Thursday, January 24, 2019

Chasing Frozen Waterfalls in Kananaskis! Troll Falls and beyond to the Upper Falls

Troll Falls is one of the most popular winter hiking destinations in all of Kananaskis near Calgary. Cross the creek for the Upper Falls though, and you'll leave the crowds behind as you explore a magical world of frozen waterfalls (one that you can even walk behind.)

The Upper Falls above Troll Falls

Destination 1: Troll Falls 


Troll Falls
For trailhead directions and a general overview of this hike please visit the Alberta Parks website where you can read all about the Troll Falls Hike.

We usually start at the Stoney Trailhead below Kananaskis Village.

From the Stoney Trailhead, the Alberta Parks website says it is a short 1.7 km hike (one way) to reach the falls. You'll be following wide multi-use trails (designated for cross-country skiing, hiking, and fat biking) and there are signs at every junction.

Note that while the trail is open to hikers and bikers, it's still appreciated if you stay off the ski tracks and that you give the right of way to skiers coming downhill towards you (since it's often hard to stop on steep hills.)


What to expect from this part of the hike:

This part of the hike is extremely family-friendly and you can even pull children in sleds.The trail is relatively flat with gentle hills that walkers will not find challenging. It's an excellent beginner hike, and most of the time you will be fine in your winter boots without snowshoes or ice cleats. 

When you arrive at Troll Falls though, you may appreciate having some ice cleats if you want to climb up beside the falls or if you want to play around at all.

Troll Falls is magical in winter

Exploring Above Troll Falls 



If you visit the Alberta Parks website, you'll notice a warning:

"This trail is only maintained to Troll Falls itself and not the areas beyond.
Significant fall hazards exist beyond the maintained trail and travel beyond the sanctioned trail is not advised due to the potential for serious injury. "

Troll Falls is an excellent destination for beginner hikers


What you need to understand about the warning for hiking above Troll Falls:


  • It's true that the trail is not maintained past Troll Falls. If this bothers you, please turn around. "Not maintained" though does not mean "closed" or "dangerous." It just means nobody is checking it for safety, or putting signs up to ensure you stay on an official trail.

    The majority of trails in Kananaskis are unofficial and unmaintained. If you want an official trail to hike with signs at every junction, please stop in at the Barrier Lake Visitor Centre where they can give you suggestions.


  • There is significant fall hazard if you try to climb above Troll Falls, climbing the bank directly to the left of the falls. This is NOT what you are doing however.

    The trail to Marmot Falls and the Upper Falls goes nowhere near the top of Troll Falls. You'll be hiking away from Troll Falls and will be visiting different waterfalls.


  • With common sense, there is no fall hazard. Stay away from the canyon near Marmot Falls. I also recommend stopping at the Upper Falls rather than going further up the valley if you have young children. If you only go to the Upper Falls you'll avoid the big canyon further above.

    The trail I'm writing about is also a "NEW" trail that has just been built (and was designed to keep hikers away from dangerous cliffs and ledges.) I expect it to get official signs next summer.


  • I recommend this hike for experienced adult hikers or for families with school-aged children or teenagers. If you are new to hiking, it's probably best you stop at Troll Falls. If your children are not experienced at hiking, you may also want to stop at the end of the official trail.


  • As with all hiking, keep young kids at an arm's length reach, use common sense, and test out the trail with another adult friend before taking the kids if you are at all uncertain.

Troll Falls is a fun place to explore! 


Destination 2: Marmot Falls 


From Troll Falls, cross the creek and pick up a trail on the far side. You do NOT want to climb above Troll Falls. You will be hiking away from Troll Falls and you'll be on a good trail through the trees that avoids all danger.

The trail climbs steeply (ice cleats or spikes are recommended here) and you should be able to follow blue markers that were put in for this new trail in the summer of 2018. There was also lots of orange flagging we found helpful.

Frozen Marmot Falls (where you can walk behind the falls)

Finding Marmot Falls can be a bit of a challenge if you haven't been here before because the falls are off the side of the trail and you can't see them from the trail.

A few hints I can give you for finding them: 

  • On your way up from Troll Falls, look for a small tipi in the forest. The trail down to the falls is close to the tipi.

  • Look for a faint steep trail leading down to the creek (on your left) before you reach Boulder Falls mentioned next.

  • When we were here, one of the blue sign posts on the main trail was knocked over. The trail down to Marmot Falls was right at the knocked over sign post. (I can't guarantee this will always be the case.)

Standing behind Marmot Falls 

You might have to search around a bit to find them, but you'll definitely be heading left off the main trail and going down to the creek. It's a short walk down, so if you don't see the falls in 2 minutes, you're not on the correct trail.

From Troll Falls, it shouldn't take more than half an hour to reach Marmot Falls.

Our gaggle of kids behind Marmot Falls 

Destination 3: Boulder Falls 


Boulder Falls are located right on the trail, and thus are easy to find. They are also close to Marmot Falls, so you'll only be hiking another 10 minutes up the steep trail.

We had a lot of fun playing around on these falls and my boys climbed them.

Playing around on Boulder Falls 

Note, if you plan on climbing any of the falls, you may want to bring helmets for the kids. Spikes are also imperative. (My son has XS Kahtoola Microspikes which we love.) - and if you want some for your children, Switching Gear in Canmore sells them.

And obviously, wait until they are well frozen before you go playing around on them! The same should be said for the creek.


Boulder Falls were fun to climb

Destination 4: The Double Falls or the "Upper Falls"


The final set of waterfalls is really two sets, the "lower" and the "upper" falls, or collectively is known as "Double Falls."

The kids had fun playing on the lower falls

This gorgeous multi-tiered waterfall is fun to play around on (if you're careful,) and when frozen, the creek is fun to explore.

The creek was just starting to freeze when we were here

Hike up beside the frozen creek and the waterfalls until you reach the final one, the "Upper Falls." Here, it's possible to walk out on a ledge half way up.

Walking out on a ledge in the middle of the Upper Falls 

This is where the "official" trail ends - yes, I know it's an unofficial trail, but there's a sign here telling you that you've reached the end of the trail.

We did proceed past this point and continued hiking up the canyon, but I expect most families would turn around at this point.

So far, you've hiked roughly an hour (with plenty of stops to play) from Troll Falls. Returning to Troll Falls could take as little as half an hour without stops.

If you continue to go further, you'll see the canyon in the photo below. And obviously you'll want to stay well away from the edge!!

The final canyon above the Upper Falls 

It's so much fun exploring behind waterfalls
Those familiar with the ski trails in the area can continue to the top of the canyon where you'll end up on the Skogan Pass Trail at the intersection with the old Marmot Trail. We hiked out this way to make a big loop of roughly 9 km.

Recommended Reading for more Information on this Hike 



The NEW Hiking Trail to Troll Falls and the Upper Falls, Kananaskis - the summer version of this hike


Five Reasons Families LOVE Visiting Troll Falls in the Winter - previous blog story


Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 1 (Amazon affiliate link to a guide book I highly recommend!) 

Playing around on Boulder Falls



Need a Place to Stay nearby?


We spent the weekend at the HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel and it was an amazing basecamp for hiking to Troll Falls. We were able to hike right out the front door of the hostel for our hike, and then return later in the afternoon - without ever having to drive anywhere!

HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel 

The hostel has private rooms for families along with two dorm rooms separated by gender for adults (or for families with older children.) We always stay in one of the private rooms. 

Note that the private rooms sleep 3 people comfortably in a single over double bunk bed, but you can put a child on the floor of your room, and the hostel will give you an extra mattress if you need.

Bathrooms are shared in the hostel, but there is indoor plumbing, showers, and electricity, so you won't be roughing it too much when you stay here.

We also appreciate being able to cook our own meals in the large shared kitchen, and we enjoy the cozy fireside room that we can retreat to after putting the kids to bed.

Read more on our previous adventures at the HI Kananaskis Hostel below:





Playing games in the fireside room of the Kananaskis Hostel

Interested in Other Ice Hikes near Calgary?



Check out these awesome hikes and the stories I've written on them:



Frozen icefalls in Grotto Canyon 



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Epic Family Ski Weekend at Castle Mountain Resort

I'm always hesitant to use the word "epic" because it's such a subjective word (and honestly sounds boastful and competitive,) but when your 9-year old is shredding double black chutes at his new favourite ski resort, what else do you call it but "epic?!"

My 9 year old skiing the Lone Star Chute at Castle Mountain Resort 

Our weekend was "epic" for my husband as well because he has now reached that stage where he gets to ski the runs he wants to ski - with his son! He doesn't have to take off into the extreme terrain on his own, leaving us on the groomers way down below (just me left behind, and it suits this ski mom just fine!)

Finally, our Castle Trip was even "epic" for me, because I had been left terrified after a previous visit to Castle 15+ years ago, and swore I'd never go back. The terrain was too challenging for me at that time, and I don't think grooming even existed back then at Castle. Fast forward to our recent trip and I had a BLAST! I absolutely loved everything about this hill and can't wait to go back. (and I found plenty of easy groomed terrain I could chill out on.)

Happy family on top of the world at Castle Mountain Resort



Introduction to Castle Mountain Resort


Castle Mountain Resort is located in Southwestern Alberta, approximately an hour SW of the Town of Pincher Creek. Google maps says you can reach the resort in just over two hours from Calgary, but it would depend on where you live, because it's definitely closer to three hours from my house in the north.

We were easily able to reach the resort Friday after work (in time to get our son to bed at a nice early hour) and even after skiing until 3pm on Sunday, we still got back to Calgary at a decent time (though did have to stop in High River for dinner because we were all starving by that point.)

And of special note about this resort, it is located just east of the Continental Divide on the Alberta/BC border, and thus gets a LOT of snow each winter (up to 9 metres per year on average.) We were surprised by the lack of snow on the drive out until we reached the sign for the resort, where we suddenly transitioned from dry dirt to giant snow banks everywhere. (and it was real snow!)


Castle Mountain Ski Resort on the Continental Divide


Where to Stay at Castle 


We stayed at the Castle Ski Lodge, a simple facility with hotel rooms upstairs, and hostel dorm rooms (three bunks per room to sleep six people) on the main floor. We had a hotel room with a queen bed and a set of bunks. While nothing fancy, our room fit a family of four (three in our case) and it beats driving all the way down and back in a day.

And best of all, the lodge is located across the parking lot from the main resort so it's a very short walk to the lifts in the morning.

Our hotel room at the Castle Ski Lodge

We had a bathroom in our hotel room, but the hostel rooms have shared bathrooms in the hallway (gender specific.) We ate out the entire time we were at Castle (making use of the cafeteria in the day lodge and the T-Bar Pub for dinner) but there was a small kitchen and common room in the basement of the hostel that we'd definitely use on future trips. There was also a microwave, a coffee maker, and a kettle in the hallway of the hotel so you could make a simple breakfast for the family (and each room had its own mini-fridge for storing lunch supplies.)

Basic amenities in the hotel hallway for guests

Tips for Staying at the Castle Ski Lodge



  • Bring small bags you can carry up a flight of stairs! Big Bob, our giant hockey bag on wheels, was a bit heavy and thankfully my husband dragged him up!

  • Bring inside shoes/slippers if you want because all footwear must be left at the front door

  • Bring cool clothes for the hostel (the temperature was very warm inside)

  • Bring a baby monitor if you want to leave young kids in your hotel room. There is a small lounge area on the upper floor or you can retreat to the common room in the basement after the kids go to bed

  • You can use the hostel facilities even if staying in one of the hotel rooms since you share a building. This means you can cook your own meals in the kitchen in the basement

  • Plan to only use the bottom bunk in the hotel rooms if you have young kids. There wasn't much of a railing on the top bunk

  • There is free WiFi which is good because there is no service anywhere at the resort


Otherwise, for families wanting to take it up a notch in their accommodations, there are other options available on the hill from a bed & breakfast to a ski in, ski out rental house, or a chalet on the hill with suites available for rent. Visit the Castle Mountain website to view all options.

For pricing, follow this link and select either a hotel room or a hostel room. You can also view availability dates.

Our accommodations for the weekend at Castle Mountain 

Castle Mountain for Beginner Skiers and Snowboarders


The North Run at Castle
There is not a "lot" of beginner terrain at Castle Mountain so this wouldn't be my first pick for a hill if you have young children just learning to ski or snowboard. That being said, if you have mixed levels in your family, each person will be able to find something that works for their abilities at this resort.

True beginners can start off on the magic carpet until they are ready to advance to the "green chairlift." The Green Chair then accesses three short gentle runs at the bottom of the hill. This area was always full of families with young children and was very well used.

From the green chair, beginners have options off both the Huckleberry Chair or off the Sundance Triple Chair (the Blue Chair) where the North Run lazily winds its way down the mountain.

I actually loved the North Run off Sundance and spent a lot of time cruising my way down here. It reminded me of the ski out at Sunshine Village (minus the flats where you have to skate ski) and was essentially a winding road down the mountain.

Unfortunately, beginners can't access the top of the mountain until they're able to handle steeper terrain so Sundance will be as high as it gets for many families.

Starting off on the North Run from the top of the Sundance Chair
The best run for beginners at Castle: The North Run

Castle Mountain for Intermediate Skiers and Snowboarders


I'm a competent skier and comfortable on all groomed terrain, but I still consider myself an intermediate skier. Fortunately I had several choices off every lift and was able to reach the top of the mountain for the best views!

A true "intermediate" skier will want to start off on the Huckleberry Chair, a fabulous learning environment where nearly every run is groomed, and you won't accidentally find yourself on a black run. My boys did find some fun glades off Sidewinder, where there's also a terrain park when snow conditions allow, but other than that, the runs are relatively short and non-threatening.

From the Huckleberry, progress to the North Run (mentioned above) or "Easy Street" both off the Sundance (blue) chair. Easy Street is basically a cat track that accesses other runs such as "Sundown" and "Twilight," a solid intermediate combination. Or, if you follow my husband, he'll take you down "Mouse Trap," the first groomed run you come across after crossing the "Centre Run" - but this is a black run and I can assure you it felt very steep for my first run of the day!

Intermediate groomed skiing off the Huckleberry Chair

Once you're comfortable on the Huckleberry and Sundance Chairs, make your way up the Tamarack Chair (the red chair) to the top of the mountain where the views (and hopefully not the winds) will blow you away on a clear day. If it's a windy day, stick to the terrain lower down.

Views from the top of the Tamarack Chair (and the Skyline Traverse down below)

From the top of the Tamarack Chair, you'll find yourself on the Skyline Traverse as you make your way towards "Harkers Highway," the easiest way down. And honestly, this is pretty much a green run aside from the steep pitch at the top. Make it down that pitch, and the rest is a winding road.

Note, look at a map first and make sure you take the Traverse towards Harkers Highway and not towards the double black chutes!!

The gorgeous Skyline Traverse off the Red Chair

For more of a challenge, take the Skyline Traverse to "Bandito" or "High Noon." Each one has a short steep pitch but spits you back out on Harkers Highway lower down.

Finally, if you take High Noon (it was groomed my second day at Castle,) you'll come to a junction where you can go right to re-join Harkers Highway, or you can veer left and continue down the steeper run until you come to a cat track leading you back to the North Run below the Sundance Chair. (just make sure you go right on that final cat track and don't head for the North Bowl.)

Steeper terrain on Bandito off Harkers Highway
Easy skiing on Harkers Highway

Gorgeous views on Harkers Highway

Castle Mountain for Advanced Skiers and Snowboarders


Ready for more of a challenge and you've successfully tackled the intermediate terrain at Castle? Check out these tips below for progressions:

  1. Try the Ambush Glades off Sidewinder (Huckleberry Chair)

  2. Take Easy Street to Mouse Trap and Jelly Roll, a groomed black run (Sundance Chair)

  3. Try the Centre Run under the Sundance Chair. While it's only rated "intermediate," it was crazy steep and I was mildly terrified as I flew down this one at alarming speeds. Fortunately it's often groomed. (Sundance Chair)

  4. Try some of the black runs off the North Run. They are all quite short and spit you back out on the road lower down. (Sundance Chair)

  5. Drop down off the Skyline Traverse into the bowl under the Tamarack Chair (Deputy, Sherif, or Outlaw) are all good choices here) - and you'll end up back at the bottom of the Tamarack Chair. (Tamarack Chair)

  6. Try skiing in the Huckleberry Bowl (the opposite direction along the Skyline Traverse) - my boys really loved this bowl with its gentle angle. Alternately, try the Tamarack Bowl located right beside the Huckleberry Bowl.

  7. On a powder day, try Drifter, the first chute you'll come to just before you go through the gates into the double blacks. My boys found it to be ridiculously hard though and said you definitely need soft snow for it. 
Steep skiing in the Huckleberry Bowl 
Skiing a black run at Castle is serious steep business

Castle Mountain for "Extreme" Skiing and Snowboarding 


Once you're comfortable skiing black terrain at Castle, it's time to go play in the double black chutes off the top of the Tamarack Chair. (and I can't believe I get to actually post photos for this section!)

Heading into the Chutes 

My husband and son joined a morning tour at Castle with one of the mountain snow hosts, and were taken into the chutes to experience Lone Star - with a 600 meter fall line, a consistent 37 degree angle, and the longest continuous fall line descent in Canada.

Failing to get photos the first time, my boys chose to go back on Sunday to ski Lone Star again to get me the proof!

Note that falling on some of the steep black pitches (Drifter or Lone Star for example) isn’t an option when conditions are firm. A fall could land you in the ER. You must be able to arrest any fall to control your slide or you’ll go a long ways!!! And there are canyons to fall into on both Lone Star and Drifter. (If you're at all nervous about heading here solo, ask a Snow Host to take you on a guided mountain tour - just look for the bright yellow jackets at the bottom of the hill)

Skiing Lone Star at Castle Mountain Resort


Other things to do in the Castle Area


Castle Mountain Resort is located adjacent to the new Castle Provincial Park where you'll find no shortage of activities to enjoy. Bring your XC skis, snowshoes, fat bikes, or ice skates and you'll have plenty of options. Beauvais Lake Provincial Park is also nearby with groomed trails to enjoy.

Find more activities to enjoy here on the Castle Mountain Resort website.

Scenic Snow Cat Experience at Castle Mountain Resort (family-friendly!)

Finally, check out the options available for fun at the Castle Mountain Resort. Signature experiences include:

Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing (most groups get to enjoy 6-8 laps in the resort's cat skiing terrain per tour)

Last Tracks Snowshoe Tours

Full Moon Snowshoeing and Fine Dining Evenings

Scenic Snow Cat Tours

We got to try a preview of the Scenic Snow Cat Experience, and thoroughly enjoyed riding in one of the big snow cats! I highly encourage families to check this tour out - especially if you're not at the level to enjoy actual cat skiing. You'll enjoy the same views for a fraction of the cost as well and you'll enjoy snacks and hot beverages on the top of the ridge.

I had a lot of fun on the Scenic Snow Cat Tour 


Castle Resort Planning Tips 


Below are some miscellaneous notes I kept through the weekend that I hope are helpful for your planning:

  • Fill up with gas in Pincher Creek. The small gas station in Beaver Mines is not always open.

  • The resort offers half day skiing if you leave Calgary in the morning but still want to get a few hours of skiing in that day

  • The resort offers individual pricing for the beginner/intermediate chairlifts! You can pay a discounted price for just the Green Chair or for just the Huckleberry Chair (something I wish more resorts offered for beginners!)

  • Kids 5 and under are free (as they are at most resorts)

  • The resort offers multi day discounts

  • There is a multi-use trail on site for fat biking, snowshoeing, and XC skiing - with rentals available

  • Get free or discounted skiing if you have a Sunshine Super Card! Castle was added to the Sunshine discount card this year so if you have one of these cards, you can claim one of your free days at Castle. Otherwise, make sure you show your Sunshine Super Card for a discount if it's not one of your free days.

Looking up at the Centre Run underneath the Sundance Chair at Castle 

Final thoughts on what we thought of our Castle weekend 



- Castle Mountain really is "closer to heaven and down to earth" as the resort claims. 



There was an eclectic mix of people at the resort from the cowboy in his leather jacket, skiing in an authentic cowboy hat to the men we saw skiing in their work overalls, families who'd driven in from nearby farming communities, to groups of friends gathering for a fun weekend to ski or ride. I even saw a group of skiers in 80s retro ski wear You’d never see this mix of people at a resort in Banff.

This is an authentic "locals' hill" operated by "skiers who are driven by adrenaline, not profit," and while you'll have to do without the high speed chairlifts you'd get at a bigger resort, in exchange, you get homemade monster size cookies baked fresh that morning, lifties that send you off with a huge smile and a shout to have fun every time you ride up, and some of the friendliest staff you'll find at a resort.

A resort that believes in challenging terrain 

Add, no crowds, no lineups, no parking problems, and a day lodge where you'll always find a table - and you've got Castle.

And the 'Closer to Heaven" part  will be experienced as soon as you ride the Tamarack Chair to the top of the resort and look around. These were some of the best views I’ve ever seen from the top of a ski hill on a bluebird day.

Our weekend at Castle actually got us dreaming about looking for a house in South Calgary so this could become our local hill and about buying a vacation property in the area.

Final views from the top of the Skyline Traverse off the Tamarack Chair

Disclaimer: We participated in a hosted weekend to experience a family ski weekend at Castle Mountain Resort. As always, all opinions are my own and I wasn't compensated beyond costs for the weekend. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Perfect Adventure Basecamp in Banff (Canalta Lodge Review)

We recently spent a couple days in Banff and wanted to spend the night rather than driving back and forth from the city. We didn't need anything fancy, no two-bedroom condo or anything, but did want a basic kitchenette in our suite in case we decided to stay in for a meal or two. And an outdoor hot tub was imperative.

Courtyard at the Canalta Lodge in Banff (fire pit, hot tubs, cold plunge pool, and sauna)

The Canalta Lodge - Introduction and Location 


The Canalta Lodge is located on the main street in downtown Banff, on Banff Ave. (google maps link here.) From the lodge, it's a 15 minute walk to the heart of downtown at Cascade Plaza. You can easily walk to restaurants and tour around the town without having to jump in a car.

I also like that the lodge is located just far enough down Banff Avenue from the heart of the main action so it's a bit quieter and parking is easier to find. 

And for the purposes of this story, my family stayed in a single king with sofa and kitchen - loft room

Main living area in our loft room with fireplace, pull out sofa for the kids, and an HDTV.

Top 5 Basecamp "Must Have" Inclusions


This is my personal list of features I look for when booking a hotel room or planning an overnight stay:

Outdoor hot tubs to relax in at the end of a ski or hiking day

This one is imperative for me. And fortunately the Canalta Lodge has two outdoor hot tubs in a private courtyard protected from the street.


Facilities in our own suite or on the property for cooking meals

It gets too expensive to eat out the entire time we travel, so I want a kitchenette as a bare minimum. Even a fridge and a microwave is a big help with quick breakfasts before heading to the ski hill.

My husband also loves having a barbecue on the property if we're traveling in the summer. This makes dinner super easy to prepare.

At the Canalta Lodge, we had a suite with a kitchen so could have prepared our own meals if we'd have been staying longer than a night. There is also a barbecue in the courtyard which would be great for summer visits - and there's a common area both inside and outside with tables for eating if you choose to use the barbecue.

Outdoor courtyard with hot tubs

A separate bedroom or sleeping area for the kids!

My son goes to bed at 8pm which is a tad early for me. We book a regular hotel room, and guaranteed, we are either sitting in the hallway waiting for him to fall asleep or we're hanging out in the bathroom so as not to disturb the prince and his beauty sleep.

At the Canalta Lodge we had a loft suite with a king size bed. Our son slept on the pull out sofa on the main floor, so we had the option of retreating upstairs to hang out after he'd gone to bed. We chose to let him fall asleep in our bed upstairs though so we could enjoy the living room. We then transferred him downstairs when we went to bed.


A living area in our suite 

I like to have an actual living room aside from the basic two beds and television you get in most hotel rooms. Call me a princess but I like to be comfortable. The living area in our suite at the Canalta Lodge wasn't huge or anything fancy, but it had a fireplace and a comfortable sofa.


Free WiFi 

This is pretty common these days but I never take it for granted, and always appreciate it.

A bed for a princess at the Canalta Lodge upstairs in our loft

Bonus Inclusions that you get at the Canalta Lodge 


  • Heated underground parking (for an additional $7 per day) - or you can park on the street for free

  • A hot breakfast included with your stay - there is a breakfast buffet served each morning in the common area on the main floor

  • Happy Camper coffee shop in the lobby - this is a nice touch for those who want to grab a hot beverage at the end of their ski day to enjoy outside in the courtyard or in the common room while playing games with the kids

  • An outdoor courtyard that is unique from every other hotel or resort in Banff - Basically, you're getting a mini "Nordic Spa" when you stay at the Canalta Lodge. (2 hot tubs, a cold plunge pool, hanging hammock chairs, a fire pit, and a sauna.) Add the barbecue, tables for group eating, and the chairs around the fire pit, and you've got one sweet courtyard to enjoy!!

  • A common area on the main floor of the lodge - This big room has plenty of tables for playing games with the kids (board games can be signed out,) meeting up with other families traveling with you, or even sharing a meal if you brought in a take out pizza or you used the barbecue outside. This is also where you'll find the Happy Camper Coffee Shop.

  • Standard rooms are pet friendly

  • The lodge has ski lockers and a tuning bench

  • There is a full fitness facility on site

  • There are laundry facilities on site - Great if you're staying longer or you're traveling with young kids and have soiled clothes you need for the next day

  • Ski packages for tri-area resorts (Sunshine, Norquay, and Louise) - packages start at $329 per night based on dual occupancy for a Friday or Saturday night. (mid week packages also available and are cheaper)

  • Complimentary evening “s’more” service (coming soon)

Common Area on the Main  Floor with Coffee Shop

And, because I am no professional photographer, please visit the website to see more great facility photos

And so we're clear...


Kitchens: 

The website says that some of the rooms have "full size" kitchens. This is not a full size condo kitchen. It's basically a kitchenette with a fridge, a microwave, coffee maker, a sink, and a hot plate for basic cooking. (there is no oven so skip the frozen pizza unless it fits in the microwave.) Cooking supplies and dishes are also included along with dish soap and other basic supplies.

Also note that not all rooms have a kitchen. Make sure you ask for a room with kitchen if this is important to you. - and even if you don't get a kitchen, you'll still get free breakfast included with your stay, and you can use the barbecue in the courtyard. 

Also know that every room comes with at least a fridge and a microwave so this is pretty much all you need for a ski weekend (especially since breakfast is included and you'll be off playing over lunch time.) Grab a take out pizza for dinner and you're good! 

The kitchen in our loft suite at the Canalta Lodge


Lofts and Separate Sleeping Areas: 

Many of the rooms at the Canalta Lodge resemble your average "hotel room." If you want a loft so that you have a separate sleeping/living area, make sure you request one. 

And not all lofts have kitchens. So again, if that's important to you, request a loft with kitchen.

We had a single king with sofa and kitchen - loft room. This worked for our family of 3 because our son was content to sleep on the pull out sofa.

In the future however, I think we'd upgrade to a double queen suite - loft room so that our son could go to bed upstairs (and stay upstairs) rather than us putting him to sleep in our bed and then transferring him to the sofa downstairs. (these rooms also sleep 6 if you have a bigger family)

And if you have a big family, you have to check this one out! The double queen with bunk beds suite - loft room can sleep 6 people and nobody's sleeping on a sofa. Just know that you'll all be sleeping in one room (if that would be a problem.) Also, the sofa is in the same room as the beds so you lose some of your living area space once kids go to bed. The main floor has a larger dining area and kitchen though (along with a TV and fireplace.) - and there are two TVs in this suite, one up and one down.

Every suite is decorated with natural artwork showcasing local lakes and scenery

The Outdoor Courtyard: 

To save electricity, the sauna is not always turned on. If you plan to use it, give the front desk staff a head's up notice a couple hours in advance so they have time to get it going for you. 

Also, there was a lack of signage when we were at the lodge for how to turn on the hot tub jets. Again, ask for instructions at the front desk (maybe before changing into swimsuits.) Somebody will happily go outside and show you around.

Sauna and hanging hammock chairs in the courtyard 

Our Personal Experience Staying at the Canalta Lodge 


We were only at the lodge for one night, but we enjoyed staying in Banff after skiing at Sunshine for the day. We loved our soak in the hot tub and we had an amazing meal at a Mexican Restaurant downtown for dinner. 

We had brought groceries with us to cook breakfast the next day, so it was a pleasant surprise when we discovered that breakfast was included! Score!!

We didn't do much the next day but enjoyed a relaxed morning, stopping to skate on a frozen lake on our way back to the city.

Would we stay here again? Definitely! 

I'm already thinking the Canalta Lodge would be a fabulous spot for a girls' weekend away since the suites can sleep up to 6 people. 

The lodge would also be a great place to stay next summer with another family where we could enjoy the courtyard all evening, cooking dinner outside, and eating at the picnic tables by the hot tubs. 

Skiing at Sunshine Village before our stay at the Canalta Lodge 

Please visit the Canalta Lodge website for more information on rooms, rates, and ski packages


Pin This: 




Disclaimer: Our stay was provided for us at the lodge in exchange for this review. As always, all words and opinions are my own and I wasn't compensated beyond the stay. 

ShareThis