Directly south of Calgary (and just a hair to the west), Castle Mountain Resort is nestled in the stretch of mountains that run through Waterton Lakes National Park and the new Castle Provincial Park. With most Calgarian skier/snowboarders accustomed to hitting the Big Three resorts of Banff National Park, Castle remains slightly off the radar. But being a best-kept secret has allowed it to maintain its distinct community vibe. This is the kind of place where you’ll see a guy on a snowboard in contractor’s Carhartts shepherding his kids through the lift line for last run of the day.
Last season, Castle debuted a series of snowshoe-and-dinner events that proved smashing successes with both locals and visitors alike. The Full Moon Snowshoe and Fine Dining Experiences meet up just as the ski hill is closing down. Snowshoes and ski poles in hand (you need them for balance), your group of around 30 participants gets whisked up the ski hill on the Huckleberry chair lift. From there, guides lead you downward through the natural terrain just beyond the ski hill’s boundary.
If you’re a bit nervous when it comes to navigating downhill slopes, you can certainly follow the tracks of the guides. However, if you’re a bit bolder, you can go your own way through the powder, taking giant steps that give you a sense of walking on the moon. If the conditions are right, you’ll even get the chance to front flip off a small rise into a soft snowy landing.
The snowshoe component ends with a walk back along a forested trail to the resort base for a multi-course dinner with wine pairings. The dinners are held long-table style in the Joe’s Café section of the main ski lodge and are a chance for the resort’s hospitality crew to flex their culinary muscles and cook something beyond ski-lodge cafeteria fare. Afterward, you can head outside to the bonfire and marshmallow roast or catch some live music at the T-Bar Pub & Grill, a classic après-ski bar complete with scuffed-wood tables and walls covered in ski memorabilia and vintage photos.
The Full Moon Snowshoe and Fine Dining Experiences happen monthly (on full-moon nights) and cost $119.99 or $129.99 with snowshoe rentals. Last year’s events sold out fast, so contact the resort at 403-627-5101 to book for 2018-2019.
Three More Snowshoe Experiences to Do this Winter
The Mountain Heritage Snowshoe Tours at Fernie Alpine Resort are interpretive full-day and half-day tours that teach you about local history and the mountain environment along the way. To book, call the Winter Sports School at 250-423-2406. Fernie also does Snowshoe and Dine events on Tuesday evenings, 1.5-hour guided tours that finish with pasta and wine at Cirque restaurant in the Lizard Creek Lodge.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Night Owl Snowshoe tour is an after-dark adventure in the woods that includes stargazing on clear nights. The two-hour excursion is open to the general public as well as hotel guests and is suitable for kids eight to 12. Book through the hotel concierge at 403-522-1601.
Panorama Mountain Resort offers guided snowshoe tours complete with s’mores. Tours are booked through guest services, the resort’s seasonal concierge and info desk, at 1-800-663-2929.