I’m all for wilderness, camping and nights spent in the fresh air, under a sea of stars. But, let’s be honest, I also love homecooked meals over a wood stove, a cozy bed and hard walls that keep out the wind and rain better than any tent could.
When you can combine the two, you get the most amazing experience, and thanks to some incredible lodging in the region, we have many options to choose from in the Canadian Rockies. When I’m lugging extra photo gear, not having to pack the tent and cooking supplies is an added bonus.
Here are some of my personal favourites, in no particular order:
1. Skoki Lodge
Possibly one of the most magical of backcountry lodge experiences, Skoki Lodge has a charm unto itself and is chock full of history. Accessible in both winter and summer, it gives backcountry skiers the hikers a great base for exploring the famous Skoki region.
2. Scott Duncan Hut
One of the lesser-visited huts in the chain of alpine huts run by the Alpine Club of Canada, Scott Duncan Hut can be linked to other huts on the Wapta/Waputik icefields, or accessed on its own via Sherbrooke Lake.
3. Shadow Lake Lodge
A family-owned operation, Shadow Lake Lodge has a series of cabins and communal hanging out/dining cabins for guests to enjoy. Nestled in a beautiful meadow, it’s the perfect base for day hikes in the region. Check out Crowfoot Media’s Mountain Lodge Spotlight about Shadow Lake.
4. Lake O’Hara Lodge
I hear Lake O’Hara Lodge is booked out far in advance, and for good reason. For one, you can actually take a bus to it (whereas most of the other options here require some hiking or skiing). Situated near the shore of beautiful Lake O’Hara, the lodge has a longstanding tradition of backcountry hospitality and is the gateway to some of the best hiking in all of the Canadian Rockies.
5. Elizabeth Parker Hut
Named after one of the founders of the Alpine Club of Canada, Elizabeth Parker Hut is also accessible via the Lake O’Hara bus. It is one of the club’s most accessible huts and features a wonderful sleeping/communal area (with a wonderful wood stove), kitchen, and access so remarkable hiking and skiing terrain.
6. Peyto Hut
This alternate perspective on Peter and Catharine Whyte (Peyto) Hut shows just how much snow and ice surrounds it. Located on the Wapta Icefield, adventurers can link it together with the other Wapta Huts or use it as a base to climb nearby peaks.
7. Mt. Assiniboine Lodge
Built in 1928, Assiniboine Lodge was the first backcountry ski lodge in North America. It can be accessed via ski, hike or helicopter, and gives backcountry enthusiasts access to one of the region’s most famous views: Mt. Assiniboine, considered the “Matterhorn” of the Canadian Rockies.
8. Bow Hut
See that beige speck on the rocky outcropping beneath the glacier? That is the incredible Bow Hut, another Alpine Club of Canada hut. This is one of the gateways to the Wapta Traverse and various mountaineering objectives, but it is also a great destination for an overnight hike, and perhaps a sunset stroll up “The Onion.”
9. Abbot Pass Hut
If you truly want a backcountry experience like no other, Abbot Pass Hut, nestled at the pass between Mts. Victoria and Lefroy, offers a memorable stay. Originally built in 1922 to house early mountaineers, today hikers also enjoy the stone hut (though it does involve some scrambling to get there!).
10. Neil Colgan Hut
If I had to pick a favourite, Neil Colgan Hut might be it – the highest permanent structure in Canada at 9,700 feet. It is truly a mountaineer’s hut, with no straightforward way of accessing it, and gives you access to the famous ten peaks. Many memorable nights have been spent here under the stars.
There are many more where that came from. In particular, check out the full listing of Alpine Club of Canada huts on their website.