Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Winter Family Glamping Getaway at Mount Engadine Lodge, Kananaskis

Raise your hand if you like winter tent camping in the snow. Add that you've been skiing all day and you're feeling wet and cold. You're also ravenous from your adventures and dying for a hot cup of coffee or tea (in a warm place with heat!)

Glamping at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis

Now ignore the classic idea of winter camping and picture this instead:
You drive up to a beautiful backcountry lodge perched on a bench overlooking a snowy meadow with awe-inspiring mountains in the background. You then grab your bags and walk up to your tent where you'll be camping - to find out that your tent has electricity! It has heat! And it has a bathroom (with running water, a flush toilet, and a hot shower!) 

After getting cozy in your tent, you walk over to the main lodge where coffee, tea, and drinks are waiting for you in the toasty warm building. You sit down beside a fireplace and a charcuterie board is brought to your table with a decadent assortment of meats, cheese and crackers. And then you're served dessert! (And it's not even dinner yet.)

This is just the beginning of your stay at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis where you can forget everything you thought you knew about camping. This is glamping, and it's pretty amazing!

Glamping at Mount Engadine Lodge, Kananaskis

Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge

The Mount Engadine Lodge Experience

Mount Engadine Lodge was named one of the top 5 hotels in Canada and top 101 in the world for 2022 by Fodor's Travel! It is the only backcountry lodge in Alberta with drive-up to the front door access and the only front country resort I know of that offers an all inclusive stay with all meals provided. 

On our recent trip, we stayed in a glamping tent but you'll also find other accommodation options including cabins, lodge rooms, and suites. Well-behaved pets are more than welcome in the cabins, one of the suites, and in all of the glamping tents as well, and are allowed in the main lodge living room areas (so they don't need to hide in your room the whole time.)

There's also a yurt at Mount Engadine Lodge for those who really want to try "camping." The yurt is a bit more rustic and does not have indoor plumbing or heat (beyond a portable heater.) Inquire with the lodge directly if you want to stay in the yurt (which sleeps 4 people.)

The glamping tents have a king sized bed, pull out sofa, and are pet friendly

"Camping" is pretty decadent at Mount Engadine Lodge in these glamping tents

Mount Engadine Lodge Location

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

Ski out the door at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis

From the lodge you're a very short drive from Mount Shark, a popular Nordic Skiing destination near Calgary with a gorgeous trail system. Snowshoeing is also popular from the lodge with trails you can access without even driving to a trailhead.

This is just one of the trails you can ski or snowshoe from Mount Engadine Lodge

Family-friendly Mount Engadine Lodge 

Families will also feel very comfortable at Mount Engadine. There is a two bedroom cabin we've stayed at before, and you'll find pull out sofas in all of the glamping tents as well as in the suites attached to the main lodge.

It can be difficult to take children to upscale resorts, but it "works" at Mount Engadine. Our son has often retreated to the living room adjacent to the dining room between dinner courses, has been served dessert earlier in the past (when he finished his main course more quickly than the adults,) and has never had anybody look poorly at him if he needed something to occupy him at the dinner table (be it a book or electronic device.)

Family glamping at Mount Engadine Lodge

We've stayed at the lodge many times with our son and we've always felt very welcome hanging out together and playing board games in the common living areas of the lodge. The staff are very accommodating as well so let them know if you have a child who needs to eat dinner earlier so that they can get tucked into bed before dinner (which starts at 7:00pm.) On our recent trip, the kids were even offered a special meal (lasagna) if they didn't want to eat the same "fancy food" that the adults were eating.

The lodge also has Wi-Fi which helps if you have early bird risers (like my son) who would benefit from using a tablet or I-pad when they wake up at 6am!

Family time in the main lodge at Mount Engadine

Add that pets are welcome, and your whole family will be able to come with you to this amazing lodge. Nobody has to stay behind. - which would include the extended family if you want to bring the grandparents or other relatives for a big family getaway. There are plenty of room options here for other family or friends who may want to join you.

Just one of the cozy nooks where you can have afternoon tea or relax after dinner

There are no shortage of cozy places to curl up with a good book at this lodge

Five-Star Dining at Mount Engadine Lodge

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

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

Want to drop in for afternoon tea?

The lodge accepts day visitors for their afternoon tea service. Advance reservations are recommended and the price is $35 per person. Call the lodge to inquire about availability.

Tea goes from 2-5pm with the last sitting at 4:00pm. 

A look at dinner during our recent stay at Mount Engadine Lodge

You'll be treated to 5 star dining at Mount Engadine Lodge

Fresh from the oven apple strudel is served every afternoon

More on the Engadine Glamping Experience 

The Glamping Experience includes:

  • An "elevated" camping experience where you sleep in a canvas walled trappers tent, raised off the ground and accessed by a wooden walkway from the road.

  • Sleeping in comfort! There's no sleeping bags or cold hard ground here. Each glamping tent includes one king sized bed which can be split into two twins if sharing with a friend. There's also a pull out sofa for parents who want to bring the kids along.

  • Heat!!! You won't be shivering in your sleeping bag, waiting for the sun to come up when you camp at Mount Engadine. Each tent includes a propane fireplace to keep you toasty warm.

  • Indoor heated bathrooms (in your tent!!) Each tent has hot running water, a shower, and a flush toilet.

  • No Cooking!! Tell me about the last time you went camping and didn't have to lift a finger to do any cooking or camp chores? At Mount Engadine, the lodge prepares all of your meals from the comfort of the main lodge. All you are expected to do is to rest, to relax, and to enjoy.

The glamping tents at Mount Engadine are a short walk from the main lodge

A decadent breakfast is always a highlight of every stay at Mount Engadine Lodge

Cross-Country Skiing at Mount Engadine Lodge

Nordic Skiing at Mount Shark

We LOVE cross-country skiing at Mount Shark, just up the road from the lodge, but it's a long drive from Calgary for a day trip. However, Mount Shark is a whole lot closer when you stay at Mount Engadine Lodge overnight!

The Mount Shark Trails usually get groomed and freshly trackset every Thursday night, just in time for the weekend and the snow stays great here well through March and into early April. Most of the trails are fairly intermediate/advanced (you need to enjoy hills) but the Watridge Lake Trail is beginner-friendly and takes you to a pretty lake. There's one hill down to the lake that most novice skiers walk. Other than that, most of the trail is relatively flat with one practice hill near the parking lot that you'll have fun with on the return ski.

Cross-country skiing at Mount Shark near Mount Engadine Lodge

Hercules is our favourite loop for scenery

See a map of the Mount Shark Trails here and the grooming report here. To see the difficulty ratings of each trail, you can look at the map on the grooming report.

Stick to the green trails (Watridge Lake Trail and Draco) if you don't like hills. If you want to try a fun rollercoaster loop with big hills up and down, try Ursa Major. It's hard to be bored on Ursa and it has great flow! And if you consider yourself a strong intermediate skier who can handle ~300 metres of climbing, Hercules is my favourite loop. 

Watridge Lake Trail is a beginner-friendly trail at Mount Shark

Strong skiers can ski all of Ursa Major, Virgo, Pegasus, Hercules, and Orion in a 15 km loop. 

All trails (with the exception of Watridge Lake Trail) are one-way only so you'll never have to worry about running into anybody on a hill. The trails are also dog-friendly (on leash) so Fido can come with you to stay and play! 

Just "one" of the endless climbs on Hercules at Mount Shark

And NEW FOR 2024, you can now rent cross-country skis and everything you'll need for a day of Nordic skiing right from Mount Engadine Lodge. 

"The lodge has purchased 25 sets of cross country skis, boots, and carbon poles, catering to a diverse range of sizes. For a daily rate of $30, guests can rent a complete set of equipment on a first come, first serve basis. You can also reserve gear ahead of time via phone, but it must be picked up by 9:30am on the day of rental or it will be released.
In preparation for this launch, the lodge has invested considerable effort in refurbishing the 12 kilometers of surrounding scenic trails – all groomed and suitable for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking."

Skiing in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge

Skiing in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge

If you're looking for a short ski after checking into the lodge before afternoon  tea, I recommend checking out the trail that the lodge tracksets in the meadow below the lodge. On a bluebird day it is the BEST scenery you'll get!

Note, the meadow is only groomed and trackset when there is sufficient snow. Fortunately, Mount Shark is just up the road if you can't ski right from the lodge.

Perfection on a bluebird day at Mount Engadine!

Ski out the door at Mount Engadine Lodge

No driving required to reach this ski trail at Mount Engadine Lodge

Easy ski touring along the Commonwealth Creek Trail near the lodge

The Commonwealth Creek Trailhead is just a short 1-minute drive up the road on the way to Mount Shark (you could even walk up the road from the lodge.)

The first 2 km is perfectly flat and very easy for skiing (or snowshoeing.) You'll most likely be following a packed snowshoe trail (unless it's recently snowed) and you'll know when to turn around once you reach a junction. Left starts to go downhill (and would end up at the highway.) Right continues up the Commonwealth Creek Trail, but quickly becomes too narrow and overgrown by tight bushes.

Turn around at the junction, and enjoy a pleasant 4 km return trip (perfect for a short day or an extension to a Mount Shark trip.) - and as long as avalanche hazard isn't extreme below treeline, this is generally a safe place to hike or ski.

I skied the meadow, the first 2 km of the Commonwealth Creek Trail, and most of Mount Shark in a day when I visited the area last month. It was very doable (and a gorgeous day of skiing!)

Gorgeous scenery on the Commonwealth Creek Trail near Mount Engadine

Not a bad location for an easy ski tour!

Other locations for cross-country skiing near Mount Engadine Lodge

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park - You'll find 50+ km of groomed trails trackset for cross-country skiing in this park. And chances are, if you're coming from Calgary, you'll drive past PLPP on your way to Mount Engadine Lodge if you take Highway 40 to reach the Spray Lakes Road. 

You'll find a trail grooming map at the link above.

The Canmore Nordic Centre - If you approach Mount Engadine Lodge from Canmore, you'll pass right by the official Nordic Centre. This is your best option if you need to rent skis. 

Cross-country skiing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Mount Engadine Lodge is one of my favourite places to stay for a cross-country ski getaway near Calgary and it's a delightful experience when you can combine skiing + backcountry glamping + a decadent all inclusive resort experience all in the same trip!

Mount Engadine Lodge is also one of the incredible properties in the Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta collection.
"Our collection of Inns and small hotels range from quiet back country lodges to luxury private cabin rentals, from romantic getaways with spas to family getaways, and pet-friendly hotels." - Charming Inns of Alberta

Every Charming Inn property is unique and you'll always get a special experience when you stay at one of these hotels.

You can read about more of their properties on their website at the link above. 

To make a reservation at Mount Engadine Lodge, visit the Mount Engadine Lodge website. All stays are based on double occupancy and children are discounted when you add them to your accommodation choice.

Mount Engadine Lodge is one of the properties with the Charming Inns of Alberta

Read more about our previous adventures staying at Mount Engadine Lodge

Yurt-Camping in Kananaskis at Mount Engadine Lodge

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

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