12 Months of HI – Wilderness Hostels of Alberta
Tucked away among the Rocky Mountains are some hostels with a difference; they are 10 rustic wilderness hostels. Each one is guaranteed to get you right back to the basics, away from the cell phone, emails and TV, allowing you to enjoy the simple things in life. Take in the fresh air, peace, quiet, nature on your doorstep and the chance to spend time with new friends and old around a toasty fire. For those new to wilderness hostelling, summer is a perfect time to visit and that is why August has been declared wilderness hostel month!
If you have not stayed at a wilderness hostel before, then I am sure you are wondering what they are all about. Well to put it briefly, no two wilderness hostels are the same; each one has its own character. Some have indoor plumbing, while others have outhouses. Some have running water and at others you have to get your water from a well. The majority comprise a number of wooden cabins housing dorm-style accommodation, and usually one cabin houses a fully equipped kitchen and communal area. Most have fire pits and some even have wood burning saunas. Many people compare their experience to camping, but with a few creature comforts like a bed and a roof! If you are not a keen camper, or don’t like being amongst the elements, going for a couple of days without a shower, or using an outhouse, then some of the wilderness hostels may not be right for you. But don’t dismiss the wilderness hostels yet, there are a couple out there that are perfect for easing the newbie into the wilderness experience, such as HI-Kananaskis and HI-Castle Mountain. These beauties have indoor plumbing and even showers; actually they are really just a small hostel located slap bang in the middle of the awesome Rockies.
If you are happy going without a few amenities for a few days or want to make the plunge into the wilderness experience then I suggest you check out these hostels: HI-Athabasca, HI-Rampart Creek and HI-Mosquito Creek. These hostels are all located along Highway 93 in very tranquil settings, a number of cabins make up the hostel, and HI-Mosquito Creek even has self-contained cabins with cooking facilities which are perfect for groups or families. These hostels do not have running water and have outhouses.
For the more hard core wilderness hosteller, (well I say that, but really these hostels are not hard core at all, they are just a bit more off the beaten track or a little more rustic) a must is HI-Mount Edith Cavell – located close to the end of the ever-climbing Cavell Road, the hostel offers amazing views of the towering Mount and lives up to its name of a wilderness hostel. When I was there I spotted a grizzly and her two cubs a short walk from the hostel! Another favourite is HI-Yoho National Park; located in the Yoho National Park right across from Takakkaw Falls this hostel once again offers the hosteller a real wilderness experience.
HI-Yoho National Park
The final three wilderness hostels are HI-Maligne Canyon– just a short drive from Jasper, this hostel gives you plenty of peace and quiet, yet it is still close to the amenities of the town. HI-Beauty Creek located on the banks of the creek is a good option for an overnight along the Icefield’s Parkway and HI-Hilda Creek is located near the summit of one of the highest passes in Canada that is accessible by road.
As you can see, they are a mixed bag! And they are perfect for all types of travellers, cyclists, families, backpackers -check out this Moose Travel Network tour, groups, hikers or any traveller who wants to have an unforgettable stay in the Canadian Rockies. So go on, head to one of these wilderness hostels this August, rates start from $24 per night in a multi-share room. And if you can’t get there in August, come along anytime; however some of the hostels are only open seasonally, check here for more details.