Making Hay on a Slow Snow Day

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view across the bow valley, banff, alberta
View across the Bow Valley (Photo © Alistair Wearmouth)

It was an unexpected turn that put me firmly in my place. Face to face with the upright husk of a dead lodgepole pine, our guide pointed out the puncture marks of an inquisitive woodpecker. The holes were clues that pointed to the shape of much bigger things.

First, to backtrack. A power surge had quite literally turned off the lights at Banff's Sunshine Village ski resort and left our troop of ski writers cooling their heels in downtown Banff. We were six days into a spin through the winter resorts in Alberta's spectacular Banff and Jasper national parks, and Sunshine was slated as the jewel in the crown, a resort rated as having some of North America's finest snow.

Short of bawling out some unsuspecting power company tech, there was little to do but strike out on some new adventure. Running the gauntlet of tourist tat on Banff Avenue—described by one in our group as "a money-making machine"—wasn't going to fill the void. Nor was a luxe trip to the Fairmont Banff Springs' newly refurbished, oh-so-Condé-Nast spa.

That's where Peter Duck, an accredited guide with the Fairmont Banff Springs' Heritage Guide Program, came in. He was conscripted to lead our ski-less feet on an interpretative hike around Johnson Lake, a few miles beyond the footprint of the Banff townsite. The Heritage Guide Program is part of a commendable drive to connect visitors (mostly those staying at the grandiose Banff Springs, but open to the general public) with the natural ecosystem that surrounds this world-renowned town, the gateway to World Heritage-listed Banff National Park.


Published: 9 Aug 2004 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Banff

$118-$182
Average/night*
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#1
Fox Hotel and Suites
$296-$401
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#2
Rimrock Resort Hotel
$304-$429
Average/night*
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#3
The Fairmont Banff Springs
$86-$130
Average/night*
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#4
The Juniper Hotel

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