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Discovering a Winter Wonderland in the Canadian Rockies

Article contributed by: Rocky Mountain Escape

Crisp, clean air; powdery snow blanketing evergreens, valleys and mountains; crystal clear nights with stars seemingly close enough to touch. These sights await backcountry skiers and dog sledders on the Mountain Shadow Trail.
Although best known for it's world-class downhill ski resorts in Bankff, Lake Louise and Jasper, the Alberta Rockies are also home to unique, secluded wilderness cabins and lodges located amongst the front ranges of the mountains. These less well-known operations are ideal for nature lovers and folks looking for a quiet retreat, away from the crowds and lights of civilization. Here, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding reign supreme.

Guests can explore on their own or join an expert instructor and guide to ski on track-set trails or embark on a true back-country experience on skiis or snowshoes. The snow-covered trails may only be marked by the wild creatures of our subalpine valleys.

The silence and peaceful solitude of the winter landscape is broken only by the swish of skiis, or perhaps the twittering of a chikadee, the rap-a-tap-tap of a woodpecker or the scolding chatter of a disturbed squirrel.

Dog sledding adventurers can thrill to the speed and enthusiasm with which the dogs take to the trail. Guests can drive their own team, accompanied by an experienced musher, and discover the wonders of travelling snow covered terrain by this almost-forgotten traditional mode of winter transportation. For the more daring, try ski-joring: a European sport where a guest straps on his cross-country skiis and harnesses up to an Alaskan Husky (or 2) for the ride of a lifetime!

Temperatures in the mountains in late winter/early spring (February to mid-April) are typically mild (-10 C to 0 C during the day; -20 to -10 C at night), with only a rare chance of severly cold weather. Daylight hours are increasing this time of year, and the sun feels warm on a skiers face. Nights are typically crystal-clear and with increasing solar flares and activities forecast for February, March and April, the chance of seeing a vibrant display of Northern Lights is excellent. The hauntingly beautiful howls of a Timber Wolf pack can frequently serenade guests at night.