Category Archives: The Mountain Man Blog

Fishing in The Rockies – Tall Tails

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Fishing in The Rockies – On a Different Scale

Banff, Alberta.

Someone please tell me if there is a better thing to do than grab a buddy, a cooler of cold ones and your favourite fishing rod before hitting one of the great fishing spots of the Canadian Rockies.

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A young child enjoys the peaceful fishing of the Rockies.

A huge selection of healthy, happy fish calls the Rockies home and are only too keen to be spotted by keen fishermen. The area around Calgary in Alberta has some of the most beautiful and productive trout streams in the world. The Bow River boasts some of the biggest river run trout you can ever hope to catch. 

Upper Bow River
The Upper Bow River near Banff and Canmore is what every fisherman dreams of when they get home from a tough day of work. It is pristine, wild, untouched and fast moving. It is a real outdoor challenge in a beautiful location where skill and persistence can really pay off with some incredible Brown Trout.

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A man tries to catch a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow.

Lower Bow River
Fish averaging 20 inches are not uncommon in the Lower Bow where there is an incredible 2500 fish per mile. Both Browns and Rainbows are on the menu here. The legendary “Bow River Bullet” rainbows always put on a resistant, acrobatic show.

Fishing Trips
Professional guides can show you around the areas and help for those with less experience. There are a variety of trips through Boy River Fly Fishing including Float trips, Walk and Wade, Lake Trips and hike-in Alpine Lake trips around Calgary and Banff. In the winter, there is also the chance to experience some ice fishing.

Where to stay?
There are several options where to stay but if you are looking for all round ease, Johnston Canyon Resort is a good bet. Easy access to the rivers, friendly staff in a real outdoors location and a lot of knowledge of the local rivers; it is an excellent base to do your fishing from.

More Information:
For more information on species, licenses, accommodation and much more, go to our fishing section.

Golf in the Canadian Rockies – Getting Into the Swing of Things


Golfing in Banff and the Rockies

Banff, Alberta.

Regardless of how bad a golfer you may be, it can still feel darn good getting out into the open, especially in summer for a round with some buddies. If you are the kind of person who can take a ribbing from your friends when your score goes over the 1oo mark before the 9th hole and still keep your patience, then you are a better man than me, and probably a better golfer.  golfercc

The Rockies is the perfect breeding ground for stunning and unique golf courses. If you are bringing the clubs as well as the skis, here are a few of the best options to provide food for thought.

Silver Tip, Stewart Creek, Banff Springs Golf

Silver tip is highly rated by all who have played. The dramatic views, extreme elevation changes and challenging holes make it a very desirable option for the man or woman who loves their golf. The fairways roll with the slope of the hill so tee shots can often be quite demanding but it forces you to use your imagination to dig yourself out of trouble. The greens are constantly manicured and kept in impeccable shape.
Green fees: $175 include cart with GPS, twilight $105, evening 9-holes $79; Jr (10-17) with adult half price
Address: 1000 SilverTip, Canmore AB
Telephone: 1877-323-3633

The Rockies Local News

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Celebrities Ski

This week there were more celebrities than just Mountain Man floating about Banff. The talented, if not as handsome Alec Baldwin was seen making his way up the slopes along with many of his peers.

Dozens of celebrities gathered to support Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his Waterkeeper Alliance Sports Invitational, held annually in the Bow Valley.

Celebrities showed how well they could (or couldn’t) ski on a dual slalom. It is one of the few times in your life that you get the opportunity to see Al Joyner (1984 Olympic gold medalist at triple jump) crash into Melissa Kramer at the end of his race. And who says all the celebrity fun happens in Aspen!

Avalanche Season – Caution!

Hey folks, for those of you who have already visited The Canadian Rockies, you will know how much there is to do here. Sometimes you can get so busy with planning all your activities that you can forget the important stuff. On January 16, we got a reminder of this.

There was an avalanche on Cascade Mountain, which luckily didn’t hurt anyone. Exactly a day before, there were six people climbing it, which considering the conditions wasn’t the wisest call.

Don’t want to be darkening moods but 15 people have already lost their lives in Western Canada this season and conditions have been ripe for avalanches. Check reports on www.avalanche.ca before venturing anywhere unsafe.

Choosing the right ski pass in Banff

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What Ski Pass Suits You Best in the Canadian Rockies – factors to consider

Banff, Alberta.

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Organizing your ski season early can save you a lot of cash.

It’s the same every year. The strength of the Banff sun fades and the idea of spending winter cascading daily down one of Banff National Park’s great ski slopes  begins to fill your mind. You tell anyone that will listen “I’m gonna ski a hundred days this year”, including yourself. On paper – a great idea but all good intentions aside, choosing the correct hill and ski-pass will leave you a lot less frustrated and your pockets far fuller. Take this from personal experience.

Location and Economy:
There are a bunch of factors to buying a ski season pass you must consider before making the actual purchase. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a selection of ski hills to choose from, you should narrow it down to the slope you’ll be getting that pass for. Think about it – do you really want to ski the same hill all season? A handy alternative offered by many resorts in the Canadian Rockies is the option to swap your passes at other ski hills. This gives you a good alternative if you tire of the same hill or have embarrassed yourself by wiping out one too many times in front of fellow punters!

You’ll also have to consider your proximity to the ski hills of your choice. The adventurer in you may want to hit the big European style slopes a few hours away but in reality how often will you be able to escape work/family and still get a relaxing ski in. For some, the draw of the slopes is irresistible. Glenn from Alberta is one: “I have been skiing here for over 30 years. Sunshine at 80 years young continues to rock and always will.” The more economical option perhaps would be a local pass where you can go at will and also partake in some night skiing, which many of the bigger resorts, like Sunshine Village can’t offer. Not everybody is so lucky to live close enough to the slopes that an après work ski is possible. Choosing the local hill guarantees the most ski for your dollar.

Planning:
Planning ski season in your head is a different kettle of fish to reality. Think honestly about your schedule. Do you have to travel for work? Do you have a daughters wedding coming up that you have been warned over and over to be around for? Look at your calendar and honestly consider your availability. If your winter looks just too darn busy to ski a lot, maybe a season of having no pass is o.k. A lot of passes also don’t offer holiday skiing, generally the week between Christmas and New Years so make sure the pass you purchase covers these dates if you are a holiday skier. ski

I talked to Katy from Sunshine Village in Banff, who confirmed the need for organization: “Here at Sunshine Village for example, we have several options. We may not have night skiing but if Skiers know exactly what they want then we should have a package that suits them.”

Check out ski websites regularly to view the options and also to take advantage of savings and discount specials that might be on offer. Many also have really up to date snow reports, mountain cams and even a Facebook page.

Type of Pass:
Finally, there is a large variety of passes for a lot of ski hills. I know my local hill offers an evenings-only pass, which is excellent for getting some runs in after work, leaving no pressure to go skiing on the weekend. Also, a lot of hills offer cheap one-night-a-week passes, which allow you to pick one night mid-week to ski with your friends. There is also the option of buying lift passes in bulk leaving you flexible to ski whenever the time is right…but not the day before your daughters wedding.

So there you have it. The most important thing about buying a season’s pass is research, honesty with yourself and forward planning. Weighing in all the factors like travel, schedule, holidays, variety, and money will go a long way in answering the where, when, and which type of pass to buy. Now I don’t know about you folks, but I plan on getting a hundred days in this year!

Miette Hot Springs of Jasper National Park: relax in scenery

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Yeah it’s getting a wee bit nippy here in Jasper National Park!

And that is why this mountain man loves to relax in some Alberta hot springs.

Miette Hot Springs is a great place for a great swim with the mountains in the background. What stands out about this hot spring is:

  1. Miete just completed a major renovation. The place seemed very clean and had the “new” feeling to it
  2. The owners heard of mountain goats that hang out at these hot springs. You’re not going to get close to them. They just tease the tourists.
  3. Miette Hot Springs is definitely hot
  4. It is tucked away down a 18 km country road and there is nothing else on this road except for the hot springs and a reasonably priced resort. You feel very private in this setting.
  5. The owners of this resort have kept the prices very reasonable. The low prices are definitely welcome compared to the rest of the dining experiences I have had in Jasper National Park.

I’ll have more soon!

Mountain Biking in Banff – A Great Way To See the Rockies

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Mountain Biking in Banff

Banff, Alberta

There is literally an endless list of activities to be tackled in and around Banff National Park. One of the best things to do though in Banff National Park must be to rent a mountain bike and explore the many beautiful surrounding areas. Here are some great rides to recommend, all of which are not too demanding, even for the lazier amongst us or the newly initiated rider.

Get back in the saddle in Banff.

Get back in the saddle in Banff.

Spray River Fire Road

Take your bike out to the Banff Springs Hotel and then onto the old Spray River fire road. This eight mile loop brings you to the Banff Springs Golf Course and then back into town. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the splendid beauty of this course. You can continue around the golf course road for an extra 45 minutes where you may be lucky enough to spot elk on the way or unlucky enough to see a grizzly!

Sundance Canyon

This is a lovely ride through the woods to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and then along Sundance Road to Sundance Canyon. The ride is about 6 miles one way. You can park your bike once you arrive at the canyon and take an easy hike around the area. Then hop on your bike and head back to town.

Tunnel Mountain Campground

If you pop up Buffalo Street to Surprise Corner and then along the Tunnel Mountain/Hoodoos Trail, you will come out near the Tunnel Mountain Campground. The ride will take you through beautiful wildflower meadows where you can stop for a picnic or just relax amongst nature’s beauty.

Banff Avenue - the start to every journey.

Banff Avenue - the start to every journey.

Vermilion Lakes Drive

This drive takes you out about 6 miles to an area where you can see waterfowl and often deer and elk. Don’t forget to look up to see the Bald Eagles and their nests between First and Second Vermilion Lakes.

Tips for making your bike travel safe and responsible:

  1. Stay within the range of your fitness level. Remember you’re not in a competition, but rather here to enjoy the flora and fauna and to make the most of your vacation travel. Go slow!
  2. Forget about making a fashion statement and think about safety. Wear your helmet! Put flowers in it if you want to look good.
  3. Keep your eye out for wildlife. It’s best to cycle with at least one other person. Make some noise every now and then to let the animals know you’re around. They are shy and will want to run from the road if they know you’re coming. Slow down when approaching blind spots to avoid possible collisions. Rockies wildlife is breathtaking.
  4. Keep your eye out for drivers. Often Banff National Park vacationers are so busy looking at the sights that they miss cyclists riding nearby. Ride your bike defensively and keep your reflexes honed for the unexpected.

Alberta Rockies Is an Ideal Vacation Destination

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There is no way to describe the Alberta Rockies without gushing over their breathtakingly colossal presence. No matter what the season, they are designed to overwhelm as they reach their jagged peaks into the changing skies.

Every season is ideal for visiting as there is no end to things to do in the region. Visit world famous Banff National Park, the quieter resort of Jasper in Jasper National Park, the beautiful town of Canmore just outside Banff National Park, or Hinton, just vacation outside of Jasper National Park.

The people are hospitable, friendly and unlike other destinations, enjoy tourists from all nationalities.

Transportation in Alberta

From Vancouver it is easy to take the train to Banff and Jasper. Then from each of these locales, there are very good highway links to the rest of Canada as well as to the U.S. With Calgary International Airport near to Banff, there is also bus service and car rental service for easy access to all areas of the region. Edmonton International Airport is near to Jasper and it is from the airport that you can take a bus, train, or rental car to the resort. Jasper is linked to the transcontinental train service, Via Rail Canada, making it an easy point from which to reach out to other Canadian locales.

Alberta Rockies Climate

The sun shines all year long in the Alberta Rockies. In winter you will see blue skies along with the cold weather. Even though it’s cold, make sure to bring your sunscreen, as the altitude makes your skin vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Summers in Alberta bring warm days and chilly nights, with some days bringing rain, so make sure you pack adequate attire. Spring unveils a wild display of alpine wildflowers that thrive in the warm weather. But don’t be fooled. In the mountains the weather is always subject to changing on a dime, so if you travel in Spring, or Autumn for that matter, bring clothing that you can layer. Autumn in the Rockies is a riot of golden color, with crisp mornings and evenings that can warrant cold weather dressing.

Accommodations in Alberta and Banff National Park

There are three world-renowned hotels in the Alberta Rockies which should be visited even if you do not stay in any one of them. The Banff Springs Hotel is a castle-like building that maintains its Old World charm. Located in the heart of the Banff townsite, this hotel is a full facility resort that will make you feel
like a king or queen during your stay.

Chateau Lake Louise is a magnificent hotel that sits on the edge of Lake Louise. The quality of service and the stunning surroundings will make your stay here feel like an opulent gift, no matter what price you pay for lodging.

With its elegant cabins that ring the main building, access to cross-country skiing trails, and a world-class golf course, The Jasper Park Lodge deserves its reputation as lodging to the Hollywood stars.

Ski Resorts

It is no secret why people come from all over the world to ski the fine powder of the Alberta Rockies. Just read the top ski magazines and everyone gushes over skiing in Alberta. With stunning scenery at every turn, the area’s pride is its world-class resorts that offer trails for all levels of skiing. Go to Marmot Basin near Jasper, Lake Louise and Sunshine between Banff and Lake Louise, Banff Norquay, or Nakiska in Kananaskis Country where the 1988 Olympics for downhill skiing were held. Each one of these resorts is a jewel, offering the best conditions for skiing in the world. I ski here, finding that the snow conditions
are generally more favorable and consistent than ski resorts in the Colorado and US Rockies.

Special Attractions

Kananaskis Country

This paradise is located to the southwest of Banff National Park and is loaded with some of the most spectacular mountain scenery imaginable. With its splendid variety of flora and fauna, exquisitely maintained cross-country trails (which become hiking trails in spring), you can’t choose a more quintessential experience than in Kananaskis Country. Stay in a luxury hotel or camp in the wilderness…
whatever you decide, you will be rewarded by some of the best facilities in one of the most astounding regions the world over.

The Jasper Tramway

As Canada’s longest and highest aerial tramway, you will ride up, up and away to see the spectral sites below. Take a hiking trail at the top, or relax at the glassed-in restaurant while you look at the 260 degree scenery just outside. Go late in the day to enjoy the sunset and a romantic twilight dinner.

The Icefields Parkway

Offering kilometers of unadulterated scenery, the parkway lies between Jasper and Lake Louise. Considered one of the greatest mountain drives in the world, you will be stunned by the snowcapped summits, the waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and glaciers. With numerous viewing points along the way, you can also take hikes from these areas. There are many campsites along the route, allowing you to enjoy the area to the fullest as you traverse the parkway from one end to another. A stop at the Columbia Icefield’s Visitor Centre is a must. Here you will receive information about the glacier before walking to it or taking a snowcoach onto the surface.

Canmore moose enters downtown, gets shown the door


CANMORE, Alberta – Canmore is one of my favorite towns in all of the Canadian Rockies.

It has cool restaurants, AWESOME scenery, some shopping and while touristy, doesn’t go overboard.

So imagine seeing a moose wandering in downtown Canmore!

Yes, it does happen. Just a few weeks ago, a wondering, stessed out moose ventured into downtown Canmore.

The moose was tranquilized and removed and released near Pigeon Mountain. Those of you ne to our fine area should know not to EVER approach or get near a moose. They, like most wildlife here, are dangerous and you run the risk of being trampled or charged.

Moose are gorgeous, but they are not Bullwinkle.