At last! The end of winter is approaching. The days are getting longer, and everyone is anticipating the beginning of spring. But don’t forget, there is still time for some winter fun, and the Rockies are the perfect place to have it. Just hop in the car and drive west; it’s time for a road trip.
Canmore is an easy getaway from Calgary – it’s only about an hour west of the city, and there are many exciting activities for the whole family. In addition, downtown Canmore itself has a bundle of great restaurants, shops, museums and art galleries.
If you are a family of skiers, make a stop at Nakiska. It is located about 15 minutes east of Canmore, and is great for young kids as well as adults. The hill has Olympic length runs, as it was used for the ’88 Olympic Alpine Events and a beginner’s area for the kids (or adults!). Both private and group lessons are available.
For those who may prefer a little less speed and a little more effort, check out the Canmore Nordic Centre (just five minutes from downtown; follow the signs once you are in Canmore) and try out some cross-country skiing. There are over 60 kilometres of trails available, varying from beginner to world-class competition grade. Lessons and night-skiing opportunities are available, and the day lodge – though under construction – is perfect for warming up with a cup of hot chocolate.
Perhaps you enjoy the speed, but would rather use a little less effort, all while you admire the beautiful environment around you? Not a problem. Just give one of the dog sledding companies in Canmore a call and book the adventure of a lifetime. There are different tours to suit your needs, and range in length from a couple of hours to a couple of days – it’s up to you. Try driving the dog sled team (known as “dog mushing”) or just sit back and take in the action.
Want to go a little farther west? Keep driving on the Trans-Canada and stop in Banff. This beautiful area is a haven for skiers, climbers, adventurers, and those just looking for a break from everyday life. The town itself is full of unique shops (kids will love the rock and gem shops), galleries, and restaurants.
See the town from a mountaintop – really! Just five minutes from downtown is the Banff Gondola. After an eight-minute ride in a gondola, complete with incredible scenery, you reach the summit of Sulphur Mountain and have access to amazing panoramic views, a boardwalk (watch out, it’s icy this time of year!) a gift shop, and a restaurant.
Maybe, the top of a mountain in the winter isn’t ideal for you. Why not heat up in the Banff Hot Springs? You can sit in the Springs while taking in the view of Mount Rundle or relax in the historic bathhouse. There is also a children’s wading area, a restaurant, and a snack bar. The Hot Springs are located four kilometres south of the town, and there is free parking available.
Another way to see the breathtaking scenery is to go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. It’s no dog sled adventure, but it is a relaxing, family-friendly option. Each trip is about 45 minutes long, and costs $26 per adult, $22 per child, and kids under three are free.
What family does not like tobogganing? It’s a simple, cheap way to have a ton of fun. There’s a great little run near the Cascade Pond Picnic area right outside the town of Banff (on Minnewanka Lake Road) that is ideal for smaller children. If you want a larger, faster run, head to the tobogganing hill that is located next to Bow Falls (behind the Fairmont
Banff Springs Hotel); it has ideal runs for any age.
Head even farther west for an enchanting day of ice-skating at Lake
Louise. Surround yourselves in snow-covered trees and towering mountains while skating around the ice castle or playing a fun game of hockey. There are two skating areas in front of the Chateau Lake Louise: one for leisure skating and the other for hockey. If you forget your skates, don’t worry about it – skates are available for rental in the Chateau.
Instead of pondering what to do next weekend, get the family together, dress warm, and head west – there’s something for everyone.
Nakiska – Visit skinakiska.com for rates and more information.
Canmore Nordic Centre, Dog Sledding – Visit tourismcanmore.com.
Banff Gondola – Visit banffgondola.com for hours, rates, and more information.
Banff Hot Springs – Visit hotsprings.ca for hours, prices, directions, and more.
Sleigh Rides – Visit horseback.com for reservations.
Tobogganing – Visit banff.ca.