The last time I stayed at Emerald Lake Lodge, in Canada’s Yoho National Park I was a newlywed. Naturally, I can’t remember much about that romantic escapade, except it was a delight and they had a really rad outdoor hot tub. When the opportunity arose to revisit this spring, I was torn.
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Would I take The Huz and reignite that spark that’s so easily extinguished with the drudgeries of daily life? Nah! I decided I’d rather go on a girl’s getaway with my daughter while she still wants to hang out with me. And so it was off to Emerald Lake Lodge we went.
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Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park
Emerald Lake Lodge is close to Lake Louise, but sits on the B.C. side of the Rockies. It’s in Yoho National Park, which is just as pretty as Banff National Park, minus the crowds. When choosing where to stay in Yoho, the question you must first ask yourself is how badly do you want to rough it?
If you’re really gun-ho, there are numerous campgrounds to pitch your tent at, but if you’re looking for a true Canadiana lodge experience, Emerald Lake Lodge is where you want to rest your head.
To get to the lodge from Calgary, you drive along the TransCanada highway passing both Banff and Lake Louise. After crossing the Alberta/B.C. border, you’ll come up to a tiny town that’s Field BC. Once you hit Field, you know you’re not far.
It is worth a stop to suss out the Yoho National Park Visitor Centre for information on hiking and biking trails. If you want to bypass that, the staff at Emerald Lake Lodge can also point you in the right direction. And if you’re into roughing it, you may want to consider hiking or camping around Lake O’Hara.
We peeled off the highway near Field and drove along that stunning road pictured above, before pulling into the lodge parking lot. From there, you hop on a shuttle that whisks you up to the main lodge in three minutes flat.
The main lodge at Emerald Lake is as grand as you’d expect. Built of hand-hewn timber with plenty of inviting fireside nooks, it’s worth visiting for a cocktail even if you aren’t staying the night. We were, but I was anxious to get out and about. Away from Emerald Lodge we went, so my precocious tween and I could get some much needed fresh air.
First up: exploring Emerald Lake – not that we could surmise the lake’s colour at this time of year. Coated in a thick sheet of ice, this is the largest of the 60-some lakes in Yoho National Park and one that’s easy to get around. Situated lakeside, Emerald Sports rents out cross country skis and snowshoes, plus canoes in the summer months.
Initially, I was worried doing the full Emerald Lake Loop would be too much. My daughter doesn’t exactly love cross country skiing and nobody wants such pretty vistas ruined by whingeing. But the 8 km (5 mile) groomed run only takes about an hour to complete and we were both glad we made the effort.
Sparkling like diamonds, the snow looked like some six-year-old had thrown glitter on it. And there were adorable snowmen to admire under the President Range – like winterized inukshuk, marking the land.
Emerald Lake Cabins
Smugly invigorated with rosy cheeks and slightly sore legs, it was time to investigate the cabins. Though this wasn’t supposed to be a romantic getaway, it suddenly felt like one. Stepping into our Emerald Lake Lodge cabin, I realized a visit here is all about hunkering down in a magical spot, where you’re not distracted from the awesomeness of nature.
Each cabin comes equipped with a wood burning fireplace and full bath (including tub), but no wifi nor TV. (Wifi is available in the main lodge.) Emerald Lake Lodge is the sort of place where your duvet beckons you to snuggle underneath it with a loved one.
Or, should your loved one be your daughter, curl up on the couch, in front of the fire, with a good book and even better – a glass of wine.
It was hard to concentrate on my book though. I kept glancing between the flames on my right and the crystallized lake on my left. It was that perfect time of day when you’re not yet hungry, so the wine is doing its job, and you could drift off to sleep – save you’re still invigorated and feeling quite smug you hit the great outdoors before submitting to the coziness of the room.
This is why they don’t offer connectivity in guest rooms, I thought. True luxury is being disconnected from your devices, but connected to those who mean the world to you.
Field, B.C. Restaurants
Though we had a good size wooden table in our room, it was hard to justify ordering room service. Not when there’s Mount Burgess dining room, plus several other restaurants in Field, B.C. a short drive away. (Truffle Pigs Bistro in Field is my favourite restaurant in town.)
Known for its Rocky Mountain cuisine, Emerald Lake’s Mount Burgess has a good looking cocktail program, too. I did want to try the boozy blueberry iced tea, but I just wasn’t feeling like hard alcohol. Instead, I went for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Interestingly, all wines by the glass are from the Okanagan and Silmilkameen Valleys in Southern BC.
The wine program, created by Wine Director, Brad Royale, isn’t just a list of greatest hits. It’s more thoughtful than that, as evidenced by the ‘rules’ set out in the menu. Yes, apparently there are rules for making it onto their wine menu.
First… they have to be delicious.
Second… they have to be pure.
Third… they have to be individual.
Fourth… they have to have value.
There is a children’s menu at Emerald Lake Lodge, but I believe I previously mentioned my child is somewhat precocious. Eve loves scallops, but would she appreciate them sitting atop a cauliflower velouté and drizzled with chili thyme butter? She would!
Would she be able to handle the heady flavours of star anise in the jus that accompanied her duck breast and lentils? Again, we had a winner. I ordered the beef tenderloin with risotto as a back up – fully anticipating the need to swap plates. Alas, I was stuck with it. There are worse things in life than chewing on flavourful, yet tender Alberta beef though.
Before heading off to bed, there was one last piece of unfinished business to attend to: that infamous outdoor hot tub. The night was brisk – as most nights in the Rockies tend to be, but that only makes the frothy water that much more soothing.
Gazing up, we could see hundreds of stars piercing the velvet night sky. It had been a busy day, capping off a manic week, but I felt so very centred. Romance was never on the agenda for us girls, but reconnecting to each other was. Mission accomplished.
Thank you to Emerald Lake Lodge who hosted my stay.
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