Winter has come. For many of us in Canada, summer feels too short and adjusting to early sunsets with freezing temperatures isn’t always easy. Planning activities or trips to look forward to tends to be helpful for me. We ventured out to Kananaskis Country for a couple of days this week, getting out of the city and enjoying the Rocky Mountains. The Nordic spa was a real treat!

Some deer next to Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country.

I usually love anticipation. I tend to enjoy the months and weeks leading up to Christmas more than the day itself (but, for the record, I also love Christmas day!). So for me, planning activities or day trips here and there is almost always enjoyable—and especially so in the winter.

A few months ago, we planned a short trip to Kananaskis to get away from the city. The days are colder and darker, and COVID-19 numbers are ramping up, but thankfully we could still enjoy this trip. We felt very safe and careful. Much of our time was spent outdoors, and the Kananaskis Lodge has strict procedures in place—for the hotel and for the spa. I’m glad we went.

If you’re feeling the winter blues (and even if you’re not), I highly recommend spending time outdoors and perhaps even planning a little local trip (if it’s possible with COVID restrictions). One night in Kananaskis left me feeling very refreshed. Now I want to do it again.

Skiing at Elk Pass in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Elk Pass trailhead in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

After leaving Bella at South Bark Dog Boarding (more below), we ventured out to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park for some cross-country skiing on Wednesday morning. Elk Pass was one of the only trails with enough snow, and it was a beautiful day to be outside. There were a number of skiers enjoying the -10 degree day. We spent a couple of hours on the trail, which was exactly what I needed. Fresh air and freedom. Elk Pass has sense been track set according to SkierBob (my go-to for XC skiing reports).

Read more: The Breathtaking Pocaterra Ridge Hike in Kananaskis Country

Elk Pass starts off on a steep uphill.
Happy to be outside!
There are some signs indicated steep hills.

The Kananaskis Lakes XC ski trails map.
Getting a winter workout before a day at the Nordic spa.
The hydro lines at Elk Pass.
The trail conditions were decent at Elk Pass.

Winter wonderland in Kananaskis.
Returning to Elk Pass parking lot via Fox Creek trail.

Staying at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge.

The Kananaskis Mountain Lodge is located in the heart of Kananaskis Village. This is a great home-base for hiking and skiing fun in the winter time, and is right next to Mount Kidd and Nikiska Ski Area. We’ve been to the Kananaskis Nordic Spa a few times, but have never stayed at the Kananaskis Lodge. Back in September, there was a fantastic mid-week deal which gave us one night at the lodge and two spa entrances for under $300. Uhhh… sold!

After some skiing, we arrived at the Kananaskis Lodge for supper at Forte. The food was delicious. I can still taste my seafood carbonara with the view of Mount Kidd out the restaurant window. There are several restaurant options inside the hotel, but some are closed or have reduced hours due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, Forte is a great option. Masks are required in public areas, and hand sanitizer was available as well.

Read more: 5 Easy Hiking Trails for Rocky Mountain Rookies

The lobby in Kananaskis Mountain Lodge.
Standard room at the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge.
Lobby and bar.
Forte Restaurant.
Delicious seafood carbonara at Forte.
The Market Cafe.
Gift shop in the hotel. They’ve got some great books!
Strict regulations for guests and staff at the Kananaskis Lodge.
Mount Kidd next to the hotel.

Relaxing at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Kananaskis Nordic Spa entrance.
This is as far as the camera goes. Photos are not permitted in the spa.

The morning session at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is from 9am – 2:30pm. What’s better than hanging out in outdoor hot tubs and saunas all day? These opportunities to unplug and relax are priceless. Thermal therapy spas seem to be growing in popularity in Canada. There’s a really nice one called Nordik Spa in Chelsea, Quebec (near Ottawa), and Chance Harbour Nature Spa in New Brunswick where you dunk in the Bay of Fundy (!). I’m sure there are many others. There’s an idea: a cross-Canada road trip stopping at all the Nordic spas along the way….

If you haven’t tried thermal therapy or Nordic spas, I would highly recommend it. Once in a while, you just gotta treat yourself. We’re headed back to Kananaskis Nordic in January for a massage and spa day. Little tip: If you’re insurance covers massage therapy, you can book an RMT and gain entrance to the spa, too! You gotta book ahead, though.

Bella’s Night Away at South Bark Dog Boarding

Bella at the South Bark Dog Boarding near Priddis.

Since we spent the day at the spa, we couldn’t bring Bella with us to Kananaskis. But she enjoyed her night away in the countryside with Leane at South Bark Dog Boarding. Seriously, South Bark is my favourite place near Calgary to leave our pup. We’ve taken Bella to several kennels in the city, and she’s never had a great experience (not eating and coming home stressed and exhausted). South Bark has ample space for her to roam. They also share tonnes of photos on their Facebook page. We’re lucky to have such a great place to leave Belle when we need to. If you’re looking for a kennel near Calgary, I wouldn’t suggest any other place. Highly recommend South Bark!

What are you doing to stay sane and healthy this winter? Leave a comment below.

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