Friday, March 27, 2020

Spring Survival Guide for Outside Fun during Covid-19

Treat this guide as a "choose your own adventure" resource. Want to stay home and go no further than your backyard? I've got options for that. Want to practice physical distancing on local trails around the city? I've got those options too.

Spring Survival Guide for Outside Fun during Covid-19 

I've focused on the area around Calgary since that's the home base for our family. (You'll find many ideas for your family regardless of where you live though.)

1. Backyard Fun for Safe Self Isolating

Scroll through the ideas below and follow the links for more resources from other blogs and websites. Some links also go to recommended books on Amazon.

Create a backyard you actually want to play in! 

  • Build a sandbox

  • Build a mud kitchen
  • Buy a bird book and build a birdhouse or a bird feeder  (and you can use the bird book for walks around the neighborhood too.)

  • Make a magical Fairy Garden, Dinosaur World or Troll Land - Born to be Adventurous

  • Use that hot tub if you're lucky enough to have one (or fill a wading pool with warm water on a sunny day and pretend you're at the beach)

  • Get out the lawn chairs, the loungers, the hammock if you have trees to hang one, and take your reading time outside. I have one friend who's made it a goal to enjoy her morning coffee outside every day. - And any new furniture you buy now can be used for camping this summer.

  • Create a backyard ninja obstacle course with pieces of wood, logs, hula hoops, buckets or barrels, and any other random items you have at home

  • Buy a trampoline, a climbing dome or something else you'll continue to use all summer long

  • Put up a badminton net if you have a large backyard or get out the soccer ball and make goals using pylons, buckets, or anything you can find around the house (this would work well for younger kids who don't need a big field for soccer)

  • Buy a basketball hoop for your driveway or a hockey net and basic equipment for ball hockey

  • Try some backyard gardening projects with the kids

  • Buy some new backyard toys or games. Example: Learn to play Spike ball or Learn to play Ladder Ball Toss. - and bonus, you can take both games with you when you go camping this summer. 

And I know that many of these ideas will involve shopping but fortunately we live in an age where most things can be ordered online. I also encourage you to choose purchases that will have a shelf life beyond Covid-19. Choose items you can take camping with you this summer and that will provide hours of outside fun all summer long.

Rainy day fun in our backyard 

Recommended Reading:

100+ Ideas for Backyard Play and Outdoor Activities - Bring the Kids

Keeping busy with nature activities (bucket list & calendar) - Take them Outside

100+ Ideas for Outdoor Family Fun - Tales of a Mountain Mama

Easy Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course - Tales of a Mountain Mama

How Will Your Garden Grow? - AK on the Go

Spring Activity Calendar and free printable- Born to be Adventurous

Bored kids? Create an Activity Jar with these 75 Activities (+Free Printable ) - Born to be Adventurous

30-Day Rewilding Challenge Activity Calendar – FREE Printable! - Outdoor Families Magazine

We built a large sandbox in our backyard when my son was younger. He still plays in it.

2. Try Backyard Camping

I know many of us are anxious to start the camping season. In the meantime, choose a warm night and set the tent up in the backyard. You could even have a "virtual camping trip" with friends and chat online from inside your tent.

There are great tips in this guide: Camping at Home - Take Them Outside

I also recommend this guide: Camping at Home - 30+ Backyard and Indoor Camping Activities, Games, and Recipes - Little Family Adventure

Backyard camping is always allowed 

3. Get Outside in your Neighborhood

This is a great one for those who are not self-isolating and are feeling healthy, but want some fresh air beyond the backyard.

We could play in our neighborhood ravine for hours!

Try these suggestions for neighborhood spring fun:

  • Learn to geocache and look for caches hidden around your neighborhood (I use the Ground Speak geocaching app on my phone and paid for a premium subscription - though you can use the free version as well.)

    Read my newest guide here: Spring Geocaching Challenge (Join us in the FUN!)

  • Get out the wheels! Get out the scooters, the inline skates, the bikes or the skateboards. Maybe invest in a new toy. And while we're a ways off from some of these toys in Calgary, my son has had success outside with his scooter already.

    And, you can always try building ramps or jumps in your driveway for the kids' bikes or skateboards.
We have a great pathway around my neighborhood and we've getting out for daily walks 

  • Get out the sports equipment and head to your local playground or field to play baseball, soccer, or basketball as a family. You can even practice some basic volleyball skills without a net.

  • Go on a puddle jumping adventure (How wet can you get? Adults included.)

  • Explore natural areas in your community. We have a ravine in our neighborhood that's essentially a wild natural playground. There are trees to climb, bridges to explore, there's a creek to play in, and there are plenty of obstacles to challenge children.

    Read this story for more inspiration: Playing in Nature Protects Our Children During a Pandemic - Backwoods Mama

We're lucky enough to have this in our neighborhood 
Get outside in your neighborhood and go for a scavenger hunt 

4. Explore Parks and Natural Areas in a Neighboring Community 

If everybody's healthy and you're not being asked to self-isolate, this is another great way to get outside close to home.

Drive to a natural area in a neighboring community. Maybe explore a park you've never visited before. (Note you are still staying inside your city.)

Check out some of my personal favourites in Calgary here: Calgary Urban Hikes 

There are MANY cool things to discover on Nose Hill in Calgary 

And with any hike at this time, please have a backup plan if the parking lot for your chosen park appears to be too crowded.

Finally, you'll find much more solitude if you grab your hiking boots and get off the paved pathways!!

Recommended reading: Calgary's Best Walks 35 Brand New Urban Jaunts And Nature Strolls

We love exploring the Weaselhead in South Calgary 

Fun Activities to enjoy in Calgary's Parks and Natural Areas:

  • Geocaching

  • Disc Golf

  • Scavenger hunts

  • Bird walks

  • Bike rides (bring the scooters or inline skates if there's a paved pathway)

Geocaching in Bowmont Park, NW Calgary

Nature Walk Printables - Backwoods Mama

There's lots of solitude to be found on Nose Hill 
Calgary has several great disc golf courses 


5. Explore Closed Campgrounds near Home 

You'll meet very few people if you go hiking around a closed campground near home.

I'm telling you about my favourites below in hopes that it inspires families to go beyond the usual trailheads. Trust me, there is life beyond Elbow Falls!! Let's spread out and choose parks with lots of wide open space.

See the crowds on the closed Bow Valley Campground roads? Me neither! 

A few recommended campgrounds near Calgary:

Bow Valley Campground, Bow Valley Provincial Park 

This campground is closed to vehicles until April 30th allowing families to freely explore the park on foot or by bike.

Park at the Middle Lake day use area and bike around on the quiet closed paved campground roads. We like to bike to the Elk Flats Group Campground where you can have a picnic. We then continue on to the Many Springs Trailhead (bring a bike lock if you want to go for a short hike,) and then we head down to the river. From there we return through the empty campground.

You can also hike around the park, completing a loop with the Elk Flats, Bow River, and Moraine Trails. Add on the Middle Lake or Many Springs Loop to extend the distance. See the map here.

Finally there is a paved bike trail that connects the Visitor Centre near the Highway 1X with the camp store. We like to bike around the campground from Middle Lake and then hop on the bike trail at the end to extend our ride. We return to Middle Lake on the road. This can all be done in a big loop of 12km.

Hiking along the river in the Bow Valley Campground 

Willow Rock Campground, Bow Valley Provincial Park

Park at the campground gate and hike into the Flowing Waters Interpretive Trail. This campground opens on April 30th. Until then, it's a quiet place to explore on foot or by bike.

The Flowing Water Trail is a great early season hiking option

Paddy's Flat Campground, Elbow Valley

This campground is closed until May 14th. Until then, park at the campground gate and hike down through the empty campground to reach the river. Hike along the Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail until it joins the Riverview Trail

Hiking along the Paddy's Flat Trail by the Elbow River 

Beaver Flats Campground, Elbow Valley

This is a hike-in campground until Highway 66 opens on May 15th. Park at the winter gate by Elbow Falls and walk down the closed highway. (It's also a fabulous bike ride when the snow is gone!!) 

Either hike/bike all the way to the campground (30 minutes at most on a bike) or stop at the Beaver Lodge Day Use area (about a 5 minute walk from the winter gate) and hop on the Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail.

The hiking trail takes you to the campground and is a great hike with kids as you meander along beaver ponds (which are super fun to play in.)

Playing in the water along the Beaver Flats Trail in the Elbow Valley 

6. Explore Closed Highways or Roads near Home 

We love biking on closed highways and roads in spring. It's a great way to self-distance yourself from others too when you're on a big road with space for miles! (Much easier than on a narrow bike path in the city!)

Top 3 highways to ride with kids near Calgary:

Highway 66 outside Bragg Creek  (closed to vehicles until May 15th) - Enjoy this big wide open space to ride as a family. There are many hills and it is a challenging ride if you go all the way to the Little Elbow Campground. Park at the winter gate and go as far as the Beaver Flats Campground with younger kids or just ride as far as you get and turn around.

Highway 40 west of Longview (closed to vehicles until June 15th) - Park at the winter gate at Highwood Junction and ride as far as you get, returning when the kids get tired. You'll have some very big hills in both directions so save energy for the return ride. We like to ride as far as the Cat Creek day use area where we then hike in to see the falls.

Highway 546 west of Turner Valley (closed to vehicles until May 15th) - Park at the winter gate and ride towards Sheep River Falls (a return distance of 30+ km with some big hills.) Turn around whenever the kids get tired (you likely won't make it to the falls.) This is one of the best road rides for wildlife viewings and if you're lucky you'll see sheep.

Biking Highway 66 in the Elbow Valley (closed to vehicles until May 15th) 

Read the following stories for inspiration here:

Biking Highway 40 in Southern Kananaskis

7. Explore Quiet Trails near Home 

The trails in Kananaskis offer many great options for a short day hike near home.

Quiet spring day at Heart Creek 

Below are some recommended stories:

We always choose quiet days to climb Prairie Mountain in spring 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ten Reasons to Hit the Slopes this Spring (Spring Skiing is the BEST Skiing)

Leave the hand and foot warmers behind, and bring out the sunblock because it's spring and it's the best time to ski! Gone are the days where you had to go inside between runs to warm up, and say hello to outdoor patios and bluebird days on the slopes.

Leave the hand warmers at home and grab your sunblock for some spring skiing!

Spring skiing is the BEST skiing and I hope you have at least at least a couple ski days scheduled on the calendar over the next month. Better yet, plan a weekend away to visit a new resort with your family over spring break.

Ten Reasons to Hit the Slopes this Spring 

1.Skiing is way more enjoyable when you aren't freezing to death!

We've skied when it was -35 C with wind chill and I can assure you it wasn't very fun.

Hit the slopes this spring and enjoy:

  • More skiing without having to keep going inside to warm up

  • Happy fingers and toes

  • No worries about the kids catching frostbite (and you don't have to keep your face constantly covered)

  • Being able to stop to take photos! (my phone doesn't come out much when it's -30)

  • Less bulky clothing! You can even ski in a hoodie!

Spring skiing in a hoodie and a vest 

2. Relaxed starts and long days 

In winter we always try to hit the slopes when the lifts first open, but spring skiing is much more relaxed. The snow usually needs to soften up before you head out and many resorts stay open later in the afternoon. 

Sunshine Village is open through the May long weekend and Kendra Scurfield, Brand & Communications Director, provided the following inspiration:
"Sunshine's all natural snow, high elevation, and long sunny days make Sunshine famous for Canada’s Best Spring Skiing.  In the spring we extend our lift hours so skiers and boarders can enjoy an extra half hour of fun on the slopes."

My family also likes to take the opportunity to ski local in spring where we can visit WinSport's Canada Olympic Park after school, taking advantage of the extra daylight into the evening.

Sunshine Village is magical on a spring bluebird day 

3. The snow is still good!

I talked to Clarissa Amaro in Media, Marketing & Customer Relations at Panorama Mountain Resort and she painted the most glorious picture of spring skiing at Panorama.
"Panorama really comes alive in the Springtime. Every year we are skiing summit to base all the way through to Easter when the resort closes. Because of the resort's big vertical you’ll find winter conditions at the summit and soft, slushy spring conditions on the lower third of the mountain. The weather is warm, the sun shines and we see regular snowfalls overnight right through March."

2021 Closing dates for resorts in the Canadian Rockies:

April 5th - Revelstoke Mountain Resort 

April 11th - 

Kimberley Alpine Resort
Fernie Alpine Resort
Kicking Horse Resort 
Panorama Mountain Resort
Castle Mountain Resort 

April 18th - Nakiska Ski Area 

May 2nd - Lake Louise and Marmot Basin, Jasper 

May 24th (Monday of the May long weekend) - Sunshine Village 

Now I challenge you to hit one resort per weekend above. Wouldn't that be amazing?!

It doesn't get better than spring skiing in the Sun Bowl at Panorama Mountain Resort

4. It's a great time for beginners to learn to ski 

It's hard to get excited about learning a new sport when you're wearing ten layers of clothing, the air hurts your face, your fingers or toes are frozen, and you're essentially in "survival mode" counting down the minutes until you can go inside. 

Spring skiing is a completely different experience though. There's a festive feeling on the ski hill, you can spend hours outside in comfort, and falling down actually becomes humorous in the soft spring snow.

And I highly recommend checking for spring break camps at your local ski resort (or at a resort you plan to visit this March) 
"Looking for a great way to spend spring break? Get the kids into a 1, 2, 3 or 4 day camp, make new friends to ski with and enjoy your supervised lunch (included in the price and you can choose from our menu). Available to skiers aged 5-12yrs" - Nakiska Ski Area

You can choose either one day, or consecutive days from 2 - 4 days total. See their website for more details. 

Nakiska is fabulous in spring and is often very quiet if you visit mid-week

WinSport's Canada Olympic Park also offers spring break camps. Camps are sold in one-day lessons so pay for as many days as your budget will allow. 
"While they are not in the classroom let them be on the slopes! This full day of riding keeps your child outside while continuing their progression in a fun, safe, and dynamic learning environment under the guidance of our certified instructors. We make it even easier for you by including early care, offering late care, and you can even add on a hot lunch! Don't let your child sit at home and miss a full day outside on the hill!" - WinSport

Visit the WinSport website for more information.  

Ski close to home this spring break at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park 

Many of the bigger resorts offer spring break camps as well. Panorama Mountain Resort hosts special three and five day ski and ride camps.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort also offers spring break camps and each camp includes a free 5-day child lift ticket.

Not a beginner? Take a beginner snowboarding lesson just to see what it's like. Take a park class and try to learn a new trick in the terrain park. Visit WinSport in Calgary and try the half pipe or visit Nakiska and take a few runs down the skier cross course that's set up in the terrain park. 

Try something new this spring.

** Note for 2021 some resorts may not be offering spring break camps. Please visit their websites directly. 

The skier cross course at Nakiska is super fun and it's open to the public every day 

5. Discounted spring skiing passes

For those who didn't buy seasons passes for the winter, now is a great time to buy a special spring pass. And you'll get lots of skiing in over the next two months (even if you haven't been out much so far this winter.)

Sunshine Village Spring Skiing Pass - $999.00 + GST per family ($499.00 +GST per adult.) There's also a midweek pass for $349.00 per person which is the best deal (especially with spring break coming up.)

And new this year, "purchase up to 2 Bonus Spring Lift Tickets for $90 + GST each with any Adult Spring Pass or up to 5 Bonus Spring Lift Tickets with your Family Spring Season Pass."

With your spring pass you enjoy 60+ days of unlimited skiing or riding from the middle of March through closing date in May.

* * Note prices above are for the 2020 spring pass. For 2021, Sunshine Village is only offering mid-week spring skiing passes. See the link above for more information.

April powder day at Sunshine Village 

Lake Louise Spring Skiing Pass - $899.00 + GST per family ($449.00 +GST per adult.) 

With your spring pass you enjoy 60+ days of unlimited skiing or riding from the middle of March through closing date in May.

Spring break at Lake Louise and the snow is great!

Castle Mountain 2020/2021 Seasons Pass - Purchase your Castle Mountain seasons pass now for next winter and receive FREE SPRING SKIING for the rest of this season.

With the purchase of next season’s pass, you’ll enjoy up to 35 days of complimentary skiing + riding this spring, on top of 125 + days next year.

Read more about Castle Mountain Resort here. 

Castle Mountain Ski Resort is lovely on a warm spring day 

WinSport Spring Skiing Pass -  $129.99 + GST per youth and $189.99 +GST per adult.

Passes are valid from the end of March until the hill closes for the season so buy your passes now and get the kids on the slopes every day over spring break. 

** Note WinSport is not offering spring passes for 2021. 

We love skiing at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park over spring break 


Avoid crowded day lodges and visit ski resorts with outdoor patios. Bring your own lunch or buy a burger from an outdoor barbecue. Soak up the sunshine (which helps boost your immune system) and enjoy live entertainment at many resorts.

"I love spring in the mountains!  Spring skiing is a weird, perfect mix of being able to shred but also enjoying the sunshine – who wouldn’t want patio weather on the top of a mountain?!"  - Kehna Y., staff member from RCR Resorts in Calgary 

Our 5 favourite resorts for patios and outdoor eating spaces across the Canadian Rockies: 

Panorama Mountain Resort - Panorama has mountain huts spread out around their entire mountain, each one serving cold beverages and hot food. 

For a fun descent down the mountain ride three chairlifts to the top of the mountain for a beverage at the Summit Hut (where they also serve burgers and hot dogs and have an outdoor patio.) 

Ski from the summit down to the Elkhorn Cabin where you can get a fresh homemade apple cider or order Swiss Raclette for lunch. They also have a small outdoor seating area. Ski from there down to the Mile 1 Hut (where there's also a patio) where you can get pulled pork sandwiches and cold or hot beverages. 

Ski down to the base where you'll find coffee shops and other restaurants (with several patio areas.) - Just watch how much you drink on that one descent lest you find yourself too tipsy to ride back up for another run! 

The Summit Hut will come alive this spring at Panorama Mountain Resort

Sunshine Village - Did you know that you don't even have to ski to enjoy the spring sunshine at Sunshine Village? I would honestly pay for a sightseeing gondola ride just to have lunch on the patio at Mad Trappers, a fun family-friendly pub with an awesome vibe and equally great food.

Lake Louise - The Banded Peak Base Camp is the place to be this spring at Lake Louise. Soak up the sun from this gorgeous patio located right beside the Glacier Express Gondola. The menu includes tasty smoked BBQ bites, hot soup and chili along with cold beverages of course.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort - I would travel all the way to Revelstoke this spring just to have a chicken burger from the Mackenzie Outpost, located at the top of the gondola. The outpost has a great patio and serves the best chicken burgers I've ever had in my life. Revelstoke Mountain Resort also sees a lot more sun in spring so head this way if you want some bluebird skiing.

Fernie Alpine Resort - I love the Lost Boys Cafe located at the top of the Timber Chair. I often take a break from skiing here while my boys do another lap or two. And they have a great patio with fabulous views over the valley. You can order both food + beverages here while you soak up the sunshine.

The Lost Boys Cafe at Fernie Alpine Resort (photo credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

7. Say hello to the après ski scene!

Slopeside bars and beer gardens, patio weather, and live entertainment where every ski day is a party this spring!

See #6 above for my list of our favourite patios at local resorts and see #8 below for a large list of fun events happening at resorts this spring.

My personal favourite après ski activity: Load the last chairlift to the very top of the resort you're skiing at and ski down to a mid mountain lodge that's open late for drinks on the patio before you ski back down to the base.

This works well at Revelstoke Mountain Resort where Revelation Lodge is open every Saturday until 4:00pm with live music and entertainment.

End your ski day by 3:00pm and you'll have time for a cold beverage on any of the patios scattered around the mountain at Panorama Mountain Resort as well.

At Sunshine Village Resort, Mad Trappers is open all evening for guests staying overnight at the lodge. Stay as long as you like and then download the gondola which runs until 5:30pm Saturdays. Alternately you can enjoy your food and beverages in the village and then take the ski out down. Just make sure you catch the last lift up Jack Rabbit at 4:30pm or you'll have to do a bit of pushing across the flats on the way to Goat's Eye. (You could always download the gondola as far as Goat's Eye and then ski down from there too.)

** Note for 2021, check each resort's website directly to find out what entertainment and après-ski experiences will be offered this season.

Skiing down from Sunshine Village on the ski out at the end of the day 

8. Fun events and free entertainment every weekend 

Disclaimer: Most of these events below have been cancelled for 2021. All dates and information is from the 2020 season (before ski hills closed early.) 

** This section will be updated for 2022.

Buy your lift ticket and get a concert, a professional competition, or a fun family-friendly event included for no extra cost.

Just some of the fun events happening this spring at resorts across the Canadian Rockies

Live Music:

Beats in the Base at Castle Mountain Resort 

Major Events: 

  • Shake the Lake at Lake Louise on April 25th - Presented by Kokanee!  Apres ski on the Kokanee Kabin deck, with live music. Dress code for the day is a retro ski theme. Big activities this day will include pond skimming, the Kokanee Kup rail jam, and Bikinis for Breast Cancer.

  • Sunshine Village Slush Cup on May 18th - Held each year on the last day of the season, Slush Cup is a competition where participants ski or snowboard down a run into an icy pool of water. The aim is to skim across the pool until you've reached the end. This year, Sunshine Village will be celebrating their 92nd anniversary.

  • Slush Cup and Cardboard Canoe race at Castle Mountain Resort, April 5th - Go full send and try to waterski / ride across the huge man-made pond! And want to try a canoe? Your mission is to make a canoe out of only cardboard & tape, and then to ride that canoe down Whisky Jack into the slush pit. Will you sink or swim?

  • Spring Splash Festival at Kimberley Alpine Resort, April 4th and 5th - The wettest, wildest event in Kimberley! Grab the skis, boards and lawn chairs. There will also be live music, a BBQ and beer gardens, kids activities, a kids' bouncy castle and more! Saturday is the pond skimming competition and Sunday is the downhill dummy competition where you get to watch homemade sleds attempt to make it down the race slope.

  • Fernival at Fernie Alpine Resort, April 11th - 12th - Enjoy live music, the Raging Elk Powder, POLE, Paddle Relay Race, and the Coca-Cola Slope Soaker pond skimming competition.

  • Sunsplash Funkfest at Kicking Horse Alpine Resort, April 11-12th - Enjoy watching the Dummy Downhill Race and the Slush Cup Competition. There will also be an outdoor BBQ, live music, and a pig roast

  • Sun's Out Guns Out Rail Jam at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park, March 28th - 29th. Celebrate the final weekend of the winter season with family activities including back deck live music and the Washout Bike Race 

Slush Cup weekend is a fan favourite at every ski resort (photo credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

Beer Gardens and Patios:

     Family Festivals:

    Fernival Festival, Fernie Alpine Resort (photo credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

    9. Make the most of shoulder season while you wait for "true" spring 

    I find April to be depressing because I'm usually done with winter, but "true" spring seems to take forever to arrive. We find ourselves in this shoulder season where we've finished skiing, but can't go biking or hiking yet because there's still too much snow.

    If there's still snow in the mountains, why fight it? Just go skiing and make the most of it. Ski into spring and then pull your bike out after Easter. If you ski at Lake Louise or Sunshine you can ski into May!

    Snow in the mountains? Stop fighting it and enjoy the skiing! (this photo was taken in April at Sunshine Village)

    10. Ski through Easter weekend with fun events at many resorts 

    In addition to the festivals and events already mentioned above under #8, there are special Easter themed events at a few resorts.

    Disclaimer: All events below were added for 2020. Many events have been cancelled for 2021. Visit the resort you plan to visit directly to find out what is happening.

    ** This section will be updated for 2022 

    Easter events at resorts in the Canadian Rockies: 

    Catch the Easter Bunny at Lake Louise - April 10th - 12th

    And, get creative with cardboard for the annual Cardboard Box Downhill Derby  on Easter Sunday using only cardboard, string, and tape.

    Easter Bunny & Egg Hunt at Sunshine Village - April 11th -12th

    There will also be a non-denominational Easter Church Service at 11:00 AM on Sunday.

    Easter at Nakiska  - April 11th - 13th 

    Participate in the free Easter Scavenger Hunt and receive a prize! The Easter Bunny will also be on hill from 10am-2pm handing out treats and taking photos!

    Catch the Easter Bunny at Lake Louise (photo: Lake Louise Ski Resort)

    Monday, March 09, 2020

    5 Reasons to Ski Castle Mountain Resort this Spring (including Free Skiing!)

    We visited Castle Mountain Resort last winter for the first time as a family and we spent the entire drive home to Calgary talking about how we should move so that we could be closer to the resort. Well, we haven't moved yet, but we did put Castle on our "annual priority list" and we're extremely excited about our upcoming trip this month.

    You'll never visit Castle Mountain Resort just once

    Castle Mountain Resort is located in Southwestern Alberta, approximately an hour SW of the Town of Pincher Creek. Families living in the south part of Calgary can reach the resort in 2.5 hours, making the trip very doable for a 2-day weekend.

    We have a longer drive from the north of Calgary but we can easily reach Castle Friday night after work. Last year we spent most of Sunday at the hill as well and just stopped for dinner on the drive home that evening.

    5 Reasons to Ski Castle Mountain Resort this Spring

    1. Buy your 2020-2021 Season Pass and Receive FREE Skiing all Spring 

    Castle Mountain Resort is offering FREE spring skiing / riding from March 9th to closing day on April 12th with the purchase of a 2020-2021 season pass.

    "You can enjoy up to 35 days of complimentary skiing + riding this spring, on top of 125 + days next year! WOW!"

    Follow this link for complete information on the Castle season pass, along with details on the cost for each member of your  family, pass holder benefits, and conditions.

    One visit to Castle and my 10-year old was skiing the double black chutes!

    2. Affordable On-hill Accommodations

    We've been spoiled by a few too many ski in-ski out trips and now it's a huge priority when we plan family ski weekends. I want to be able to have a leisurely morning without a long drive to the ski hill, and my son likes to be first in line for the lifts opening. This means that staying very close to the hill is almost imperative for us. 

    At Castle Mountain Resort there is an affordable hostel and ski lodge located across the parking lot from the ski hill. It's not quite "ski out your door" lodging but I'm ok with having to carry my skis across a parking lot. It's also very handy on Sunday when you can pack up your car and go skiing without having to move the vehicle to a separate day-use parking lot. 

    The ski lodge offers traditional dorm-style hostel rooms (with beds arranged in rooms of 6 or 8) or you can upgrade to a private hotel-style room with either 2 queen sized beds or a queen bed and a double / single bunk.

    There is also a full kitchen facility and common room that all guests of the ski lodge can use.

    Simple but functional rooms at the Castle Mountain Ski Lodge 

    3. Castle is one of South Calgary's Closest Ski Resorts

    We often get our minds set on "heading to the mountains" to go skiing from Calgary but the reality is that for families living in South Calgary, Castle Mountain Resort is only 20 minutes further than Lake Louise. Skiing at Castle is quite a bit cheaper and as already mentioned, there's affordable accommodations right at the hill.

    Castle Mountain Resort is way less busy than the ski hills in Banff, sees less tourists, and has a lovely "locals vibe" that the larger resorts have lost over the years.

    I will always love the big mountain resorts in Banff, but Castle has a charm that you really have to experience - and there's no better time than the present to plan your trip south. 

    Read more about our epic ski weekend at Castle Mountain last winter here:

    "Go local" on your next ski vacation and head to Southern Alberta where the scenery is absolutely stunning!

    4. Beats in the Base Weekend Parties at Castle Mountain this Spring 

    Castle’s spring concert series is back with live performances every Saturday and Sunday afternoon all spring! 

    "Enjoy a burger from the BBQ and a cold beer from our outdoor bar as we transform the area outside of the T-Bar Pub into one giant, snowy beach!"

    Music on Saturday occurs from 2 to 5 pm and music on Sunday occurs from 1-4 pm. 

    And on a personal note, I can't tell you how excited I am for this! I've never been to a ski resort for a true spring skiing "outdoor party experience" before. We won't even have to drive home afterwards since we'll be staying at the ski lodge on the other side of the parking lot! 

    Spring fun at Castle Mountain (Photo credit: Nick Thornton)

    5. Fun Events every Weekend throughout Spring 

    There are several fun events planned at the resort through the months of March and April. Below are a few notable events.

    king of the Castle on March 21st - The annual event that crowns the King & Queen of Castle Mountain.

    "Come try your luck & put your skills to the test in a dual slalom race down Whiskey Jack. If you have the need…the need for speed, then who knows, maybe you have what it takes to don the Castle crowns! Racers will participate in two side-by-side, dual slalom races"

    Community Potluck Dinner on March 21st - Join the Castle Mountain Community Association for a potluck dinner within the main day lodge.

    "The fun starts at 6 PM with dinner to be dished out at 6:30 PM. The day lodge bar will also be open for beverages starting at 6:00 PM so come by early and have a gab with your neighbors and friends!"

    Borderline Jib in the Park on March 21st - From Noon to 4 PM there will be an all-ages open jam session event taking place in the new terrain park on Tumbleweed, within the Huckleberry Zone. 

    "There will be music, a high ollie contest, lowest carve contest, and prizes just for coming out as well!"

    Slush Cup on April 5th - Go full send and try to waterski / ride across our huge man-made pond! 

    "Not up for participating? Don’t worry, this is one of the best spectating events of the season!"

    Slush Cup at Castle Mountain Resort (Photo credit: Nick Thornton)

    Happy spring skiing everybody and we'll see you at Castle!

    Disclaimer: This story was written in partnership with Castle Mountain Resort where we will be hosted for an upcoming stay. As always, all opinions are my own.