Alberta

Province Code
AB

You know your kids are pumped and impressed by the scenery when they’re snapping photos and singing songs about snow from the back seat as you’re driving down the highway.


That’s what’s happening in our car as we wind our way down highways 507 and 774 toward Pincher Creek.

With its rolling prairie hills and mountain views, a recent visit to Pincher Creek and Castle Mountain Resort, gave our family of four an epic day of skiing. But more than that, it stole all of our hearts. We’ve classified it as a perfect southern Alberta family getaway that we won’t forget. Here are our three reasons why.

As a skier raising three little skiers in Alberta, it always feels a little strange going east instead of west in winter, until I’m there and then it all makes sense.

Snow sloughs over the hump of the large cliff I’m standing above, trickling down over the rocks below. I wait poised on the shoulder of a spiny chute dropping into the new Tres Hombres area, via the second gate off Marmot Basin’s Paradise area.

“Every time I drive into the park it's so breathtaking,” Pat Morris tells me on a sunny afternoon in Waterton Lakes National Park. Morris, has lived here for 18 months and is still in awe of the awesome landscape. I couldn’t agree more. In Alberta’s southernmost mountain park, jagged peaks rise dramatically from the prairies, wildlife wanders the streets, and recreational opportunities abound.

“I can almost connect my turns!” first-time snowboarder, Ivy Folkhard says, grinning from ear to ear. She’s been on a snowboard for little more than an hour, but has already mastered the basics. Edward Ford, Pass Powderkeg Snow School Instructor extraordinaire, gives her a high five before checking on the rest of the family. While Cohen, 8, works hard to keep up to his 10- year-old sister, Berkeley, 5, laughs as she falls in the snow again. “You’re doing that on purpose!” Edward teases.

The walls in the day lodge at Castle Mountain Ski Resort are lined with bold photos of skiers and riders pushing through copious amounts of powder on epic terrain. But, those photos need to change with the times. No longer is it just for folks with planks strapped to the feet, yee-hawing through the glades. It’s for snowshoes, fat tire bikes, snow cat tours and yes, some serious fine dining. It’s the full mountain experience.

On April 29, 1903 at 4:10 a.m., 82 million tons of rock broke off Turtle Mountain’s summit and came hurtling down on the sleeping town of Frank. While the slide avoided the main part of town, at least 90 people were killed. The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre describes what life was like before, during, and after the disaster, and shares amazing tales of heroism and survival through modern, hands-on exhibits.

Sun sparkles on snow at the top of the quad chair at Hidden Valley Ski Resort. At 1,400 metres (4,593 feet) elevation, we can see clear across the park. It’s hard to fathom a ski hill in southeast Alberta, but it’s here, and it’s great. Bernard Blackburn chuckles at my astonished expression and whoops, “We’re skiing in the Prairies!” before taking off down McGee for a warm-up run with his daughter, Gabrielle (Gabby), 10.

Tucked into the Crowsnest Pass and backing onto backyards in the town of Blairmore, Pass Powderkeg (PPK) quietly goes about its business. The micro-resort has been the same since 1938; untouched, unspoiled and underestimated by so many skiers. This is the time to slow down, pull off the highway and find out why it should be on your #BucketlistAB.