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December
31
posted by: High Level Hotels on: December 31, 2013 2:19:37 PM


Here in Northern Alberta, we are certainly no strangers to snow. If you’re visiting High Level or anywhere else in the province this winter, you can expect to be become well acquainted with the fluffy white stuff, which blankets many parts of our province for much of the year.

But don’t let all the snow get you down—it can be a lot of fun for the kids (even if you’re not into the traditional snowsports like skiing and snowmobiling). In this spirit, we’ve compiled a list of fun things to do in the snow.

1: Build a Snow Fort
Make your own frozen castle from tightly packed snow, then use it as a hideout for a snowball fight or hide-and-go-seek!

2: Look for Animal Prints
High Level is home to a wide variety of wildlife that roam the snow covered ground. Have some fun by seeking out animal tracks and seeing if you can identify the creature that made them.  

3: Preserve Snowflakes
Each snowflake is an intricate work of art! Capture and view them up-close using this easy method: get a thin piece of plexiglass (make sure it’s cooled to the outside temperature) and cover it in a thin coat of clear lacquer. Let it set for a few minutes and then use it to catch some snowflakes. Put it in a covered container and let it harden outside for a few hours, then view the snowflakes with a magnifying glass. 

4: Make Homemade Maple Taffy
Boil maple syrup and drizzle it onto well-packed snow. Let it cool and you have yourself a homemade, natural treat!

5: Play Footprint Tag
Add a twist to the conventional game of tag by trying only to step in each other’s fooprints.

For more ideas on how to make the most of the winter weather stay tuned to our High Level Hotels blog!

December
24
posted by: High Level Hotels on: December 24, 2013 8:02:19 PM
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
You could hear Christmas music by Alison Kraus
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
And the grown-ups were craving a laugh or a scare
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
It’s time to uncork a nice bottle of red…

It’s a typical Christmas Eve scenario: the kids have gone to bed and mom and dad have the opportunity to relax and watch a movie. A nice Christmas movie, perhaps. But, by now, they’re both sick of the sentimental schmaltz that most Christmas classics offer up. They want something a little more edgy. Something that will appeal to their more mature sensibilities.

If you find yourself in this predicament, here’s a list of our favourite adult-oriented Christmas movies, best to put on once the kids are safely tucked away in bed (dreaming of sugar plums, apparently).

The Ref (1994)

Kidnapping and martial dysfunction, the two central elements of this dark comedy starring Kevin Spacey and Dennis Leary, aren't exactly typical Christmas themes--but this is far from a typical Christmas movie. Leary’s brash, in-your face humour takes centre stage in the story of a burglar who unwittingly assumes the role of marriage counsellor after he kidnaps a quarrelling couple on Christmas Eve.

Bad Santa (2003)


You’ll never look at a shopping mall St. Nick the same after you see this wildly irreverent and raunchy story of a foul-mouthed, criminally inclined Santa-for-hire played by Billy Bob Thornton.

Black Christmas (1974)


A Canadian horror classic, Black Christmas might not be quite as a scary by today’s standards as it was when released, but it’s still a delightfully campy assault on sugar-coated Christmas flicks, complete with all the trappings of the slasher movie genre that it helped pioneer.

Do you have another favourite Christmas movie?  We'd love to hear.  From all of us at High Level Hotels, happy holidays!

November
28
posted by: High Level Hotels on: November 28, 2013 5:31:11 PM


With the Christmas season just around the corner, many of us are busy making travel plans to visit family and friends in the month of December. If you’ve ever travelled around Christmas before, you know how hectic it can be. To make things a little easier, here are a few handy tips for stress-free holiday air travel.

Choose Non-Peak Travel Dates

With so many people taking to the skies over the holidays, your best bet for avoiding crowds and mayhem is to choose the least popular travel dates for your trip. Although it may not be ideal to travel on, say, Christmas day or New Year’s Eve, it could save you a great deal of time and money—and your family will surely be grateful to see you either way!

Opt for Nonstop Flights

It may end up costing you more, but choosing a non-stop flight is the best way to ensure that you arrive without significant delay. Nothing is worse than enduring a flight delay in a connecting airport. The more connections in your trip, the better chance you have of spending your Christmas in an airport.

Don’t Wrap Gifts Before You Fly

There’s a good chance that security personnel will decide to unwrap your packages for inspection, so save yourself the hassle and wrap them when you arrive at your destination. Or, better yet, use gift bags!

Take a Deep Breath…

The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, so don’t let travel woes get you down. Getting to your destination can be stressful, even infuriating at times, but it’s important to maintain perspective and keep your cool. And if you’re tempted to voice your frustration to airline staff, just remember, friendliness will get you further than anything.

From everyone here at High Level Hotels, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season!

November
22
posted by: High Level Hotels on: November 22, 2013 10:40:53 AM


The Town of High Level, Alberta has some of the best snowmobiling in the province. Maybe even the country. And the premier spot for serious snow in this neck of the woods has always been Watt Mountain.

With more than 300 kilometres of trails, this hill often offers sensational sledding long before more southern parts of Alberta see any significant snow. You can usually hit the trails around December or even November, depending on the weather. March typically brings the best conditions, since the temperature’s a bit warmer and the trails are just right.

If you’re going to be spending some time in High Level this winter, and you’ve got access to a snowmobile, be sure to give sledding at Watt Mountain a try.

Sweet sledding and great scenery
Located 32 kilometres north of High Level, many of the trails around Watt Mountain are on flat land, which makes them ideal for family trips. However, more experienced sledders will also have a blast on this terrain. Watt Mountain rises about 300 metres high, providing some stellar views of the town and Hay River watershed. You might even be able to see as far as Peace River at Fort Vermilion, depending on the weather.

One of the coolest features of Watt Mountain is that the trailhead is located at the town limits, which means snowmobilers can leave town on their sleds. Not having to head out in the truck is certainly handy.

But best of all, the conditions in the High Level area are almost always phenomenal. The sledding season usually lasts longer than anywhere else in Alberta and it’s rare that there isn’t enough snow to maintain nicely groomed trails.

Volunteers help make it possible

Watt Mountain has a beautifully maintained trail system that includes trail mapping, good signage, bridges over steep ravines and three warming shelters that include an emergency cabin.

All this awesome infrastructure is thanks to the hard work of the folks with the Watt Mountain Wanderers Snowmobile Club. Not only did this club develop a great network of trails, they also host charity events and promote snowmobiling in the area. They even helped lobby their local government to allow sledding within town limits.

But most out-of-town sledders are most grateful for the club’s trail mapping: click here to get a PDF copy of snowmobile trails in the region. And before you head out, make sure you buy an Alberta Snowmobile Association Trail pass.

If you plan on doing some sledding at Watt Mountain or anywhere else in the Peace Country, you’ll find comfortable and affordable rooms at one of our hotels in High Level.
October
30


Northern Alberta’s Mackenzie County, where the town of High Level is located, is unlike any other place in Canada. Most visitors quickly learn that the area is full of small, tight-knit communities; however, they may not know exactly what makes this region stand out from everywhere else.

Read on to find out more about why Mackenzie County is such a unique place to live, work and visit.

It’s bigger than some provinces


Mackenzie County covers a whopping 80,000 square kilometres, equaling about 12% of Alberta’s overall land mass. That makes it the largest county in the province.

In fact, Mackenzie County is even physically larger than the province of New Brunswick. Population-wise, of course, it’s a far different story:  about 750,000 people live in New Brunswick versus 11,000 in Mackenzie County. Talk about wide-open spaces.

Local industry creates communities
If you’re traveling to northern Alberta for work, you already realize that this region has a very strong economy. But did you know that Mackenzie County holds 36% of the Peace Region’s natural gas reserves and 80% of its light-medium crude oil reserves? Two communities in the area – Town of Rainbow Lake and the Hamlet of Zama City – developed as a result of the thriving petroleum industry.

But this county isn’t only about oil and gas. Forestry remains a major employer in the region, with mature timber covering about 24% of Mackenzie County’s 1.9 million hectares of land. It’s also home to the world’s biggest single-line continuous press Oriented Strand Board operation. Meanwhile, agriculture remains an important part of the economy. There are about 700 farms in the county, which produce grain, livestock, peas, oats, canola and other crops.

The wildlife is incredibly diverse
Mackenzie County has a well-deserved reputation as a hotspot for anyone who wants to explore the outdoors. From river otters and giant black beavers to towering moose, our region provides a rare opportunity to witness a variety of creatures.

Perhaps one of the most talked about mammals in the region is the buffalo. Watch for them along the roads or in large herds on the plains near the Hay-Zama Lakes wetland. You might also see them near Rainbow Lake or the nearby First Nations reserve Chateh.

It’s this remarkable diversity that continues to attract hunters, bird watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts on a regular basis. Although not nearly as big as the resource sector, tourism also plays an important economic role in Mackenzie County.

If you’re planning a trip to the region, you’ll find comfortable and affordable accommodations at one of our hotels in High Level.
October
18


From stunning vistas to lush forests, the High Level area offers enough spectacular scenery to keep a shutterbug busy for days. And with autumn well upon us, the fall foliage adds an extra touch of beauty to the surroundings.

So we were happy to hear about the "What I Love About The High Level Area" photo challenge, which aims to showcase some of the finest pictures from our region. The contest wraps on Oct.26, followed by a local gallery showing on Nov.7.

But if you’re not from here, you may not know about all the scenic places you can find in High Level. So here are 4 photogenic settings you might want to check out.

Fox Haven Golf & Country Club
The lush manicured grounds of this golf course provide a spectacular spot to snap a few photos. If you’re not too preoccupied trying to make that putt. 

The well-maintained course is all about tranquility, with ducks bobbing on the water hazards and stands of aspen framing the greens. The country club is stunning during the spring and summer, but offers some uniquely beautiful scenery in early fall when the leaves start to turn. This course often stays open until after the Thanksgiving weekend, depending on conditions.

High Level Community Park
Tucked amid a thick forest, this local gem is packed with photographic potential. There’s a fenced dog park, two baseball diamonds and a popular fish pond that was restocked with trout earlier this year. With the right timing, you might even snap an action shot of someone reeling in a big one.

Hutch Lake Recreation Area
This long, narrow lake was created when a dam was built at its north end. Now, it’s a hotspot for both locals and travelers looking for a wilderness escape.

Located about 35 kilometres north of High Level, the Hutch Lake Recreation Area offers a small campsite along with a boat launch, day-use sites and fire pits. The area is very clean and offers soothing landscape views year-round.

Machesis Lake Campground
Set about 25 kilometres east of High Level, this serene spot is framed by Jack Pine and Spruce trees. Like Hutch Lake, you’ll discover a well-maintained campsite and a day-use area here. But keep your camera close – the area offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife and birdwatching.

Hang out on one of two docks, popular spots to try trout fishing, or explore some of the nearby paths.

And once you’ve had your fill of photo ops, settle into a comfortable room at one of our surprisingly affordable High Level hotels
September
7
posted by: High Level Hotels on: September 7, 2013 4:15:28 PM
Northern Alberta is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. But as the warm summer weather starts to slip away, and activities like camping and swimming lose their appeal, you may want to check out what there is to do right here in High Level.

Take a dip without facing the cold at the aquatic center, delve into local history at the museum or snag a trout in the recently stocked fish pond. And that’s just for starters. So if you’re heading to High Level this fall, have a look at these three interesting things to see and do around town.



R.E. Walter Memorial Aquatic Center
The surrounding lakes and rivers may be a little too frigid for a swim, but the water here is always warm.

High Level’s popular R.E. Walter Memorial Aquatic Centre features a four-lane, 25-metre swimming pool, a pool for toddlers and a viewing area so parents can easily keep an eye on their young ones.

Another cool perk of this centre is a climbing wall that hangs over the water  – something that even many big-city pools don’t offer. And after getting in a little exercise, you can hop into the 10-person hot tub to soothe sore muscles.

There are also year-round swimming programs and a drop-in Aquafit class available. For more information, check out the Town of High Level website.



Mackenzie Crossroads Museum & Visitor Centre
Set in a quaint log cabin, this museum and visitor centre offers a unique glimpse into the North Peace’s pioneer past.

The centre’s flagship exhibit is the ‘Northern Trading Post’, where visitors can gaze at an abundance of artifacts donated by local residents, including more than 16,000 food and medical containers.  Like a scene straight out of an old western flick, this part of the museum is designed to mimic a typical trading post and general store, complete with traditional living quarters attached.

Other displays showcase the region’s farming and trapping history while highlighting local First Nations culture. Browse the gift shop and find souvenirs crafted by local artisans. The Mackenzie Crossroads Museum & Visitor Centre also puts on seasonal events, such as art shows and craft sales.

Town of High Level Fish Pond
There’s no shortage of great fishing in the North Peace region. Lakes and rivers here are prime spots to catch Northern Pike, Walleye, Yellow Perch and other species. But if you don’t have time to explore the surrounding area, drop by the local fishing hole instead.

The Town of High Level Fish Pond was restocked with trout by Alberta Fish and Wildlife earlier in 2013. That means fishing this year is even better than before. Just remember that provincial fish and wildlife regulations also apply to the pond.

And if you’re planning a trip to the region this fall, you’ll find comfortable and affordable accommodations at one of our hotels in High Level.
September
29

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo) 
[CC-BY-2.5 (
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Northern Alberta communities like High Level are always prime spots to gaze up at the night sky and watch the swirling light show that is aurora borealis. But this autumn, the Northern Lights could put on an even more spectacular performance.

NASA updated its prediction last spring on when conditions will be most favorable for viewing the phenomenon. Originally, the space agency said that the period of ‘solar maximum’ would take place in April or May of 2013. But now, scientists say that there will be two peaks in solar activity: the first one took place already in early 2012 while the second is due this autumn.

And this late solar surge might mean that travelers will have more opportunities to see the Northern Lights even into 2015. Visitors to High Level already rave about how easy it is to witness aurora borealis – all you need is a clear sky. But if you’re heading our way soon, be prepared for an extra-impressive display of bright, pulsating light.

Why the lights are so bright in High Level
If you were to look at a map, the Northern Lights occur in an oval-shaped area located above the magnetic pole. The best spots to see the lights are within this “auroral oval”. And High Level is right in the middle of it. In fact, Canada has most of the world’s best locations to gaze at the Northern Lights.

And more areas further south will likely to be able to see the show this year as well because of the increased solar activity. So if you’re driving up to High Level from Edmonton, steal a quick glance up at the evening sky.

Typically, the best time of year to see aurora borealis is from late September to early March. But even during a ‘solar maximum’, it’s impossible to be 100% sure that you’ll see a light show.

What causes the Northern Lights
This spellbinding spectacle is created by collisions between gaseous particles in our atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. All those different colours are a result of different types of gas particles colliding. For example, nitrogen produces blue or purple aurora while oxygen molecules create yellow-green aurora.

If you’re planning on dropping by the region while this amazing light show is on, settle into one of our comfortable High Level hotels before the spectacle begins.
August
30
Sorry to say it, folks, but winter is almost upon us. And though you might not be looking forward to having to scrape the ice off your windshield and bundle up like a mummy, winter does have its perks. For one, it offers countless opportunities to cozy up by the fire and lose yourself in a really good book.

If you’re looking for an engaging winter read, we recommend checking out any of the novels nominated for this year’s Alberta Reader’s Choice Award at the Edmonton Public Library. Besides being fantastic literary achievements, these books were all penned by Alberta-based authors—and we’re never shy when it comes to bragging about our province’s homegrown talent.

419 by Will Ferguson

Some critics have cited this Giller Prize-winning novel as an example of an entirely new genre: the “global” novel. With a setting that shuttles between Nigeria and North America, 419 weaves together the tragic yet inspiring stories of individuals separated by geography but connected by hope.

I Know Who You Remind Me Of by Naomi K. Lewis 

A collection of short stories both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, I Know Who You Remind Me Of explores what it means to come of age as a young adult in a world where technology both connects and separates us.

The Shore Girl by Fran Kimmel 

Winner of the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award, The Shore Girl follows young Rebee Shore from infancy to adulthood as she struggles to transcend her troubled upbringing and live down her family’s dark past.

The Tinsmith by Tim Bowling 

From the bloodiest battle on American soil to the tranquil shores of BC’s Fraser River, the settings of The Tinsmith reflect the troubled and fragmented psyche of its protagonist, a Civil War Soldier struggling to deal with the trauma of war and solve the mystery of his missing friend.

Walls: Travels Along the Barricades by Marcello Di Cintio

This ambitious travelogue takes readers on a journey to some of the world’s most notorious and hostile border regions to shed light on structures that separate societies and the stories of those who seek to overcome them. 

We hope you’ll get the chance to enjoy one of these fantastic books this winter as you relax in one of our comfortable and affordable High Level hotel rooms.
August
19
posted by: High Level Hotels on: August 19, 2013 2:08:18 PM

Here in the Peace Country of Alberta, where the winters are long and the snow often starts in late September, we savour every minute of summer. And even though back-to-school is just over the horizon, there is still plenty of sweet summer sun to soak up and plenty of fun to be had at events across the North Peace County. 

Lakeshore Motorsports Demolition Derby – Kinuso, AB – Aug 23-25
You can count on plenty of show-stopping collisions at the Lakeshore Motorsports Demolition Derby—the only motor sport where crashes are encouraged. In addition to steel-crushing displays of automotive aggression, the event will feature a battle of the bands, prize draws and performances by house band Boot Leg Saints.

Fairview Summer’s End Festival – Fairview, AB – Aug. 24
Before you say goodbye to summer, head to the town of Fairview for their annual celebration of music, art and entertainment. Featuring an open-air market, food vendors, children’s activities and all manner of live performances, the festival offers something for everyone.  

Music Festival at George Lake Campground – Hines Creek, AB – Sept. 1
Now in its 26th year, the George Lake Music Fest hosts a variety of musical acts in the picturesque setting of George Lake Campground near the town of Hines Creek. Camping is encouraged.

Pioneer Day and Fall Fair – La Crete, AB – Sept. 7
Located an hour-and-a-half southeast of High Level, La Crete is a town with a rich history. Every year, locals and visitors celebrate this history at the Pioneer Day and Fall Fair, which showcases antique farm equipment and other relics from the town’s past. 

For a complete listing of events happening throughout the Peace Country, check out Discover the Peace Country. And when your travels bring you to the town of High Level, in the Peace Country’s northernmost region, trust High Level Hotels to provide cozy, comfortable lodging at great rates