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Wilderness Key Access

For the most experienced winter backcountry enthusiasts

Even though the hostel may be closed, through our key access system you can still use HI-Beauty Creek, HI-Hilda Creek and HI-Mount Edith Cavell Wilderness Hostels as a launching pad for your ski touring or ice climbing outings in Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Over the winter, these remote hostels have no heat, road access, running water, telephones, blankets or staff. Therefore these hostels are only suitable for those with the necessary equipment, experience and training to handle the severity of winter conditions in the mountains.

Do you have the experience?

You should be an experienced backcountry enthusiast.  You understand the risks involved with winter backcountry activities and are knowledgeable, trained and prepared for the severity of weather, route finding, and avalanche risks in the area you plan to visit. You're fully self-reliant, adhere to "leave no trace" philosophies and an ice-cold outhouse seat and lighting your own pilot lights in the propane appliances are familiar experiences that you look forward to.

Do you have the proper equipment?

Because these hostels don't have direct road access in the winter (some are as far as 13 km away from the nearest road) and are not monitored, you may need skis or snowshoes to get in.  If you're headed into avalanche terrain, transceivers, avalanche probes and shovels are a must.  Even if you're not, some of these hostels get up to 20 feet of snow per season - you may need to dig your way in!

You'll need a reliable winter vehicle with good winter tires. There is little maintenance on the Icefields Parkway over the winter and there is no cell phone coverage - and the summer businesses are all closed - so you should be prepared for the possibility of a breakdown and a long wait until help arrives.

With the proper equipment and experience, winter wilderness hostelling is an incredible way to experience the Rockies.

Key Access is available at the following hostels:


If you are up to the task, call Central Reservations at 1-866-762-4122 to book your trip and to go over how the system works. Full payment must be made upon reservation. A waiver must be signed and the code or keys can be picked up at HI-Jasper, HI-Nordegg or HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre. Check road conditions and weather forecasts in Banff and Jasper with Parks Canada.

If you're looking for a serene winter setting with more comforts and amenities, check out HI-Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel, HI-Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel, and HI-Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel which are staffed and fully equipped for you. Please be sure to confirm our wilderness hostel winter hours.

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