Tucked into the pleats of the Lizard Range, Island Lake Lodge makes an idyllic alpine escape. Although only a half-hour’s drive from Fernie, it’s remote enough to meet all the conditions for a backcountry getaway – albeit one with great dining and an onsite spa.
While you can easily incorporate lunch at Island Lake Lodge into a day hike, you need at least a night or two to fully appreciate the culinary talents of chef Keith Farkas. This verdant, forested landscape is his pantry. Here, he finds inspiration and ingredients in the plants most of us would pass by – stinging nettles, spruce tips, dandelion greens, fiddleheads – and transforms them into elevated dishes.
Those who like feasting with a view will want to time their visit with the second annual Untamed Kootenays Culinary Weekend, happening this year from June 8 to 10. The foodie festival focuses on the ingredients and produce of the Elk Valley, including greens foraged by Farkas who, after 12 years of leading the Island Lake Lodge kitchens, certainly knows where the secret spots are.
Untamed Kootenays sees Farkas joined by guest chefs to present two multi-course dinners with wine pairings. Of course, you’ll want to stay up there so you can follow dessert with a soak in the hot tub, gazing up at the stars before crawling into bed. Keep in mind that with only 26 rooms available, reservations are snapped up quickly.
In the time between meals you can go for a paddle on the titular Island Lake, join a foraging session with the chefs or take part in an interpretive hike to learn more about the unusual eco-system of the area, a pocket of temperate rainforest spiked with old-growth western red cedar.