Experience a Lodge, Experience the Mountains
Where you lay your head at night can have a big impact on the fondness with which you recall your holiday memories. Instead of spending your entire trip at hotels or campgrounds, why not consider a mountain lodge?
The Canadian Rockies are an impressive landscape — gazing at them will keep most of us entertained for hours, but no one wants to find out their tent is not waterproof or their hotel room is hours away from the best trailheads. How can you get close to the mountains without sacrificing the comforts you associate with a holiday? By staying in a mountain lodge! You can immerse yourself in the Rockies without getting out the camping equipment, and you’ll learn about the land and the culture and have fun doing it.
A lodge is usually smaller than a typical hotel and is designed to fit into, not dominate, the environment. Most lodge décor follows a rustic mountain theme and provide comfort, ambiance, and sometimes a history lesson. Expect to hike or take a helicopter ride to reach a back-country lodge, while front-country lodges can easily be reached by road.
Your days at a lodge will be as busy or as quiet as you like. Many lodges offer themed packages for activities like hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter, and they pride themselves on the quality of their guides. A good guide can unlock the secrets of a region and add immeasurably to your holiday memories. On a recent trip to Scotland, I had the opportunity to hike the extremely scenic, but steep and damp Coffin Trail near Glencoe. My appreciation for this rugged region rose immeasurably when our guide pointed out that before roads were built, residents had carried the coffins of their loved ones over this pass to receive a Christian burial. I found my small pack a burden at times, so hearing of the effort made by these dedicated mourners gave me pause on how hardy these people had been and an insight into their lives and values. I was fortunate to have the benefit of great interpretation, and I feel many people visiting the Canadian Rockies get less of an experience by not having a great guide. A lodge stay will give you the best of our mountain folklore and interpretation of the natural and cultural features.
And for those people simply wanting to unwind, a lodge can be a good choice too. Few people would want to miss the wonderful stroll around the green waters at Emerald Lake Lodge, and most enjoy watching the moose frequenting the meadow near Mt. Engadine Lodge.
Lodge cuisine will keep the active and not-so-active traveller happy and provide further insight into local customs and dishes. Mountain cuisine has moved past the days of beans on the trail. Now you’ll be able to try everything from buffalo to Saskatoon berry pie. One has only to sample the mountain game chili at the historic Storm Mountain Lodge while enjoying the sweeping views of the Lodge’s namesake to see how a lodge stay brings together the best of mountain culture and nature. Make a lodge stay part of your holiday.
Carol Patterson is a well-known nature tourism consultant and writer, and has visited lodges around the world. Her recent book, Saving Paradise: The Story of Sukau Rainforest Lodge, co-written with lodge founder, Albert Teo shares lessons on nature tourism development and the wonders of Borneo. To contact Carol visit www.kalahari-online.com.
By Carol Patterson
(Image: Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge and Bow Lake in Banff National Park; courtesy of Travel Alberta)