With its roaring open fires, quaint snow-filled villages and emerald lakes, the Rockies are the backdrop of the quintessential white Christmas. This week, our Travel Stories Contributor Agatha Zarzycki recommends her ultimate list of enchanting Boutiq Places for her parka paradise homeland. Rug up...
"The hike, made up of a series of trails and steel catwalks, will lead you along Johnston Creek. You'll then be taken through snow-covered forest and to picturesque frozen waterfalls. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the 50 foot Lower Falls and about one hour to reach the 100 foot Upper Falls, which you can view from the bottom and top. Smaller cascades break up the walk in between and sometimes you can see climbers scaling the ice sculptures, towering above blue and green water encircled in a sheet of ice. Located in Banff National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 3.4-mile route is beginner friendly."
Tip: "Don’t forget your ice cleats, available at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Calgary and most outdoor stores in Banff."
2. Kimberley Alpine Resort
"Known as the sunniest ski resort in British Columbia, Kimberley Alpine Resort gets an average of 13 feet of snowfall in a season and has 1800 skiable acres. It also boasts the longest lit run in North America for night skiing. The resort also offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, dog-sledding, and winter fat biking, an extreme sport where participants cycle on cross-country skiing or snowshoeing terrain using a fat tire bike."
SLEEP: Sullivan Stone Lodge
"You can exit the door of your rustic style condo and ski or snowboard down to the quaint small town at the base of the mountain, where you’ll find the main lift. The lodges, perfect for groups, have a cozy, countryside feel, with stone fireplaces, private hot tubs, and views of the Canadian Rockies."
"The wolf and domestic dog hybrids at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary become most energetic during winter, roaming and playing inside their snow blanketed enclosures, one to two acres in size. This non-profit rescue organization rehabilitates and finds homes for misplaced wolfdogs. You can stroll through the sanctuary at your own pace and observe the wolfdogs from outside the enclosures, or even participate in an interactive tour where you'll visit each enclosure. The wolfdogs are divided into three enclosures based on wolf percentage (high content equals 85% wolf and above). As you visit the high content wolfdogs, you will sit still and wait for the massive animals to appear from the forest, slowly inch forward, and eat food from your hands."
EAT: Thanh Thy
"Just about a ten-minute drive from the sanctuary, warm up at this family-owned restaurant in downtown Cochrane. It serves up delicious Vietnamese cuisine, including salt and pepper squid, various Tom Yum soups, and stir-fried spicy lemongrass chili chicken."
4. Snow Tubing at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park
"Built to host the 1988 Winter Olympics, Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park has added a new addition to its slopes, terrain park, half pipe, ski jumping facilities, and bobsleigh, luge and skeleton programs: the largest tube park in Western Canada! The Acura Tube Park opened only last year and boasts 10 groomed lanes, 200 meters in length. A magic carpet takes riders to the top of the hill, where adults can experience the thrill of snow tubing on the west side, choosing from eight lanes of various speeds, while children can slide down the two slower lanes on the east side. It's perfect for both single tubers or groups."
DRINK: Vin Room West
"Unwind after an evening of snow tubing at Canada’s largest wine bar. It's about a 15-minute drive from Winsport’s COP and the elaborate drink menu offers 109 wines by the glass from around the world."
"Lake Louise’s sparkling emerald water freezes over from mid-December to mid-April, attracting ice skaters and hockey enthusiasts like myself from near and far. The hockey rink is next to the skating area, where a really impressive ice castle is made from large blocks of ice stands in the center. During the day, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and Victoria Glacier create a beautiful backdrop, while during the night, floodlights illuminate the rink until 11 pm for those wanting to skate under a star-speckled sky. Don’t worry – the fire pit will keep you toasty!"
SLEEP: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
"Lake Louise is located in the backyard of this historic hotel built in 1890 that spans 36, 000 square feet. The elegant mountain resort has 552 rooms, a spa, nine dining options, skate rentals, and more."
Like Agatha, you can also remember your best food and travel places on Boutiq, the app turning unforgettable discoveries into everlasting recommendations between you and your friends. Use it as your memory bank, and the best way to find hidden gems.