BANFF’S GREAT GETAWAY:
BUFFALO MOUNTAIN LODGE
Words by Meghan J. Ward
Photos by Paul Zizka Photography
In our latest Mountain Lodge Spotlight, our Editor-in-Chief spends a weekend with her family at Buffalo Mountain Lodge, and discovers that a great vacation can happen just five minutes from home. Whether you’re a visitor or seasoned local, this mountain getaway offers the perfect mix of accessibility and tranquility, even if you’ve got a four-year-old in tow…
Driving into Banff from the TransCanada Highway, you’ll notice a small, yet remarkable peak sitting amongst the snow-capped summits that make this national park so famous. This peak, tree-covered all the way to its top, has a history that far exceeds its small stature. Shaped like the backside of a sleeping buffalo, this mountain today known as “Tunnel Mountain” holds significance to First Nations, who regard it as Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain.
While many accommodation options exist right in the town of Banff itself, a particularly special option sits nestled in the woods just off the steeper flanks of Tunnel Mountain. Aptly called Buffalo Mountain Lodge, this hotel offers a quiet refuge away from the hustle and bustle of one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. The property has a secluded feel to it despite being located just a short drive from town. Access to activities and amenities remains at your fingertips when you’re ready to tear yourself away from the cozy fireplaces and retreat-like setting.
Call it a staycation, if you will, my family recently ventured up Tunnel Mountain to experience Buffalo Mountain Lodge – a place I had been to before for meetings and weddings, but never to stay. Just minutes away from our own home, we entered the Main Lodge of what would be home for the next two nights, and breathed a sigh of contentment. A crackling fire always makes you feel right at home, and one surrounded by comfortable seating, warm lighting, and mountain lodge style decor invites you to kick your feet up, grab a hot chocolate and settle in for the evening. As tempting as it was to curl up by the fire, located just paces away from the front desk, we decided to head to our room to unpack and unwind before returning to the lodge for dinner in the newly renovated Sleeping Buffalo Restaurant.
If that first meal – comprised of seared scallops followed by Alberta beef tenderloin with a morel mushroom glaze – was any indication, we were in for a treat for the rest of our stay. Initially concerned about finer dining with a young child, we felt at ease in the restaurant, which proved to be a relaxing setting with very understanding staff (and, bonus, chicken fingers on the children’s menu). Ready to tuck in early, my husband and I took our Decadent Chocolate Samplers ‘to go’ and enjoyed them by the fire place in our room later on in the evening once the little one had fallen asleep.
The next day kicked off with a bang at breakfast, where we opted for the Wild Mushroom Omelette and Eggs Benedict, with a breakfast sandwich for the youngest. Afterwards, we pulled on our warm layers for a walk across to street to a spot known to locals as one of the best tobogganing areas in town. Shaking off snow and cold was easy with a stop at the new Buffalo Mountain Café, which serves up hot drinks, sandwiches, soups and a good variety of ‘grab and go’ options. (Locals and travellers looking for delicious, and reasonably priced, food should check it out, even if you’re not staying at the lodge!) A few gourmet grilled cheese and soups later (with cappuccinos and hot chocolate to go), and we were making our afternoon plans to check out the SnowDays events being hosted in town.
Our snow sculpture viewing behind us, we took the five-minute drive back up to Buffalo Mountain Lodge to relax in our room before heading for another of Chef Kelly Strutt’s amazing meals. Figuring you can’t stay at Buffalo Mountain Lodge without trying the buffalo, we ordered the Bison Pho, a variation on the Vietnamese soup, as an appetizer and the CRMR Ranch Bison Duo, which features both a striploin and short rib. Dessert was the same, a ‘sampler’ to go, so that we could enjoy it in the peace and quiet of our room while we played games by the fire.
In the end, the staycation was just what a staycation should be: a getaway close to home, where life is made a bit easier for even just a weekend. Buffalo Mountain Lodge provided the perfect base. Now to just find a kid-free weekend to escape again…
We opted to stay close to the hotel for our activities, but there are many other things you could do on a winter family vacation in Banff. Skating at Lake Louise or the Banff Recreation Centre, skiing at one of the three ski hills in the area, or taking in some of the local museums are all great ways to spend your time getting to know the national park. Visit Banff Lake Louise for more information!
WHAT WE LOVE
- Close to town, yet remote feel.
- Delicious food served in an inviting setting.
- A cozy room with a spacious bathroom featuring a clawfoot bath.
- The lodge offers a complimentary shuttle to town. The ROAM Bus also has a stop just outside the lodge property.
- The outdoor hot tub and dry sauna!
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- The lodge has WIFI, but we recommend you take the opportunity to disconnect.
- If you’re travelling with a family, the earliest dinner reservation is 5:30pm. Order a bit of bread at the beginning (it won’t come automatically) to keep hungry tummies at bay while you wait for your food to come.
- Most of the rooms are a small distance from the Main Lodge, Buffalo Mountain Cafe and hot tub. If you’re travelling in winter, keep your warm jackets and boots handy for getting back and forth on the property.
Thanks to Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts for making this post possible! A note to our readers that CRMR and Buffalo Mountain Lodge did not review the post prior to publication.
Writer, adventurer, outdoorsy mama and summit cartwheeler, Meghan J. Ward is the editor and co-founder at Crowfoot Media and lives for (usually backcountry) getaways.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles on CrowfootMedia.com are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.