“Twist. Push AND twist. No. Not like that. REALLY push hard!” The Mary-Poppins-cheerfulness was starting to escape my voice as I encouraged my five year old to put on her ski boots. A maniacal laughter instead was rising up out of me making known that the Mary Poppins voice was just a schtick to try and keep up morale, and keep everyone (parents included) from melting down. Deep down though, I knew if we just kept at it and continued to dress these beloved children of ours layer after layer, soon we would be released from this horrid form of purgatory and be out on the mountain. This is skiing with children.
My husband Nick and I both had a huge love for the outdoors, adventure and sport, and was part of the mutual attraction between us when we started dating. We dreamt of many excursions into the wilderness, and exploring the great Rocky Mountains we called home. Our first child came along at the tail end of 2011, and we embarked on our biggest adventure yet – parenthood.
I’ll never forget a well-meaning Auntie regale to me when disclosing we were expecting a new little life that it meant we would have to grow up. At about that exact moment, I decided (and told Nick, in which he supported me either out of excitement or fear of frustrating his pregnant, hormonal wife) that we in fact were not going to “grow up.” We were going to embrace our children’s childhood as the greatest adventure of all time, and introduce them to an amazing world that would be chalk full of wilderness, adventure and sport.
It is noteworthy, that I had yet to put ski boots on a child.
Or driven for hours on end with a baby.
Before you close this story giving it a quick amen of solidarity, or shudder at the thought of having children, please know we’ve been taking our children out to the mountains skiing for the past 5 years, since our firstborn was two. We have found a pretty great little gem that makes this feat more than palatable, and in fact incredibly fun. Let me introduce you to Nakiska Ski Area.
This resort on the edge of the Rocky Mountains is quick 45 minute drive from Calgary. It makes for a wonderful day trip from the city for locals, or for those flying into Alberta wanting an authentic Rocky Mountain experience that includes downhill skiing – because is it really authentic if you don’t ski?
Snowplows and wildlife naturally add to the iconic Canadian Rockies experience as you drive through the Kananaskis.
The resort itself is charming, with the lodge boasting several fireplaces end to end at which you can warm up, a darling cafe with delicious treats (the monster cookies are a must), and a well-stocked retail shop. The staff was equally delightful, and everyone we encountered from lifties to cleaning staff were extremely friendly. This was tested when a small baby was smashing the aforementioned monster cookies underneath the beautiful wood tables in the lodge – this was not our experience, I’m just relating it for a friend.
Then there is the skiing. Nakiska is known for it’s meticulously maintained runs that lend themselves as a racer’s dream hosting countless international competitions. The runs are confidence inspiring, and beautiful, and our five and seven year old rippers felt like rockstars. The high speed chair not only whisks skiers up quickly to catch more runs, but is a nice bonus-feature for the parent hiking with the baby below waiting for his or her turn to go for a quick ski.
The top was a magical little surprise this week, having received eight inches of fresh snow the night before. It was not only a great day with the kids, but for us parents, we got to ski a powder day – and it was amazing. The fog closed in leaving you in a winter wonderland, with snow-covered trees and every little building looking like a mystical cabin in the woods.
Next time you’re looking for a quick day trip from Calgary don’t discount Nakiska Ski Area. In fact, it should be near the top of your list. And if you go on a Thursday you might just have the place to yourself.
Words & Photos by Chelsea Mackenzie Photo
See more photos of the experience on the original blog post on Chelsea’s website.
As you explore the many options being presented to your family for outdoor winter sport activity, we at the Alberta Alpine Ski Association thought we would take this opportunity to introduce your family to ski racing – a truly family sport.
Alberta Alpine is the governing body for alpine and ski cross racing in Alberta. We are comprised of incredibly dedicated and talented clubs across the entire province, offering ski racing development programs to children in the following age categories: U8, U10, U12, U14, U16, and FIS. Through our club network, we have created life-long skiers, coaches, and even World Cup Champion ski racers.
Alpine ski racing is divided into the following primary disciplines, which athletes will begin to explore as they age through their clubs program offerings:
Slalom is the shortest race featuring the most turns. Competitors aim to complete the technically exciting course, then the course is reset and athletes who qualify for a second run tackle the course once again with those receiving the fastest combined time coming out on top of the podium for the day.
Giant Slalom (GS) is similar to slalom, with fewer gates and slightly larger turns, increasing the speed athletes travel down the course. GS is also a two-run event, where combined times are used to determine the finish rank of the day.
Super Giant Slalom (Super-G) is a speed event that athletes can begin to explore at U14 and older, featuring a longer course than GS, with fewer turns. This discipline is usually introduced in a camp format, where athletes learn speed technique under the direction of highly qualified coaches. Super-G races are one-run events, where the fastest individual times determine the finish rank.
Downhill is the longest and highest-speed event in alpine ski racing. If you’ve watched ski racing on TV, this is likely the event you were watching. Downhill is fast and thrilling to watch, and competitions are targeted to athletes at the high-performance level of the sport. Downhill race winners are often determined by hundredths of seconds, and at the World Cup level, these races can draw fans in the tens of thousands to cheer on the worlds fastest women and men.
Ski Cross is an exciting discipline combining both the skills of alpine ski racing, and freestyle skiing in a fan-favourite event. Athletes learn the sport by gaining an understand of speed development skills using features on the track such as rollers and banked turns. Eventually, athletes compete head-to-head on a track featuring a variety of technical features. Canada, and Alberta specifically, have produced some of the worlds best Ski Cross athletes, including Calgarian Brady Leman, who won gold at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Perhaps the best part of ski racing is the community of passionate families it brings together. Often the entire family participates in one capacity or another, and ‘ski friends’ become lifelong relationships that often far surpass a child’s time in ski racing programs.
Skiing and snowshoeing: two winter activities meant for adventurers of all ages and experience levels. Snowshoeing down serene slopes covered in soft snow is perfect for those craving a quiet winter excursion. On the other hand, skiing is the championed winter adventure. Carving down the slopes and watching the snow flurry up around you presents a different kind of excitement. Here at Nakiska, we believe that winter was meant to gather people outdoors in the beautiful white lands which is why our skiing and snowshoeing is like no other. We are proud of where we call home and are equally excited when our uniqueness is recognized. We are so happy to share our ranking as one of Canada’s Top Signature Winter Experiences of 2018 by Flight Network.
In addition to downhill skiing and snowshoeing, Nakiska also offers tubing during the winter!
Canada’s leading travel agency, Flightnetwork.com found only the best places to help craft a winter itinerary in this beautiful country. The writer found our adventures to be a prime destination for all travelers, and we are glowing with pride for the recognition. Nakiska Ski Resort opens its arms to all visitors who wish to experience the beauty of snow covered Canada. Our slopes and paths for skiing and snowshoeing are looked after with the utmost care, and adventurers just may find themselves falling in love with their surroundings at Nakiska. We hope to welcome new guests to our home in Alberta with this listing.
While cruising down a run on skis or a snowboard is a great activity with a major fun factor, there’s also something to be said for the tranquility of snowshoeing through the silent winter trees with only the sound of the snow crunching beneath your feet. Snowshoeing was first used, more or less as a necessity of survival by our ancestors to be able to navigate the snowy terrain during the winter months (in fact it’s widely suspected our first Aboriginals in Canada used snowshoes to travel to the new land across the top of the globe from Asia), it has taken on a more recreational aspect for most these days. A terrific activity for almost all ages snowshoeing is the perfect way to get everyone outdoors and exploring the surrounding trails of Nakiska – whether it’s a family outing you’re embarking on or a romantic winter walk through the woods with your boo you can now experience it at Nakiska, enjoying all the amenities being at a ski resort offers (think a warm, delicious meal/drink after your walk or making a weekend of it by staying at the nearby Delta Lodge at Kananaskis just a few minutes away).
Starting on December 15th, we’ll be offering guided tours daily, tours will include a 2 hour snowshoe trek, rentals (including snow boots, snowshoes & poles) followed by a hot drink and cookie for each participant. Looking to venture out on your own? Bring your own snowshoes or rent them from our resort rental shop and head out on our local surrounding trails (note to snowshoe on resort boundaries you must be part of a guided tour).
For more information including pricing visit the snowshoeing section of our website.
If you want your kids to fall in love with skiing, a great first experience is critical! Here are our tried and tested tips for fun ski days the first time and every time:
- Pack the night before so you have time for a decent breakfast. Full tummies= happy kids! We use a 3-bag system as follows:
- Ski bag: Skis (and ski poles for those who already know how to ski)
- Duffle bag: ski boots, 1 midlayer (fleece or down sweater) per person, extra socks and mitts/gloves, snacks and/or lunch. Leave this one in the lodge!
- Small backpack to carry when skiing: cell phone, wallet, keys (clip them in so you don’t lose them), hand and foot warmer packets, lip gloss, sunscreen, high calorie snacks that won’t freeze (chocolate is good), small water bottles (refill them throughout the day).
- Take a load off: Bring a large sled and a couple bungee cords to tow all your gear. Your shoulders will thank you.
- Set a meeting time and place: If everyone’s lessons are at different times or family members will be skiing in different parts of the resort, set a meeting time and place and talk about what to do if you become separated on the hill (e.g. wait at the next junction, or ski to the bottom and wait at the chair lift).
- Dress for Success: Layers are the key to staying comfy and warm. Wear synthetic/merino base layers, wool blend ski socks, snowpants, ski jacket, mittens/gloves, helmet, and goggles. You can always swap the jacket for a midlayer (you packed it, didn’t you?) if you get too warm; or double up if it’s super frosty. Avoid cotton clothes.
- Snack breaks for the win: We carry a mix of healthy snacks and treats to keep energy levels and spirits high. Call it what you will – bribe or incentive – but gummy bears and chocolates got our girls to do turns (1 gummy bear per 3 turns so they wouldn’t shoot straight down the hill). Be sure to wash that snack down with a drink!
- Wear snow boots: Change into your ski boots at the lodge. It’s faster and comfier, and you’ll be all set to play in the snow or go tubing when you’re done skiing!
- Rent or buy gear that is height/skill-level appropriate: A ski shop can outfit you accordingly. Do some research before buying used gear to ensure you get the right size of skis/boards and boots.
- Say no to poles: Beginners don’t need ski poles. In fact, the first thing your instructor will say if you have poles, is to leave them on the ground so you can focus on your balance.
- Always wear a helmet: This goes for you too, parents! And buckle that brain bucket so it stays on!
- Book a lesson: Some kids prefer private lessons, but most enjoy skiing with other kids their age. It is amazing how much kids progress in group lessons because they want to keep up with the best kid in the class! Learning from a professional also ensures they don’t pick up bad habits from you.
- Avoid naptime! Ski at your kids happy time of day. If your kids don’t nap, however, the runs are usually less busy in the afternoon.
- Keep it fun: Instead of drills, play games! Children learn best through play. If your child wants to play in the snow, go play in the snow (but find a safe place near the lodge to do so). When my kids were 2, we spent more time playing than skiing, but it paid off. They love snow and love being at the ski hill because they associate both with FUN!
- Be patient: Every child learns at a different pace.
- Celebrate wins – big and small! Reward efforts with something your child enjoys. Have pizza to celebrating mastering “the pizza” aka snowplow, or plan a movie night or games night.
- Quit while you’re ahead: Stop while your kids are still loving it to make them want to go skiing again soon!
Yes, you’ve read that correctly! Nakiska will be the first in Canada to open this ski season for a preview weekend this Saturday & Sunday, November 4th/5th. Here’s the scoop;
Saturday, November 4th – 10:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday, November 5th – 9:00am – 4:00pm
Reduced Ticket Prices
Full Day tickets available only (all prices quoted do not include GST)
Adult – $49.95
Senior – $39.95
Youth – $37.95
Child – $19.95
*Please note RCR Rockies card discounts do not apply when reduced rates in effect.
Skiing off Gold Chair
Upload/Download off Olympic Chair
Last Chair will load at 3:30
Runs Open: Upper Mapmaker, Mid Mapmaker, Amptheatre, Mid Mountain Area, Olympic Easy Way, Morley Flats, served by GCX. Upper and Mid Glades with early season conditions, skiout on Gold Road.
*Note – there is no beginner terrain available
Daylodge open at 8:00am – 4:30pm with extended offering of food & drinks
Slopeside Cafe 8:30am – 5:00pm
Mid Mountain Lodge open at 10:00am with modified food and beverage services 10:30am – 3:30pm
Guest services open at 08:30am – 4:00pm – stop in to get your season pass printed!
Ticketing Office open 9:30am – 2:00pm & Sunday at 8:30am -2:00pm (note – tickets will not be sold after 2:00pm)
Retail Boutique open 8:30am – 3:00pm
Rentals open Saturday 9:00am & Sunday at 8:30am
Please note – no daycare services or winter sports school lessons will be available
November Opening Schedule
November 17th – 19th
Official 7-day opening on December 1st
In the Rocky Mountains West, a new mountain bike fest emerges, The Plaid Goat Mountain Bike Fest!
This isn’t a competitive event but an all inclusive community mountain bike festival to bring the riding community together to celebrate camaraderie, share beers and do some riding together, all in the spirit of lifting the sport to a higher place.
The Plaid Goat Mountain Bike Fest, is raising funds to support mountain bike trail projects not just in Canmore but in the entire mountain region from Golden to Kimberley and over to Fernie, British Columbia.
This push for more and better trails came from a grassroots movement led by Wanda Bogdane, founder of the Plaid Goat Mountain Bike Fest, who sees her event as the catalyst to support the greater movement of building trails that current mountain bikers want to ride.
Here’s what to expect June 23 – 25;
- Demo-licious Days
Sample the tastiest bikes of the season from the best mountain bike brands in the industry (add on required – $35/Fri. & Sat.), limited tickets available.
- Local Craft Beer Hub
Sample handpicked high quality beverages from seven hand-picked regional brewers and two distilleries, also a free photo booth and more activities.
- Bike Rodeo
Hosted by the Flannel Crew, this event features fun spectator events like huck-to-flat comps, adult tricycle races, costume crits and other ridiculous behaviour!
- Family Friendly Non-Race Activities
check out group rides, shuttles and coaching clinics.
- Kids Only Hub
Face painting, digger pits, a skills & drills area, colouring and more!
- Secure Bike Valet
Leave your car at home – your bikes will be safe while you test bikes and participate in activities.
- Soapbox Central
Check out tech talks on mountain bike specific topics like bikepacking, gear and trail building!
Don’t forget about the wildlife safety and trail building sessions demonstrating the festival’s commitment to responsible riding as well as partner run fun and friendly events like the TransRockies Race Series’ Rundle’s Revenge (June 24/25).
Post written with contributions by Powder Matt.
Our scheduled closing day for the 2016/2017 ski season is on Sunday, April 16th. We’ll be open for skiing/riding for two following Bonus Weekends – April 22nd & 23rd and April 29th & 30th. Don’t miss out on our annual Spring Fiesta events including DJ’s, Balloon artist and face painting- each weekend in April until official closing day (April 16th).
Spring is my favourite time to go skiing for warm weather, sunny days spent on the hill with no frozen fingers or toes, and for the abundant patio opportunities. It can also be a challenging time though with unpredictable snow (often changing by the hour) and temperatures that make us overheat just trying to carry gear from the parking lot to the day lodge.
Check out my ten simple tips below and discover how to fully make the most of your days on the hill this spring season.
- Be prepared for multiple wardrobe changes. We’ve already had a couple of warm ski days this season where I was sweating just trying to pack our skis over to the day lodge. We’d always cool off on the chair lift ride up the hill but then I’d be sweating again on the ski down. The biggest tip here is layering so that you have options for dealing with changing temperatures. Add a sweater, remove a shirt, ski with just a warm base layer and your ski pants, or take the lining out of your 3-in-1 ski jacket. I also recommend having some extra clothing options stored in a duffel bag in the day lodge (or in your vehicle) so that you can do a quick wardrobe change mid-day if you need.
- Fight thirst without breaking the bank. Unless you’re prepared to pay at least $3 for a beverage or even a bottle of water when the sun starts beating down on you, make sure you pack some water bottles in your day pack to leave in the lodge. You can always fill your own water bottle in the lodge (for free) so skip buying drinks and bring Gatorade crystals, flavor drops, or even lemonade powder.
- A spring sunburn is not a fashion statement. While a lot of people like to pull out their “funky fun clothing” for spring skiing, don’t think you’re going to look cool trying to accessorize with a sun burn after spending hours on the hill, snow reflecting the sun on to your skin. Sun’s out, Sunblock’s out!
- Get first tracks for the best spring snow. Get on the hill at 9am and you’ll have at least three hours before the snow starts getting slushy. By noon, if you have a seasons pass, you can always call it quits for the day if the snow deteriorates too badly and head over to Kananaskis Village for a walk, a skate on the pond, or even just a visit to the playground.
- Ski high for the best snow. The lower mountain will always get slushy before the runs off the gold chair will. Ski the lower slopes in the morning but move your way up the hill when the snow starts getting soft.
- Be prepared for all kinds of conditions (in the same day!) You might start skiing on iced corduroy for the first hour, move on to soft snow that resembles mashed potatoes for the next hour or so, and then slowly move into slushier conditions by noon. That’s the reality of spring skiing! My best suggestion is to send a strong skier out to try new areas on the mountain first before taking the kids up a new lift and discovering the runs to be icy or in a condition that your children can’t ski.
- Join in the fun of a spring festival. Nakiska (and most other resorts) will be holding Spring Festival weekends throughout April. Have fun with some spring skiing and fun spring events. Check our event calendars on resort website for schedules.
- Stay local and enjoy a mini-ski vacation. Book your ski vacation through Resorts of the Canadian Rockies for great family deals on ski passes and accommodations at the The Kananaskis Lodge or Stoney Nakoda Lodge. For an affordable ski vacation, the HI Kananaskis Hostel has four private rooms and a fully stocked kitchen so you can make your own meals.
- Try something new this spring! Warmer days, sunshine, and bluebird skies call for new experiences and fun adventures. Try some family tubing at Nakiska, take a snowboard lesson, book a family coaching session and learn some new skills in a private ski or snowboarding class, register the kids in a spring break camp, or book a private lesson to get an introduction to doing tricks in the terrain park.
- Always have a backup plan for spring ski weekends. With unpredictable spring weather and snow conditions, it’s always good to have a few backup plans (especially if you’re staying at Kananaskis Village for a weekend and are only skiing half days.) Take a fat bike tour with Kananaskis Outfitters at the nearby Village, rent snowshoes or cross country skis from the Outfitters and check out the trails around the village, or take a hike to nearby Troll Falls and see if you can find some of the hidden trolls along the trail.
See you on the slopes this spring!
Valentine’s Day is coming up – treat the lady in your life to a Ladies’ Day at Nakiska! Ladies’ Ski & Snowboard Days are scheduled this season for February 9th, March 1st, 9th & 29th and April 6th (potential date). Ladies day programs all include lift pass, instruction, transportation, gourmet lunch and (of course) pampering.
Purchase your program (or one for your lady) and get more information from our purchase link.