Escape to the Rockies

An invigorating mid-pandemic jaunt to an idyllic B.C. mountain village was just what these three couples needed.

Canadian Rockies HorizonPhoto: Terri Rau
A majestic vista Terri and the gang enjoyed on a Hoodoo trail hike, East Kootenay, B.C.

With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in international travel bans across the world for most of 2020 and 2021, we decided to travel somewhere within Canada. My husband, Chris and I have been to Alberta and British Columbia in the past and we love the mountains, so any chance we get to go back, we are there! As luck would have it, we had an opportunity to visit Bighorn Meadows Resort, in Radium Hot Springs, B.C., in the first week of December 2021. This was our first trip to Radium Hot Springs—a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountain Trench between the western range of the Canadian Rockies and the Purcell Mountains—so we did not know what to expect.

Bighorn Meadows Resort - HoodooPhoto: Terri Rau
Scoping out the Hoodoo trail on a drive.

The condo we booked had space for six, so we simply had to bring some family with us to enjoy this opportunity. My sister and her husband—Pat and Lorne—are retired, so they were able to make it on such short notice, while my daughter and her boyfriend—Hunter and Cody—were able to join us for the last part of the trip.

Chris Rau on a winter hikePhoto: Terri Rau
Chris Rau hiking B.C.’s Lower Bugaboo Falls trail.

We flew to Calgary, rented a car, loaded up with groceries and then did the three-hour drive to Radium Hot Springs. Normally I would not want to tackle such a long drive after flying, but our route through the mountains was so scenic and enjoyable, at least for the passengers. My poor husband got stuck with all the driving, so kudos to him for being such a good sport.

Bighorn Meadows Resort - Hiking Sinclair Canyon TrailsPhoto: Terri Rau
Lorne and Pat on the Sinclair Canyon Trails.

A Week at Bighorn Meadows Resort

We were very impressed with the resort itself; it was such a lovely place to make our home base for the week. My sister and I had done research before we left to see what types of activities we could do during our stay. We compiled a list of hiking trails that we wanted to check out; visiting the hot springs was also high on our list. During that week, we were able to get to the hiking trails within walking distance of the resort; the other trails we did were only a short drive away.

Bighorn Meadows Resort - Bighorn SheepPhoto: Terri Rau
Bighorns in Kootenay National Park.

I was also anxious to see and photograph the bighorn sheep, but when we didn’t spot any the first day, we asked a local about the best place to find them. As it turns out, we just had to be patient: they regularly walk all through the town. There are even flashing lights on the road to slow motorists down for the safety of the sheep.

Rut season was just ending, so although we did see some rams head-butting, for the most part, they were pretty calm. One morning, a bighorn sheep walked in front of our window at the resort while we were having breakfast; it was such a thrill to watch.

Banff mountain viewsPhoto: Terri Rau
Views from Terri and Pat’s Banff hike.

When my daughter and her boyfriend arrived at the Calgary airport, my husband offered to pick them up. My brother-in-law went with him—I think they were looking for a day off from the hiking! My sister and I asked them to drop us off in Banff along the way so we could hike the beautiful, picturesque town that we all love so much, then the whole gang later enjoyed a meal there before we headed back to our resort. A snowstorm was coming and we wanted to stay ahead of it, as falling snow could make the drive a little tricky.

Creek along Sinclair Canyon TrailsPhoto: Terri Rau
A creek along the Sinclair Canyon Trails, B.C.

Over the next few days, we hiked, soaked in the hot springs and played games in the evening. The weather was perfect with the sun shining bright, allowing for great photo opportunities. Even when passing by a small creek, the way the sun hit it was so photo­genic that we had to stop to capture the shot.

Bighorn Meadows Resort - Couple in front of Canadian RockiesPhoto: Terri Rau
Cody and Hunter on the Hoodoo.

At the end of our week, another snow­ storm was set to roll in. We overheard some locals talking about the possibility of closing the road—the only way back to Cal­gary—so we packed up and left extra early to make sure we could get to the airport on time. The trip was amazing and we’ll def­initely visit again.

Now that you’ve added Bighorn Meadows Resort to your bucket list, check out the best winter hiking trail in every province.

Originally Published in Our Canada