Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Family Winter Getaways at Mount Engadine Lodge, Kananaskis

I like winter wilderness getaways, backcountry retreats, and off-the-grid weekends away to reconnect as a family. Add decadent meals, drive-up accessibility, and a private room or cabin for your family, and you have the Mount Engadine Lodge experience.

Remote backcountry accommodations at decadent Mount Engadine Lodge

We got the opportunity to spend a night at Mount Engadine Lodge last month and it was a great way to launch the winter season in a fabulous setting. And while the Spray Valley still desperately needs more snow, we did manage to get out for a short ski on the day we arrived at the lodge.

Watridge Lake, Spray Valley Provincial Park 

Introduction to Mount Engadine Lodge

Mount Engadine Lodge is located in Spray Valley Provincial Park on the Smith Dorrien/Spray Trail (highway 742 south) outside of Canmore. The Lodge is located off the access road to the Mount Shark Day Use Area 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.

November at Mount Engadine Lodge

Accommodations at Mount Engadine Lodge 

Accommodations at the lodge come in various options depending on your budget. The lodge suites overlooking the meadow are ideal for families with a queen sized bed and a pull out sofa bed. Well-behaved pets are even welcome in some rooms at the lodge (and in all common areas of the lodge other than the dining room.)

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 king bed, and the other with a queen) and its own private deck.

On our recent visit, we stayed in the Whiskey Jack room and enjoyed decadent comfort! There's nothing like having a separate bedroom for the kids so you can stay up past 8pm as adults! And my son was impressed with the heated floors.

The third option for families at the lodge is the yurt where we have stayed in the past. 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.

Read more about the various rooms and cabins on the Mount Engadine Lodge website.

Read about our experience winter camping in the yurt here.

Our cozy cabin at Mount Engadine Lodge in the Spray Valley, Kananaskis 

Dining at Mount Engadine Lodge 

One of the best parts about staying at Mount Engadine Lodge is the food! I love all-inclusive resort packages where meals are included with your stay. Otherwise, it becomes very easy to rack up a large bill at the resort restaurant, and quickly turn an "affordable" vacation into something you didn't budget for. When you stay at Mount Engadine Lodge, you know that once you've paid for your stay, everything is included (alcohol aside.)

All stays at the lodge include afternoon tea (coffee, tea, charcuterie board, and desserts) a three-course dinner with soup or salad, main course, and dessert, breakfast or Sunday brunch the next day, and a packed lunch for your adventures.

Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge

On our recent stay, evening dinner consisted of a decadent meal with elk rib-eye salad as an appetizer, pork tenderloin with a variety of fresh vegetables and sides, and chocolate mousse for dessert. For brunch the next day we ordered the nutella stuffed pancakes and had our choice of bacon or sausage to go with them. Then lunch was freshly prepared sandwiches, made to order, on homemade bread with your choice of sides (granola, cookies, and/or vegetables.)

Dinner is served "family style" in a communal style where you share a table and platters with other lodge guests. Be forewarned if visiting with young kids, that dinner doesn't start until 7pm and that it lasts well until 8:30pm. We had to ask for our son's dessert a bit early so that we could get him to bed. There are also long breaks between each course so you might just want to allow kids to excuse themselves with a book in the adjoining living room.

Also note, that if you are staying overnight on a Saturday, the Sunday brunch does not begin until 10am. And once you order your choice of breakfast (it is not a buffet,) you won't be checking out until noon. (So you'll be eating those bag lunches later in the day.) Fortunately, there is also a "cold breakfast" that starts at 8:00am, and this was a salvation for us and our early-riser. The cold breakfast included yogurt, fruit, granola, and freshly baked scones. It held us over until the hot brunch started at 10.

Sunday Cold Breakfast before the main brunch 

5 Reasons we LOVE Staying at Mount Engadine Lodge

  1. I love the main lodge building and how it feels (and even smells) like a backcountry ski lodge. I like curling up by one of the wood fireplaces, playing a game of crib or scrabble with my family while we listen to the crackling fire and I sip a glass of fine wine.

  2. I like the down time we enjoy at the lodge. While there is wifi at the lodge, it's not exactly "fast" and you'll enjoy your time a lot more if you just unplug and spend time as a family playing games, reading, and relaxing.

  3. I love all the dogs at the lodge. There's never a shortage of staff and guest dogs hanging out in the main building and they contribute to the cozy setting, curled up beside a sofa (usually waiting for some affection.)

  4. I like the proximity to the Spray Valley and Peter Lougheed Provincial Parks. From the lodge door, we can easily drive over to Mount Shark to go cross country skiing, we can take a 5 minute drive up to the Chester Lake trailhead, or you can walk right out the door and go exploring in the meadow below the lodge (where there will be a cross country ski trail set this winter.)

  5. I love the comfort! There's no cooking required, no sleeping bags (unless you're in the yurt,) you sleep in soft comfy beds with warm duvet blankets, and spend your time relaxing in a toasty lodge without having to lift a finger to chop or haul in firewood. A weekend in the mountains doesn't get easier than this!

Family Time in the Main Building at Mount Engadine Lodge

What's NEW at Mount Engadine Lodge

More Options to Drop in for a Day

Out skiing or snowshoeing in the Spray Valley for the day? Stop in at the lodge after your outing and enjoy afternoon tea with a charcuterie board and desserts (just like lodge guests receive) for $17.50 per person. Reservations are generally not necessary but check the website for possible private events or closures. You can also order a bowl of homemade soup with a bun for $10 on weekends if you'd prefer this to go with your coffee or tea. Afternoon tea runs from 2-5pm. 

Visit the lodge for Strudal Sundays from 2-5 every weekend. Freshly baked strudel + a hot beverage can be ordered for $7.50 per person (until the lodge runs out of strudel - so go early.) Full afternoon tea can also be ordered with your strudel for $20.50.

Finally, drop in for Sunday brunch between 10am and 1pm and experience the decadent rocky mountain cuisine we've enjoyed as lodge guests. Brunch is very reasonable at $25 per person (including beverages) - and children pay $17.50. Reservations are recommended for brunch so call ahead if planning to drop by. 

Drop in at the lodge and warm up by the fire over afternoon tea (photo credit: Mount Engadine Lodge)

Visit the Lodge for a Special New Year's Eve Brunch

Newly added to the Mount Engadine Lodge calendar of special events, Chef Mandy Leighton will be serving up dishes including, Homemade Salmon Lox, Eggs Benedict & Huevos Rancheros this New Year's Eve Day.

Tickets are a reasonable $25 per person, $17.50 for children, (including a feature cocktail for the adults) and the event runs from 10am to 2pm on December 31st.

Visit the lodge website for more information, and to make reservations.

And you'd better believe we'd be attending this special brunch if we were going to be in the Spray Valley.

Rocky Mountain Cuisine at the Lodge (photo credit: Mount Engadine Lodge)

Exploring the Spray Valley from the Lodge 

On our recent trip to Mount Engadine Lodge, we cross country skied to nearby Watridge Lake from the Mount Shark trailhead.

On other visits, we've skied or snowshoed into nearby Chester Lake, and we even carried our son's downhill skis up to the lake one time so that he could enjoy some easy backcountry ski touring down from the lake. (Read about that adventure here.)

In the future, we hope to return and try out the new 7-8 km ski loop that will be created in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge this winter.

Chester Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Spray Valley 

Other opportunities are plentiful in the area including:

And note that Mount Engadine Lodge has a great assortment of gear to rent or borrow including snowshoes and two fat bikes (one medium, and one large.)

Early season skiing to Watridge Lake, Spray Valley Provincial Park 

For more information, please visit the Mount Engadine Lodge website.

Our recent stay at Mount Engadine Lodge was generously provided for us in exchange for continued publicity and promotions (something I'm happy to do when I love a place as much as I do this lodge.)

As always, all words and opinions are my own. 

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