A Winter Weekend in Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country is a great area for a family winter weekend from Calgary.

Kananaskis Country, or K-Country as we [sort-of] locals like to call it, is a stunning swath of provincial parks and wilderness areas in the foothills and front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, roughly between Calgary and Banff. To call this area a national treasure might just be understating the case. Kananaskis first really caught the world’s attention during Calgary’s 1988 Winter Olympics, when it played host to the Games’ alpine ski events.

Following the Games, the newly constructed alpine ski runs and associated mountain accommodation became Nakiska Ski Area and the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis, respectively, to the benefit of Calgarians and more distant visitors alike. Our family recently found time for a quick one-night getaway to beautiful K-Country, and it was such a treat.

The Delta Lodge at Kananaskis treats its young guests wonderfully, with goody bags at check-in.

Kids aged 7 and under are treated to a Kid’s Pack upon arrival.

Speaking of treats… the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis treats its youngest guests wonderfully. At check-in, our kids each received a gift bag containing a colouring/sticker book and a couple of games. After dropping off our luggage in the room, we headed back to the lobby to enjoy a free self-serve cup of hot chocolate, on comfy couches in front of the lobby fireplace. Later in the day, we discovered a plate of cookies in our room, along with a couple of cute non-spill cups (ours to keep) full of milk, in the fridge. Those little perks make for good family math: diversions + sweet treats = happy kids = relaxed parents.

Sipping free hot chocolate in front of the fireplace at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.

Sipping complimentary hot chocolate by the fire while live piano music is played nearby.

Although the Delta had offered to upgrade us to one of their newer satellite buildings, we chose to stay in the main lodge. The family suites offer the perfect arrangement for our family of four: a queen bed and TV in a separate bedroom for us, and two queen beds and a TV in the main room. I don’t know about your kids, but for ours, those separate beds make for a much better sleep for everyone. We weren’t at the hotel long enough to really need our fridge or coffee maker, but those amenities would come in handy during a longer stay.

Beautiful spot for an open air skate, at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.

Lovely spot for an open air skate.

Arriving in the mid afternoon, we had time for a short walk on the paved paths surrounding the resort, marveling at the fabulous mountain views (check out the title shot – I took it during that walk), and watching a few skaters glide around the frozen pond.  Water fun was high on the kids’ agenda, so we changed into our swimsuits, donned our hotel-supplied terrycloth robes (I had brought the kids’ own robes from home), and headed downstairs for a splash in the indoor pool and a soak in the indoor/outdoor hot tub. I eyed the Aveda spa longingly as went past, but couldn’t really justify the solo-mama time during this quick visit. Another time…

Kids love the child-sized buffet at Fireweed Grill, Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.

Kids love the child-sized dinner buffet in the Fireweed Grill.

After little downtime in our room and a couple of shows for the kids, we set out in search of dinner. The young’uns were getting that scary hungry gleam in their eyes, so we chose the Fireweed Grill (one of three restaurants within the main lodge), and headed straight for the kids’ buffet. I haven’t seen this done anywhere else, but it’s fantastic. The buffet is set up at child-height and contains kid favourites like veggies and dip, pasta with meatballs, corndogs and assorted desserts. The adult-oriented buffet looked pretty great too, but my husband and I decided to enjoy a cocktail and make our selections from the a-la-carte menu. By the time our (really delicious) meals arrived, the kids had already filled up and were happily colouring their paper placemats. We were having such a nice relaxed meal that we even snuck in a glass of wine with the main course.

Nakiska Ski Area is a great place to learn to ski.

Contemplating the bunny hill at Nakiska Ski Area.

After all that fresh air and good food (and have I mentioned the separate beds for the kids??), everyone slept well. We needed to be up and at ’em in the morning for the kids’ ski lessons at Nakiska Ski Area, just a few minutes down the road. Usually we commute to Nakiska from Calgary on Sunday mornings, leaving home in the dark at 7:30 am. Not my favourite way to start a Sunday, to be honest. This time, we got up about 8 am, headed back downstairs to the Fireweed Grill for a leisurely (and again delicious) buffet breakfast and left for the hill shortly after 9 am. Ironically, we were a touch too relaxed…we were very nearly late for the start of class!

After lessons let out at 11:30, we headed upstairs to Nakiska’s sit-down restaurant for a tasty lunch and to refuel for the next bit of our adventure… snow tubing at the Nakiska Tube Park. This was only our second time snow tubing as a family and it was so much fun! Even for families with older kids, it’s a great way to get in a few more thrills when they’re too tired to keep skiing. You get to take the magic carpet up the hill, so except for a short set of snow steps at the top, it’s pretty easy on the legs. The speed and the view are nothing short of exhilarating.

Tubing at Nakiska Ski Area is a fun way to add some speed to your day.

Waiting to head down one of the four thrillingly fast tube lanes in Nakiska’s tube park.

Here are two of us, spinning down the tube run (apologies for the whooping, but it feels really fast):

Whether you have just one night to pop out to Kananaskis Country from Calgary, or are coming from further afield to visit our gorgeous Rocky Mountains, treat yourself to some family time at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis. The only change I’d make is going for at least two nights, to spend one whole day enjoying the hotel’s amenities. And don’t miss that tube run at Nakiska… but only you can decide whether you want the guys at the top to give you a spin on your way down!

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