Sometimes even if you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, you need to get away and have a change of scenery!
In the search for a little freedom and a change of pace we decided to book a cabin get away with another family to get outside and get away from busy Canmore.
We came across “The Lodge at Panther River”. Kind of hard to explain where it is, but the middle of bloody no where is a pretty good explanation. Basically, drive north for 2 hours on the logging road off highway 40 and you with stumble across a little hamlet of campsites. Hugging the Panther River these lots reminded me of the old wild west. A pretty shady looking motel, a very rustic campground and then right at the end a lovely little retreat “The Lodge at Panther River”
You drive through the gate to an old western style stable and corral. This looked pretty deserted but with it being mid-February and covid times I guess there’s not much call for pony rides!
Once your in through the gates there are about 4/5 mini cabins all facing the river, in the middle of the cabins is a grand wooden gazebo with a firepit and a BBQ and then the lodge itself. It was freezing and very windy when we arrived and Rocket was fast asleep in the back of the truck. I ran out to the lodge to check us in and was greeted with a very friendly and warm welcome inside the lodge.
The lodge itself is great, a lovely fireplace and a big bar. They also offer the opportunity to rent snow shoes and play games which I didn’t realized before we arrived. They do offer cooked meals delivered to your cabin but you have to order 24 hours in advance, and we were fully prepared for a weekend of BBQing and facing the elements.
Between the two families we had two cabins right next to each other. I was so surprised at how warm they were inside considering outside was blowing a gale and it was mid-Feb in Alberta. Fully equipped with two big beds, a sofa, TV, Fridge and a bathroom bigger than our whole apartment, I knew it was going to be a comfortable stay. Excuse my messy photos, i wasn’t quick enough before the husband and BamBam got in there and trashed the place!
The cabins are also dog friendly and we were able to take the sausage crew with us. Although the wind didn’t really die off the whole time we where there and these days our boys much prefer the comfort of their own bed then frolicking in the snow.
We quickly unpacked and headed to the sheltered gazebo and the kids had a great time exploring the playground and stuffing their faces with snacks. We got the fire going and cooked up some smokies and all felt very Canadain. However the wind got the better of us by about 6pm and we all bundled in to one cabin and had a picnic on the floor. It was great. The kids loved playing together, we enjoyed some adult time and we knew everyone was safe and warm.
Rocket is now getting pretty big and we thought it was time to experiment and not take a travel cot with us. I got these great bamboo fabric bed bumpers that you put under the sheets and designed to stop little man rolling out of bed. They were actually great and Rocket slept like a log all weekend. They are fairly sturdy and at one point I got in with him (Because the dogs stole my space in the bed) and they even stopped me from rolling off while he starfished in the middle. – Highly recommend for those looking to move from a cot to a bed! These photos are from the first night when he was so tired he curled up like a little possum and passed out!
The next day the wind didn’t really die down which was a shame, so we decided to head for the trees. We loaded up our wagon and our toboggans and it was brilliant. Across the road and in to the wilderness we found a really sheltered spot in the trees with a hill so the kids could sledge and we could explore and look for wildlife. A friendly little bird was very interested in us an even helped itself to a few pretzels!
There really is not a lot at Panther River but it was nice to not feel pressured to do anything. There are lots of hiking trails and I think in the summer you would have a lot to do with the river kayaking and hiking.
It’s close enough to Canmore that you can go for the weekend and it doesn’t feel like too much of a hike! We drove up the logging road which can be very sketchy but we were lucky. It had been perfectly plowed and there wasn’t another sole for miles. If you do decide to go this way, make sure you fill up your tank, have a few snacks on stand by and just generally be prepared. There is no phone signal at all on that road, so just be careful. Henry was in his element, winding up the dirt track through the mountains and down in the valleys. It is really stunning and I bet in the summer you get some great wildlife.
All in all it was a nice trip. It was $160 a night which isn’t cheap but the facilities were great and it was a home from home. If you’re exploring with a little one in winter it’s nice to know you can get warm and dry within seconds, plus it was really secure for the dogs. There are normal camping spots available there as well so if you want the same location but a fraction of the cost then you can.