...will merit a stay in majestic Bighorn Country and Aurum Lodge. "Best" time to visit depends on your interests.
advice to our guests is to come prepared as far as footwear, garments and equipment are concerned. It is always a good idea not to be too focused on a single attraction or activity, but rather to simply enjoy what nature has to offer once you get here. You will love it! Our elevation and geographic location make for a very variable climate, temperatures, cloud cover and precipitation which change not only often but sometimes also quite unexpectedly and that makes it hard to predict conditions ahead of time.
Winter mountain magic
typically lasts from around November to April, give or take a few weeks. Since humidity is very low, it is possible to be active and spend time outside most of the time, even in cold weather. Snow cover in this area is less than surrounding regions so it is usually possible to go hiking in winter. Snow-shoeing is very popular too, as is ice-climbing. Abraham Lake ice and the famous ice bubbles are a major attraction and best viewed between end of December and end of February (caution is always advised when going out on the ice though).
Note: ice conditions vary constantly and from location to location. For this reason WE DO NOT provide information to the general public on ice safety, where to go or what conditions may be like at any given time! Caution is always advised when going out on the ice. If you are unfamiliar with ice safety, consider venturing out with a local guide.
can start as early as late March although we regularly experience the odd snowfall as late as mid May. Trails in the higher regions will remain snow covered until June most years, so this is a great time to wander around the valley bottoms, looking for our first flowers, budding greens, migrating birds and wildlife. As river and lake ice recedes and water starts to flow, enjoy the awakening of nature and the return of longer and milder days.
Summer is summit time
Even summer nights can be cool at our elevation, however, for those who prefer warm weather above all else, July and August are probably best. June is a little more variable but the Parks are not yet as busy as in mid summer.
For those who wish to go hiking above tree line, mid July to early September is prime time and there are a few superb day hikes to be accessed within an hours drive from Aurum Lodge. You will appreciate the cooling effect of Abraham Lake at this time of year and the scarcity of bugs in this area. The colour of Abraham Lake is most stunning between mid July and mid September.
Autumn / Fall splendour
Like spring, length and condition of our fall season can vary greatly. It can last all of September and October or for three weeks only somewhere in that same time frame. When schools start beginning of September, more empty-nesters and retirees flock to the mountains and September is generally very busy still. Milder temperatures, clear air, snow capped peaks and stunning fall colours make this another favourite season. Fall colour starts at end of August above tree line and usually peaks in the last two weeks of September, early October in the valleys. Mid September to early Spring tends to be our "windy" season. By October, there are fewer people, just in time for Indian summer...
Our weather through the seasons
Aurum Lodge is located in a climate oasis which runs from Whirlpool Point to the South, to Windy Point in the North. The local topography makes for less precipitation and milder weather than what you find just half an hour in either direction. Prevailing winds are from the West (Pacific) so winters are less cold, whereas the lake effect and our elevation spare us from the sweltering summer heat. January / February tend to be the coldest months (0 to - 25 degrees Celsius) whereas July / August are the warmest (25 to 30 degrees Celsius) +/- a few degrees on rare occasions. Temperatures in the National Parks at higher elevations are generally cooler. It can snow at any time of the year. Although we are closer to Nordegg, our weather tends to be more like Banff or Jasper, so always check all three forecasts.
The complete lack of light pollution makes this area a better place for star gazing than many "dark sky preserves".
Best time for enjoying our night skies is between October and March, when days are shorter and colder air reduces haze. This also tends to be the best time of year for colourful sunrises and sunsets.
Northern lights are relatively seldom at our latitude but can be observed on occasion (there is a good resource for aurora predictions).
When do they let the bears out...?
... May to September is your best bet to see bears, although in lower portions of the National Parks, larger grizzly bears will be out and about from March to December on occasion. Other carnivores such as coyote, wolf, cougar or lynx are rarely seen because this area is not protected. Deer, both white-tail and mule deer are common, elk can be seen on occasion and the bighorn sheep spend winter along the valley bottom (Sept. to May). Moose are more likely to be seen towards the foothills.
Smaller mammals which are frequently observed around the lodge are red squirrels and chipmunks, depending on the season. Observing wildlife is always a very special experience, so keep your eyes open, enjoy, but make sure you allow them their space.
Our location is in a "montane" eco-system, but proximity to the foothills and sub-alpine / alpine regions of the National Parks makes for a great variety of plants and flowers. Forests around the lodge are mostly lodge-pole pine with some spruce and aspen. They are generally open and light with ground cover consisting of bear-berry, juniper and buffalo-berry in dry areas and mosses, lychen, labrador tea in moist spots.
Our first flowers are sometimes out by end of March (prairie crocus and drabas), but the best time of year for wildflowers is between mid May and mid August. Our hardy calypso orchids in May often precede the last snow fall of the season.
Birds can be observed in the area throughout the year and while we do have species which reside in the area year-round, the majority are migrating birds. Some species which spend the summer further north will move here in winter, whereas others such as our mountain bluebirds, warblers, hummingbirds and waterfowl live further south and only come here during breeding season in the summer.
Good time for birding is around April and September, during the peak of migration season.
365 days of capturing nature
If there is one outdoor activity (besides hiking) which can be enjoyed in the area virtually every day of the year, it must be photography!
The Canadian Rockies are a photographers paradise and Aurum Lodge is a great base for those who wish to capture the many sights and incredible variety of subject matter found in the region. Every day is different as light, clouds and weather changes and the seasons progress.
We know the area well and have hosted photography tours for over fifteen years out of the lodge. Not sure where to go? Ask your hosts.