I have a passion for the Canadian Rockies and an innate curiosity to discover the most interesting places to stay while I’m adventuring in them. After years of exploring, I’ve logged a few perennial favourites.
Eleven km (6.8 mi) from Lake Louise in Banff National Park, at an elevation of 2,164 m (7,100 ft), is the one-of-a-kind Skoki Lodge. The only way to get here is to cross country ski in during the winter, or hike it in the summertime. I’m here to say it’s totally worth the trip. The lodge made our group of intrepid explorers feel so welcome. The food was gourmet and fabulous, the rooms inviting and the conversation sparkled. Attentive staff will help plan your expeditions into the surrounding valleys – and they pack an amazing picnic lunch.
Baker Creek Mountain Resort
Just off the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park, Baker Creek Mountain Resort is an ideal base for summer and winter fun. My season of choice is summer and I think the hiking and wildlife spotting are simply the best. In winter hit the slopes at nearby Lake Louise Ski Resort, or explore by snowshoe or cross country ski. Take your pick of 25 authentic log chalets or book a cozy room in the lodge. Be sure to dine in the divine Baker Creek Bistro.
About 45 km (28 mi) west of Nordegg is one of the province’s best known ecotourism destinations. Aurum Lodge overlooks the pristine waters of Abraham Lake and provides a spectacular wilderness experience. The property is perfectly situated to explore Bighorn Country and Banff and Jasper national parks. Guided activities that can be organized for you include dog sledding in winter and glacier tours in summer. I’ve stayed here in every season and just love the serenity of the place.
Mount Engadine Lodge
In the heart of Kananaskis Country is one of my favourites. Mount Engadine Lodge is an inviting, intimate retreat that accommodates no more than 19 guests at a time. I love having a mug of hot cocoa on the deck while watching the wildlife wandering through the aptly-named Moose Meadows. Hike in the summer, snowshoe in winter and return for gourmet fare in the evening before retiring to your private cabin. Or just take an hour’s drive from Calgary and show up for afternoon tea – I promise you won’t need any dinner that night. Just 37 km (23 mi) from Canmore.
Elkwater Lake Lodge
Tucked into the southeast corner of the province in Canada’s only interprovincial Park, Elkwater Lake Lodge in Cypress Hills is the perfect year round getaway, whether you’re a couple, or hanging with friends or celebrating a big family reunion. Okay, so it’s not in the mountains but technically it qualifies, with the highest elevation in the country east of the Canadian Rockies.
Receding glaciers in the last ice age gave the whole Cypress Hills area a miss. So the plants and animals here are most similar to those found in the mountains, No more than an hour’s drive from Medicine Hat (3.5 hours from Calgary), the lodge is situated in the town of Elkwater, your hub for outdoor adventures. Ski nearby Hidden Valley in the winter and inside the park go snowshoeing or cross country skiing, use the ice skating trails and try out the “back yard luge.” It’s heaven in summertime, too, with hiking and mountain biking, wildlife viewing, water sports or just flopping on the beautiful beach at Elkwater Lake with a good book and some sunscreen. So much to do, you’ll want to stay a little bit longer. The lodge has long term rentals. A happy surprise is their indoor salt water pool and a restaurant open seven days a week for breakfast lunch and dinner, featuring locally grown fare.