During the pandemic, Albertans have been exploring the Rockies more than ever before. Our need to leave the city (in our case, Calgary) and get some fresh air has never been more important and this year we’re taking the time to scratch a few more places off of our local bucket list – this time Emerald Lake Lodge.
Emerald Lake is located about 230 km west of Calgary. You drive past the regular hangouts – Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and just after crossing the BC border you get to Field – you’re almost there. There’s one road into Emerald Lake and one road out, and when you exit the highway, you quickly learn you’re going somewhere off the beaten path as your mobile signal drops.
Emerald Lake Lodge is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts who also owns Banff’s Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Deer Lodge in Lake Louise, and Calgary’s Lake House Restaurant. If you’ve lived in Calgary as long as we have you’ve almost certainly been to a wedding at one of their properties or eaten at one of their restaurants, namely Cilantro, which was a 17th Avenue institution for decades. Previously, we had been to every CRMR property other than Emerald Lake Lodge – and it kept popping up on friends’ Instagram accounts – FOMO got the best of us.
Here is our roundup of the highlights, both outdoor and indoor, at Emerald Lake Lodge.
This is the time of year when we would normally be packing bathing suits for vacations, instead we were rounding up all of our winter gear so we could explore the area at the coldest time of the year.
Stargazing is a real treat if you get some clear sky. Being so far from any major centre, the night sky is bright. We didn’t realize that our first night coincided with a full moon, a magical treat as the snow fell.
A Winter walk
There is a well-loved hike around the lake that is enjoyed by resort guests and day-trippers. At 5.1KM around, and mostly level, it was just the right amount of activity. Note: with fresh snow and chilly temperatures appropriate outdoor gear is a must.
One-half of us skis, the other avoids it, but a ski across the frozen lake was really fun, helped us earn our dinner and delivered amazing views of the mountains on all sides (ski rental available from the resort, book in advance to ensure your size is available).
The resort also rents snowshoes to guests who want to explore the area, which would have actually come in handy for the winter walk around the lake – we’ll know this for next time.
For us, the highlight of a stay at this, and most other CRMR resort rooms, is the wood-burning fireplace. Upon arrival, our room had the fire ready to go with the strike of one match and outside the door was plenty more to keep it going. Get lost in a book, get caught up on your shows, or simply watch the snowfall.
*Note that most rooms have no wifi*
The Perfect Old Fashioned
After you get to Emerald Lake Lodge you’re likely not going to leave, as the car park is away from the resort and a shuttle is required to get back down. Fortunately, the cocktail menu is outstanding and for us, the pre-dinner cocktail of choice was the Smoked Old Fashioned, served on a wooden board with a glass dome filled with smoke, we drank with our eyes first.
CRMR takes their food seriously and stays true to the Canadiana experience. A broad range of options are available from the dining room or at Cilantro (next to the lake) but if you enjoy game meat like charcuterie with elk, bison, duck, wild boar, or hearty beef tenderloin or lamb rack you’ll be in heaven. Veg options are available, of course.
Feature Image: Emerald Lake Lodge Facebook