Luxury may not be the first thing that comes to mind when ruminating on snowshoe adventures, especially if one has not attempted the sport before. But for those seeking a more decadent experience mingled with plenty of fresh-air exercise, there is happily a great deal to choose from in British Columbia. From a lodge nestled in a remote mountain location to a world-class resort, combining snowshoeing with sweet indulgence is a cinch with some pre-planning.
If an isolated mountain getaway sounds intriguing, the Purcell Mountain Lodge outside of Golden, BC, claims world-class snowshoeing. While trickier to get there (the lodge is primarily accessible by helicopter), you will be able to brag to friends and family you snowshoed in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The nearest town is, however, only 15 minutes away (by said helicopter), and it will be a three-hour drive to Golden from the nearest international airport in Calgary, located in the nearby province of Alberta.
This luxury backcountry lodge, with only ten private bedrooms and a separate chalet for further privacy, has certified guides available to help you explore over 3,000 acres of alpine meadows. Peaceful mountain scenes are readily enjoyed from your room, something you don’t always find in a resort setting. In addition to hearty, locally sourced gourmet feasting in the dining room, you can get to know your fellow guests in a more intimate setting than provided by a restaurant. Snowshoes are also provided for guests of the lodge, or feel free to bring your own.
Visit www.purcellmountainlodge.com to read about the lodge’s humble beginnings, rates, and plan your escape.
Variety can certainly be the spice of life and the range of fitness and adventure snowshoe tours at family friendly Big White Ski Hill offers something for every outdoor enthusiast. A short 45-minute drive from Kelowna, located in the BC southern interior, makes it convenient as well. With an array of accommodations to choose from, the hardest part of your stay may be choosing where to retreat and rest your body at the end of the day. Check out www.bigwhite.com for options and rates, and you are also promised the possibility of spotting wildlife during your explorations. Depending on the direction you are coming from, you will find yourself in Kelowna after about a four-hour drive from Vancouver. Arrive even sooner by air to Kelowna International Airport, a short 60-minute drive up to the ski hill.
Snowshoe tours at Big White run anywhere from 6:30 am to 8 pm. Whether you’re an early riser or love the night sky, your desire to snowshoe by moonlight can be fulfilled at last. If your focus is on personal fitness or learning more about the flora and fauna of the mountain, you can try a tour geared to either, or try them all. Prices start at an affordable $12 plus tax (without rentals) and go upwards of $30.
After your tour, Big White offers up beautiful fireside fine dining, a tapas bar, a steak and wine-house restaurant, in addition to many more casual pub and bistro options. Two separate day spas, as well as a traveling masseuse that will massage you in the comfort of your own ski chalet (soothing those aching muscles) are also delightful ways to indulge.
Snowshoeing in Whistler, just outside of Vancouver, BC, could well be the ultimate in snowshoe luxury travel in all of BC, perhaps even Canada. It will certainly be one of the more expensive, but with good reason. With tours starting at $59 and going upwards of $139 for the “Rejuvenation Snowshoe and Spa” tour, you’ll be talking about this holiday for months to come. Whistler snowshoe tours offer the possibility of viewing wild life, and experiencing culture, snow slides, hot beverages created with locally sourced ingredients, a gondola ride and even a Scandinave Spa Bath.
Whistler Village is also likely to be the most pet friendly resort area, with options listed on their web page at www.whistler.com for luxury, deluxe, and moderate pet friendly accommodations. Now that is accommodating! Being a responsible pet owner myself, I wish more areas were so open to welcoming your furry family member, but some cities still remain in the dark ages. So if you want to support an area that spreads their arms wide open to pets, this is a beautiful and happening place to visit. You won’t have to worry about leaving your pet unattended either since many accommodations offer pampering for your pet as well. Something beyond a good belly rub, perhaps?
Whistler accommodations range from hotels, condos, townhomes, and homes, and you will pay top price for the luxury of staying where many of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic events took place in 2010. But chances are you won’t regret the cost. Whistler Blackcomb mountains draw visitors world-wide. Getting there is super easy by air into Vancouver International Airport (often with shuttles available that will take you right to Whistler Village). Or driving from Vancouver takes around two hours on the Sea to Sky Highway, which was upgraded considerably before the 2010 Olympics.
There may not be time to rest après snowshoe with all the festivals and events occurring year-round on this particular mountain. Art galleries, concerts, and nightclubbing may keep you on your feet long into the night. Or maybe wallowing in luxurious spa treatments will keep you in total Zen because there is no lack of spa facilities in Whistler Village. Dining out will also take on a whole new meaning when you have award-winning restaurants and chefs to choose from, in spaces with amazing mountain vistas to go with them. There are simply too many to list here, but you will find them all on the web page with a pricing guideline.
Snowshoeing is quickly becoming a popular winter sport that is fun, affordable, and safe for people of all ages to enjoy. So why not save up your pesos and add a little bit of luxury to your trip? The destinations listed in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. Plan for a break from the winter blahs and travel up a mountain, breath in some fantastic winter air, and enjoy gourmet dining and a spa treatment (or three). The snowshoe life is very good indeed!