I Backpack Canada » Alberta http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Sat, 16 Aug 2014 19:43:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Luxury Hostels Exist In Banff – HI Banff Alpine Centre http://ibackpackcanada.com/luxury-hostels-exist-in-banff-hi-banff-alpine-centre/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/luxury-hostels-exist-in-banff-hi-banff-alpine-centre/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2011 11:20:13 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3224 Luxury Hostels Exist In Banff – HI Banff Alpine Centre is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Pop culture hasn’t been kind to budget accommodation. Movies featuring grimey, dingy, cockroach infested rooms have been prevalent for years. While that may be the case in some impoverished nations, or just poorly managed facilities, my experience in Canadian hostels hasn’t seen much of that. Sure, you’ll get an un-comfy bed every once in a while; maybe a messy kitchen, but for the most part, what you get is typically “good enough”. It’s easy to get used to “good enough”, which makes it all the more memorable when you come across luxury where you weren’t expecting it. I was fortunate enough to have that moment in Banff at the Banff Alpine Centre, operated by HI Hostels.


Friendly Staff with smiles to boot!

Entering the HI – Banff Alpine Centre with the rest of my Moose Network group; everyone was aching for a shower and a stretch. It had been a long few days and any bed would have done. The friendly staff checked us in with their familiar Aussie accents; Banff is funny that way. It’s totally normal to be greeted by a Kiwi one minute then a Brit the next.


Sleep in your own Wooden Cabin

I hauled my backpack in the directions I was given by the desk staff. Outside the doors and along a paved path, a small wooden cabin greeted me. As I opened the door, I dropped my bag with a loud thud. A smile wider than the prairies stretched across my face as I scanned the private room. My smile evolved into a dropped jaw as I closed the door and proceeded to dance better than Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, and Justin Timberlake combined. It was a shame I didn’t have a single audience member to witness it.

HI-Banff-Hostel-Canada - Luxury Hostel

Big Comfy Beds

Two queen sized beds, a small flat screen tv, a leather couch, hardwood floors, and a private bathroom. The quiet of the room made me start talking to myself. “Corbin, you are one lucky s.o.b!” It was hard not to jump into bed right then and there; but I had plenty to do that evening. Instead, I opted to test out the shower; which rocked. I spruced up a bit, and ran to meet up with the rest of the group.



A Pub, Restaurante and Cafe all under one awesome name

As I walked to Cougar Petes (the Hostel Restaurante), I couldn’t help but think about how incredible this hostel is. Amazing views, awesome private rooms with all the amenities you’d expect to find in a hotel (at a fraction of the cost), and a downtown-ish location that can’t be beat. As I sat down to eat and took a bite of the Chicken Caesar Salad I ordered, I knew this was going to be a favourite hostel of mine from this point forward.



Luxury Private Rooms are the bee’s knees

This type of room would be perfect for traveling couples of any age, or even if you’re just backpacking with a couple friends and need a break from the dorm rooms. The spacious rooms and comfy beds would please the most spoiled travellers. This hostel is living proof that hostels can’t be painted with the same brush. Luxury does exist in hostel form. Do yourself a favour, and enjoy it when you find it.

Have you ever come across some luxury backpackers or hostels?



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The Sunday Canadian Travel Video: Mancation in the Rockies http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-sunday-canadian-travel-video-mancation-in-the-rockies/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-sunday-canadian-travel-video-mancation-in-the-rockies/#comments Sun, 10 Oct 2010 23:20:42 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=2337 The Sunday Canadian Travel Video: Mancation in the Rockies is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Ladies and gentilmen, you are in for a treat this fine (Canadian) Thanksgiving Sunday. In honour of the holidays and the loving idea that families should get along and just be good to one another, I’ve managed to find a cool family travel video. This Canadian Travel Video stars travel writer, Robin Esrock, from such websites as Modern Gonzo, and Matador Travel, as well as from his TV shows Word Travels and Breaking Free. I should thank Robin Esrock once again for being so welcoming at the GoMedia2010 event held in Toronto, and for encouraging me to partake in as manly free drinks there as possible. Which I did. Twice.

So without further ado, I give you “Robins Mancation in the Rockies”.


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The Sunday Canadian Travel Video: Banff To Jasper http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-sunday-canadian-travel-video-banff-to-jasper/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-sunday-canadian-travel-video-banff-to-jasper/#comments Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:56:53 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=2306 The Sunday Canadian Travel Video: Banff To Jasper is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Sundays are typically a pretty boring day for me, so in a selfish bid to make Sundays a little more exciting in my eyes, and hopefully yours, I’ve decided to start scouring the tubes of the internet in order to find some inspirational Canadian Travel Videos. In this age, it isn’t hard to find travel videos on the internet, however a lot of them seem to lack a certain “gusta” that professional broadcast videos have. With any luck, I’ll be able to find a decent video every Sunday to light the fire of desire for your next Canadian adventure.

The first video is a video I found on TripFilms, Titled “Banff to Jasper – One of the world’s most breathtaking drives”

Video by TravelContent
Check back every Sunday and I’ll try my darndest to find some neat Canadian Travel Video’s, or perhaps in time, start making my own.

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Interviewing Canadas Hostels: HI Edmonton http://ibackpackcanada.com/interviewing-canadas-hostels-hi-edmonton/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/interviewing-canadas-hostels-hi-edmonton/#comments Sat, 21 Aug 2010 16:39:11 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=2029 Interviewing Canadas Hostels: HI Edmonton is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Once again, another great Canadian hostel has agreed to give the readers of iBackpackCanada.com a bit of a tour and answer a few questions about the backpacking life in Edmonton, Alberta. This city has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination, and for good reason. There’s plenty to see, and even more to do. So we’ve got Greg Waskul, the manager of HI-Edmonton, to tell us about this hostel.

Q: How long have you been operating HI-Edmonton?

I have been managing HI-Edmonton for just over 13 months, but before that I was the assistant manager here for about two and a half years.

Edmonton Hostel

Q: Tell us about HI-Edmonton

HI-Edmonton was an old convent dating back to 1918. It was converted into a hostel once Hostelling International bought it in 1998.

We have 8-bed dorms, 2-bed dorms, private rooms, one ensuite room and one family room. We have a fully equiped self-serve kitchen with a dining room, a large common room, a TV room, a games room, a library, two laundry rooms, a meeting room, a secure storage room, and a backyard with a BBQ. We have free parking and day storage for luggage, too.

Q: Tell us about the area of town your HI-Edmonton resides in.

HI-Edmonton is in the city’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood – the most popular area for shops, restaurants, clubs, live music, live theatre, indie & foreign movie theatres, live comedy, and more. The city’s beautiful river valley is only a few blocks away with lots of hiking and biking trails to explore (we have bike rentals and trail maps at the hostel). Downtown is nice walk or a short bus ride just across the river. The University of Alberta is nearby and the West Edmonton Mall can be accessed by transit one block away.

Q: Does your HI-Edmonton offer any activities or help book tours for it’s guests?

HI-Edmonton has some hostel activities going on mainly during the spring until fall and our friendly front desk staff will happily book your tours or help you plan other ways to explore.

Q: What is your favourite activity / tour that you guys offer, and why?

The most popular hostel activites over the past few years have been our weekly BBQ in our backyard and our bike rentals. The BBQs bring people together outside to relax and chat in the sunshine and the bikes are a great way to see Edmonton.

Edmonton Hostel DormQ: How much does it cost for for a dorm room and private room?

Our dorm prices start at $26.00; and our private rooms start at $61.00.

Q: Are there any special promotions you’re currently running or have run in the past?

Our Summer in the City package kicks off on June 1 until September 30. It includes: four nights in a dorm; one West Edmonton Mall choice pass, which gets you into the waterpark or Galaxyland amusement park or two of the smaller mall attractions; two bus tickets to get you to the mall and back; and a full-day bike rental. Packages start at $138.50 (8-bed dorm) and $150.75 (2-bed dorm), tax included.

The rest of the year we have a seven nights for the price of six deal; a four-night deal, where your 4th consecutive night is 50% off, and a two-week Job Seekers package, which comes with free internet time, resume printing and faxing and a bunch of helpful local information.


10647-81 Ave, Edmonton Alberta

Twitter: @hostelscanada


Thanks Greg for taking the time to answer some questions, and thanks again to HI-Canada for bringing some valuable information to iBackpackCanada.com. Edmonton has got bunch to offer to backpackers, hikers, campers, and travelers. If you’re looking for a well priced bed and some great people, be sure to stop by HI’s Edmonton location.

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The Top 5 Things to do in Banff http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-top-5-things-to-do-in-banff/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-top-5-things-to-do-in-banff/#comments Tue, 25 May 2010 15:22:21 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=1955 The Top 5 Things to do in Banff is a post from: I Backpack Canada


I’ve been swamped to the extreme as of lately, so I’m handing the reigns over to the good guys & gals at ExploreRockies to tell you about some of the best things to see and do while exploring Banff. These guys live and breathe the Rockies, so you know you’re getting the information straight from the horses mouth!

When you plan your next holiday, if you are looking for beautiful scenery and a family vacation that no one will ever forget, look no further than magnificent Banff, Canada. Banff is located in the friendly province of Alberta, nestled into the Canadian Rockies. Sitting pretty at an impressive 1383 meters (4537 feet), it is the second-highest city in the country and offers something for everyone.

Whether you are in the market for one of the many fantastic Canada tour packages that are available to explore this great country, or if you are looking for a more independent holiday so you can arrange all your own activities, accommodations and so on, be sure to center your trip to Banff around some of these top activities.

The Columbia Icefield

Colmbia Icefield TourThe Columbia Icefield is a spectacle to behold. It lies at the southern end of Jasper National  Park and receives up to a staggering seven meters (275 in) of snow a year. It is the home of  eight glaciers: Athabasca Glacier, Castleguard Glacier, Columbia Glacier, Dome Glacier,  Stufield Glacier, and Saskatchewan Glacier.
Encircling the amazing ice field are some of the very highest mountains in the Canadian  Rockies, which makes for some truly incredible views and wonderful photos and memories for  you and your family.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise just might have it all, an absolute must on your itinerary to the region. Most of the best package tours include an option to help you explore beautiful Lake Louise, so be sure to take advantage of it. There are four-season recreational opportunities to get you out hiking, biking, swimming, sailing, skiing, or pretty much anything you can think of.
Add to that the mind-blowing accommodations that are available and you and your family are in  for one massive treat that will be etched in your memories for years and years to come. Just be  warned …you may never want to leave!

Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola

The eight-minute gondola ride up the side of Sulphur Mountain is a ride you and your family  will never forget. You will ooh and ahh over the views as you stand with your mouth agape at  the stunning scenery as the fully-enclosed gondola carts you ever higher, higher up the 2,281m  (7,468 ft) mountainside.
During the summer, you can enjoy Banff Alpine Lights, a unique opportunity to ride the  gondola at night and dine in style with a full prime rib dinner and the beautiful night time views  of Banff National Park.


Banff Ski SunshineBanff is one of the indisputably best locations in the entire world to go skiing. It consistently  ranks among peoples’ favourites alongside the Swiss Alps and the fantastic runs in the United  States in Colorado and Utah.
You have more than one option when you ski in Banff, too. You can ski in the area of Ski Norquay, which can be found just beyond the town, or Sunshine Village, which is a drive of only about 20 minutes. Many visitors also stop over for a day on the slopes in Lake Louise. Whether you’re going on a one-off skiing trip or planning on taking many other trips during the year, InsureandGo are bound to have a winter sports policy that is perfect for you.


Hiking is one of the long-time favourites of a trip to Banff. Even if you don’t typically fancy  yourself a “hiker,” you will want to become one during your stay here. The mountain views, the  fresh air, the beautiful trees blowing in the breeze…what’s not to love? Grab the kids and a pair  of walking sticks and hit the trails. There are walks for all levels of skill and motivation to  enjoy.
If you are not accustomed to hiking, just be sure to take it easy on yourself and remember that  Banff is at a much higher altitude than your body may be used to. Get out there and enjoy the  beautiful nature that Banff has to offer, but do your research if you’re new to hiking or being in  the outdoors. It will make your time outside much more safe and enjoyable.
Don’t forget the camera and the trail mix!

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Interviewing Canadas Hostels: HI-Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel http://ibackpackcanada.com/interviewing-canadas-hostels-hi-castle-mountain-wilderness-hostel/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/interviewing-canadas-hostels-hi-castle-mountain-wilderness-hostel/#comments Tue, 11 May 2010 00:43:22 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=1751 Interviewing Canadas Hostels: HI-Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Numero huit mes amis! It would be sheer lunacy to ignore some of the amazing hostels found a little further off the beaten trail. One of these rare beauties is the Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel, yet another amazing HI-Canada hostel. Tony Chatham was kind enough to give us a few answers along with an amazing description on what you can expect when you book a night in the famous Castle Mountain Hostel.

Q: How long have you been operating your hostel?

A: I have been running HI-Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel for eight fabulous years.

Q: Tell us about your hostel?

A: HI-Castle Mountain has two dorms, one for 14 guys and another for 14 gals, both with their own bathrooms .The beds are very wide and comfortable, a bit like Via rail some say, the only difference is ours don’t move.

There is an excellent equipped kitchen for 28 people, 2 fridges, 2 ovens, a microwave, out door barbeque, cozy lounge with a wonderful fireplace, front loading laundry, incredible water that is the equivalent of spring water. Indoor toilets, hot showers, electricity, phones, cell coverage are some of other features we have that folks that travel the chain of hostels down from Jasper look forward to when they arrive at the Castle.

Q: Tell us about the area your hostel resides in?

A: A food store and gasoline bar is available across the road. In the surrounding area, within a short drive of the hostel there are three superb restaurants that all offer something special in Canadian foods.

Our fire pit sits beside Silverton Creek with a stunning view of Castle Mountain in front of you. We are surrounded in a true wilderness setting, with streams, trees, and fields of flowers. There are frequent animal sightings of bears, moose, elk, deer, coyotes, wolves, lynx, and pine martens. The best time to be here for the flowers is from last week in June to the 1st week in August. The bouquet is out of this world.

Castle Mountain is halfway between Banff and Lake Louise, near the intersection of Highway 1A and Highway 93 south.

Q: Does your hostel offer any activities or help book tours for it’s guests?

A: The Castle area offers outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of adventures, from hiking alpine trails to skiing at nearby resorts or right out the door on groomed X-C ski trails. Cycling is some of the best in the world along the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A). Popular Trails in the area are Castle Mountain, Stanley Glacier, Boom Lake, Johnson Canyon, Castle Mountain Lookout.

There is extra room for luggage and bike storage. Plenty of tourism info available for those who want to know what’s going on in the Rockies. Linen is included and of course the parking is free.

Once it’s dark and the skies are clear we offer a wee trip out to look at the stars. I usually track the satellites and the space station and we time the outing with the passing of the space station, which can be quite spectacular considering how bright the station is and how dark it is in our neck of the woods.

If you need a bed anywhere in our hostel network than we will help to book that for you. Or if there is something special in the area that needs doing and you are interested but are not sure what you need, we can help make the right choice to match your sense of adventure.

HI-Castle Mountain is the perfect size to get to know your fellow hosteller. The hostel has musical instruments, a great selection of music, lots of games, a super outdoor library, along with many good reading nooks in our lounge with its huge windows.

Q: How much does it cost for:

A: Dorm prices for members is $20, non-members $24

HI Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel Website

HI Castle Mountain Hostel
The junction of HWY 1A and HWY 93 South in Banff National Park

Despite how hard these rugged hostels can be to get to, if you have the opportunity to stay at the Castle Mountain Hostel be sure to do so. It may involve some serious hiking, some hitching, some cab sharing, or just meeting the write people heading in the same direction. Whatever the case may be, getting out of the city centres and into the Canadian wilderness can be a great reminder of why you’re backpacking in Canada.

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Camping in Canada: Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park http://ibackpackcanada.com/camping-in-canada-cypress-hills-interprovincial-park/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/camping-in-canada-cypress-hills-interprovincial-park/#comments Mon, 05 Apr 2010 13:54:21 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=1675 Camping in Canada: Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Straddling the border of Saskatchewan and Alberta sits Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.  If you’re looking for the best view of the Great Plains of Saskatchewan and the lush hills of Alberta, this is the place to see it. Cypress Hills rises 600 meters above the plains and offers some of the most breath taking pieces of scenery you’ll see in this part of Canada.

There’s so much room for activities!

Cypress hills is a great place for outdoor activities. During the summer months (June to September) you’ve got your pick at dozens of hiking trails in Alberta and Saskatchewan. If hiking  gives you a case of the yawns, pick up a bike and hit some of the dozens of biking trails, from beginner to intermediate, to even a few expert trails. If you find working up a serious sweat isn’t your thing, you could always slow things down with some of the many Interpretive Hiking Trails, which will point out important landmarks and teach you about the local flora and fauna.  During winter, dust off those cross-country ski’s, proceed with your worst impression of “wax on, wax off” and strap in for a work out and a good time!

The wild? Are you nuts?

If you’re amped up on crazy, and obsessed with getting pictures of animals in the wild, you’ll be happy to hear that Cypress Hills is home to Elk, White Tail, Mule Deer, Moose, Rainbow and Brook trout (bring your fishing rod) and even cougars, North America’s largest and most badass wild cat found on this continent. Keep in mind, 3 of those listed animals have the ability to kill you, and coincidentally each are on my list of 10 Ways to Die in Canada. So just be smart out there.

Pitch a tent!

There are plenty of campgrounds to go around, both on the Saskatchewan side and on the Alberta side of Cypress Hills. Prices typically range from $21 for non electrical campsites and up to $32 for full service campsites. (More Camping Costs) You’ve got a huge variety of choices here, so if you’ve got time, and want to familiarize yourself with the campgrounds, take a drive and see what each has to offer.

  • For Cypress Hills, Alberta campgrounds call (403) 893-3782 or reserve a site online
  • For Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan campgrounds call (306) 662-5484

Camping in the upper-class

If tenting brings about thoughts of uncomfortable sleeping, creepy crawlies, and a sore back in the morning, there are a few other options. Cypress Hills has a couple different resorts you can stay with. In Alberta, there is the Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort, and in Saskatchewan there is Cypress Park Resort Inn. There is also several Bed & Breakfasts and Guest Ranches where you can kick up your pampered feet after a long day.

Cypress Hills has got the wildlife, it’s got all the camping you could ask for, it’s got some of the most amazing sights and sounds in the area, the only thing missing from this picture is you. This magnificent park is located in the perfect spot to give your wheels a rest during the 8 hour drive between Calgary and Regina. It’s the perfect spot for a long weekend camping trip or a quick day trip on your way through. Whatever your reason for visiting, it gives you some great views of the rolling hills of Alberta, and the flatlands of Saskatchewan, and makes you appreciate this part of Canada so much more.

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Interviewing Canadas Hostels: HI-Jasper Hostel http://ibackpackcanada.com/interviewing-canadas-hostels-hi-jasper-hostel/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/interviewing-canadas-hostels-hi-jasper-hostel/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2010 15:22:10 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=1516 Interviewing Canadas Hostels: HI-Jasper Hostel is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Number 4 and counting! The folks at HI Canada have been very cooperative in helping me get these interviews. I can’t thank them enough. Today we’ve got Ryan Chilibeck, the manager of HI-Jasper and he’s going to answer some questions about this wild and rugged hostel.

Q: How long have you been operating your hostel?

A: I’ve been managing the Hosteling International hostels in Jasper National Park since March 2009, but HI-Jasper has been here since the 1979. The building used to be a ski lodge.

Q: Tell us about your hostel?

A: HI-Jasper is a great place to start your Rocky Mountain adventure.  Our hostel gives our guests every opportunity to meet new people, whether it be in one of our large dormitory rooms or else in our open kitchen and common room.  We have a guest laundry room, a TV room as well as 4 private rooms (if dorms don’t tickle your pickle).

Q: Does your hostel offer any activities or help book tours for it’s guests?

A: We have great deals on year round activities in Jasper National Park.  In the summer months we sell rafting trips at our front desk and in the winter we offer discounted tickets for Marmot Basin as well as Maligne Canyon Ice Walks.  At night, join us by the fire pit for a few drinks and share stories with other travellers.

Q: What is your favourite activity / tour that your hostel offers, and why?

A: I would say the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk.  It is a great deal (about $50) and takes our guests to places not normally seen anywhere else.  Your tour guides take you along the canyon floor where you navigate along a frozen river all the while staring up at some incredible glaciers that line the steep walls.  There is a free pick-up and drop-off service at the hostel as well.  For those of our guests seeking some real adventure, I would suggest hiking the Skyline Trail.  It’s pretty amazing but its 45km route is certainly not for everyone.

Q: Tell us about the area your hostel resides in?

A: You have to see it to believe it!  We are located 7 km outside the town of Jasper on the side of Whistler’s Mountain.  Directly out the back door of the hostel our guests look up at the peak of the mountain (which has a gondola running up to the top during the summer months).  For those people who want a little adventure, the trailhead to the top of Whistler’s mountain is also located in our backyard.  We are also in an area that is home to many wild species so it is not uncommon to see elk, deer, bears, wolves and coyotes roaming our property.

Q: Do you offer work for backpackers?

A: We do offer a “work for stay” to our guests on occasion.  This is done on a first-come, first-served basis and only when we need an extra set of helping hands around the hostel.  We usually ask for a bit of help in the summer months so make sure to keep your eyes peeled to our notice board at the front desk for any opportunities.

Q: Are there any special promotions you’re currently running or have run in the past?

A: We have great deals on our dormitory rooms in the winter months. You can stay three nights for the price of two until the end of March. We also have great packages in the summer so make sure to inquire when you arrive at the hostel. Our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ packages let you pick and choose to combine any number of overnights with the activities you like for a good deal.

Q: How much does it cost for:

A: Dorm: $20 – $26
Double:  $58 – $63

Your hostels website: www.hihostels.ca/jasper
Your hostels Facebook page:  HI-Jasper
Your hostels Twitter page: @hostelsCanada

HI-Jasper Hostel
1 Skytram Rd, Jasper, AB T0E 1E0
(877) 852-0781‎

Thanks again to Ryan and HI Canada for taking the time to answer some questions. HI-Jasper has all you need to get your Rocky Mountain Adventure started, so be sure to swing by Jasper National Park and stop in for a night or two. Don’t forget to subscribe to i Backpack Canada for more interviews and sneak peaks into life in Canada’s hostels and be sure to check out HI-Jasper on Facebook & Twitter.

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