|Hidden Valley Ski Resort, Cypress Hills Provincial Park|
A herd of pronghorns graze near the Highway 41 south turnoff. I’ve seen them here before, guarding the gateway to Cypress Hills Provincial Park. North America’s fastest land animals are too busy to cross the road, so I resume speed and head up into the sculpted hills.
Even with a blanket of snow, it’s easy to see how water has shaped the land. Countless coulees adorn the hillsides. The effect is moonlike, but the hills are very much alive. We spot deer, cattle, and a coyote. To the south, the hills are taller and treed; home to elk, moose, and cougars.
Over the next half hour, we will climb 600 metres above the prairies to Elkwater, Alberta, the activity hub of Cypress Hills Provincial Park. At the same elevation as Banff, the park gets plenty of snow for winter sports, but is often warmer than nearby Medicine Hat thanks to inversions. We happily watch the temperature rise from -18 to -10 Celsius as we get closer to our destination: Hidden Valley Ski Resort.
Skiing at Hidden Valley Ski Resort
|Hidden Valley Ski Resort Base Area|
Hidden Valley Ski Resort, formerly known as Mile High Ski Hill (elevation: 1400 metres / 4594 feet), isn’t too hidden; it’s only three kilometres from the village of Elkwater. We find parking near the Day Lodge and are surprised to see the hill has a quad chair lift! The cherry on top is that there’s hardly anyone in line despite the amazing conditions. Although the hill can accommodate 2,400 skiers per day, it usually maxes out at 500-600/day over Christmas, so you can count on short lift lines. When I remark on the conditions, Mike Ractliffe, Head of Visitor Services for Cypress Hills Provincial Park, tells us they “make a lot of snow to make that happen” (snowmaking covers 95% of the terrain).
|Hidden Valley Ski Resort Map|
The hill is bigger than we expected with 200 metres of vertical (compare to 120 metres vertical at Winsport), an all-terrain park, freestyle run, mini park, small gladed section, and learning area. While most of the runs are green runs, there are a few more challenging ones that are a lot of fun – see the resort map above. Our daughters enjoy skiing in the trees and riding the rollers. To keep things interesting, the terrain park is re-modelled a few times per season. I notice the difference between my January and February visits.
After lunch at Mountain Side Cafe, we ski for a couple more hours then head into Elkwater for sledding and ice skating. It’s so convenient having everything so close. There are also cross country ski trails and snowshoe trails nearby! For more ideas on winter activities around Elkwater, read our story 10 Things to Do in Cypress Hills Provincial Park this Winter.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort is open Wednesday to Sunday 9:30 am to 4 pm with extended hours during vacation times. The typical season is from December to late March.
Don’t miss Slush Cup on March 24, 2019!
Hidden Valley has a Quad chair lift, T-Bar, Handle Tow, and Magic Carpet in the learning area.
|Hidden Valley Ski Resort Base Area|
- Day Lodge with Ticket Office, Mountain Side Cafe, Snowflake Lounge (licensed – no minors), Brown Bag Lunch Areas, washrooms, and lockers.
- Rentals: ski equipment, snowboard equipment, and helmets.
- Pro Shop has clothing and accessories for sale.
- Snow School: read on for details.
Hidden Valley’s Snow School offers ski and snowboarding lessons for levels 1-3. Check out their group lessons, private lessons, lesson packages (rentals, lift ticket, lesson), day camps, and 6-week ski school (one day camp per week).
- Private lessons available for age 2 & up: 1 hour lessons for 2-5 year olds, 1.5 hour lessons for 6 & up. For only $30, add a second person to a private lesson!
- Group lessons: 1.5 hour lessons available for 6-12 year olds (ski), 8-12 year olds (snowboard), and 13+.
“Skinning” is permitted on backcountry or splitboard equipment. Sign in and out at the ticket office.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort is located 3.5 hours southeast of Calgary, or 45 minutes from Medicine Hat.
Take the Ski Bus to/from Medicine Hat Lodge. Free for season’s passholders or $15 return (limited availability – first come, first served).
Where to Stay
|Elkwater Hut, Cypress Hills Provincial Park|
Stay in a cozy Alberta Parks hut near Elkwater Lake. The frontcountry huts have a heater, bar fridge, and electric lights! See Cypress Hills Provincial Park – Comfort Camping for details, or read about our experience in Reesor Lake Backcountry Hut here.
For More Information
For more information, please visit Hidden Valley Ski Resort.
As an Alberta Parks Ambassador, we received complimentary lift tickets at Hidden Valley Ski Resort, but all words and opinions are my own.