First, I'm not a writer of online reviews. This might be my second one - ever. But we had such an incredible experience at the Elk River Lodge that I felt compelled to comment on what a special property this is.
The setting is like something out of a movie (The Revanant maybe?), and there is so much to do in the area that you could easily enjoy a week and still not have enough time to do and see everything. It's close enough to Fernie to be able to access restaurants, etc., but just far enough so you feel like you're really away from it all. The ranch itself feels like your own private national park. We saw a herd of elk on the property that numbered in the hundreds, many deer, bald eagles, ospreys, ducks, hawks and much more. If you like to fish, you'll be in heaven. The property is right on the Elk River, which was teeming with cutthroat trout, and there is great fishing right on the property. My kids (9 and 12) had huge smiles on their faces (almost as big as mine) when they caught their first fish on a fly rod.
The accommodations - which include the main house and a very cool barn - are nice and comfortable while still feeling like an authentic Rocky Mountain lodge. Kitchen is great and fully stocked we could have imagined needing. We cooked in almost every night for a group of 10. Kids loved the foosball table, and the barn has an amazing full-size movie screen and projector, which we all enjoyed a lot.
Finally, the owners, Jason and Lena, and their caretakers Don and Sue were really great. Jason, in particular, was very accessible and generous with his time - including multiple phone calls and emails - to fill me in on all the activities in the area. He was also super helpful in helping us recover a couple of items we left behind, going above and beyond the call. Overall, we could not have asked for better hosts. Thank you Jason, Lena, Don and Sue for your hospitality.
This place is a rare gem in a world that is becoming increasingly crowded and developed. My advice: skip Banff (which is like Disneyland in the summer) and go to the Elk River Lodge instead. Our family all agreed it was one of the best trips we've ever taken together.