Alberta is wild. It begs to be explored. There’s so much to do that you don’t want to stop, but you’ve got to sleep eventually. That’s where cozy lodges come in. They’re the best place to relax and enjoy a little luxury and good food after an adventurous day.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is tucked away in the southeast corner of Alberta on a plateau that is the highest point of land between the Canadian Rockies and Labrador. It’s a year-round outdoor playground with hiking and cycling trails, three lakes, cross-country ski trails, a skating track and a downhill ski hill. It’s also an official dark sky preserve – an area ideal for stargazing, because it restricts artificial light pollution. The comfortable suites, condos and cabins at the nearby Elkwater Lake Lodge provide creature comforts after a big day of adventure. The onsite Bugler’s Restaurant has a good menu and hosts an annual wine festival.
Unexpected. That’s the best word to describe this luxurious country inn near Rocky Mountain House. Situated on the edge of a meadow near a babbling creek, the inn and its onsite gourmet restaurant are surrounded by central Alberta farmland. There are 10 suites, 5 cottages and a 40-seat gourmet restaurant with a wraparound deck. The onsite Heartstone Restaurant features a menu made with fresh local ingredients – one of the benefits of being surrounded by all those farms.
Warning – don’t let moose in the meadow distract you at dinner. Or maybe do. Either way, this lovely all-inclusive lodge is a hidden gem in the untouched wilderness of Spray Valley Provincial Park near Canmore. The mountain views are breathtaking and it’s common to see moose, coyotes, beaver, deer and elk from the windows of the lodge. With three meals and afternoon tea included, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of hiking, cycling, kayaking, snowshoeing or skiing.
This comfy boutique lodge in downtown Canmore is owned by former Olympic athletes Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi. Special culinary nights feature demonstration-style group cooking classes led by renowned local chefs. There’s also a lounge area with a fireplace, a breakfast area and a cappuccino bar. There are bicycles for guests to use and great restaurants are within walking distance.
Sip a cocktail and sample Rocky Mountain cuisine at its best at this rustic lodge on Tunnel Mountain right in the town of Banff. Members of the O’Connor family, who own the lodge, are so dedicated to sourcing local ingredients they bought a 540-acre ranch in the foothills where they produce high-quality elk and buffalo products in a natural, humane and sustainable manner. There’s an outdoor hot tub to soak in after a big day of hiking or skiing or just to aid digestion after a great meal.
Picture this: You’re sipping wine and snuggling under a blanket in front of a wood-burning fireplace while Instagramming your first ice walk in Johnston Canyon. Life doesn’t get much better. Baker Creek Mountain Resort sits on the Bow Valley Parkway at the confluence of Baker Creek and the Bow River not far from Lake Louise – where hiking and wildlife spotting are particularly good. The onsite Baker Creek Bistro serves a great casual menu with a good selection of local craft beer.
You can’t beat the views from this historic lodge, but the real draw is the food. Serving an all Canadian menu made with organic local ingredients and accompanied by fine Canadian wines, the dining room is one of the best in Banff National Park. Built in 1922 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, each cabin has been fully restored and most have fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. Just 25-minutes outside the town of Banff, the property has panoramic views of Storm Mountain, Castle Mountain, the Sawback Range and the Bow Valley.
To explore the backcountry of Banff National Park, most people sacrifice comforts like hot showers, warm beds and home-cooked meals. Guests that stay at this backcountry lodge aren’t like most people. With comfortable private cabins, beds, hot showers, and healthy gourmet meals, the backcountry is more luxurious and accessible than ever before. A 14-km (9 mi) hike or cross-country ski gets you to the lodge, which overlooks a meadow near the outlet of Shadowalberta- Lake and is surrounded by craggy peaks. From there you can use the lodge as a base for further exploration of the backcountry’s uncrowded hiking or skiing trails.
You have to ski-tour or hike 11-km (6.8 mi) over two mountain passes to reach this rustic log lodge, but getting there is part of the fun. Romantic and secluded, the lodge has five spectacular valleys right outside the backdoor and is a Canadian National Historic Site. It’s such a romantic destination that Prince William and Kate enjoyed a stay shortly after their marriage. Friendly staff, gourmet meals, cozy cabins and a comfortable main lodge make it an oasis in the backcountry near Lake Louise.
Livin’ the dream: If you’ve ever wanted a cozy summertime cabin in the woods, this is your place. Located just five minutes inside the east gate of Jasper, the largest and wildest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain Parks, Pocahontas Cabins are surrounded by natural beauty. It’s a 17-km (11 mi) drive from the cabins to Jasper’s Miette Hot Springs and it’s common to see wildlife along the road. There’s an outdoor hot tub, a heated outdoor pool in summer and barbecues that guests can use.