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Only the hardiest and best-equipped survivalists tackle winter camping in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies. After skiing or snowshoeing in, one must set up a tent, eat dehydrated food and be prepared for any possibility.
Those who pay such a price say that the views are worth the effort. But I was never willing to do so — until recently, when Mount Engadine Lodge added luxury glamping tents to its offerings.
Located about an hour’s drive from Canmore, Alberta, in Spray Valley Provincial Park, Mount Engadine Lodge is one of the few backcountry lodges in the Canadian Rockies that can be reached by car. Its remote location gives visitors spectacular views without the hard effort of hiking or skiing in. The lodge is surrounded by mountains, and it’s common to see moose and elk in the meadow behind the property and other wildlife on the roads near it.
Guest ArrivalAfter checking in, my husband and I slipped on some knitted slippers from the basket near the front entrance and cozied up next to a roaring fire in the main lodge. Guests who arrive between 2 and 5 p.m. can enjoy afternoon tea, backcountry style: We were served a lovely charcuterie board made with local meats and cheeses. A wide variety of teas, coffee and hot chocolate are included, or clients can purchase local craft beer, wine or spirits for an additional charge.
Backcountry GourmetThe food tends to be a highlight of staying at a backcountry lodge, and Mount Engadine Lodge is no exception. There’s a big focus on local ingredients, and guests won’t find any dehydrated food on the menu.
The main course on the first night of our stay was salmon, and on the second night it was lamb. All guests had the same menu, but the chef provided alternatives for those who had allergies or special diets. Breakfast included a few different hot and cold options each day. We were provided with a daily made-to-order bagged lunch, so we could take it with us when we went exploring. Most meals were enjoyed around a large communal table, and people chatted about their adventures exploring the backcountry. Hearing about other adventures helped us plan our own excursions.
Tenting in WinterMy husband and I were the first people to try the new Mount Engadine Lodge glamping tents in extremely cold weather. Nighttime temperatures plummeted to an uncharacteristically cold -13 degrees Fahrenheit during our stay.
The bathroom was the warmest place in our tent; it was built of wood and had a separate heating system with a flush toilet and a shower with very hot water.
The rest of the tent was made of canvas and featured a wood floor. There was a king-size bed, a sofa bed, a gas fireplace and several electrical outlets. Though the air was a little brisk inside the tent, we slept warmly under blankets. (Since our stay, Mount Engadine Lodge has added additional insulation and heating to make the tents even warmer in winter.)
Outdoor ExplorationOur favorite activity was photographing the night sky. The lodge also has ice cleats, snowshoes and fat bikes that are complimentary for lodge guests, so we took advantage of those amenities during the day. We also brought some cross-country skis and checked out the ski trails at Mount Shark, which is a five-minute drive from the lodge.
The scenery was incredible, and we loved exploring the backcountry of the Rockies in winter. The new glamping tents at Mount Engadine Lodge are a great option for clients who want to experience the remote beauty of the backcountry without sacrificing creature comforts.
The DetailsMount Engadine Lodgewww.mountengadine.com