Often this region is referred to as God’s Country and it only takes one visit to western Canada’s Rocky Mountains to understand why. Towering thousands of feet towards the sky these rugged creations of nature are an awesome and breathtaking experience. Although they have a reputation as Canada’s winter wonderland they are a year-round destination for tourists from around the world. There’s a peaceful, calming effect that permeates from these tranquil giants, creating the perfect vacation atmosphere for relaxation, recreation and rest with a change of pace.
Outdoor activities are the order of the day here during each season even though the recreational pursuits may change with the weather. Some of the best downhill or cross-country skiing, snow shoeing or tobogganing in the world is available in winter months. But this quickly changes to hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, sightseeing and canoeing as the weather warms up.
Just a short drive from Calgary are the towns of Canmore and Banff nestled at the gateway to the mountains ready to welcome you at the start of your vacation. At this point it is hard to take your eyes away from the awesome scenery but both towns offer much to see and do for the enjoyment of vacationers.
Canmore was the site for the cross-country ski competitions during the 1988 Winter Olympics and as a result it has developed into a thriving vacation centre. This small village offers an abundance of retail stores, restaurants, pubs and accommodations. Strolling around town is a pleasant step back in time with rich rewards as you discover the settlement’s amenities.
From the early days of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Banff became a resting place for weary trans-continental train travellers and later developed into a playground for the rich and famous. Today it is world-renowned for its scenic location and the magnificent Banff Springs Hotel which is akin to a Scottish castle nestled in the mountains overlooking a river valley. The water falls, the sulphur hot-springs and the gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain (7486 feet above sea level) are just three of the major attractions that contribute to Banff’s popularity.
Another thirty-minute drive into the mountains reveals Lake Louise which is a perfect formation of mountains, topped by a glacier which feeds into a clear blue lake. The Chateau Lake Louise wraps around the lake shore akin to a French Chateau with classic style. The hiking trails around the lake and up into the mountains are a physical workout that is made to seem effortless by the wonderful scenery and wildlife to be discovered along the route.
Although there are no gay specific accommodations in these mountain retreats, the effect of global tourism makes the whole region gay-friendly and you can be sure of being treated equally as just another visitor enjoying the sights.
However, not all accommodations are equal and one group of rustic lodges stands out from the crowd.
Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts operate three of the best accommodations in the heart of these natural settings. The Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff, the Deer Lodge at Lake Louise and the Emerald Lake Lodge at Field in Yoho National Park are a trio of exceptional places to make your stay in the mountains a perfect escape. Yesterday’s travellers were adventurous as they journeyed by train or on horseback in search of the extraordinary and today these lodges provide luxurious accommodations as people still search for the extraordinary during their vacation.
If you’re searching for that unique retreat for an anniversary, birthday celebration or a memorable honeymoon then Emerald Lake Lodge is the most romantic get-away possible. The fact that you park your car a short distance from the resort and arrive by shuttle bus indicates that you are truly leaving everything behind you and escaping deep into the mountains.
Built of hand-hewn timber and featuring massive stone fireplaces, the Lodge includes a formal dining room, quiet reading and sitting rooms and a games room. The lounge is enhanced by an oak bar salvaged from an 1890’s Yukon saloon. From upper or lower large verandahs, the visions nature presents are as fresh and breath-taking as ever. As soon as you arrive the striking green hue of the lake makes you realise where the name Emerald Lake derives from.
A respect for the past characterizes the accommodations at Emerald Lake Lodge. Dotting the thirteen acre peninsula are twenty-four cabin-style buildings, newly built to reflect the traditional architecture of the Lodge. Rooms have private baths, balconies and wood burning fieldstone fireplaces, which are stocked daily with complimentary firewood. Each room includes feather duvets and pillows, telephones, in-room coffee makers, hair dryers, alarm clocks and internet access for today’s luxuries in yesterday’s surroundings.
The Mount Burgess dining room overlooks the lake and the mountain glacier towers above you as you gaze out onto the beautiful vista while awaiting your meal. The menu is extensive with specialties of the house which feature many local wild game dishes. The wild game platter as an appetiser introduces you to everything that is local with flavours guaranteed to tantalize an appetite for your main course. Choices include caribou, elk, moose and duck just to name a few and each is accompanied by local vegetable dishes like Yukon Gold potatoes, savoy cabbage apple slaw or sweet potato mushroom gratin. Attractively presented with rich and flavourful sauces by attentive servers this is a gourmet dining experience not to be easily forgotten.
Relaxing after dinner in the hot tub with a mountain view or sitting beside the fire pit on the lake shore will complete the perfect day. Emerald Lake Lodge truly is the perfect gem of the Rocky Mountains.
Whatever itinerary you plan for your visit to God’s Country and whichever season you choose for your vacation it will prove to be the perfect escape from reality surrounded by mother nature at her very best.
See more travel stories by Roy Heale at http://www.royheale.blogspot.com
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