If you’re looking for a minibreak in the area then I would highly recommend visiting Kootney park lodges.http://www.kootenayparklodge.com/
The 6 of us (Henry, Me, Rocket and the sausage crew) booked to stay in a cabin for one night for mine and Henry’s 5th wedding anniversary. The lodges are located at vermillion crossing on highway 93. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes from Canmore on the way to Invermere.
We drove past the cabins on a day trip to Invermere earlier in the summer and thought it looked like a nice place to stay so decided to treat ourselves.
The cabins have been there since the 1920s and you certainly get that feeling when you stay there. A dozen or so small wood cabins are nestled together, far enough apart to feel private but close enough together for you to meet your neighbor’s easily. There is a sweet little play ground in the middle with a communal fire pit and a small convenience store.
There is so much history to the area. The Kootenay Indians used the pass for trading of their sort after vermillion colour dye. The path for the road was made in the late 1800’s for Canadian Pacific Railway to cross through, and then in 1912 they made it an all-weather road for other vehicles to pass through. The lodges were featured on part of the Banff-Windermere travel road for holiday makers in the early 1920s and has been a highlight of the road ever since. Still keeping its charm and with only a few minor upgrades, you can feel the history of the area as soon as you arrive.
We arrived early afternoon and it was a really hot day. Mid-august and about 25 degrees but Vermillion crossing is quite high up so felt a little cooler there then down at Canmore. We were given the key to our cabin and able to let ourselves in to explore. Certainly built to last these cabins really take you back in time. A tiny little microwave has been crudely wired in along with a single lamp and an electric heater. Our cabin had a small living area and one double bedroom with a weeny little bathroom that you could access from two doors. The front of the cabin has a sturdy porch with a fence, perfect for putting your feet up and taking in the afternoon sun.
As anyone will know with a toddler and dogs, sitting still and enjoying the afternoon sun is not an option! So, we packed up a wagon full of goodies (mainly beer) and headed to the Kootenay river.
The one big shame of this spot is the highway! Although a fairly quiet road, the lodges are very close to it, and if you want to go to the river bed as we did you do have to cross the road. It’s a wide highway and you can see along way up the road but still….. not ideal with three sausage pensioners and a distracted toddler.
When you do get down to the water it is beautiful. A sandy beach with pebbles closer to the shore. I have the impression the sand was put there to make it more of a relaxing spot to sit for those Edwardians enjoying their holiday, but I’m glad they did as it meant for more fun play time with Rocket with out having to carry him over every stone. He had just started walking so a little wobbly on his feet still.
Again, the only shame of this spot is you are next to the highway, which is quiet most of the time, but it does take away from the sense of wilderness when an arctic lorry or motor bike crew come hurtling past blasting Guns n’Roses.
However, we sat down at that beach until the sun went down and it was wonderful. One of my best memories of the summer. Henry and I both snowboard and took our summer balance board down to the sand to get in some practice after a bit of dutch courage. Rocket dug holes in the sand with Nacho, Arnold baked himself in the sun as usual and chopper slept in the shade all day. Perfect family afternoon.
As the sun went down the lodges got a little livelier, lots of families and groups there who went out to the communal fire pit and got together. We didn’t participate, we the c word looming in the back ground and a baby who was well ready for bed, Henry and I spent the evening on the porch, drinking more beer and taking in the nature that was all around us. It is very remote up there and they do give bear warnings on arrival. All we saw were a lot of hungry chipmunks which was fine by me.
The next morning after a very comfy and warm night sleep, we went exploring. We are all early risers in our family. 6am is usually the time we get up, so after a nice coffee and biscuits in bed we loaded up the back pack and went exploring behind the cabins (away from the highway) and thank goodness we did. Easily one of the most beautiful places I have seen in the Rockies. There is a path that the owners have made out through the woods, around the creek and following the river and it is stunning. The crystal blue river water gently flowing down below us, the sun shining through the trees. The complete silence. It was stunning. We wandered through the woods for a good hour with rocket in the back pack carrier. Lifting Nacho up over the bigger rocks, and skimming stones when the water’s edge got closer.
Check out time is fairly early, and we usually plan any travel around Rockets naps because he hates being in the car so we left around 10am.
It’s not the cheapest of mini breaks, costing around $350 for the one night. But for us it felt like a real treat, a real escape from life. There is no phone signal, no internet, just you and your family and nature (and the bloody highway) I would say that one night is enough unless you are exploring all the hikes and trails in the area. Perhaps a nice place to stop for the night if you are traveling around the country.
To book visit their website http://www.kootenayparklodge.com/ Super easy to see availability and pick the cabin you want.
Happy holidays x