LAKE LOUISE, AB - Standing on the shores of Bow Lake and turning a slow pirouette, it’s easy to see why more than 100 years ago, when the legendary Jimmy Simpson first cut a trail down to the lake he promised himself he’d build a shack there some day.
The emerald blue lake surrounded by towering peaks draped in a blanket of trees with the icefields and glaciers in the distance was and still is staggeringly beautiful.
The beautiful and rustic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, recognized for miles along Highway 93 by its brilliant red roof is Simpson's shack, with a few more amenities than when it was first built. When Simpson was awarded his lease in 1920 for five acres, a small log cabin was built to house his outfitting business.
The blueprints for the grand six-room lodge are rumoured to have been stick drawings in the sandy shore of Bow Lake.
Guests were brought in from Lake Louise on horseback to the lodge called “Ram’s Pasture.” But when the Banff-Jasper highway rolled through in the 1930s, automobile traffic changed everything.
Well into the 1970s, Simpson was a fixture, entertaining guests with his fascinating stories of the frontier until he died at 95.
During that time, the inn expanded to 16 guest rooms, an enormous dining hall and a large lounge with fireplaces to take off the chill of the mountain air. And today, it is still a beautiful place to escape to.
Num-Ti-Jah, (a Stoney Plain word for pine marten) makes for a perfect hub for many mountain adventures.
Everything to do with the Bow River starts right here. That water rolling through Banff, Calgary and south into the Oldman River and ultimately the Hudson Bay starts right here at the Bow Glacier and the Wapta Icefield.
You can hike to the falls and glacier from Num-Ti-Jah in half a day. Or, go to the Bow Summit for a very easy hike to stand at the highest point on the Icefield Parkway. While there, hike over to the viewpoint overlooking Peyto Lake.
You’ve seen thousands of pictures of the pale blue lake and now it’s an easy adventure to see it for yourself. And to enjoy Bow Lake all you have to do is plant yourself in an Adirondack chair at the lodge.
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is along one of the most scenic car tours of the world. Take a drive up the Icefields Parkway to see even more beautiful scenery. Stop in at Cline River Helicopter Tours to take a flight over the glaciers and icefields. Or, step into a glacier buggy and roll out onto the Athabasca Glacier to dip your toes into freshly melted glacier water.
Num-Ti-Jah is only 25 minutes north of Lake Louise on highway 93 making it easy to stop in at Lake Louise Mountain Resort. Hiking and mountain biking or just riding the chairlift in search of grizzly bears is always fun in the summer there.
Before heading north en route to the Num-Ti-Jah be sure and stop in at the Sampson's Mall in Lake Louise to enjoy a taste of western Canada cuisine - the "Cure Wrap" from the legendary Trailhead Cafe…so good you'll be back a few days later!
There are a few hikes up at Lake Louise that will burn off that cinnamon bun. Start at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and either head for the flat trail around to the end of the lake, to eventually hike up to The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.
Or, just shortly after the Chateau grounds, there is a trail to the Lake Agnes Tea House and the Bee Hive. Both hikes are rewarding adventures for the moderately fit.
Periodically there will be an artist dipping into his paints and displaying his collection or a photographer willing to discuss her techniques of capturing the light on the mountains.
Or, an author to meet or a book you’ve been longing to finish in silence waiting back at the lodge.
A day in the mountains always stimulates the appetite and Num-Ti-Jah Lodge always has delicious meals ready in the Elkhorn dining room.
And this is your chance to enjoy this treat very slowly.
The three-course dinner is meant to be enjoyed deliberately leisurely in front of the windows overlooking the lake. Later you can retire to the fire for a friendly game of cribbage or admire the historic photos and heritage regional animal mounts.
When it’s time to retire, don’t expect televisions or phones in your room. Do expect hot showers, comfortable beds, and thick duvets to crawl under until the sun brings on another day for adventure.
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is a member of the Charming Inns of Alberta. A collection of 12 independent boutique hotels offering unique experiences beyond the bed and breakfast and more personable than a hotel.
Visit the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge page for more information.