The kids are back in school, life is slowly returning to normal, and the family summer vacation is starting to feel like a distant memory. Press ‘rewind’ with a weekend getaway this autumn and remind the kids how much fun a road trip can be together!
Kananaskis Country Fall Getaway - Spend a weekend camping at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, and hike the popular trail to Ptarmigan Cirque. If you time your visit for the third week of September, you’ll get to see golden larches on your outing as well.
Want something a little bit warmer or more comfortable for your overnight accommodations? Try comfort camping in a trapper’s tent or in a tipi at Sundance Lodges (open until September 17). Both come with a small kerosene heater for those chilly autumn nights. You can also reserve a room at the newly renovated Delta Kananaskis Lodge if camping is not your family’s style! Spend your day hiking and your evening warming up in the Lodge’s indoor/outdoor hot tub (there is also an indoor swimming pool).
Or rent a yurt at Mount Engadine Lodge for an overnight stay in Spray Valley Provincial Park. The yurt sleeps four and an overnight stay includes afternoon tea (with charcuterie platter and baked goodies), a three-course dinner, breakfast, and a packed lunch the next day. Note: The yurt is not heated but has a small heater in it for cold nights. Guests are also invited to spend their evenings in the heated (and very comfortable) main lodge before going out to the yurt to sleep.
Regardless of where you stay, you’ll find trails outside your door that are perfect for a family hike, bike ride, or leisurely walk.
Banff and Lake Louise Fall Getaway - Many of the tourists have started to head home and Banff is a much quieter place to visit. Spend a day hiking through golden larch trees in Sunshine Meadows at the Sunshine Village Ski Resort. In the Lake Louise area, hike the Larch Valley Trail from Moraine Lake to witness why the trail gets its name.
Another popular trail where you can also see larch trees is the Lake Agnes Tea House hike at Lake Louise. Hike up the Big Beehive Trail behind the lake to witness the golden trees. And for those with older children, the hike up to Saddleback Pass is gorgeous when the larch trees have turned. Ambitious families can even summit Mount Fairview from here if there isn’t snow on it yet.
Larch trees hit their golden peak around the third week of September, and trails will be very busy on weekends. If choosing to hike popular trails, try to get an early start or visit mid-week if you have flexibility with younger children not yet in school. For Lake Louise area hikes, take a free shuttle bus from the village below to avoid having to find parking at the lakes.
Looking to spend the night in Banff? There is no shortage of accommodation options from camping to condo-style hotels in the town of Banff. We like renting a family suite in Banff at one of the many hotels and always look for something with one or two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a separate living room to relax in after the kids have gone to bed.
Jasper Fall Getaway - I love Jasper for a peaceful Fall getaway. It is much quieter than Banff with a more relaxed feeling. The drive along the Icefields Parkway is also stunning on a crisp clear autumn day.
While it is a little far for a two-day weekend, we’ve made many short trips to Jasper on a Friday night after work. We then spend Saturday biking the easy trail network around town, hiking up the Old Fort Point Trail for views of the whole valley, and visiting nearby Miette Hot Springs. We drive home Sunday afternoon, stopping to enjoy some of the short hikes along the Icefields Parkway including Athabasca Falls, Mistaya Canyon, or Parker Ridge.
You can choose to camp or reserve a room at any of the hotels in town. There are also many quaint cabins that you can stay in for a more ‘natural’ wilderness experience.
British Columbia Getaways
Radium Hot Springs Fall Getaway - Radium Hot Springs is an easy destination to reach Friday after work. Rent a condo in town or travel a little bit farther to the town of Invermere where you’ll also find many comfortable condos with one or two bedrooms, full kitchens, and furnished living rooms.
We like to visit the hot springs, hike or bike along Sinclair Creek (with all of the beautiful Fall colors), and bike the Old Coach Trail between Dry Gulch and Radium Hot Springs. We also like to hike up the Mount Swansea Trail near Invermere for views out over the Columbia Valley. And if you have avid bikers in your family, make sure you visit the Radium Hot Springs Pump and Jump Park in Sinclair Creek. It has a fun little dirt pump track and some easy jumps.
Tips for Planning a Family Fall Getaway:
Take advantage of early school dismissals on Fridays and take a half-day off work so you can get a jumpstart on your weekend.
Plan your weekend away around any Fall PD days your children have.
If choosing to stay in a yurt, tipi, canvas tent, or cabin, make sure your accommodation comes with a heater.
Look for hotels, condos, or resorts with outdoor hot tubs to fully enjoy those chilly Fall evenings.
Visit a Tourist Information Centre at your destination for suggestions on choosing the best Fall color hike, current trail conditions (some trails get snow by mid-September), and for any wildlife and fire warnings in the area.
Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to a spunky eight-year-old. She loves hiking, camping, skiing, and all things mountain-related. She is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, rockiesfamilyadventures.com.
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