Reach lofty heights with this unique winter experience in the Similkameen | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Reach lofty heights with this unique winter experience in the Similkameen

There's a new winter recreational service operating at Cathedral Lakes Lodge this winter.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Sean Dillon
February 07, 2021 - 8:30 AM

A new service operating in the Similkameen is providing a unique, one-of-a-kind outdoor experience while maintaining COVID-19 protocols this winter.

Sean Dillon operates Winter at Cathedral Lakes, a shuttle and lodging service within Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park.

Dillon’s service mirrors the summer services operated by Cathedral Lakes Lodge, providing transportation to the lodge and accommodations once there.

It’s the first time the lodge has been open to the public in winter.

“Cathedral Lakes Lodge owns a bridge across the Ashnola River, an access road and the lodge buildings within Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park. Because it’s private property, there’s an amnesty on park rules, so we are allowed to use motorized machinery and equipment,” Dillon says.

Cathedral Lakes boasts the highest off-grid wilderness lodge in Canada, at 6,800 feet above sea level.

“We’ve taken the summer operation and made our own winter version of it. The owners traditionally close up shop in September, and the buildings sit over winter unused. We’re providing transportation to the lodge and accommodation once there. Guests are responsible for themselves after they leave the lodge property,” he says.

Dillon recently acquired a snow cat that will fit up to eight persons, socially distanced. A four-bedroom log cabin is being maintained at the lodge for this year’s operations, with running water and food service available.

The operation opened for a very brief period last year before COVID-19 restrictions ended the season.

It’s only the first full year of operation, but Dillon says the lodge is already fully booked until April 8.

Dillon can provide shuttle service to the lodge for a maximum number of eight people per group, based on the capacity of the snow cat and the accommodations open for winter use.

The shuttle service is also available to park users who do not wish to use Cathedral Lake Lodge’s amenities. He’s currently working on the logistics of providing day-use programs where participants get a ride up in the morning, engage in an activity for the day and ride back down on the snow cat in the evening.

“We’ll need to have some customer volumes to do that,” he says.

Dillon says his first group this season were snowshoers, followed by a Nordic ski group and three ski touring groups, who climb to higher elevations on their own from the lodge before skiing down.

There are 34,000 ha of uninhabited terrain awaiting ski enthusiasts at Cathedral Lakes Lodge.
There are 34,000 ha of uninhabited terrain awaiting ski enthusiasts at Cathedral Lakes Lodge.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Sean Dillon

“The highest peak here is 8,600 feet, and guests have a 34,000 ha of wilderness playground, completely to themselves,” he says.

Besides snowshoe and ski groups, there’s opportunities for ice fishing as well. Dillon can provide self-guided, guided and catered experiences, with other options available.

Catering is provided by Oliver Eats Ltd.

Average cost of a Winter at Cathedral Lakes experience is $350 per night, which includes transportation, lodging, bedding, etc.

“It’s a phenomenal experience. What a lot of people don’t realize is this time of year, you have the whole place to yourself,” Dillon says.

More information, including booking, can be found on the Winter at Cathedral Lakes Facebook page.

Cathedral Lakes Lodge under a winter night sky.
Cathedral Lakes Lodge under a winter night sky.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Sean Dillon

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