Flying over alpine wonders in a private helicopter, gazing upon landscapes you’ll be exploring in the coming days as you keep your eyes peeled for grizzly bears. It’s not your average way to get from A to B but wow, if an arrival to Purcell Mountain Lodge doesn’t put you in the adventurous mood, nothing will.
More than 3,000 acres of mountain meadows, ridges and peaks surround this luxury lodge where you can unplug and truly soak up the spirit of the Canadian wilderness. With the rim of Glacier National Park a mere metres walk away, Copperstain Mountain across the valley and Sir Donald looming to the west, you’re spoilt for choice as to which direction to look first.
From your room, views of glaciers compete for attention alongside fields of wildflowers in summer and frosty the snowman territory in winter.
A Backcountry Retreat in British Columbia
Purcell Mountain Lodge has been operating since 1990 and rests at 2200m in altitude in the Purcell Mountains, a short 10minute helicopter ride from Golden in British Columbia.
From your room, views of glaciers compete for attention alongside fields of wildflowers in summer and frosty the snowman territory in winter. It’s like having a piece of backcountry property to call home for a little while, except your home is equipped with a private chef, hiking guides and friendly volunteers. Everything is taken care of from the moment you land and if you’ve come to Purcell for an outdoor experience, prepare yourself for one of the best.
More than 3,000 acres of mountain meadows, ridges and peaks surround this luxury lodge where you can unplug and truly soak up the spirit of the Canadian Rockies.
Miles of trails depart from the lodge so depending on how far you’re keen to wander, you can customise what you see and how long it is before you’re back sipping on a hot chocolate. Because you’re in bear country, the thrill of hiking is elevated by the chance of an encounter with even the sight of paw prints being enough to satisfy my bear wishes during our visit in September.
As one of the last guests of the summer season, we were treated to snow covered scenery and even a little snow fell while the sound of a running waterfall behind the lodge provided a calming soundtrack. Inside the lodge alpine décor meets the library of travel dreams with National Geographic magazines dating back to 1963 and photography books showcasing work by legends like Ansel Adams to inspire your own masterpiece of the landscape surrounding Purcell.
Being so far from anything would in my mind mean pre-packed meals and fuss-free cooking but this is far from the case. As a guest at Purcell Mountain Lodge you’re treated to a pastry-filled continental or hot breakfast, gourmet wraps, sandwiches and snacks to take with you on your adventures during the day followed by appetizers and if you’re lucky an antipasto platter once you return. In the evening, relax by the fire with a three-course meal prepared by the chef showcasing Canadian classics or the chef’s choice depending on which local ingredients are in season. Oh, and there’s an endless supply of cookies, hot chocolate, tea and coffee…it’s got everything you need to relax and soak up the scenery!
Rooms are located around the exterior of the lodge meaning each offers a unique view of the alpine landscape and has it’s own balcony so you can set up your tripod and snap happily at sunrise without being too far from your bed. One of my favourite experiences at the lodge was capturing long exposure images as fog rolled through the valley and stars sparkled above the snowy peaks. Running out to start each exposure, then back in to sit by the warm fire, then back out to see what magic was captured made for a super fun evening (if you’re a photo geek like me!). We also watched as the full moon rose above the mountains, slowly illuminating more and more of the meadows providing just enough light to make shadows appear like those elusive bears I’d been so eager to see.
Photo Spots around Purcell…
From the lodge itself you can photograph the meadows and mountain peaks as moonlight illuminates the landscape.
Photograph sunrise from the balcony in the north-eastern corner to capture a warm glow across the face of Sir Donald.
Wander across the little creek near the helipad to capture the lodge using the water as your foreground. There’s also a very photogenic little triangular shaped hut to use as a subject.
The helicopter transfer provides an incredible vantage point to photograph the alpine scenery of Glacier National Park, Golden and the Columbia Mountains. All seats have a window, obviously the front seat offers the best one so if you can win a coin toss, opt for the front!
Walk about 30mins from the lodge to a shallow pond which provides gorgeous reflections of the surrounding scenery.
30mins in the other direction will offer views down into the valley where winding rivers snake through dense woodland. The team at Purcell Mountain Lodge will help you plan a hiking route to fit your photography wishes.
The lodge has ten private guest rooms, can cater up to 28 people comfortably and there’s also a private chalet in a separate building.
If you’re thinking of planning an alpine retreat, definitely consider this gem.
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. After three years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides and I'm always so excited to hear from readers as they're travelling and improving their photos!