Awe inspiring views. Exploring less travelled areas. Connecting as a family. Pincher Creek and Castle Mountain Resort are the place for families to enjoy winter in the great outdoors.    Here’s my must-do list for when you’re planning your family getaway.

  • Moonlit Snowshoeing under the stars with Alberta Parks

  • Snowboarding Alberta’s powder-filled Castle Mountain Resort

  • Chairlift ski runs for all abilities

  • Authentic experiences from locals with big hearts in Pincher Creek, Alberta

Finding a place that is less travelled with awe inspiring views and adventurous surroundings is challenging. Now adding in children can seem impossible. But these places are super family friendly and worth exploring. Yes, they do exist, and they are not too far from home. All the more reason that makes bringing the kids on these adventures easier than you might think.   Castle Mountain Resort and Pincher Creek  in Southern Alberta happen to be perfect place for family adventures and learn more  why on the SnowSeekers website   here.

Friday afternoon we arrive with our two- and four-year-old in Pincher Creek, Alberta. Both my husband Cam and I are scoping out the rolling hills and mountainous horizon. These hills look like the perfect place to construct your very own hobbit home!

We arrive at the Heritage Inn and pretty much immediately both girls are jumping up and down in the one-bedroom hotel suite. Clearly, they are excited to no longer be strapped into their car seats. That makes four of us. Luckily, the drive was clear of snowfall and the kids were happy colouring the majority of the way. I was surprised with how short and easy the drive was from Calgary to Pincher Creek.

Dinner comes first, and we decide to try out the Bent Fork Eatery in Ranchland Mall but realize we only have 30 minutes. The live music and friendly atmosphere is unexpected in this mall restaurant, and hard to leave, but luckily the local Co-op grocery store has some fresh food take-out options.

Starshoeing

 

It is 6:00 pm and we arrive at South Syncline in Castle Provincial Park for Starshoeing led by Alberta Parks host Tessa. The forecast was supposed to be -15C but the weather is surprisingly warm. We find out it is a balmy +1 C. The sun is starting to set as we enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and cookies before starting our adventure.  The outside fire is inviting but their new woodstove heated mountain hut is where the kids want to hang out.

Its 6:30 pm and it is starting to get dark. We put on our snowshoes. They are a bit big for our two- and four-year-old, but the guide is so patient and lets them try them on. The girls don’t last long in the snowshoes, and soon after heading into the trees they end up in the carrier and sled that we brought along.

“Look up.” We all shut off our head lamps on Tessa’s command and gaze into the sky. The clouds from earlier are gone and the sky is covered in sparkling stars.

Both girls are in awe. Apparently, the clouds often clear out in the evening to reveal this beautiful starlit sky. Tessa starts to tell a story about the Constellations. Our girls soak it up, as it includes a princess that happens to be the constellation Andromeda.

Saturday morning arrives too soon but I can’t help but jump out of bed. I have heard too many great things about Castle Mountain Ski Resort. I cannot wait to strap my snowboard to my feet and hit the slopes. It’s a cold day outside. -19C really is no joke but that is not stopping me.

The cold weather makes me happy that the girls are in the Castle Mountain Day Care for the morning. The day care is a small space, but the staff is extremely friendly. They only accept 6 kids at a time which means the girls have no trouble settling in. They are just so welcoming. But … the more I enjoy Castle Mountain and Pincher Creek I realize that there is something beyond the incredible

 

Ski Trails for Everyone in the Family

My husband and I meet up with Cole Fawcett who is going to show us around the mountain. First up, Huckleberry Chair. Huckleberry Chair is typically where families spend their days skiing since the majority of the runs are blues and greens. Our first run does not disappoint. It’s 10 am on a well-travelled run, and yet powder is spraying out from under my board. Cam and I are beaming. This is going to be fun.

Next up is a hug from the lifties before boarding Sundance Triple chair lift and then heading up Tamarack Chair. The more I hang around this resort the more I am starting to feel like part of a family. Soon Cole puts to words exactly what we were thinking; “Castle Mountain walks the line between being a full-fledge four-season resort and a mom and pop shop.”

There is a desire to grow but they have also have such a strong pull to stay true to themselves and their community.

After heading up the Tamarack Chair the powder is even more unreal – deep, light, fluffy. It is literally covering my whole body with each turn. We learn “Castle Mountain sees the highest amount of annual snowfall out of all the ski hills in Alberta – by 200 cm!” We were definitely experiencing the Castle Mountain gnar.

Last epic run before lunch takes us down Huckleberry bowl, Huckleberry Ridge, and Trappers. A satisfying latté from Joe’s Café and some good old ski cafeteria food and we hit the Green Chair with the girls. The Green Chair gives little ones the chairlift experience without going too far up the mountain or having to go on steeper green terrain. This is ideal for little shredders and ours loved it. Our 4-year-old went up six times before I had to stop her because of the cold weather! There was no way I wanted to end the trip with frostbite.

 

Local Love

I see my husband in the chalet and we both look at each other. The girls are done and ready for some down time. I drop them off at the hotel to rest for a couple hours. I am heading into downtown Pincher Creek to check out the local shops. To my surprise I pass a nice looking local swimming pool and library.

I find my way into various cute local shops including Blackburn Jewellers where I start talking with the owner. The store was founded in 1936 by her father who was a watch maker. The more I talk with her I see Pincher Creek come to life. She starts telling me about the beautiful creek trails that run through the town, and about the yoga classes from Shanti Hollow Yoga that a woman runs out of her yurt.

My heart is sold on the yurt setting.  I am in love with the simplicity of the area and the passion of the community.

These locals live this incredibly authentic life in such an amazing place, and they want to share it with tourists. But, they also struggle with wanting to keep it for themselves. And now – our family does too. As my four-year-old daughter said: “This place is the best. Do we have to share it?”

Read more about Pincher Creek and Castle Mountain Resort on the SnowSeekers Website here!

 

*This Travel Post is in partnership with SnowSeekers , Pincher Creek,  and Castle Mountain Resort. All views in this article are 100% my own.

 

By Annika Mang

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