In Alberta, you’ll find one of my favourite lodges in the world. Hike – or as I did – cross-country ski through Rocky Mountains’ glorious alpine landscape to Skoki Lodge, at an elevation of 2,164 metres.
Rocky Mountains northwest of Lake Louise, Alberta
GPS coordinates: 51′ 31’23N and 116′ 04’35W
After about 11 km of skiing there from Lake Louise, carrying my sleeping bag and gear in my backpack, I admit to being exhausted. So that final glide down to the little log cabin nestled into the base of a ridge was glorious…and gloriously welcoming.
After stashing my skis I opened the front door, to be greeted by warmth, a crackling fire, the fragrance of freshly baked bread and a home-cooked meal. Heaven.
Skoki Lodge was Canada’s first ski lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The Rocky Mountain ski lodge was built in the 1930s by Catherine and Peter Whyte, a couple who so loved the Rockies they wanted to promote x-country skiing to Canadians and international visitors.
Nowadays, another couple lives at Skoki Lodge, where they cook splendid, nourishing meals and keep the wood fire a-crackling.
Want to learn about where to go telemark skiing? Want to simply curl up and write your journal or read? It’s your choice, and your hosts will advise you of the best ski, hiking, or wildlife-watching spots.
Later, after you return to Lake Louise (there’s no transportation to or from Skoki: your two feet are the only conveyance), head to nearby Banff. Here visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
On its grounds, you can take a guided tour to view the Whyte’s log cabin. Both Peter and Catherine were artists and but were also patrons of mountain arts and culture. The museum explains the history of the Rockies, through exhibitions of mountain art and artefacts.
Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
Mile 22, Icefields Parkway, Alberta
If you’re like me, the romance of Canada’s Rocky Mountains is enhanced by the tall tales of brave and bold mountain men and women who explored these spectacular ranges, lakes and forests.
Jimmy Simpson, a Lincolnshire, English lad who emigrated to Canada in 1896, became a renowned mountain guide. And, when he set eyes on Bow Glacier sheltering the lake of the same name two years later, he discovered where he wanted to build his “shack”.
Later, he built a guest house, to house the many people who wanted to meet this legend of the Rockies.
Nowadays, we can linger beside the stone fireplace, play cards, dine at the restaurant featuring local fare, paint or sketch, and learn about the mountain memorabilia such as a rock collection featuring fossils, and much more.
From the lodge, kayak or canoe, hike or in winter, snowshoe or cross-country ski across the lake.
Ice climbing is possible: Bow Glacier is a popular climbing destination, and experienced skiers can also head into the interior from Num-Ti-Jah.
Simpson’s Num Ti Jah Lodge is located off the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1), 35km north of Lake Louise on the Icefield’s Parkway. To get there, you can take a shuttle from the airport to Lake Louise or rent a car in Calgary, Banff or Lake Louise.