After many weeks of planning Castle Mountain’s 22nd annual Huckleberry Festival has arrived! The team at Castle is looking forward to welcoming hundreds of guests, from near and far, for this year’s expanded event. Here are some friendly tips on what to expect:
Where are the berries?
Huckleberries are located all across the mountains but the easiest access to berries will be off the Huckleberry Chairlift. Berries can be found off the main Huckleberry ski runs, in our cat-ski terrain (Haig Ridge) and in the Haig Valley on the way out to Haig Lake. Huckleberries thrive in higher elevation environments which is why they’re plentiful in the sub-alpine regions of Castle Mountain Resort; not necessarily in the base area.
Our friends at Alberta Environment and Parks would like us to remind you to please pick only ripe berries.
Riding the lift
The Huckleberry Chairlift will upload guests from 10 AM to 2:30 PM on both Saturday and Sunday. Downloading on the lift is also possible but, due to the design of our triple chair, 1 out of every 5 chairs can be loaded with guests on the way down. This means that wait times at the summit, for downloading, can be a bit lengthy (30 minutes +). Generally we will download until there is no longer a lineup at the top. On a busy Saturday we’ll still be downloading guests at 4:30 PM.
New this year are washroom facilities at the Huckleberry summit as well as refreshments being available (bottled non-alcoholic beverages, snacks) to help you out if you’re feeling snacky or you really just need to, you know, go! Not down with waiting? Take the Haig Ridge trail downward to where it connects with Haig Lake South trail, and follow it all the way to the base. We’ll have an abundance of summer trail maps on hand or you can click here.
A friendly reminder to those looking to take infants up the chair; they must be in a child carrier, controlled /harnessed to the adult at all times. Children and adults are able to ride the chair but pets and bicycles are not permitted on the lift.
You’re in bear country
While you will be surrounded by friends, family, and soon-to-be friends, you’re still in bear country and hiking in the back country. We would like to suggest that you travel in groups, make lots of noise (talking loudly), and carry bear spray. Bear encounters are rare and extremely unlikely at an event of this size. Still, it’s better safe than sorry and bear spray will be available for purchase in the base area should you need it. Any bear encounters should be reported to any staff or volunteers, who will be easily identifiable by their extreme orange Huckleberry shirts. A bear encounter at Huckleberry Fest has not been reported, in recent history.
For more on being Bear Smart, follow the link to best practices as indicated by Alberta Environment and Parks.
All-access pass / Season Pass Pick-up
Huckleberry Festival all-access passes have been pre-printed and are available for pickup, upon arrival, at Castle Mountain Resort Guest Services. Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and 9 AM to 2 PM on Sunday. Arriving on Friday? The office will be open from 9 AM to 4 PM as well.
If you’ve purchased your 2017-2018 season pass, you can get them printed and pick them up this weekend as well! Students will require proof of enrollment to pick-up their pass (letter from registrar or course timetable) and those under the age of majority (18) will require a parent to sign their waiver before a pass will be issued. Passes, at our summer sale rates, can be purchased in person or online at anytime.
Didn’t get an all-access pass?
While the Huckleberry Festival all-access pass was only available for sale until Thursday evening at 11:59:59 PM, day of chairlift tickets (single ride only), lunch tickets, and tickets for our pig roast will be available through Castle Mountain Resort Guest Services. Saturday’s continental breakfast and Sunday’s buffet breakfast will both take place in the T-Bar Pub and can be purchased there. Saturday’s BBQ Lunch tickets and the Pig Roast will sell out so it’s best to get them in the morning through Guest Services. Any remaining tickets will be available at the time of the event; again, if there are tickets remaining available (no guarantee here)
Guest Services hours will be 9 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and 9 AM to 2 PM on Sunday.
Fire Ban / Smoking Ban
For quite sometime there has been a fire ban and restrictions on recreational OHV’s across southwestern Alberta. This includes Castle Mountain Resort. While you should consult the Alberta Fire Bans website for additional details, open fires, charcoal briquettes, turkey fryers, tiki torches, and fireworks are all prohibited.
Furthermore, Castle Mountain Resort asks all guests to refrain from smoking on the mountain. Cigarette butt receptacles are located in the vicinity of the T-Bar Pub & Grub and the Day Lodge. Please do not discard your butts on the mountain, period. Conditions continue to be tinder dry and one careless act is all it will take.
Powered sites at Castle Mountain Resort are sold out for the weekend, but parking lot camping is available at a cost of $15 / night (includes access to our wash-house shower and washroom facilities). Parking lot camping is available in designated areas only and a permit is required from Guest Services. Formal and informal camping is available in Castle Provincial Park. For more information please visit the Castle Provincial Park site or call 403-627-1165.
Pack it in, Pack it out
Last but not least, let’s all be great environmental stewards this weekend. Garbage of any sort, even the peel from your fruit, doesn’t belong in the Castle. Leaving even a trace of food can lead to the wild animals becoming accustomed to human food. Our carelessness can lead to the relocation or even the death of a wild animal; not cool if you ask us.
Garbage receptacles and recycling bins can be found throughout the base area as well as at the summit of Huckleberry Chair. Pack out your trash until you reach one of these locations please! Remember, this pristine mountain environment is the home of the animals. We are only guests.
Enjoy the weekend!