pose, and then continue on for the rocks.

Mountain pose on the Prairie View Trail Ridge


Reaching the rocks, you'll want to take another break and many more photos.

Rock lookout on the Prairie View Trail


If you aren't tired yet, continue on for the final summit push to the top of the Barrier Fire Lookout House.

To read my previous trip report, please read First Summits - Barrier Lake Lookout, Kananaskis.

Lookout platform above Barrier Lake with Mt. Yamnuska in the background

 

6. Find a New Favourite Beach near Calgary


I'm always ecstatic when I find a new hidden beach with perfect sand and great views. This month we found a new one and because I'm feeling generous, I thought I'd share its location.

Drive out to the Ghost Reservoir past Cochrane and park in the boat club parking lot on the right hand side of the road just past the bridge (there is public parking available if you drive past all the sail boats.) From here, launch your canoe, kayaks, or even a stand up paddleboard and paddle up the channel towards the outlet of the Ghost River.

Ghost Reservoir Beach


When you reach the river coming in to meet the reservoir, you will find a gorgeous area of sand that begs you to stop and play for a couple of hours.

Warning - make sure you choose a calm day with little wind or you could be fighting strong winds to get back to your vehicle at the end of your picnic and beach outing. I found it very hard to make it back paddling into a strong head wind on my SUP board. Next time I go, I will either take a kayak or else only go when there is no wind.

Also know that the water is not warm. Kids probably won't mind sticking their toes in the water to play around (and I paddled bare foot on my board) but it is a very cold lake.

Finally, expect motor boats.

Private beach on the Ghost Reservoir where the Ghost River comes in


Other great mountain beaches near Calgary:

Quarry Lake, Canmore

The parking lot for Quarry Lake is unsigned but easily reached if you drive up towards the Canmore Nordic Centre. You'll see a parking lot on the left hand side of the road that's always full of cars just before the Nordic Centre. There is also an off leash dog area here. The lake will show up on google maps if you're not sure where you're going. Arrive early in summer as the parking lot will fill up.This is a very popular place to be on a hot day.


Quarry Lake, Canmore


Johnson Lake, Banff

This sandy beach is extremely popular in summer and children never seem to mind the temperature of the mountain water. It is a popular place to canoe, kayak, or SUP. There is also a short walking circuit around the lakeshore and you can look for two hidden swings (a rope swing and a normal swing.) Arrive early in summer if you want to find parking. This is a very popular place!!


Johnson Lake Beach, Banff

7. Introduce the Family to Backpacking


I confess that I don't especially love sleeping in a tent. That aside though, I believe every child should have the experience of sleeping in one (several times) over the course of their childhood. I also believe in the therapeutic value of spending time in the backcountry as a family to unplug and reconnect. I mean, how often at home are you all together as a family for an entire weekend, sleeping together in the same small space, eating together, playing together, enjoying the same entertainment together... (If you have teenagers you probably won't remember the last time you were all together 24/7 for a whole weekend.)

Backcountry camping at the Point, Kananaskis


Below are some of the best introductory backcountry campgrounds to check out with your family this summer. And reservations are necessary so don't plan to just wander into camp.

  • Elbow Lake, Kananaskis - Chariot friendly and only 1.4 km one way. Fire pits and food lockers make this a pretty comfortable campground.

  • The Point, Kananaskis - Canoe accessible and only 3.8 km one way on foot. The campground has fire pits and food lockers making it very comfortable. It is also very scenic as it is situated right on Upper Kananaskis Lake.

  • Jewell Bay, Kananaskis - Canoe accessible from Barrier Lake and only 3-4 km one way on foot. The campground also has hitching posts for horses so there are many ways to get the kids and gear here! The campground has a large group fire pit and food lockers making it a very comfortable base camp.

Elbow Lake, Kananaskis

  • Larry's Camp, Banff National Park - Also referred to as JO 9, this campground is reached via the popular Johnston Canyon hiking trail. Hike past the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots and then the campground is just a few kilometres beyond. It is 9 km one way. Reservations can be made through Parks Canada.

  • Laughing Falls, Yoho National Park - This beautiful campground is reached via the popular Little Yoho Valley Trail and passes by three sets of waterfalls before arriving at the fourth set, Laughing Falls, where you'll be camping. The trail is easy and we've taken a chariot here in the past. There's only one hard hill to tackle where you'll want to have the kids walk. The campground is reached in an easy 4 km hike one way from the Takkakkaw Falls parking lot. Reservations can be made through Parks Canada.

  • Elk Lakes Provincial Park, BC - Located in British Columbia, Elk Lakes is reached via Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta. Hikers will take the West Elk Pass Trail to reach the park and families wanting to take a chariot, will follow the bike/ski trail over Elk Pass. The hike is 9 km in distance one way and once you arrive in the park, you can either camp at the Lower Elk Lake Campground or stay at the Alpine Club of Canada Cabin (reservations required.)

Easy hiking into Elk Lakes Provincial Park


For other backcountry cabin suggestions please read my newest story: Backcountry Cabin Camping with Kids.


The Elk Lakes Cabin, Elk Lakes Provincial Park


8. Find a New Favourite Bike Trail


I've written many many family biking guides on this website. To find a new favourite trail this summer, check out the stories below while out traveling and exploring this summer.

The Best Family Bike Trails in Banff National Park


Biking the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail  - With Kids

Family biking on the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail, Banff


Tour de Banff - The Ultimate Family Bike Tour


Tour de Banff - The Ultimate Family Mountain Bike Loop

Great Scenery along Vermillion Lakes Drive, Banff


The Best Family Bike Trails in Canmore


The Best Family Bike Trails in Fernie, BC 


Kids on Wheels - Biking the Columbia Valley, BC

Family Biking in Canmore


The Best Family Bike Trails in Jasper


Kids on Wheels - Pump Tracks and Mountain Bike Parks

Family Biking in Jasper

 

9. Go Camping! This Month's Feature - The Elbow Valley, Kananaskis


We recently spent a weekend camping at the Little Elbow Campground in the Elbow Valley. We had a fabulous time and clearly see why it's such a popular place to camp as a family. We had a reservation at the Little Elbow Campground but fortunately there are also many first come first serve campgrounds in the Elbow Valley too.

Here are our top picks for what to do in the Elbow Valley:

1. Hike Forget Me Not Ridge



Forget Me Not Ridge, Elbow Valley


2. Hike Nihahi Ridge


A look at our recent hike on Nihahi Ridge (and you don't have to go this far)

3. Play in the Elbow river and find a hidden beach (there's a great one underneath the suspension bridge in the Little Elbow Campground)


Playing in the Elbow River

4. Hike the Beaver Flats Trail or the Paddy's Flat Trail with toddlers and preschoolers


Playing on the Beaver Flats Trail


5. Hike Prairie Mountain

Hiking on Prairie Mountain


6. Go biking on the Big Elbow or the Little Elbow Trail from the Little Elbow Campground

Biking on the Big Elbow Trail


10. Go Urban with These Great City Adventures in Calgary


So you want to stay close to home one or two days this month? Ok. Here are some suggestions.


1. Plan a Downtown Bike day. We like riding from Edworthy Park to the East Village. We stop at Prince's Island Park to play at the playground, play at the wading pool there, bike to the East Village Playground, visit the St. Patrick's Island playground, go for ice-cream, and then ride home. The full ride is roughly 20 km return and is a full day tour.

2. Visit one of the City's mobile adventure playgrounds.

3. Attend an Unplug and Play event with the City of Calgary.

4. Attend a Lawn Chair Theatre show.

5. Find a Pop Up Picnic downtown Calgary

6. Celebrate Alberta Parks Parks Day at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park on July 16th

7. Attend Parks Day and Creek Fest in Fish Creek Provincial Park on July 17th

8. Plan ahead for the August Long Weekend with Calgary Slide the City or the Inglewood Sun Fest

9. Outside Calgary but worth mentioning, the Canmore Folk Fest is coming up on the August long weekend as well. Buy tickets now!

10. Finally, the kids will always love you if you take them to a new playground! Check out Calgary's best playgrounds here. 


Checking out the new Cycle Tracks downtown (while riding to a pub on 17th Ave for lunch)



Giveaways


Giveaways are courtesy of Sunshine Village Resort and the Banff Canoe Club.

Entries will close on Friday, July 8th at 12:00am MT.
Names will then be drawn and announced with the winners contacted by email. If the winners don't respond by Monday July 11th, new winners will be chosen.

These giveaways are open to any families who plan to be in the Banff area by the end of August. Please note that you will have to pick up your gondola/chair lift tickets at the Sunshine Village office in Calgary and that you will have to visit Sunshine Village on a weekend.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Sponsors


Big Thanks to Sunshine Village Resort and the Banff Canoe Club for partnering with me this month in our giveaways.

I also want to say thanks to Revelstoke Mountain Resort for allowing my family to try the new mountain pipe coaster when we are there in August.

Finally, thank you to Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and the Alpine Club of Canada for their continued support.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Backcountry Cabin Camping with Kids (Elk Lakes Cabin, BC)

You like vehicle-accessed camping, you've mastered sleeping in a tent with the kids, enjoy eating and cooking outside, don't freak out at the thought of using a pit toilet, can handle a few bugs and creepy crawlies, don't mind getting dirty (and can survive without showering for a few days,) enjoy an easy hike as a family, and generally like being outside. Yes? Well then, read on...

Maybe you enjoy camping but don't enjoy some of the things that go along with the traditional "car camping" experience (loud neighbors who stay up late drinking and partying, generators that ruin your dinner time peace and quiet, crowded campgrounds where you feel like you're sharing a site with the trailer beside you...?)

Camping can look a lot like this... (photo: Elk Lakes Cabin)

If solitude is what you're after, backcountry camping could be the next step for your family. And, it's not as hard as it sounds! There's an easy peasy way to introduce the family to backcountry camping in complete comfort, with beds to sleep on, a propane stove to cook over (that you won't carry in with you,) and tables to eat at - inside if it's raining or cold out. Welcome to hut or cabin camping (yes for the tent purists - I'm calling it camping) and we have been doing this since our son was just a toddler.

Playing on the log pile outside the Elk Lakes Cabin, Elk Lakes Provincial Park, BC


Background Intro to Traditional Backcountry Camping


I enjoy the occasional backcountry camping trip where you follow a more traditional style of camping, setting up the tent beside a scenic alpine lake for a night or two, cooking outside over your backcountry stove, filtering water at a  nearby stream, hanging the food at night... (enough that we're going backcountry camping this weekend in fact)

Traditional Backcountry Camping (awesome when it's sunny)


Enjoyment of traditional backcountry camping aside, I can't get past the fears below to make it a regular occurrence.

Some of my fears:

The Elk Lakes cabin has a great fire pit
  • What if we get an entire day of rain and there's no way to dry our clothes out, no way to dry out soggy boots, no way to warm up (not many backcountry campgrounds here allow fires,) and no way to escape the rain (other than crawling in the tent to go to bed early.)

  • What if the bugs are honest to god horrible and there's no retreat or escape from them? (And you're already wearing ten layers of DEET?)

  • What do you do if your kids wake up at 6:30 am and it's still freezing cold outside, barely 5 degrees Celsius, and they want breakfast. Now. So ok, you feed them. Then what? Do you start your morning hike at 7:30am? It probably won't take ALL day to complete your day hike so do you really need to start that early? If not, what else do you do this early in the morning at camp?

  • What do you do when the sun goes down? Fortunately now the sun stays up till 10pm at least, but later in the season it will get  dark earlier. And if you tuck the kids into bed, what do you then do until you're ready for bed? Add rain if it's a wet evening and you don't feel like sitting in the tent for hours on end or factor in early or late season camping when the temperature plummets in the evening. Basically, what do you do to pass the time until you can go to bed??
 
Playing games inside the cozy Elk Lakes Cabin

Intro to Hut or Cabin Backcountry Camping 


Two weeks ago we hiked into the Alpine Club of Canada's Elk Lakes Backcountry Cabin and below is an inside glimpse into our comfortable, cozy weekend backcountry camping - with shelter from the elements.

The Elk Lakes Cabin, Elk Lakes Provincial Park, BC


The Hike in - It rained for three solid hours during our hike in! My group was moving fast because we were seriously drenched and the kids were starting to complain of wet hands and feet. Others in our party though spent upwards of five hours hiking in - again in the rain!

Arrived at the hut and soaking wet.

Honestly though, the hike in wasn't that bad. We knew we had a warm place to retreat to, we knew we'd eventually be tucked into our cozy warm cabin, and we had an end point in view. If we had have been tenting... ( I can't even imagine it!)

We got to the hut and everything had to hang to dry. The boots took over 12 hours to dry out and only finally started to dry once we'd stuffed newspaper in them to soak up the water. - now what would we have done in a regular backcountry campground with kids soaked to the bone, freezing cold, no fire pits, boots drenched...?

Not sure how you'd do this if you were tent camping...


Evening at the cabin - We played games, the kids played upstairs in the loft with toys they'd brought with them, we ate food that we were able to cook over propane stoves (and didn't have to use any of our own pots/pans/dishes, etc. - it was all supplied for us at the hut.)

We warmed up, we stayed dry, and we had a blast in our cozy cabin with the three other families who'd hiked in with us. Note if you want this experience of hanging out with your friends and don't want to risk sharing the hut with people you don't know - book the whole thing! The Elk Lakes Cabin only sleeps 14-15 people so it's pretty easy to book the entire cabin.

Playing outside the cabin in the evening


Bed time - We slept on cozy warm dry mattresses in the loft. Again, we didn't have to carry the mattresses in with us. All we brought in were our sleeping bags. It was warm, everybody slept reasonably well, and we were out of the rain.

Another thing I loved was that the kids could be upstairs sleeping while the adults played cards downstairs, chatting and enjoying a few nice beverages (we packed a LOT of beer in since we didn't have to bring stoves and dishes.)

The Loft (sleeping area and play room for the kids)


The next day at Elk Lakes - It rained off and on but it didn't bother us much. We went out and hiked to the Lower Lake, got wet, came back to the warm hut, and dried out again. Repeat later in the afternoon.

Heading out for a day hike to the Lower Lake (half an hour away and easy peasy to reach)

The "nature playground"
When the sun did come out, the kids enjoyed playing in the wood pile and built a nature playground out of it. This may have been the highlight for the children from the entire weekend. Otherwise, the kids were very content to play games in the hut, to learn a new dice game, and to play with their toys.


More beverages and good food were shared. And since we had less stuff to pack in compared with regular backcountry camping (no backcountry stove, no dishes, no mattresses,) we were able to bring more luxury items (think bacon and pancakes for breakfast or spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner made from real ingredients rather than just poured out of a "just add water" pouch.


The hike out - We cleaned the hut, left it cleaner than we found it (the golden rule,) and hiked out. We had sunshine (finally) for the return trip and made good time getting back out to the vehicles.



Hiking out via West Elk Pass

Cabin and Hut Camping for Novice Backcountry Campers


While backcountry tenting is totally feasible with kids, enjoyable much of the time, and certainly worth trying, we've found that cabin or hut camping increases the comfort level and makes the experience much more user-friendly for novice backcountry campers.

Cabins and huts make these trips possible when the weather is less than ideal. We would have cancelled our backcountry trip to Elk Lakes given the weather forecast were it not for the cabin we knew we'd have to sleep in.

Finally, you won't have to invest in backcountry gear for a hut trip. Get some simple sleeping bags (or honestly, bring sheets and blankets,) boil water if you don't have a filter, and borrow a backpack from a friend. Easy peasy.

Hut Camping with Friends

 

Cabin and Hut Camping with Babes and Tots


Hut or cabin camping is also great when you have wee little kids (babes and tots) and you're just not ready to go "hard core" on the backcountry experience just yet. Some huts are chariot-friendly for ease of access, (Elk Lakes is if you use the bike trail up and down the power line from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park,) and some huts even have vehicle access approaches (The A.O. wheeler Hut  mentioned below in this story has drive-in access in summer.)

You'll probably want to book the full cabin if bringing young children though and go with a sympathetic group who will understand if somebody starts crying in the middle of the night. Just assume that a group of single adults in their young 20s probably doesn't want to camp with your baby and preschooler in the same hut unless your kids sleep exceptionally well and won't be running around the hut screaming all evening.

You don't have to carry a lot when you stay at a backcountry hut or cabin

 

Bonus Photos from Elk Lakes 

 

Drenched kids about to enter the Elk Lakes Cabin to warm up
Hiking towards the Lower Elk Lake
Viewpoint over the Lower Elk Lake
Lower Lake Viewpoint
Playing by the river along the trail to the Upper Lake
Boardwalks on the West Elk Pass Trail
Picnic break on the hike out, back in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park


Recommended Backcountry Cabins and Huts in the Canadian Rockies 


Elk Lakes Cabin, Elk Lakes Provincial Park (featured cabin in this story) - 9km hike from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Chariot friendly if you take the bike trail up and down the power line, Otherwise, hike the West Elk Pass Trail which is more scenic and enjoyable. Also enjoyable as a ski trip in winter.

Read about Elk Lakes in the winter here.


Elk Lakes Cabin in winter
 

Elizabeth Parker Hut, Yoho National Park  - Accessible by park bus and then a short 20 minute hike in. Sleeps 24 in summer. VERY popular. Lottery system in  place for the summer season. Consider making a booking for winter and ski in.

Read about the Elizabeth Parker Hut in winter here.


Family Camping at the Elizabeth Parker Hut


Stanley Mitchell Hut, Yoho National Park - 11km hike suitable for school aged children. Not chariot friendly. Sleeps 22 people.

Stanley Mitchell Hut


A.O. Wheeler Hut, Glacier National Park - Drive in access in summer. Short 2km hike or ski in winter. Sleeps 30 in summer (24 in winter.)

Read about the Wheeler Hut in winter here.

The Wheeler Hut in winter
 


Cameron Lake Cabin, Waterton Lakes National Park - Winter use only. Sleeps 8 people (super easy to book the whole cabin.) Short 2km ski or hike in.

Cameron Lake Cabin in winter


Read about the Cameron Lake Cabin in winter here.

For more information on booking an Alpine Club Hut, on purchasing a membership, pricing, and hut amenities, please visit the Alpine Club of Canada's website.


This story was not sponsored by the Alpine Club. All words are my own.


Current note on trail conditions in Elk Lakes Provincial Park - The trails in this park were heavily impacted by the last flood in 2013. The West Elk Pass Trail is open and is in good condition. The power line trail for those with bikes or chariots is also open and good to use.

Beyond the Elk Lakes cabin however, trails are still under repair and as of June, 2016 you can't go beyond the Lower Lake. (technically anyway.) We did push the boundaries a bit (purely to give you an accurate trail report of course) and attempted to reach the viewpoint above the Lower Lake. We got to the top, had great views, and the trail was fine for our children. However, there was one bridge still out (log bridge in for the moment) and there were many trees down on the Viewpoint Trail.

Temporary bridge in place en route to the Upper Lake

If you are thinking of going into Elk Lakes Provincial Park, consider saving the trip for 2017 if you want to hike to the Upper Lake or to Petain Falls beyond. All bridges should be in by September of 2016. If you are going in with young children, you will likely be content to explore the area around the hut and walk to the Lower Lake - which is still fine.

For more information on trail conditions in Elk Lakes Provincial Park, please consult the park website.



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