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Canada's Wild West

12:00 AEST Thu Feb 3 2011
Giaan Rooney's journey to the Canadian province of Alberta led her to Rafter Six Ranch in Kananaskis country.

At the base of the Canadian Rockies, Rafter Six is like stepping back in time to the Wild West. It's a year-round ranch resort, built in the 1880s as a working ranch. More by accident than design, Hollywood location scouts couldn't believe the perfect setting: horses, rivers, mountains — it was all there. It was the location for Marilyn Monroe's 1954 film River of No Return and Disney shot so many films there they built their scout a cabin on the property, and it's still there.

It operates as a resort year-round with May to October the ideal time for city-slickers to have a cowboy adventure. Activities are endless — guided trail rides and overnight pack trips through the beautiful Bow Valley and Kananaskis country.

There's exhilarating activities such as whitewater rafting, a challenging treetops rope course, ziplining through a forest, mountain biking, hiking, a heated pool and hot tub. In winter, there's horseback riding, sleigh rides, dog sledding, snow shoeing and hibernating in the Bearspaw Lounge.

You can spend as much time in the saddle as you wish. Riders of all levels are catered for and everyone is matched with a compatible mount. There are pony rides for children.

Rafter Six Log Lodge has 18 ensuite rooms with views of the Canadian Rockies. Decor is a blend of rustic and Western. Some rooms have murals painted by an acclaimed local artist.

Seven cosy log cabins with names such as Buffalo, Caribou and Deer are decorated with paraphernalia and artefacts from the past. Four self-contained chalets tucked amongst aspen trees have small kitchens, living room with fireplace and three separate sleeping spaces.

For those on the road between April and the end of October, wilderness camping is available.

Meals are great and servings are cowboy-size. The Mad Trapper Dining Room was built in the 1930s and has rich log walls, fieldstone fireplace, stained-glass windows, wood carvings and decorations from the days of old. Of course there is a barbecue pit for authentic western cuisine.


Kananaskis country, an hour west of Calgary.


Rafter Six Ranch lodges start at $193 and cabins $266. Guided trail rides start at around $46 per person.

Air New Zealand has flights to Vancouver from:

  • Sydney $2142
  • Melbourne $2217
  • Brisbane $2241
  • Perth $2405
  • Adelaide $2421

Sales and validity dates and conditions apply.

Connections to Calgary are available.

Prices correct at February 3, 2011.

For further information

Air New Zealand

Adventure World
Ph: 1300 363 055

Visas: Australians do not require a visa for stays of up to six months. Passports must be valid for the period of the intended stay.

Electricity: The electrical supply is 110V at 60Hz using plugs with two vertical pins.

Time zone: Alberta is GMT -7.

Currency: The Canadian dollar.

Telephone code: 0011 1.

Guided Trail Ride
From $46 per person.

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