As we lifted off, veering more sideways than straight up, I imagined a giant’s hands guiding us skyward on our mountain heli-snowshoe adventure. As the Kananaskis valley gave way to the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains I was determined to keep my squealing under control. Dave and the helicopter pilot will confirm that was less than a successful endeavor.
No matter how many times we have driven by, hiked, climbed, skied and snowshoed in these mountains less than an hour from our home in Calgary, the thrill of hovering over snow covered peaks through the miracle of helicopter aviation, leaves one speechless. Or in my case unable to form words rather just shrieks of delight.
For twenty minutes we soared over the summits including Heart Mountain, a full day hike that summers prior had left me gasping and possibly whimpering as I recall, now looking so peaceful in winter rest.
The downhill ski runs of Nakiska resembled white rivers running cascading down where we spent many winter hours trying to keep up with our children skiing as though jets were attached to their ski boots.
Once landed and disembarked from the helicopter our pilot provided snowshoes which we eagerly strapped on. In the quiet and serene crisp day, and now standing on flat terrain, it dawned on me this adventure would be possible for almost anyone!
The thrill of sailing over the paradise of peaks and then to be able to wander in the mountain stillness would be something we could recommend for everyone. One more squeal of glee from this one. Possibly an eyeball roll from dear husband.
Where can I do a heli-snowshoe tour in the Canadian Rockies?
Rockies Heli Canada has two locations.The Kananaskis base, located between Calgary and Canmore, offers heli-snowshoe tours. The Lake Louise/Jasper heliport at the Icefields location provides a more off the beaten path experience and is open April to October. Should you want to try heli-hiking in the summer at the icefields location you can read our article about that amazing adventure here.
Can anyone really do a heli-snowshoe tour?
It’s not too often we can write about one of our adventures and be able to truthfully say anyone can do it. As long as you can walk on flat ground, heli-snowshoeing can be on your bucket list. The terrain on our trip was without any hills and the time spent snowshoeing was one hour. For those unable to walk Rockies Heli Canada offers other heli-sightseeing options.
There is no age restriction for the tour and snowshoes are available for children. If you are unsure if your child would like heli-snowshoeing just call Rockies Heli Canada to discuss.
Rockies Heli Canada does have a general weight restriction of 250 pounds per person but make every effort to accommodate all participants.
What do I need to heli-snowshoe?
Be sure to bring a big grin which you may not be able to wipe off your face. Dress in layers of clothing. It can be much warmer or colder at the top of the mountain. Be prepared with boots, mittens and hats. Definitely bring a camera, or three. Sunglasses are a must. Although one can not predict the weather, our sunny day was blindingly beautiful with the rays dancing of the snow.
Hot chocolate, with or without Bailey’s, is provided at a rest stop part way through the snowshoe experience. Although our day was sunny it was brisk being outside so this was a lovely, warm treat. I had brought a snack along just in case but didn’t need it.
Does riding in a helicopter make you nauseated?
Anyone who has followed us knows of my saga with motion sickness. Certainly there is the potential for one to feel queasy on a helicopter. Our flight had a bit of turbulence however I felt absolutely fine during the ride. I’m a bit like a ‘canary in a mine’ so if I was not nauseated I believe most people won’t experience tummy trouble.
Special tips for your heli-snowshoeing adventure
Rockies Heli Canada Kananaskis base is located 45 minutes from downtown Calgary, 20 minutes from downtown Canmore, and 35 minutes from downtown Banff. Located at the intersection of Highway #40 and Highway #1
Use exit 118 on the Trans Canada Highway. Park in the parking lot of the Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino. You will see the heliport across a small road which you can walk to from your car. Maps can be found here.
Booking in advance is recommended. The tour is usually available December through March. To book click here.
Heli-snowshoeing is obviously weather dependent. Once you have booked you will be instructed to call the base the morning of the booking to check if the weather is safe for the helicopter flight.
Arrive 30 minutes early to fill out waivers and to jump around like an excited kid.
We brought one small back pack to hold extra cameras and layers. Can you guess who got to carry it?
Heli-snowshoeing can be anyone’s adventure of a lifetime, lifting you into wilderness and quiet shared with only the those that call this paradise home. Who do you suppose left these tracks?
Want to have a sneak peak of the heli-snowshoe experience? Dave put together this short video of our spectacular day.
What do you think? Would heli-snowshoeing be an adventure you would like?
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With thanks to Rockies Heli Canada for hosting us. All opinions and squeals of delight are my own.