Let it snow! Over the Christmas holidays, I set aside…
Some people go just for the scenery and the strudel.
A fine combination, to be sure. But if you’re looking for that tranquil feeling of being a million miles away in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, then you might want to stay awhile at the Mount Engadine Lodge in Alberta, Canada.
The Lodge is the only accommodation in the Spray Valley Provincial Park, but you don’t have to drive a million miles to get there. It’s in the Kananaskis region, just a two-hour drive from Calgary, or about an hour from Canmore, not including the time it takes to stop and gape at the mountain vistas.
And gape you must. The beauty of this area nearly knocks me over every time I visit.
Mount Engadine Lodge is nestled in this pristine wilderness, overlooking a mountain meadow and soaring peaks. With a maximum capacity of 19 guests, a quiet retreat is virtually guaranteed.
I stayed in one of the cabins on a snowy winter weekend, and, although I was only there for one night, it felt like a true escape into the serenity of nature. The experience made me feel good, and there’s a reason for that. A growing body of evidence shows that spending time in nature good for your health and happiness.
The art of coziness
The Lodge adds to that inner glow by providing a cozy place to come in from the cold. It’s almost as though they’ve been studying the Danish practice of Hygge (coziness), which some say is the reason why the Danes are so happy.
At the Lodge’s entrance, you’ll find a basket of knitted slippers, just like my Grandma used to make, to keep your toes toasty. There are roaring fires lit in two big fireplaces, and woolen Hudson’s Bay throw blankets scattered about on the comfy couches.
Meals are served family-style at big pine tables in the dining room. Initially, I wasn’t sure if this approach was for me, but, as it turns out you’ll always have something in common with other travelers who clearly have some similar interests. The conversation flowed easily and the dinner was all the more enjoyable as a shared experience.
The next morning, one of the guests at our table turned up in his winter pajamas – – a testament to the homey atmosphere of the place.
The rustically furnished room was equally comfortable, with a large window and balcony looking out on the mountain view. At the price point for a stay in the Lodge, I thought it could have included more amenities, such as a hair dryer and a coffee or tea maker.
While there is Wi-Fi in the room, there is no TV or phone and that’s by good design to ensure the serenity of the experience. As I sunk into the high quality bed linens and the cloud of the double-down duvet, the only sound was the unfamiliar sound of silence.
About that strudel
I did not go hungry at the Mount Engadine Lodge. The meals are included as part of an all-inclusive experience.
After a brisk walk outside upon arrival, I settled in for afternoon tea by the fire. Here, the focus of afternoon tea is a charcuterie board with local meats and fine cheeses, all exceptionally tasty. But, I had to pace myself because it was “Strudel Sunday” and, with my sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist that plate of flaky pastry, cinnamon apple happiness.
The highlights of dinner were melt-in-your-mouth Alberta beef tenderloin and chocolate mousse for dessert. The hearty breakfast included a buffet selection of baked goodies, juice, fruit and yogurt and a hot entree. But wait, there’s more. I also picked up a custom-made packed lunch before heading out on the afternoon’s mountain adventures.
Dashing through the snow
In winter, the big activities here are cross-country skiing and snowshoeing while taking in the natural scenery. In summer, there are plenty of spectacular hiking trails.
There are two “must-dos” in the area which, for me, were unforgettable experiences: dashing through the snow on a dog sled, and flying over the Rockies in a helicopter. Quite simply, they were adventures of a lifetime.
This is known as an “Alberta car wash.” Moose like the taste of the salt on the cars, and I watched this big guy (from a distance) for awhile as he licked the back of this vehicle clean, and then sat down and licked the parking lot. He was a majestic fellow with a salt craving.
Of course, there are considerably more wildlife viewing opportunities in the summer months (when the bears are awake).
And, by the way, the view from the Lodge veranda in the summer isn’t half-bad either.
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