Luxury Winter Camping: Tunnel Mountain Village II

Annika and I started off our Banff trip with a 2-night camping trip at Tunnel Mountain. My aunt and uncle were the sweetest and dropped us off at Tunnel Mountain Village II – the section of the campground that remains open during the winter (see link below).

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/camping/tunnel2.aspx

We started off as the only tenters and were called “brave” by the Parks Canada staff since it was suppose to be about -15degC that night. It wasn’t long before we sought out the heated bathroom (luxury 1). We set up Annika’s tent (MSR Hubba Hubba aka the cutest tent that ever lived) and shovelled the snow out of our fire pit. I went to put our food in the lockers provided and was greeted by Banff’s most friendly campground staff – a couple of deer.

In the evening, we went on a hike to the Hoodoo’s Viewpoint. This was an easy hike with stunning views of the Bow River and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel resting in the valley. It probably would have been a good idea to turn back before dark since we got somewhat lost on the way back and trudged through a forest while thinking about a recent cougar spotting on Tunnel Mountain.

When we got back to camp, it didn’t take long for us to open the Fireball – for warmth, obviously. Annika (aka Fire Queen) made a roaring fire and we cooked dinner Hell’s Kitchen style.

That night was cold! Not only did we not have a 4-season tent but neither of us had a very thick mattress. The best sleep was not had.

The next day we had a hardcore 3-course breakfast to make up for our not-so-hot sleep, including banana boats (bananas and chocolate), cinnamon buns, bacon, and porridge. Later, we hiked to the top of Tunnel Mountain and experienced the most beautiful views of the mountains and the town of Banff below. My aunt had given us a couple of oranges that froze overnight so we put them in our jackets to defrost as we hiked.

For our second night of winter camping, we weren’t going to make the same mistake as the night before. Plus, a couple of tenters arrived at the campsite and were mega showing us up with the amount of gear they unloaded from their truck. They even had a crazy gazebo tent for whatever reason. So we picked up our cutie of a tent and carried it into the 3-walled shelter provided at the campsite (mega luxury 2). The shelter had a wooden stove, picnic tables, and…electricity (amenities = luxury 3). We strung up our tarp to cover half of the open wall and block some of the wind.

That night, we cooked on top of the wood stove, drank the rest of our Fireball, and steamed our faces in our wood sauna (luxury 4)- we defrosted our firewood on top of the stove, which created the best face-steamer in Tunnel Mountain Village! We even arranged the defrosting firewood to form a boot-warmer.

After a much better sleep, we hiked to the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort. Despite our luxurious camping, a shower has never felt so good.

*Weirdest things that froze on our camping trip: oranges, toothbrush, and hand cream (so necessary, it was so dry).

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