By Cassie Weiss
Although the wind temperatures had people heading indoors this weekend, those insane enough to brave the cold had an abundance of activities to enjoy in the Cypress Hills.
Built over the span of a couple weeks, a couple new attractions have come to the Park, bringing a new and exciting aspect to the winter that most people hate.
“We are trying to make winter fun and exciting, and give people reasons to come out to the Park,” said Chris Dodds, education and interpretive coordinator for the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park – Alberta.
Opening up the main floor of the Learning Centre for those tobogganing on the hill, Park staff also went a step further and built a back yard luge.
According to Dodds adventurers can bring out cheap plastic discs and try their hand at the man-made track located just in front of the Learning Centre.
But the luge track wasn’t the only new activity Dodds stated the Park cooked up for the winter months. A 750-meter skating track was also build just inside the Old Baldy campground.
Although the gates are closed, people can park and walk in, where they can skate to their hearts content.
“We got the idea from an Ontario Park. We saw pictures and videos and stole the idea from them. It is very much an outdoor track. We don’t want people to expect rink quality ice, but it is fun to skate on.”
With the luge built since mid December, and the skating track only up for the past couple of weeks, Dodds stated the reception has been fantastic.
“I have a whole stack of comment cards, all just glowing with praise. We are really making winter fun again. It’s been really positive for people. If you don’t know how to get started in winter these are two activities that are easy to try.”
With those two new sites just the most recent addition to the Park, Dodds wants to remind people that there is still the classic cross country ski rentals, as well as rentals of snowshoes and various kinds of sleds.
Hosting a couple clinics in the next couple of weeks, winter in the Cypress Hills is just beginning to kick off.
With a cross-country ski clinic to be held on Jan. 18, and Feb 9, Dodds is also excited about the second annual Frozen Fescue Loppet, to be held March 2.
He is also hoping to set up a game of Yukigassen, a type of Japanese winter sport that focuses around snowball fights meeting capture the flag.
“There are two zones, and each fight is about three minutes long. We will provide face masks and we will have people making snowballs.”
Stating they will have a field set up in front of the Visitor Center, Dodds is quite excited for the end months of winter.
“We are just trying to invent new ways to get people outside and excited about winter. There are all sorts of opportunities to go out and play, to experiment and get people outside. There have been a few changes and we just want to start to make this Park for people.”
For more information on the upcoming clinics, or on anything winter in the Cypress Hills, call the Visitor Centre at 403.893.3833.
“It all comes back to the point that we want people to reconnect with the Park. We are here for four seasons. We want to make sure people recognize that.”