The Alberta You Ought to Meet - Page 4
The Canadian Rockies feel sublimely remote, but the Calgary International Airport is a mere hour drive from their eastern flanks. Air Canada, U.S. Airways, American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Horizon, Northwest, and United Airlines, among others, fly into the province's capital. Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National rent cars at the airport.
ALPINE SKI AND SNOWBOARD
Alberta's multitude of ski resorts each offer a different experience. Choose between Castle Mountain, Ski Norquay, Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Marmot Basin, among others.
Glide like an Olympian at the Nordic Center in Canmore (403-678-6764; www.trailsports.ab.ca), site of the Nordic events of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. The center maintains over 35 miles of groomed trails and still trains Canada's elite skiers.
On Spray Lakes outside of Canmore, Mad Dogs & Englishmen Expeditions (403-609-3670; www.maddogsexpeditions.com) runs two-hour, half-day, and full-day dogsled trips amid some of the Canadian Rockies' classic scenery.
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, based in Canmore, runs beginner ice climbing courses, guided climbs, and skills seminars for those learning to wield an axe and experts alike. The guide service also offers backcountry ski seminars, ski touring trips over the Wapta Icefields, and mountaineering clinics (866-678-4164; www.yamnuska.com).
Temps in the Rat's Nest Cave inside Grotto Mountain, near Canmore, hover at about 42 degrees year-round. Canmore Caverns leads tours of this subterranean side of the Rockies in winter and summerbe prepared to don a headlamp and helmet, squeeze through tight spots, and rappel on a full-day tour to nooks only accessible with a guide.
EXPLORE FROZEN CANYONS AND SNOWSHOE
Jasper Adventure Center (780-852-5595; www.jasperadventurecentre.com) offers guided tours throughout the wilderness surrounding Jasper. Try a night hike, with crampons, through Maligne Canyon, full of icy gargoyles, waterfalls, and curtains all formed by dripping water and frigid nights, or snowshoe through the national park in search of animal tracks and winter songbirds.
Castle Mountain is no-frills skiing at its best, which means the only on-site lodging options are condo rentals and Castle Mountain Ski Lodge & Hostel (888-627-5121; www.castlemountainskilodge.com). About 100 paces from the lifts, this old-fashioned ski dorm has a sauna, game room and rates that leave enough cash for extra Kokanees at the T-Bar Pub.
Lodges at Canmore (888-678-3535; www.lodgesatcanmore.com) rents one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos equipped with full kitchens, flat screen TVs, and DVD players, and makes a good Canmore base camp.
Smack in the middle of Banff, Brewster's Mountain Lodge (888-762-2900; www.brewstermountainlodge.com) combines the best of rustic and elegant sensibilities, with log furniture, jetted tubs, and stumbling proximity to a host of restaurants and bars.
In Lake Louise, choose from the ornate, fortress-like Chateau Lake Louise (800-257-7544; www.fairmont.com/lakelouise), which has elegant rooms with granite bathrooms and views of the lake, or the cozy, hand-hewn-log Deer Lodge (403-410-7417; www.crmr.com/deer-lodge.php), which boasts one of the best hot-tub views in the region.
On the stunning stretch of scenic highway between Lake Louise and Jasper, Simpson's Num-Ti-Jah Lodge (403-522-2425; www.num-ti-jah.com) offers a homey resting spot, with wood-burning hearths, historic mountaineering photographs, and to-die-for French toast with Quebec maple syrup for breakfast.
Jasper, one of Alberta's northerly mountain burgs, feels remote and quaint, yet the Jasper Park Lodge (800-257-7544; www.fairmont.com/jasper) has mountain hospitality dialed. Stay in a cabin or lodge room, sampling more than half a dozen restaurants at the lodge, skating on the nearby lake, or snoozing fireside.
Best Hotels in Alberta
Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Acclaim Hotel Calgary Airport
Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Calgary-Airport, AB