Expanse Cottages invited us to experience their accommodations for two nights and three days, so we packed our bags and accepted their invitation. Read about our experience here…
On a cool breezy summer morning in July, we left for our three day stay from our home in Edmonton, Alberta to Expanse Cottages, in Nordegg, Alberta. Nordegg is a hamlet in west-central Alberta, Canada within Clearwater County. It is located in the North Saskatchewan River valley in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, just east of the intersection of the David Thompson Highway and the Highway 734 spur of the Bighorn Highway.
We arrived in Nordegg mid-afternoon, before we checked in, we discovered the area within Clearwater County as check-in time is at 4pm. Just past Nordegg, heading west roughly 22 kms on HWY 11 (David Thompson Highway) you’ll find Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area. You will pull on to a graveled road, and as you keep driving a few kms, you will pass the Bighorn Gorge, where you can park your vehicle to take pictures, breathe in some fresh mountain air or even take a little hike along the top of the cliff for a better view of the gorge.
After you are done with the gorge, you can continue your 6 km journey north down the gravel access road to Crescent Falls and you will notice Crescent Falls Campground which is in Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area. This small campground includes well-treed tent-only and equestrian sites with hitching rails. A 2.5 km trail hike takes you to the Bighorn Gorge Lookout for spectacular views of Crescent Falls and the Bighorn River Valley. It is possible to visit these natural beauties in less than an hour, if rushed. However we managed to stretch it over two hours.
As our check-in time approached, we headed towards our accommodation at Expanse Cottages to check-in. Upon arrival we met Jason (property owner). He was working away maintaining the beautiful and quaint property. Our check-in was seamless, with a quick (physically distanced) conversation. We stayed in the White Goat Cottage. It was easy as pie, due to our exchange of pre-arrival emails with Jodi the (property owner). All emails were exchanged weeks prior with all the details required, so we had the full scoop, however Jason filled us in as to the particulars.
Now get this: FREE FIREWOOD, access to a propane BBQ at each cottage, everything you need is provided for kitchen use and all towels, blankets, and shampoo available in the accommodation for your stay. (Of course, there is WI-FI, so no need to worry, you have the choice of forgetting technology or go at ‘er.) It’s all included in the price. For prices and availability click HERE.
Our first evening was quiet and relaxing. We settled in by unpacking our luggage and prepared dinner. We started a fire in the wood-burning stove inside the cottage, with the firewood provided, to keep us nice and crispy. The smell of the burning firewood, is such a memorable smell. It reminds me of my childhood every time I smell it. We enjoyed it so much. After dinner, we winded down by playing Mario Kart on Nintendo Switch (which we packed and brought with us), by connecting it to the TV in the living room, and laughed and raced the night away.
We woke up all fresh because we had slept in a bit longer than usual that morning. We made breakfast and showered, as we got ready for our day. The cabins water pressure was high and the towels were soft. The beds felt like our own at home, which goes to say, I slept like a baby. We took our time and our plan for the day was to take a hike along Abraham Lake and Siffleur Falls in the Kootneay Plains Ecological Reserve which is backcountry hiking. As we embarked on our day trip, we drove west along HWY 11 to Abraham Lake as this is was our first stop, (which is 33 kms from Nordegg Cottages to Allstones Lake Staging Area). We parked our car at Allstones Lake Staging Area, we got out to enjoy the mountainous views on the horizon of the lake, as we felt the cool breeze on our faces right off the lake. Whenever we’re in the Canadian Rockies, we thoroughly enjoy getting out of our vehicle and exploring the nooks and cranny’s of different areas of the mountains, because there is always something new to see that you’ve never seen before.
Just a little background about the lake - Abraham Lake is an artificial lake on the North Saskatchewan River lining the David Thompson Highway between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg. It was created in 1972 with the construction of the Bighorn Dam. Although man-made, it still possesses the blue colour of other glacial lakes in the Rocky Mountains. It is said, that the best time to visit is during the winter. Check out Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles post, by: Pursuit Adventures. We stayed for about an hour, before we head to our next destination (which is 32 kms from Allstones Lake Staging Area) to Siffleur Falls Trailhead.
Siffleur Falls Trailhead is a popular and scenic hike which starts from the Siffleur Falls staging area leading hikers across the open plains and up the Siffleur gorge. This 4 km hike (one way) is of moderate difficulty. Stay on main path and behind guard rails at all times to ensure your safety. It is possible to continue along this trail to the 2nd and 3rd falls. There are plenty of wildlife around, so be aware and be smart! We commenced our hike at mid-afternoon, and the sun does not set until 10pm this time of year, so there was plenty of time to complete the hike. The Siffleur Falls hike lasted overall 3 hours out-and-back. We walked slow, exchanged stories, laughed at our own jokes and enjoyed the views. We crossed the plains, over two footbridges, up a mountain side, through the forest, alongside the gorge all the way to the falls and back to the trailhead.Featuring a breathtaking suspension bridge, two river crossings (North Saskatchewan and Siffleur), a boardwalk portion, panoramic canyon and mountain views, lush forested sections, the quietude of the Alberta backcountry and 3 thundering waterfalls – Siffleur Falls Trail is a impressive hike. The first portion of the hike meanders past the North Saskatchewan River. Cross the beaming suspension bridge over the North Saskatchewan River as you take in the sites around you. Next, follow the expansive wooden boardwalk through the wind-swept flatlands of the Kootenay Plains. Once the boardwalk ends, a gravel road will leadyou to the Siffleur FallsRiver crossing. Again cross the scenic river and enjoy panoramic wide-open views. Follow the path upwards and alongside the steep canyon. Enjoy the impressive views while obeying the posted safety signage. Use precaution while enjoying this naturally stunning hike. This leads you to the Siffleur Falls viewpoint, with safe viewing vantage points of the beautiful waterfall from the guard-railed platforms. Again, keep on the path and use precaution. If time, energy and curiosity permits– hike on another 2 1/2 kilometers to the second waterfall and yet another 1 1/2 kilometers to the third waterfall. However, if all you have time for is the first waterfall, that’s okay –this 4 km David Thompson Country hike offers breathtaking views and plenty of adventure. Definitely one to add to your Alberta bucket list.
The hike is all backcountry, and very busy so you don’t have to worry too much, however be aware of the following (information below):
For your safety and the protection of the area please follow trail signs, stay on the trail and respect all trail closures
Be respectful of wildlife and familiarize yourself with wildlife safety techniques including keeping your pet on a leash and keeping your group together.
Always use the bear proof garbage bin, keep a clean site and store your food in a bear safe fashion.
Always be prepared when travelling outdoors.(Video) Plymouth MA Hotel - Call 781-585-3831- Pymouth Bay Inn And Suites
This area has no cell phone reception. We recommend carrying an InReach on your hikes. A pay phone is available near the trailhead at the highway pullout across from the Cavalcade Group Campground.
Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.
There are common Grizzly Bear alert’s! Here is a BEAR SMART brochure you can print out or read before you hike. If you don’t know how to use bear spray, here is also a quick video guide, on how to properly use bear spray from Alberta Parks, where you’ll find so much more on Alberta’s beautiful parks.
The plains vegetation includes dry grassland and aspen, lodgepole pine and white spruce forests. Grasslands are dominated by June grass, pasture sage, prairie groundsel and blue flax. Limber pine occurs on exposed ridges and river banks. There is Douglas fir on west-facing slopes above the North Saskatchewan River. More than 60 bird species, 14 mammal species and 2 amphibian species have been recorded. Kootenay Plains also provides important winter range for elk and mule deer. Check out this .pdf guide to Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve.
We returned to our cabin for the evening, as we showered and cleaned up, rested our bodies and feasted on an awesome and well deserved BBQ. After dinner, we watched a bit of TV, listened to some music before we ended our evening with a campfire outdoors. We drank some fine beverages and stayed warm by the fire side, as we watch the stars shining bright in the sky, while the moon appeared bright as it luminated the darkness outside. We listened to the wolves howl and heard the crickets creek, while the fire was crackling. What a day, and a much needed restful night.
So our final day in Nordegg at Expanse Cottages came to a close too quick. So we woke up, packed our bags, made breakfast and showered. Our check-out was quick and easy. Of course, we had cleaned up and made sure we left it nice and tidy. We checked out by 11am, so there definitely was enough time to sleep in a bit and embark on Day 3 activities. After our seamless check-out, we drove to a few nearby lakes and took some photos and hikes. We visited Shunda Lake located at Fish Lake Campground and Goldeye Lake at Goldeye Lake Campground, which is located less than several kilometers west of Nordegg (very convenient to stay local). The lakes were calm and natural as can be. There were loons hunting for fish, while several ducks went along waddling away looking for food, and there was a family fishing out yonder across the lake. We took a stroll along the lake and enjoyed the sites and sounds. Due to heavy rain that day, our day ended early.
The Nordegg area is in the Brazeau Range of the Rockies and is known for being a backcountry haven, so the hikes we took don’t have a particular name(nonetheless you can hike anywhere your heart desires). We basically pulled our car over, parked and hiked away. Of course, use caution when backcountry hiking as you never know what’s creeping in the forest and mountains. Sadly, as mentioned we decided to end our day around 3pm and headed back east towards Rocky Mountain House to grab some grub, before heading north on to the HWY 2 (Queen Elizabeth II Highway). We arrived home just after dinner time, and all the way home we reminisced about the great times and memories made.
Whether you want a great base camp for your next adventure or to escape to the seclusion of a quiet place to unwind, Expanse cottages offer the comfort and convenience to do both. There are so many opportunities for adventure awaiting you near their accommodation. Nordegg has fantastic sites to see, trails to hike, and breath taking views to visit. The perfect place to gather with friends and family or a romantic get-away with someone special!! Enjoy a quiet, relaxing stay surrounded by beautiful scenery or use us as your home base to discover the endless outdoor activities the area has to offer!
UPDATE: Both Expanse Cottages and Alberta Parks is continually monitoring operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please visit their websites for the most up-to-date information on facility closures, service changes, programming updates and safety measures.
HELPFUL LINKS & HELPFUL INFORMATION:
Expanse Cottages TO BOOK NOW!
Helpful Regulations Guide from Alberta’s Provincial Parks and Recreation Areas. (Click on link for printable .pdf)
EXPANSE COTTAGES - (helpful information & a few precautionary measures):
Check-in anytime after4pm- Check-out by11am
Please be aware that they do not allow pets.
The town of Nordegg only has 2 small convenience stores and a beer store, so it’s recommended doing all your food and drink shopping before hand.
Please read and be aware of all their policies @ https://expansecottages.com/policies/
Please bring your own pillows, as they will provide clean pillow cases.
Please bring your own games, DVDs and playing cards if you wish, as they won't be checking these items out in order to minimize any unnecessary contact between staff and guests.
Although they will have done a thorough clean of your cabin, as an extra precaution, it’s recommended you pre-wash your dishes before cooking/eating.
If you start to feel ill prior to your arrival, please stay home and they will reschedule.
If you start to feel ill during your stay, please notify them by phone/text and pack up to head home.
Expanse will be doing a "safe distance" check in prior to your arrival to avoid any direct contact. And will send out a text the morning of your reservation to get an approximate arrival time and to give you check-in instructions.
A special thanks and our appreciation goes out to Expanse Cottages for inviting us to your property and allowing us to experience your cottages. We felt like it was home, away from home. Until the next adventure…