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“Cool tipis...but be in bed by 10:30.”
Review of Sundance Lodges

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Sundance Lodges
Reviewed July 21, 2013

The facilities were perfect. But if you plan on staying up past 10:30, be prepared to whisper.
Laughter and open enjoyment of ny kind is heavily frowned upon here as they seem to cater to a child friendly age where all should be tucked in very early. Heavily patrolled at 10:30 they sneak up to your campsite, turn off their flashlights and headlights and wait for voices to quickly put an end to as per policy. Not very relaxing.

Room Tip: Tipis are fun and comfortable.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Cory T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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28 - 34 of 47 reviews

Reviewed July 16, 2013

We only stayed here one night but the staff was really helpful, the grounds are beautiful, rules clearly posted, the reservation and check in process was easy to do. My family already wants to go back! Next time we plan to stay more than one day though :) The tents were larger than I expected, which is a plus. And on a cold night, they stayed really warm!

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Hawaii-Chik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2013

This is a very beautiful space and my family has always enjoyed it there; however, I was quite frustrated when I tried to book early this year in hopes we would finally be on time to enjoy a long weekend there. My e-mail was responded to days later requesting information such as what kind of family unit we are, if we are quiet, if we have kids or pets and what are ages are! not to mention what the occasion was! I was quite frankly not amused by their questions and felt extremely uncomfortable going forward with a reservation. I just did not feel welcome at all, which is a shame as my family loves it there as do I.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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6  Thank Kellie407
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 29, 2012

We are a family of 4 with an 80lb dog, and we stayed in a large teepee for 3 days from August 21 - 25. We arrived at about 2pm and went into the Trading Post where we were greeted by 2 really friendly staff. The check in process was super easy, fast, and surprisingly pleasant. The staff were extremely thorough in explaining everything we needed to know about the campground, our teepee, and were genuine in their offer to help in anyway possible. We received a lantern and given a demo on how to light it as well.

The trading lodge is well stocked with many items, and are reasonably priced considering it is a campground in the mountains.

The signage is easy to read, and we had no problem finding our site.

There was ample parking for 2 vehicles at the site we were in.

The sites themselves are quite private and we really liked that. They are well maintained and clean, not to mention really large. The picnic table was in very good condition, stable, no issues at all. Even in shorts, no one got a sliver. :)

There was a large fire pit, and the firewood for purchase in the store ($7/bundle) was wonderfully dry and easy to light. We used about 2 bundles of wood for each day we stayed. A warm fire in the morning and evening are a must in the mountains, even in the summer, as nights and mornings can be quite cool. (Approx. 6 degrees Celsius) Bring warm clothing too, even if the days will be warm. Long pants, socks, and a jacket are strongly advised.

In the teepee there was LOTS of room. It was more than enough room for our family, and our teens are adult-sized. There is a kerosene heater in the teepee, which my sons were able to light. It definitely makes a difference and we lit ours about 30 minutes before we were heading to bed. The staff come to the site each day and refill the heater with fuel. There were two single beds, and a double bed. They're surprisingly comfortable and I have no complaints. It rained on the last night we were there very heavily. There was actually a pretty serious thunder storm. We remained (almost) completely dry. One of my sons did have a bit of water on his sleeping bag in the morning, but it wasn't enough to wake him up and he wasn't wet enough to be cold.

There is a laundry room accessible to all campers on the back of the trading post building. This is also where the washrooms are located. The bathrooms are closed from 1230pm to 230pm everyday for cleaning. There are outhouses available at both ends of the campground to use during this time. The washrooms in the trading post building are clean and warm. There are three shower stalls, which were clean and basic and FREE. Yes! Free!! Clean, hot, free showers! In the women's, the last stall is the one with the best water pressure. Worth waiting for the third stall.

NOTE: Take heed the posted warnings of fluctuating water temps!!! The water occasionally got REALLY HOT, and I like really hot showers. A child would have a hard time enduring these temps, which the campground has responsibly posted warnings about.

There are electrical outlets available in the washrooms, however the campground warns that if there is more than one hair appliance in use, the breaker will blow. I believe the campground electricity is all from a generator, so this makes sense. No big deal. You're camping anyway.

Behind the trading post is a trail to the river, and this is worth the short easy walk. You will probably not want to take a stroller or wheelchair down this path, as the are roots, and it is slightly rough. Children on bikes (even young kids) can navigate this trail with ease. The view of the valley and the mountains is breathtaking. The river is COLD and the current is deceptively fast. I am a lifeguard and recommend EXTREME caution while near (and especially in) the river. Small children would easily be swept away by the water. Bring shoes you can get wet if you intend to walk in the river, as the rocks will hurt your feet.

There was a volleyball court and a large grassy area, and while we walked through these, we did not use them. They were also well maintained and clean. A great place to hang out, try new activities, and to relax.

Because this campground allows dogs, there are dogs. I have a dog, so don't be judgmental when I say this:

If you are not a responsible pet owner, DON'T BRING YOUR DOG!!!

One morning a woman felt is was acceptable to allow her dog to run loose in the women's washroom. The dog went into stalls that were in use by other guests and was generally a nuisance. The second night we stayed, someone allowed their dog to bark constantly throughout the night and we were all woken up numerous times from the noise. This was very frustrating, but again, the campground does have signs about NO PETS in the washroom, and during the initial briefing of the rules and regulations, the requirement of the owner to have their animals kept under control, and not to be disruptive, was also clearly outlined. It's unfortunate that some people don't understand that the rules apply to everyone, not just the people who choose to follow them. Neither the irritating bathroom dog, nor the barking nuisance dog were seen or heard from again, and I don't know if that's because they left by choice or if they were asked to leave by staff. This was the only negative we experienced while we stayed.

Every member of our family enjoyed this trip immensely. Even two hard to please teenagers loved the trip and scored it 9.5/10! The only thing they wanted to change was to warm up the river. These same two boys scored our 2 week trip to the Dominican an 8/10. I would highly recommend Sundance Lodges and we will be visiting again, and again, and again. We relaxed and enjoyed the scenery, hospitality, and amenities. You should too.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank Tara B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2012

First, let me say that the concept of Sundance Lodges is really great: to let families (and others) who do not have their own camping equipment experience a few nights in a mountain campground, in a traditional tent. I really welcome the idea, and it would be great if many more camp sites in Canada took it up. I am sure that a stronger competition in this market would improve customer experience.

We spent 3 nights in Sundance lodges this August, staying in a large tipi. We were five persons (parents + three kids), and it was possible to re-arrange the beds in the tipi so that we stayed all 5 of us in 4 beds. We flown into Canada from Europe, and we did not have all our camping gear with us. So Sundance Lodges was pretty much our only chance to try camping in Canada, in this area.

The location of the camp site is generally fine. There are many hiking opportunities around. However the proximity of the highway is slightly annoying. You can hear the trucks passing nearby when you are falling a sleep in the midst of your "wilderness experience". Otherwise the sites are quite well isolated from each other, and we did not have any bed experience with being disturbed by neighbours, etc. In fact the sparse density of sites (tents slightly hidden in the wood) is probably the highlight of Sundance Lodges.

The heater provided by the camp was more than sufficient for us. We are used to camping with no heating in tent, so we dressed propoerly.

I have no prior experience of camping in North America, but was generally unpleasantly surprised with extremely low quality of facilities and services. I would not even consider stopping in such a campsite in France. There is just one washroom facility for the entire camping ground, 6 showers all together. The washrooms are very run down, stink like hell, and in general feel dirty. Damp, shaky shower cabins with paint peeling off the walls cannot be compared to clean (and regularly cleaned) plastic modules of 3 and 4 star French campsites. Although, for the record, the water was always hot in the showers during our three days spent there.

There is no electricity and no water directly at the camping places. The only thing you get is a fireplace arranged for barbecue and a convenient table with benches that easily sits a family. Electrical power is a standard thing at camping grounds in Europe, for just a small daily fee.

There was a washing machine, which we did not use. There was no dishwashing and handwash facility, as common in Europe . In fact it was forbidden to wash dishes in washrooms. I suppose this restriction was made to force rental of wash basins from the campsite (and to save cost on sewage).

The shop only sells hot drinks, frozen junk food, and the usual gifts assortment from the Rockies. Even getting coffee in the evening proved impossible ("we have run out of fresh coffee, we will not make new now"). Forget bakeries, fancy restaurants, a drink bar, and artisan food stands known from French camp sites. In general shopping in the area is hard. If you want to buy fresh food your best option is probably to drive to Canmore, and get it from large grocery stores there.

There is no wireless Internet access. There was a PC in the shop area, but we did not try to use it.

Now if you compare that a night at a 3* campsite, right on a beach of French riviera, or in Jura or Vosges mountains, costs about 1/3 of the price that Sundance Lodges charge, I start to get a bit uneasy. It simply cannot be that they have a comparable cost. It cannot be that maintaining the tipi and the heater more than triples their cost, so that quality cannot be provided.

Perhaps comparison with French market is not fair. Or perhaps I was unusually lucky with my 4 camping experiences in France the last 2 years. But then consider that a night in a Tipi at Sundance lodges costs comparably to a decent motel room for a family in Canada. In fact a tipi night costs 50% more than the nights we paid in Hampton Inns in Alberta and Ontario. The hotel for the same price delivers a immaculate modern room, fully furnished, with good quality bedding, modern TV, clean personal washroom, towels, daily room cleaning, hot breakfast, newspaper, swimming pool and a fitness room (and I probably forgot a few other things).

So in the end despite the fact that I really like camping (and tenting!) in the nature, I felt that we are seriously overpaying in a facility that does not care abou customer experience much. I discourage others from trying the same experience. I really liked the area, so if I ever come back, I would choose to stay in one of the cheaper hotels in Canmore that charge about the same price, but deliver more value for the money. Since we had to get fresh food in Canmore daily anyway, it does not seem to be such a disadvantage to drive from there.

Room Tip: I was told that trapper's tent do not leak. Tipis leak quite badly during the rain (I experienc...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank wazow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 16, 2012

We stayed one night in a large tipi because the 6 year old traveling with us was smitten with the idea. We rented absolutely everything - bedding, kitchen supplies, lantern, etc. The tipi was beautiful. The staff was friendly and helpful. The washrooms and showers are clean. Showers are free, which is nice (with hot water). The campsites are nicely spaced so you don't feel crowded. Being able to go buy a nice hot, decent cup of coffee first thing is the morning is lovely. Well-done Jessica and staff at Sundance. We also went horseback riding at nearby Boundary Ranch - highly recommend it. We had a package deal which inlcluded our tipi and horseback riding. Fantastic!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank islandgirl2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2012

First I would like to start by saying that my family and I have been coming to Sundance Lodges for a number of years.

Earlier in the season this past summer we had made a special trip out to the campground to hand select the site we would be staying in as we have a large dog and tent. We were assured that there would be no issue, however a month later upon arrival that Friday night we were told that we had been moved to another site. After having a look at the site and realizing that we would be hard pressed to fit our tent on the site we went back to the office to ask to be relocated to a different site and to be explained what had happened with our prior request. The girls at the front desk looked away and avoided any responsibility despite us being able to see that the site number we had originally requested had been erased on our reservation form. We asked the girls if we could perhaps speak with management in regards to some sort of discount, but that in themeantime we would begin set up at the new site.

It was while we were unloading everything from the truck that we were accosted and verbally assulted by the manger who told us to "get off the property" and that we were "never allowed back here" and that we had "10 minutes to get out or he was calling officials" First of all we had no idea who the raging man was when he came up to us and we had not even had a chance to explain the situation to him. We tried to explain everything to him and he was unreasonable to say the very least. Then he told us that he had had a family tragedy earlier that day and perhaps was taking his frustration out on us. Being a 24 year old female and having lost my friend weeks prior in a tragic car accident I understood his grief however I am a firm believer that that does not give you the right to be cruel or mistreat others.

He ended up giving us the choice of staying where were were at for a discount, or to leave. we chose to leave as we felt very uncomfortable after being accosted the way in which we had been moments prior. When we told him our decision was to leave he yet again went off screaming and yelling. He not only ruined our night but our overall impression of the campground. I will never give that place another dime and will no longer be referring it as "our favorite place to camp".

Serious disappointment cannot begin to describe my feelings towards this campground.

Room Tip: Don't go... It doesnt matter what you choose anyhow, they just give you what THEY want!
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  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank L K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sundance Lodges

Address: 2 Sundance Rd | on Hwy 40, Alberta T0L 2H0, Canada
Location: Canada > Alberta > Canadian Rockies > Kananaskis Country
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 48 Specialty Lodging in Kananaskis Country
Hotel Class:2 star — Sundance Lodges 2*
Number of rooms: 60
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sundance Lodges promises a memorable family "comfortable" camping adventure! Stay with us in an authentic tipi or comfortable trapper's tent or unserviced cpsite, surrounded by pristine wilderness and close to the Kananaskis River. Each tipi and trapper’s tent has a wooden floor, wood frame beds with comfy mattresses, kerosene heater, lantern, firepit and picnic table. We’re located in the spectacular Rocky Mountains of Kananaskis Country in Alberta, an hour from Banff or Calgary. Since 1992, we have welcomed families seeking a fun and uniquely Canadian experience. Enjoy friendly staff, free hot showers, washrooms and a coin laundry. The onsite Trading Post sells basic groceries, firewood, ice and gift ware. Bring your own camping gear or rent from us. Nearby, try hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding or rafting; photograph the breathtaking mountains, wildlife and your family adventures. In the evening, relax by the campfire, roast some marshmallows and enjoy the stars. What fun! ... more   less 
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