Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at 10:51 pm

Weekend Getaway: Exploring Rocky Mountain House

Mack and I are fall vacationers, more than content to make the most of our short but glorious Edmonton summers kicking back and attending local festivals. But this year, I felt the need to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with a long weekend away at the end of August.

Hoping for a getaway that didn’t involve too much time in a vehicle, I literally googled "Central Alberta bed and breakfasts". This led us to Prairie Creek Inn, located about 15 minutes south of Rocky Mountain House. It’s a part of the province neither of us had visited before, and located just two and a half hours away from Edmonton, it seemed to be a reasonable distance to travel for a rejuvenating weekend.

Prairie Creek Inn

Prairie Creek Inn

Prairie Creek Inn offers an environment ideal to quietly reconnect with the outdoors, unplug from the demands of staying connected, and enjoy the company of your fellow travellers. Though most of the other guests were couples as well, there were also a number of young families on the property during our stay.

Prairie Creek Inn

Prairie Creek

Our room was very cozy, and featured a sunny deck with Adirondack chairs from which we could hear the rushing creek. There are also two fire pits for guest use, and ample lawn for outdoor pursuits for humans and dogs alike.

Prairie Creek Inn

I could get used to this

Breakfasts, of course, were included, with a small continental selection of freshly baked muffins and house-made granola and yogurt. One chef’s choice was also offered, and during our stay included a baked omelette one morning and cream cheese-stuffed French toast on another. The restaurant, perched atop a hill, offered great views of the lush property in a dining room lined with windows.

Prairie Creek Inn

View from Heartstone Restaurant

Given the distance from town, we also elected to have suppers at the restaurant as well. The menu isn’t varied enough to enjoy too many consecutive meals, but it was fine for two nights. The salmon, served with lemon dill beurre blanc, was my favourite of the mains we tried.

Prairie Creek Inn

Salmon with lemon dill beurre blanc

During the day, we made it out to the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site. It’s probably something I should have known, having lived in Alberta all of my life, but I didn’t realize that Rocky Mountain House is actually quite distant from the Rocky Mountains. It began as a fur trading post (located on the North Saskatchewan River), and also served as a launching point for explorers such as mapmaker David Thompson.

Rock Mountain House Historic Site

Trails

For just $3.90 per adult, we were granted access to a well-maintained interpretive centre and two hiking trails. One trail featured interpreters at a makeshift Metis camp and blacksmith shop.

Rock Mountain House Historic Site

Blacksmith demonstration

The other involved a riverside hike which was lovely even in the damp conditions. And though I was initially skeptical of the Parks Canada #sharethechair campaign, I’ve been won over since.

Rocky Mountain House Historic Site

Sharing the chairs

Mack was particularly looking forward to the wildlife we might encounter. But the closest we got on that hike (and the rest of the weekend) was some gophers and penned-in bison.

Rock Mountain House Historic Site

“Wild”life

We also visited downtown Rocky Mountain House. Quite the opposite of Lacombe, whose downtown was busy and vibrant, the main streets of Rocky were deserted, littered with empty storefronts.

Rocky Mountain House

Nicely streetscaped, but deserted

On our way back home, we detoured somewhat to visit Crescent Falls. The views from the top of the gorge are pretty spectacular, but trails here make it possible to get even closer to the water’s edge.

Crescent Falls

Nearing Crescent Falls

Crescent Falls

Crescent Falls

Not being the most adventurous spirit, it was a bit of a stretch for me to hike down a cliff that involved the use of ropes, but it was worth it to get out of my comfort zone (and realize the benefit hiking boots would provide).

Crescent Falls

We made it!

We stopped in Nordegg for some provisions before the journey home. With a population of 200, this isn’t a full service town, so we didn’t expect the crowd we encountered at one of its few restaurants. Miner’s Cafe, located in the Nordegg Museum, was packed with regulars and families passing through. Known for its homemade pies (they sold over 1,000 this year), we enjoyed a slice of strawberry rhubarb with a generous scoop of ice cream on the side.  It’s only open during the summer months, and is now closed for the season.

Miner's Cafe

Miner’s Cafe

While we’re happy that we can tick Rocky Mountain House off our list of places visited, there are still more sites in Alberta to explore!