Standing at the windswept summit of Copperstain Mountain in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, my gaze was drawn downward — away from the jagged peaks of the imposing Selkirk Mountains and their retreating glaciers.
I was focused on my pink hiking boots, which were surrounded by thousands of tiles of worn, gray slate rocks. According to Dr. Thomas Kubli, Purcell Mountain Lodge’s resident geologist and our hiking guide for the day, the slate was once the beach of an ancient shallow sea some 750 million years ago. These slippery stones were now ours to turn over in our hands at 9,100 feet above sea level.
Earlier that day, our group of adventurous families and couples had traversed alpine meadows and ascended the mountain slopes through whitebark pine forests. In addition to marveling at the beauty of this fly-in-only mountain wilderness, we learned how the land and rock formations beneath our boots were among the oldest in Canada.
As we stopped for lunch halfway up the mountain, my son turned to me and grinned mid sandwich. No words were needed to convey his feelings; he was in his happy place.
Last summer, when I had booked our family’s hiking holiday at Purcell Mountain Lodge, I knew that this type of vacation was going to be perfect for my son. The trip was a great combination of hiking and animal-spotting excursions, punctuated by gourmet meals and relaxing in our comfortable room back at the lodge. When I mentioned that the property’s remote location required taking a thrilling 10-minute helicopter ride over the mountains, his eyes lit up in anticipation.
Purcell Mountain Lodge is a luxurious backcountry property located in the alpine wilderness outside Golden, British Columbia. Operating since 1990, Purcell offers three seasons of outdoor pursuits for everyone to enjoy. Summer hiking season runs from June to September. In the winter (December to April), guests enjoy ski touring, split-boarding and snowshoeing.
As of press time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Purcell Mountain Lodge says it intends to reopen in July as part of the province’s phase 3 restart plan. The lodge says it will also offer more privately guided hikes as an alternative to helicopter rides, and it has enhanced its cleanliness and sanitation protocols.
Travel advisors should also note that, according to the latest information available, the U.S.-Canada border is scheduled to be closed until June 21.
Once the property opens, families with kids under 13 years old are welcome to stay in its private chalet, which can be fully catered. The lodge can also arrange for private hiking guides.
Older kids and families generally stay in the main lodge — where all guests eat and hike together on daily outings. Family rooms can accommodate up to five guests, with breathtaking mountain views out of every window.
Gourmet meals served on property are prepared by a professional chef who can accommodate dietary needs and restrictions with advance notice. Apres hike and ski appetizers are served daily, as guests swap adventure stories or read books by the fireplace in the cozy communal living room.
As family bonding time went, our hiking holiday was everything we could have hoped for. It was an opportunity to walk and talk with our son in a Wi-Fi-free environment, as well as enjoy rejuvenating time in nature. Every morning, professional guides offered hikes to guests based on interest and ability. Our daily hikes introduced us to Dr. Kubli’s geological phenomena; the retreating glaciers of the impressive Selkirk Mountain Range; and a host of wild animals.
At one point during an outing on another day of our trip, Kevin, our guide, spotted movement in the pine forest across a small valley. He whispered “bear,” and we stood still as a young grizzly bear darted out from the trees and bounded down the grassy meadow just below us.
“That was Cinch, our resident bear,” Kevin said.
As we watched Cinch run off, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we were to have seen such a magnificent animal in the wild, if even from afar.
This memory of our alpine adventure in the wild Canadian West would be something our family would share forever.
Purcell Mountain Lodge