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Best of Canada

Spring Skiing in the Rockies

With warmer weather in the forecast, we can finally start thawing out after a particularly cold and snowy winter. So take off your coats, put on your sunglasses, and head for the patio; it’s time for some spring skiing!

Photo courtesy of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort


Spend a weekend at Sunshine because starting April 7th, Sunshine Village will be hosting concerts every Saturday and Sunday afternoon! Get a few runs in and then head over to Mad Trappers where different artists perform each weekend.


Visit Lake Louise on any of these incredible musical weekends!

March 31/April 1 – BIG FONTS

April 7/8 – Abbey Rodeo

April 14/15 – Aaron Pollock

April 21/22 – Sam Bailey Band

April 29 – Rumspringer

May 5/6 – DJ CAIN.1 + Friends


Head to Panorama for the High Notes Music Festival on March 23-25th. Friday night features an evening of live music, food and wine. See headliners Jay Gilday, The Burn Ins, and Scenic Route to Alaska on Saturday night!


Get excited for the Whitetooth Grill concert series at Kicking Horse!

March 24 – Eric Larocque

March 31 – John Jenkins’ Small Town Revival

April 7 – Eric Larocque

April 14 – The Pickups


Check out the Kokanee Freeride event at Marmot Basin on April 14th. The whole event takes place at the mid-mountain Paradise Chalet Patio so that you can catch a few rays while you listen to live music and chow down on a BBQ lunch!



Shake the Lake will have you dancing, feasting and cheering! On April 28th, head to Lake Louise and watch (or compete) in the Rail Jam/Slush Cup extravaganza! There will be a daytime après ski party and an after party in the Lodge of the Ten Peaks!


The Slush Showdown Pond Skimming Cup will be awarded at Panorama on April 7th. Can you make it across the pond?


The Slush Cup & Pig Roast Party takes place on April 15th at Kicking Horse. Throw on a costume and try to cross 75m of slush!


The Slushshine Rail Jam at Sunshine Village is part Rail Jam, part Slush Cup, and it is going to be a blast! So sign yourself up, or mark your calendar for May 19th, and watch riders and skiers take on a series of challenging features set up over water!


The Slush Cup on May 21st at Sunshine Village is the last slush cup of the year, so plan to be there and get rowdy while competitors attempt to make one last skim across the pond!


Just for Fun

Indulge your sweet tooth at the Kicking Horse Sugar Shack on March 24th and 25th where you can try maple syrup on snow, listen to live music, and eat A LOT of taffy!


Compete in the ShredAbility Fundraiser at Sunshine Village on April 7th! This mountain treasure hunt has teams of two completing adaptive challenges all over the mountain in support of Rocky Mountain Adaptive!


Test your building skills and design a dummy for the Panorama Dummy Downhill on April 8th! Can your creation make it down the slopes, or will it crash? (don’t worry there’s a prize for that too!)


Hula downhill on April 21st at Marmot Basin’s Aloha Cup! This all-ages race is full of banked turns, rollers and small jumps; it’s a fun way finish off the season. There are prizes for fastest run and for best costume, so grab your skis and dress to impress!


Get creative and build a cardboard sled for the Annual Lake Louise Cardboard Box Downhill Derby on April 22nd! Prizes will be given to the 3 fastest racers and the three coolest sleds, so remember: style counts!


Whether you are singing, skiing, or soaking wet (post-slush cup), enjoy your sunny spring days on the slopes!

Nordic Tradition in Canadian Plaid

By Calli Naish

Tall trees and taller mountains: there couldn’t be a more perfect backdrop for Alberta’s first Nordic Spa. Nestled so comfortably in the Rockies that it seems like it has been there all along, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa combines elements of relaxation with the healing properties of water to create a spa experience unlike any other. The best part? You can stay ALL DAY LONG!

Hot tub with a view

Relax in the Spa Lodge

Founded in the Kneipp tradition of hydrotherapy, the spa features a series of outdoor pools of varying temperatures. You begin in a hot pool, then move to a natural pool slightly above body temperature, followed with a quick dip in the cold plunge pool before doing it all over again. This heat-cool-repeat cycle is designed to stimulate circulation and detox the body. The spa’s laid-back atmosphere, however, means there is nothing keeping you from spending all your time in the hottest tub or lounging in the salt-water float pool.

Hot Pool and Heated Robe Station

Hot Pool 

Cool Plunge Pool 

The spa also features Finnish, Barrel and Banya saunas, heated hammocks, social fire areas, and two steam cabins. The Eucalyptus Steam Cabin will use eucalyptus oils and the Alchemist Steam Cabin will offer a series of aromatherapy oils to compliment the changing seasons. There will also be an exfoliation cabin (not open at the time of this post) where you can rejuvenate your skin through self-exfoliating aromatic salts.

Finnish Sauna 

Barrel Sauna 

The spa is designed to accommodate everyone. Those who thrive on social energy may join in the company of others on the social side of the spa; however, those who are interested in meditative healing may enjoy the waters of the quiet pools or while adrift in the float pool (to be completed this summer).

Comfort in the Spa Lodge

The Spa Lodge has eight treatment rooms (and two couples’ rooms) where you can book a deep tissue, hot stone, or relaxation massage. The lodge is also home to the Spa’s Bistro where you can sip and savour with a view of the mountains.

Champagne in the Spa Lodge

The Relaxation Lodge, which will open in the summer, allows you to pair healing water therapies with mental recovery (which we could all use a little more of). There will be a dream lounge, a meditation labyrinth, heated lounge chairs with personal music stations, and finally, a 30-person yoga studio complete with aerial silk hammocks that yoga enthusiasts will appreciate .

The Spa Lodge and Bistro

The spa sells natural and sustainable beauty products by [comfort zone]. Currently, two lines are available (Skin Regimen and Tranquility), with plans to include more product lines as time goes on. Additionally, [comfort zone] Aromasoul oil blends will be featured within the spa treatment rooms and lodge.

Skin Regimen by [comfort zone]

Tranquility by [comfort zone]

Creating a “hot tub with a view” may have been the original goal for the spa renovation, but the Kananskis Nordic Spa has become so much more. Spa creators, Hank van Weelden and Jennifer Buckler, speak with such passion about their vision for the Knordic Spa that it is clear the project is a labour of love. Every detail has been curated to create an environment of true Canadian hospitality. So forget the typical spa stuffiness and slip into a guest robe designed in Canadian plaid. The tartan represents the four seasons in Canada, and the spa creators hope that you will embrace each of these seasons with equal fervor.

Canadian Plaid Robes

It’s all in the details

Planks made from trees felled at the site

Live edge wood adds to the rustic atmosphere of the spa

Founded on tradition, built of trees felled at its site, and immersed in Rocky Mountain culture, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is designed to accommodate everyone by providing an atmosphere of collective healing and regeneration. Outside, the pools and buildings blend into the surrounding scenery seamlessly; inside, you are welcomed by the smell of cedar and the calm of a modern, yet rustic, communal space. Plaid robes, mountain air and Nordic knowledge: it is a place of mental and physical recovery enjoyed equally during the cold Canadian winter or in the short mountain summer.

Fireplace in the Spa Lodge

Phase 1 of the Knordic Spa is complete and will be open on weekends with most amenities available.

Phase 2 will be completed this summer.

10 Tips for Winter Camping in Jasper National Park


By Calli Naish

Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper


They say there are only two seasons in Canada: Winter and July. And while some Canadians curl up indoors only venturing out for their morning Tim Horton’s fix, the crazier Canucks refuse to miss an opportunity to get outside (even if it’s well below 0°). For those of you who need to test your cold temperature tolerance, here’s a list of winter camping tips (because being prepared isn’t just for the Boy Scouts!)


1. Location. Location. Location.


Photo by Jeff Bartlett courtesy of Tourism Jasper


Choosing the right place for your winter camping excursion depends on your experience, your equipment, and ultimately, what your plans are while you’re roughing it. Whether you plan on skiing, snowshoeing or just sitting fireside, there are 5 campgrounds in Jasper National Park that can accommodate your winter adventures.


Photo by Adam Greenberg courtesy of Tourism Jasper


For a detailed description of Jasper’s winter campgrounds, see the end of this post.


2. Pack Smart


Brian Catto, a Senior Parks Canada interpreter who organizes the programming at the Whirlpool Winter Hub (including the Learn to Winter Camp program), gives great advice for winter camping. He stresses that those who venture out need to understand that summer and winter camping gear are not the same. For example, most people who camp in the summer use a 1-season tent, but for winter camping you need a 4-season tent. Understanding these differences and knowing what to pack are essential to having an enjoyable winter camping experience.

If you are new to camping there are resources to help you get your packing started. MEC has put together a great Winter Camping Gear Check List and Parks Canada has a Winter Backcountry Equipment Checklist. Although these lists may include items above and beyond what you need for a short weekend camping excursion, they will help you build a customized list for your own trip. Add your fat bike and head to Pyramid Lake so you can try out the Pyramid Front Trail, or bring your skis so you can spend a day on the slopes at Marmot Basin.


If you have some unchecked boxes on your equipment list, you can find camping gear at any of these Jasper stores:

Totem Ski Shop and Everest Outoor Store sell tents, sleeping bags, various camping items, how-to books and even some packable snacks.

Gravity Gear sells camp stoves and fuel, as well as last-minute items like headlamps.

Wild Mountain sells tents and sleeping bags, including a sleeping bag that’s rated for -29°C!


3. It’s all in the Set-Up


Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper


This tip is primarily for the tenters out there because if you are camping in an RV, you will have most of your set up already completed. No matter where you sleep, make sure that you have lawn chairs or foam pads for the picnic table so that you aren’t sitting in snow (try Heat-A-Seats for extra warmth).


Tent Tips

Dig a small area in the snow for your tent so that you have some shelter from the wind.

Pack down the remaining snow so that you have a flat surface for your tent and to prevent sinking in the snow at night. This will also prevent you from stepping in a soft spot of snow and tearing through your tent floor.

Stake that tent! Don’t be deterred by the hard ground, winter weather is variable and often windy so it is important to make sure your tent is secure. Though it is easier to drive stakes into the soft snow, you can purchase stakes that will push through the frozen ground.


4. Dress to Impress Stay Warm!


Photo by Jade Wetherell


The key to enjoying winter camping is never feeling too cold – this means layering! Brian Catto emphasizes the importance of knowing how to properly layer for winter weather. Lucky for you we have an entire blog (and article in our magazine) dedicated to teaching you how to layer for winter warmth. Make sure that you pack extra layers so that you always have a dry change of clothes. Also, throw an extra set of mitts and a spare toque in your bag because cold fingers and ears will seriously bring down your pro-winter vibes.


Facing a drop in temperature you aren’t prepared for? Stop in at Löle, Jasper Source for Sports, Totem Ski Shop, Everest Outdoor Store, Edge Control Ski Shop, Gravity Gear, Wild Mountain, or On-Line Sport for some last-minute layers.


5. Sweet dreams are made of heat


Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper


The only thing worse than feeling cold is feeling cold when you are trying to sleep. To prevent a night of tossing, turning and shivering, you will need:

The right tent – the only tent for winter camping is a 4-season tent.

The right sleeping pad – those super comfortable, air-filled camping mattresses create a cold layer of air between you and the ground. For winter camping choose a sleeping pad with an R-value of 4 or more.

The right sleeping bag – you will need a sleeping bag that’s rated for the cold temperatures that you expect while camping. Brian notes to keep in mind that the accuracy of these ratings will vary from person to person. If you are the type of person who gets cold in September and stays that way until May, you’ll want to be prepared with some comfortable layers you can wear to bed.


6. Get Active


Photo by Ryan Bray courtesy of Tourism Jasper


If you are going to brave cold nights, make the most of your sunny days! There are tons of great activities in Jasper National Park that will let you explore and get your heart pumping, including cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and fat-tire biking.


Photo by Jeff Bartlett courtesy of Tourism Jasper


If you don’t have your own equipment for an activity that you want to try, you can rent!

Edge Control Ski Shop (cross-country skis, skis/snowboards)

Everest Outdoor Store (snowshoes)

FreeWheel (fat bikes, skis/snowboards)

Gravity Gear (skis/snowboards, snowshoes)

Jasper Source for Sports (cross-country skis, fat bikes, skis/snowboards, snowshoes)

Totem Ski Shop (skis/snowboards, snowshoes)


7. More than Marshmallows


Photo by Chris Hendrickson courtesy of Tourism Jasper


Sitting around a fire and roasting marshmallows might be the most iconic camping scene of all time, but winter weather takes round-the-fire moments from quintessential to essential. Fires are perfect for drying out your ski socks and warming up before calling it a night. Check out Leave No Trace for campfire guidelines and make sure that you are prepared with fire starters, paper, kindling, and an extra lighter.


Once you’ve built a roaring fire, throw on some fire resistant apparel before settling in for campfire stories; you don’t want to find holes in your GORE-TEX ski jacket in the morning. Wool is naturally fire-retardant so it’s a good time to pull out that oversized itchy wool sweater from grandma.


8. Don’t be Hangry


Cold weather and active days are going to leave you hungry, and making meals in mittens isn’t an easy task. Quick and easy meals will help you avoid hanger-fuelled moments that you might regret later. Single pot entrées, freeze-dried meals and no-cook eats are great options for winter camping meals. Plus there is no better way to wake up on a wintery morning than with a warm bowl of instant oatmeal and a hot cup of coffee.


If your campsite does not have water, don’t worry! You are surrounded by an abundance of it and, since you will likely need boiling water for much of your cooking, melting snow won’t even add a step. However, it’s important to remember that melted snow and clean drinking water are not the same thing. Boil snow for at least 10 minutes and consider using water treatment methods before drinking.


9. Let there be Light (and Power)!


It gets dark early in the winter, which means if you aren’t prepared for nightfall you will be setting up your camp stove, lighting your fire, and making your dinner in the dark. Although accomplishing all this sans light would be highly impressive and would likely earn you a nod from Bear Grylls, it is going to be worth your while to have a few extra flashlights and headlamps kicking around to light up your nights.


We all know that nothing kills a cellphone battery faster than cold weather. And while you might pride yourself on your lack of iPhone reliance, it is important to be able to call for help in case of emergency. Plus you will want to take pictures while you are out exploring. A portable power pack is small, packable and will keep your phone functioning long enough to snap a few shots of the winter wildlife and National Park scenery between selfies.


10. Turn up the Heat


You’ve probably noticed that the general theme of these tips has to do with keeping warm. Really this is the best advice anyone can give you when it comes to spending your days and nights outside in the cold Canadian winter. Here are a few additional notes on keeping your body temp up while you are accessing your rugged winter side:


Hand/foot warmers – instant warmth for frigid toes

Hot water bottles – pour a little of that boiled snow into a hot water bottle for added heat when you snuggle into your sleeping bag

Sleep with your boots – there is nothing worse than putting your warm feet into cold boots. Take the liners out of your boots and wear them while you sleep or put your boots in a waterproof bag in the bottom of your sleeping bag.




Camp on Campers!



Photo by Nicole Gaboury courtesy of Tourism Jasper




Wapiti Campground

Location: 5.6 km South of Jasper just off of Highway 93


Camping Style: RV/Tent


Suitable For: New campers


This frontcountry campground is a great place for those who are new to winter camping as it is close to town and has all the amenities of home including electrical, washrooms (with showers), and potable water. Each site has a fire pit, and firewood is included with your daily fire permit (just grab it from the pile). It’s also great for those looking to get out skiing as it is on the way to Marmot Basin, so you can be first on the road and first on the hill!



Whirlpool Winter Hub

Location: 21.4 km south of Jasper, just south of Marmot Road on Highway 93A


Camping Style: RV/Tent


Suitable For: Active families


A frontcountry campground great for active families because of the 25 km of groomed cross-country ski trails that begin from this location! The campground is also home to the Whirlpool Winter Hub where Parks Canada hosts a variety of interpretive activities on Family Day weekend. This campground is further from town than Wapiti and does not have electrical, potable water or flush toilets, making the winter camping experience a little more rustic. However, the sites do have fire pits and firewood is provided with your daily fire permit.


Note: Sites at Wapiti and Whirlpool Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it is recommended that you arrive early! These winter campgrounds are self-registration and daily fire permits are required.



Hidden Cove

Location: 4 km down Maligne Lake, 48 km from Jasper at the end of Maligne Lake Road (cross-country ski or snowshoe access only)


Camping Style: Tent


Suitable For: Experienced campers with prior cross-country ski/snowshoe experience


This is a great backcountry campground for small groups or families with older kids who are able to manage the trek in. The site has 4 tent pads, a fire pit, a grey water pit, a cook shelter, picnic tables and food storage lockers. Access to this site requires travelling over the frozen Maligne Lake so only plan to winter camp here between mid-January and early April. And make sure you read these guidelines on safe ice travel before heading out.



Big Bend

Location: 7.8 km south of Sunwapta Falls, 55 km south of Jasper on Highway 93 (access by cross-country ski or snowshoe)


Camping Style: Tent


Suitable For: Experienced campers with prior cross-country ski/snowshoe experience


Another great backcountry option for experienced cross-country skiers in small groups. The site has 4 tent pads, a fire pit, food storage cables and picnic tables. The trail follows a wide fire road and the campground is close to the Athabasca River with views of Dragon Peak.


Note: A permit is required for backcountry camping. You can obtain a permit online or by calling 1-877-737-3783.



Wilcox Winter Campground

Location: 107 km south of Jasper just off Highway 93


Camping Style: Tent


Suitable For: Experienced campers who are comfortable accessing the location by snowshoe (when conditions require)


Staying at the Wilcox Winter Campground allows hardy campers to stay in the Columbia Icefields (Parks experience the icefields parkway in winter). Wilcox Creek Campground is a frontcountry campground during the summer months, but is considered backcountry in the winter as camping is only permitted at the Wilcox Pass Trailhead. There are no amenities available at this location.


Note: A bivy/camping permit is required to camp at the Wilcox Winter site call 780-852-6176 for more information.



For the Love of Love! Valentine’s Day in the Canadian Rockies, Part 2

Let’s get real for a second: Valentine’s Day is so much more than one day. It takes coordination. It takes foresight. It takes the perfect card or box of chocolate curated well in advance of what is touted as the most romantic day of the year.

Remember in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast when the Beast asks Cogsworth how he should win Belle’s love? Cogsworth tells him to do the usual things: “flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.”

For Valentine’s Day this year, don’t be a Cogsworth.

Last week we gave you some suggestions for how to show your love, and we’re back with a new list for you this week. The editors at Where Canadian Rockies are rooting for your Valentine’s Day success!


Valentine’s Week at the Creek

Maybe you love love so much that you want Valentine’s Day to last longer than one day. Maybe you don’t want to feel the pressure of demonstrating your love on February 14th and you think the 15th is more meaningful. Whatever your feelings are, think about booking a package at Baker Creek Mountain Resort in Lake Louise.

When you book a room through their “Valentine’s Week at the Creek” package, Baker Creek offers you a sweet treat upon your arrival, complimentary skate and snowshoe rentals, a fire pit reservation with an unlimited wood supply, and a fireside gourmet hot chocolate and s’more station.

The offer runs from February 14th to February 18th and starts at $150/night. There is also a special Alberta Resident Room Rate that starts at $139/night.

If you really want to impress your Valentine (or yourself, for that matter), enjoy the specially crafted tasting menu at the Baker Creek Bistro ($39 per person, plus tax and service).

For more information or to book your room, call 1-403-522-3761

Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Cozy up by the fire at Baker Creek










Love’s-a-Brewin’ at Kicking Horse

If ‘beer’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’ are synonymous for you, book a seat at the 2018 Brewmaster’s Dinner hosted in the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on February 16th.

At 7700 feet with 360-degree alpine views, experience mountaintop dining with canapés and an appetizer from the menu that boasts Surf & Turf and Vegan Pasta for entrées and a deconstructed lemon pie for dessert. Yes, you read that right: a deconstructed lemon pie (va va voom!)

You’ll also hear from Kent Donaldson from Whitetooth Brewing, and from Paul Walker of Stanley Park Brewing. At $79 (plus tax and gratuities) per guest, celebrate Valentine’s Day (or beer) on a Friday and show your true love that Brewmasters know how to do things right.

For booking or more information, call 250-439-5553

Dine on top of the world at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant









Eagle's Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Picture yourself taking in the 360-degree mountain views during the 2018 Brewmaster’s Dinner. Photo: Liam Glass












For when Two is Better than One

Mountain Wellness Day Spa in Jasper makes it impossible for you to pull a Cogsworth with their Spa Packages for Two. Choose packages that range from a couple’s massage to body exfoliations and wraps (mimosas included!) to impress your best Valentine (or Galentine).

If you really want to step things up, book a Deluxe Package for Two offered exclusively at the Chateau Jasper location. Choose a Romance, Escape, or Wellness package and soak in their tub-for-two (…bathing suits optional!). Spa Packages for Two are offered all year, so we won’t blame you if you start celebrating Valentine’s Day on a weekly basis

For information or booking, call 780-852-3252


There is nowhere else you need to be once you’re on the massage table at Mountain Wellness Day Spa in Jasper











In the Market for Love

If you are in Canmore on February 14th, book a table at the Market Bistro in Three Sisters and enjoy an evening of delicious food and live music. The three-course menu features scallops, a baked goat cheese salad, beef brisket, salmon wellington, and a lava cake.

In 2017, the chef at Market Bistro was awarded “Best Chef of the Festival” at Canmore Uncorked and we can see why. The flavours on the Valentine’s Day menu are sure to impress, and at $55 per person, Valentine’s Day can be affordable but taste expensive.

Dinner seating begins at 5 p.m. with live jazz starting around 6 p.m.

For more information and for booking, call 403-675-3006


My Fair Romance

All year, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers a Romance Package and we think there’s no better time to take advantage of it.

Stay for two nights in a Fairmont Room and receive wine and chocolate truffles upon your arrival, a $300 credit at the Fairmont Spa, a dinner for two, and daily breakfast at the ORSO Trattoria.

Starting at $599 per night, the Jasper Park Lodge will make you feel like royalty.

For more information, click here, or call 1-866-540-4454 to book your package.

The Romance Package at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge includes a $300 credit at the Fairmont Spa



Where’s Where to Après Ski

By Where Writers

So you want to après ski, eh?

From ski hills to yoga studios, and breakfast joints to late night pubs, we’ve created the definitive list for après ski activities in the Canadian Rockies. Without bias, we can certainly declare that our list if the best list. Read on!


Pre-après your Day

Sometimes the most important part of your ski day happens before you squeeze your feet into boots.

Saltlik Steakhouse Caesar















Stretch out before you head out with lululemon Banff. They host free Sunday morning classes so that you can get ready for a whole day of skiing … or recover from one.

Fuel the whole family at Craigs’ in Canmore. This classic diner serves hearty breakfasts that are sure to give you energy for the entire day.

Late night? Rally in Canmore with a fresh-pressed juice from Toniq or a Hangover Wrap from Harvest (718, 10 St., Canmore). If you are in Banff and feeling a little worse-for-wear, grab a day-saving Caesar at Saltlik. Rumor has it that any of these cures will have you back on the slopes in no time.


Wear your Ski Boots

In a mountain town you can wear your gear with pride, so long as you know where to go…

Get your après on at these on-hill locales (goggles optional):

  1. The Caribou Lounge at Marmot Basin offers food and drink specials every weekend from 2 till 5 (and that includes Friday).
  2. Mad Trappers resides in the original Sunshine Village ski lodge, so you can après the same way the very first skiers did. Sunshine’s other favourite end of day spot, The Chimney Corner, offers fireside lounging for cold days and an outdoor terrace for sunny ones.
  3. It’s said that the Kokanee Kabin at the Lake Louise Ski Resort has the “best draught deck in the Rockies,” but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
  4. Stop for a late lunch or an early après on the deck at Nakiska’s Mid-Mountain Lodge, or pop up to the Finish Line Lounge for a post-ski poutine.
  5. Pause for a pint at Norquay’s Lone Pine Pub before heading back down into Banff.
  6. If you’ve crossed over into BC for the weekend, treat yourself to a traditional Raclette Après at Panorama’s Elkhorn Cabin, or take in live music and après specials from the Whitetooth Grill at Kicking Horse.

If you can make it up the stairs in your ski boots, we’ll lay a bet that you can dance in them too. You might head to Wild Bill’s in Banff for the drinks, but you’ll wind up staying for dinner and likely late into the night when the live music starts and the real fun begins!


Grab Some Grub

Some of us are in it for the adventure, some of us are in it for the party, some of us are in it for the scenery, but ALL of us are in it for the FOOD!

Mountain Mercato Après Ski Special











Bite into the burger of your dreams at Eddie Burger (137 Banff Ave., Banff). The Grass Fed Rancher has us drooling, but maybe you’ll go for the Aussie Burger (topped with grilled pineapple, beets and a fried egg!). No matter what toppings you choose, we’re sure you’ll be satisfied.

If your post-hill cravings are for finer fare, the Juniper Bistro in Banff offers an après ski lounge menu starting at 3 pm, and Murrieta’s in Canmore offers half price appies and $5 beer and wine, Monday to Friday 3 to 6 pm.

Mountain Mercato (817 8st., Canmore) is a local favourite, and with their beer and panini combo for $15, we can understand why. Head there between 4 and 6 pm to get yours.

Baker Creek Bistro in Lake Louise offers their winter appetizer menu from 2 to 5 pm. These seasonal selections pair beautifully with fireplaces and afternoon cocktails.


Get Your Game On

If the slopes were great, but you spent all day worrying about the score, don’t worry; you can catch up on all your favourite teams (and Olympic athletes) no matter where you are in the Rockies.

Montana’s Game Night













If you’re in Jasper, O’Shea’s has game night specials and Montana’s has great game day door prizes.

In Banff you can cheer on your team at Melissa’s and you won’t miss one word of the commentary because each table has its own speaker. Join passionate locals at Tommy’s, a favourite hangout of everyone in Banff.

Pull up a chair anywhere at the Iron Goat in Canmore. The two-story restaurant has TVs on both floors so you won’t miss the game no matter where you are seated.


Après Hour is the Happiest Hour

We’re pretty sure that après ski is French for Happy Hour, no matter what you say.

Crazyweed Crab Fundido













Crazyweed In House Smoked Camembert


Jasper Brewing Co. has great vibes and luckily, the end of your ski-day coincides nicely with their Happy Hour. From 3 to 6 pm, enjoy $4 pints of local brews and $1 off mixed drinks from the bar.

Canmore’s Crazyweed calls 3 to 5 pm “Crazy Hour”, probably because they offer a crazy awesome sharing menu including Taber Corn & Crab Fundido and In House Smoked Camembert.

From 5 to 7 pm you will find daily drink and food specials at the De’d Dog Bar & Grill in Jasper. This means $6 pints of seasonal ale and Sriracha cod Sandwiches on Saturdays, and steak night Sundays with $5.25 pints of Keith’s.


Soothe It Out

If dinner sounds nice, but your sore legs have you feeling wobblier than Bambi on ice, maybe try out a few of these active recovery methods first.

Wildheart Studio















Wildheart Studio


Do your stretches at Canmore’s Wildheart in their Snow Flow yoga class on Monday and Saturday evenings. This class is designed to help you relax into a deep stretch after a day on the slopes as well as build strength for your next lengthy ski day. Jasper Wellness offers a similar class, Après Activity, on Saturday afternoons at 4 pm. This class will help you finish off your day by re-lengthening.

The Willow Stream Spa at the Banff Springs offers a variety of massages including a deep tissue massage to help your muscles recover from strenuous exercise or you can soak it out in one of the three waterfall treatment whirlpools.

What to do during Ice Magic & Snow Days

By: Calli Naish


The days are getting longer, the snow is getting deeper, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate winter in Banff and Lake Louise because Snow Days and Ice Magic start this week!


January 18, 19 and 20

Watch artists turn massive blocks of ice into glittering sculptures at the Lake Louise Ice Carving festival. The event takes place at the Chateau Lake Louise and although tickets are required between 10 am and 5:30 pm on weekends, the sculptures can be viewed for free outside of these times and during the week.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism











January 19

The pressure is on at the One Hour, One Carver, One Block speed-carving event! Watch 10 carvers compete as fast as they can outside the Kokanee Kabin at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and then vote for your favourite sculpture. The carving will take place between 2:30 and 3:30 pm, but you can always check out the impressive results after the competition is over.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism











January 19

Test your ingenuity and your nerve by entering the Cardboard Sled Derby and racing your own handmade sled down Mt. Norquay. Be sure to design a trendy toboggan because prizes are being awarded for best overall, as well as fastest sled and best crash. The event begins at 7 pm and entry is $10 at the door.


January 19 & 20

Lace up your skates and join DJ Hunnicutt and DJ Co-Op at the All-Canadian Skate Parties. The parties are family friendly and are hosted at the Banff High School field from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, and from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday.


January 20

Watch local and international snow artists put the finishing touches on the infamous Snow Days snow sculptures from 6 to 9 pm. You can find these masterpieces at the Bear Street festival area where there will be bonfires and dancing into the night.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism










Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism




















January 20 & 21

Celebrate the snow with FIS World Snow Days! To encourage families to get out and explore the snow, kids will ski for free all weekend at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Plus there are family discounts on tubing and on lessons, making it the perfect time for skiers and non-skiers to enjoy the slopes together!


January 20, 21, 27 and 28

Learn how to snowshoe at the Snowshoe Sampler! Meet on the Lake Louise shoreline between 10 am and 3 pm for some games and activities led by a Parks Canada interpretive guide. Snowshoes are provided so it’s the perfect time to try out a new winter sport.


January 26

Experience an evening of winter celebration at the Lake Louise Torchlight Dinner. The evening begins at 3:30 pm with après drinks and appies at the Whitehorn Bistro, where you’ll be entertained with an ice carving demo before doing some carving of your own as you ski by torchlight down the freshly groomed runs. The evening finishes off with a buffet dinner at the Sitzmark Lounge and live music by One Night Band. If an evening of dinner and dancing sounds great, but you could do without the skiing, no worries; you can purchase tickets specifically for the post-ski activities. This event is popular so be sure to book your spots ahead of time!


January 27 & 28

Excite your creative side at the Ice that Inspires carving demo, where one of the carving competitors will demonstrate the precision and artistry of ice carving. Tickets are required and the demonstrations take place between 10 am and 5 pm at the Chateau Lake Louise.


All Festival Long

Step 1: Consult this map (for snow) or head to Lake Louise (for ice)


Step 2: Find the 10 snow sculptures in downtown Banff (plus 2 at Mt. Norquay), or the ice sculptures outside the Chateau Lake Louise


Step 3: Take a moment to take in the magic of winter in the Canadian Rockies


Step 4: Tag @whererockies in your favourite winter masterpiece photos and we’ll feature them in our Instagram Story



On January 20, 21, 27 and 28, free shuttles will run from the Lake Louise Samson Mall, to the Upper Lake Louise Parking Lot. The first shuttle leaves from the Samson Mall at 10:30 am and the last shuttle leaves from the Upper Parking Lot at 6 pm. No pets will be allowed on the shuttle.


Fire + Ice

By Calli Naish

Each year as the larch trees yellow and summer fades to fall, we wait in patient anticipation for the temperature to dip below zero so that we can warm up by an open hearth. In honour of this tradition, here are some suggestions for this winter’s hottest ice activities and coolest fireplaces.

Embrace The Ice

Climb it. When asked, “what is ice climbing?” Kris Irwin, owner and lead guide of Rockies Ice and Alpine Specialists, gives a slight chuckle before providing the obvious answer: “The act of climbing frozen water with ice axes and crampons.” But this is just the beginning of his insights on the “low impact, high intensity” sport many people are eager to try. The fact that outfitters offer ice climbing instruction (complete with equipment) for beginners and experts alike is one of many reasons Irwin sees so much interest in the sport. People often come to the Rockies for the intensity associated with skiing, but not everyone is able to ski. The nature of ice climbing offers the heights and exhilaration visitors are searching for, without the same stress on the joints. With the age of climbers ranging from eight to eighty, it is a sport that most anyone can try. And unlike skiing, where your lift pass determines your location, climbing will have you following a guide to the best spot for the day. When temperatures are severe, south-facing falls at lower elevations make for a warmer experience; north-facing climbs at higher elevations are perfect for days when we find ourselves welcoming a warm Chinook wind. Other great outfitters offering ice-climbing instruction by experienced guides include Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and Rockaboo Mountain Adventures.

Photo courtesy of Kris Irwin Collection

Layer you can’t live without:

For ice climbing, Irwin suggests a seriously insulated coat with a hood as a must have.

Walk it. If heights seem daunting, appreciate the icy topography of the mountains (and the brave climbers who tackle them) with both feet planted firmly on flat ground. While many people come to the mountains for adventure, we can’t really blame others who visit simply for the landscape. The Canadian Rockies offer unparalleled visuals with snow-covered trees, winter wildlife, endless views, and of course, impressive ice formations. From that first glimpse of ice on Cascade Mountain to the awe you feel looking over Athabasca Falls, the towering masses of ice are fascinating whether you find them around Banff  or Jasper. Get up close and personal during an ice walk. Admire natural ice sculptures from the steel catwalks of Johnston Canyon, search the icy rock walls of Grotto Canyon for native pictographs, and discover the secret behind Medicine Lake’s disappearing act at Maligne Canyon. Though you can explore these canyons on your own, a guided tour will provide you with ice cleats (an ice walk essential) and a guide to offer insights on the area. Discover Banff Tours, White Mountain Adventures, Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, and Maligne Adventures provide guided tours.

Photo courtesy of maligneadventures.com

Layers you can’t live without:

For ice walks, dress for a day of skiing complete with snow pants. The guides at Maligne Adventures insist you don’t forget your gloves because the “look, but don’t touch” rule doesn’t apply to ice.

Fish it. If your understanding of ice fishing involves a solitary man shivering over a hole in the ice, then you might be stuck in the past. The sport has evolved to be a social event that is fun for all ages. With heated huts, it might be icy, but it’s not freezing. Head out with Banff Fishing Unlimited onto the beautiful frozen Spray Lakes surrounded by towering mountains. Take a moment to appreciate the serenity before crawling into your fishing hut with a couple of friends. Spend the morning immersed in conversation, and by the afternoon, you’ll be feasting on your fresh catch. Those looking to head into the parks and surrounding areas with their own gear can visit local information centres in Banff or Jasper  to find details on fishing permits and where to get their hooks under the ice.

Layer you can’t live without:

For ice fishing, no one should head out without a toque; however, this item is so essential to Canadian winter warmth that it should probably never leave your head.

Skate on it. Against the backdrop of the towering Victoria Glacier, join together in cold camaraderie on Lake Louise where hockey enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can lace up their skates and get their sticks on the ice. If you want to join in without a puck, don’t worry: there is plenty of room on what has been considered the “World’s Best Skating Rink.” While it’s certainly the most impressive rink in the mountains, it’s not the only one. In fact, you could probably plan a whole trip skating the natural rinks of the Rockies making your way from The Pond in Canmore, all the way up to Lac Beauvert and Pyramid Lake in Jasper.

Photo by Jake Dyson

Layer you can’t live without:

For ice skating, skates are kind of a must. If you don’t have your own you can rent a pair in Banff or Jasper. Be sure to rent a helmet for the smaller skater-tots out there.

Find Your Fireside

Indulge in a meal that will warm you from the inside out. Boasting menu items like Alberta game meatloaf and a full roast chicken dinner, the floor-to-ceiling stonework of the hearth may not be the most impressive thing at The Iron Goat in Canmore.

Photo courtesy of The Iron Goat

Charcuter-eat at Canmore’s Table Food + Drink, where you can melt into the sofas on the lounge side of their double-sided fireplace. Order big knowing that the extra calories are helping you add a layer of warmth for your next day out on the ice.

One-up the candlelit dinner and curl up close to someone you love for a romantic fireside evening. After dinner at their heritage dining room, find quiet intimacy by spending the night in a cabin at Emerald Lake Lodge west of Lake Louise. The tranquility and seclusion of the area offer a winter getaway and the welcome hug of a comfortable armchair.

Photo of Emerald Lake Lodge by Kendal & Kevin Photography

Heat up on skates at Baker Creek Mountain Resort between Banff and Lake Louise. If there was an award for the most fire, they’d win. With two fireplaces inside their bistro and three fire pits outside, you’ll be begging to go out in the icy cold. Thankfully, they’ve obliged with a free skating rink (and rentals on-site) to enjoy before you head in for dinner.

Relax by the fire in style after an icy day in Jasper. Take in the views from the Skyline Lounge at the Lobstick Lodge or head to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and settle in with a local brew in the lakeside Emerald Lounge.

Start your day when the sun goes down and have your fire on the rocks where the only thing hotter than the fireplace is the cocktail menu. Though Park Distillery is located on busy Banff Ave, once you walk upstairs you’ll find yourself transported to a back-country cabin. The drink menu is nearly endless and it features concoctions shaken with Park’s own spirits, making it an ideal place for a fiery sip. 

Wherever you choose to take off your toque, you’ll find that cozying up to an open fire is the best way to recount the icy adventures of the day.

Best for Brunch


Start your day off right at Fergie's Cafe. (Photo: Darby Magill)

Start your day off right at Fergie’s Cafe. (Photo: Darby Magill)

In Whistler, brunch is mountain-activity fuel and a reason to drink mimosas before noon, all rolled into one. Start the day at Wild Wood Pacific Bistro, where nine varieties of eggs Benny (try the sampler plate) and legendary banana bread French toast are on offer. Cheeky Southside Diner serves favourites like the big-ass pancake—go ahead, add chocolate chips—and breakfast poutine. For brunch en français, head to Crêpe Montagne for a delectable array of sweet and savoury crepes. A gem along the Sea-to-Sky for homemade fare, Fergie’s Cafe (pictured) regularly packs its teeny interior with brunch-goers who spill out onto the lawn. Brunch bliss, found.

Insider’s Scoop: Gold Rush! at Canadian Museum of History

By Chris Lackner

The Gold Rush! has come to Ottawa.

Haida box by Bill Reid, 1971. Courtesy Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Haida box by Bill Reid, 1971. Courtesy Royal BC Museum and Archives.

While you can’t get rich, you can check out the shiny new exhibit, Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia, at the Canadian Museum of History, April 8 to January 2017.

For an Insider’s Scoop, we talked to John Willis, curator of economic history at the museum:

Q: What will surprise visitors about this exhibit?

A: The fact that such a gold rush, of massive proportions, occurred in Canada, on its West Coast, 50 years before the Klondike.

The fact that some were willing to travel so far in order to get the gold: some trekked overland the entire distance from (central) Canada; others came thousands of miles from Europe, China, and elsewhere in Eastern Canada (the Maritimes for example).

The distances that have to be travelled within B.C. on terrain that is both rugged and spectacular (this comes out in the videos) this will surprise and impress visitors.

The fact that one could make a living not by prospecting for gold but by selling to and living off those mining the gold.


This photo depicts the main street of Barkerville just before the 1868 fire that destroyed the town. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Q. Why is this exhibit important? 

A: First, it establishes the importance of the 1858 and 1862 gold rushes in the making of modern B.C. history. The era transformed indigenous societies and overturned the traditional fur economy of the Hudson Bay Company. In its wake came a new type of society devoted to exploiting land, natural resources, farmland; fostering trade and building cities. Through this exhibition the society of B.C. is trying to come to terms with its history. This includes the admission tragic errors made in the past vis-à-vis indigenous nations.

Second, the exhibit shows the importance of the larger Pacific sphere to the making of B.C. history especially in the gold rush era. What happened in California, Australia and Hong Kong had considerable bearing on how B.C. got roped into this gold rush economy.

Third, the exhibit touches on the quirks of human behaviour in a gold-rush setting. Men and women (but mainly men) travel by the tens of thousands to one destination or another intending to make it rich quick by mining the gold.  They are carried away by an enthusiasm for the riches promised by gold.  Men suffer from gold fever that sets them on a path to the gold fields, however distant. That path was referred in the newspaper of the day as a “highway to insanity.” As a collective mania, the psychology of gold fever does resemble the kind of up and down and sometimes foolish human behaviour associated with the stock market.

Wheel and flumes at the Davies claim on William’s Creek, 1867. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Wheel and flumes at the Davies claim on William’s Creek, 1867.
Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Q: What are your favourite aspects of, or artifacts from, the exhibition?

A. I enjoy seeing the life size version of the B.C. Express company stagecoach that dates from the era and was used on the Cariboo Road. The vehicle is in excellent shape, it was lovingly restored in the late 1980s.  And it can’t help but conjure up images of the old west.  coachThe freight saddle or aparejo positioned in a display window opposite the stage coach belonged to a local hero, French-born Jean Caux, nicknamed Cataline.  It is interesting for it reminds us of the challenges of getting freight into and out of the rugged and mountainous B. C. interior.

There is an explicit recognition of things Chinese: a picture of Hong Kong harbour full of ships circa 1860, and later in the exhibition a display of exquisite Chinese artifacts (fan, game pieces, pipe, mud-treated silk garments, shoes etc.).

Turnagain Nugget is the largest existing gold nugget ever found in British Columbia: it weighs 1,642 grams (52 troy onces) and is approximately 4.2 cm high, 18.1 cm wide and 9.2 cm deep. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archive.

Turnagain Nugget is the largest existing gold nugget ever found in British Columbia: it weighs 1,642 grams (52 troy onces) and is approximately 4.2 cm high, 18.1 cm wide and 9.2 cm deep. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archive.

A huge and engaging painting,  Slim Jim or the Parson Takes the Pot,  shows a group of men playing a gambling game of cards. A probable con-man disguised as a priest has surprised his fellow players by winning the hand. The picture reminds us that all forms of gambling were popular in gold-rush communities, where there were men (only) and money a plenty.

The painting is so big that the box in which it came barely fits, height-wise, in the corridor of our museum

Finally the Pemberton dress, a beautiful silk-dress, with its budding hoop skirt and delicate engagements (frills that go up the sleeves), which dates from the B.C. gold-rush era, reminds us that women were present in this society — as entrepreneurs, supporters of culture, as instigators of all kinds of business and community activities. The theme is well carried in the book by New Perspectives on the Gold Rush; as well as in the exhibition catalogue: Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia.

Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Kid Foods Reimagined

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery

With gourmet renditions of homey dishes on trend, chefs are getting in touch with their inner child. These childhood favourites are all grown up.


Nine of Toronto’s Best Views (and Photo Opportunities)


The view of downtown Toronto from Humber Bay Park West (photo: Craig Moy)

At street level, it’s easy to get a sense of Toronto’s busyness—its many packed restaurants, its workers hustling to and from their offices, its ever-present car traffic. What’s not always evident, though, is the megacity’s sheer scope. These prime vantage points and rooftop roosts show just how far the Big Smoke stretches.


Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Ways to Keep Warm

TNF Womens Shavana Parka Courtesy TNF

Photo courtesy of Wilderness Supply Co. (The North Face shavana parka)

Embrace the cold and look good doing it. These products will keep you toasty all winter long.

In the Exchange District, Bill Worb Furs Inc. boasts a collection of furs, leather and shearling. Fur hats range from aviator to New York style adding glamour and warmth. 312 Ross Ave, 204‑942‑6600

Proper winter footwear is a must for navigating the city’s shops and festivities. Canadian Footwear offers winterized-models of boots for the whole family, with brands like Rieker. 128 Adelaide St, 204-944‑7463, 1530 Regent Ave, 204-944-7466, 1504 St. Mary’s Road, 204-7474

Head to Wilderness Supply Co. for stylish, insulated winter jackets like The North Face shavana parka (pictured) that keep wind and snow at bay. Water‑resistant fabric cuts the cold and blocks winter winds. 623 Ferry Rd, 204-783-9555

Treat your tootsies to handmade moccasins and mukluks at Teeka’s Aboriginal Boutique in The Johnston Terminal at The Forks Market. Beautifully detailed designs made with leather, fur and beads adorn authentic Aboriginal footwear. The Forks Market, 1 Forks Market Rd, 204-946-0539 

A winter ensemble isn’t complete without a pair of soft sheepskin mittens from The Wonderful World of Sheepskin. These mitts combine fashion and function and keep hands warm. 250 Dufferin Ave, 204‑586‑8097