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“An amazing experience” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge

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Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“An amazing experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 January 2011

I'd wanted to go to Banff and Jasper my entire adult life, and this summer my wife and I finally did so. This has got to be one of the most spectacularly beautiful spots on the planet, and we were there for two glorious weeks. The highlight of the trip was the five days we stayed with Kable and Sarah Kongsrud at the Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge.

I should say at the outset that I'm a big city boy and my wife a Southern Californian. But we've spent a lot of time in the wilderness -- Kathleen's entire family consisted of six constant and skilled backpackers/hikers/campers/riders and she spent much of her childhood and youth in her beloved Sierra Nevada. Over the course of a 42-year marriage I've learned to love the mountains as well and have joined Kathleen in a love of horses and wilderness. We're experienced campers, hikers, riders and wilderness people.

Kable and Sarah run a wonderful lodge. The setting is astounding -- I've posted some of the photos we took while there. And it is a backcountry place, with everything that the description involves. You're not going to get luxurious accommodations but everything is absolutely wonderful. The atmosphere is warm, inviting and welcoming -- the family-style food is outstanding and everyone gets a chance to pitch in and help or just sit around and watch. Things are relaxed, friendly and knowledgeable -- just what you want in a backcountry lodge. It rained a fair amount while we were there, but we weren't to be denied and took terrific rides every day.

I suppose one's evaluation depends on what one wants and expects. I've read a very negative review on this site and have to say that it bears no resemblance to our experience. If you're looking for a superb backcountry experience in the middle of the most astounding mountains on Earth, you can't do any better than Kable's and Sarah's place.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank john_ehrenberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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39 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Sherwood Park, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 January 2011

I have skied into this amazing lodge several times in the past couple years and every time I feel so amazingly privileged to get to spend time in this part of the world. Parks Canada is very restrictive on backcountry developments so for a place as comfortable as this to even exist in the backcountry is absolutely amazing. The scenery is spectacular, the accommodations are comfortable and clean, the food is amazing, and the value is unbelievable, especially considering that almost all supplies have to be brought in by a very long and treacherous snowmobile ride in the winter. Many thanks to Kable and his family for keeping this lodge going, otherwise I would be sleeping in a tent on my backcountry trips into the Tonquin Valley.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank dstyrhds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Alberta
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2011

I rode in and spend a long weekend here with a bunch of women and it was absolutely AMAZING! The couple who run this place and their crew are very professional, knowledgeable and helpful. The cabins are quaint and and rustic but clean and comfortable. The food was hearty and homey, the cowboy coffee was particularly good. The day excursions, on horseback or otherwise were great too. If you're looking for a true backcountry experience, this is it!

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank wichdiva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sherwood park alberta
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 April 2010

My husband and I have made the trip to Tonquin Valley Lodge 12 times now, sometimes with our children, sometimes as a get-away for two. We have always marvelled at the level of comfort provided, given the remoteness of the location, and the degree of difficulty there must be in getting even the most basic necessities into the camp. The scenery is unbelievable, good thing each rustic cabin has a lovely deck with a view of some part of the valley! Each cabin is clean and comfortable, waking up to a fire in the room (thanks, honey) is the best way to start a day. The food! Fresh, hearty, and with enough variety that after even 12 trips the meals have never become routine or mundane for us. There is never a lack of things to do, and the camp is very kid-friendly. Unfortunately, outhouses are a fact of the back-country (if you're lucky), but I have always appreciated the effort made in keeping the Lodge's clean and as un-unpleasant as possible. Anyway, nobody expects to read a newspaper on the john when in the backcountry! Strongly recommend going later in the season, as the insects have definitely begun to subside late summer. For horse-lovers, there is a mount for every level of rider. For fishermen some of the best fishing in the park. And again, those lovely decks for travellers (like my husband) seeking serious relaxation. Can't wait for our next trip!

  • Stayed August 2008, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank vista_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Alberta
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 September 2009

I can't say how much we enjoyed my hike in to Tonquin Valley and then how wonderful and relaxing it was staying at the lodge. Big John, Gunner, Johnie and Heather are wonderful hosts! The cabins are cozy and warm in the cool August nights. Food was great, scenery amazing (even from the outhouse!!) Amethyst lake is great to boat/canoe on and the fishing is good too (they'll provide the gear to do it, if you have the inclination). Big John will cook the fish you catch for you after. We definitely would recommend hiking into Tonquin Valley and staying at the lodge to anyone, you'll never forget it!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank RLDAlberta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Alberta
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 August 2007

Having a daughter who is absolutely "horse crazy" I thought "What better way to spend a week of my holidays than to ride into a backcountry lodge on horseback?” Well I must say, after reading a fellow horse enthusiast's review of Kable Kongsrud's Backcountry Lodge, it makes me wonder if we even went to the same place.
Our journey began last winter as I was wandering around the sportsman's exhibition in Edmonton. I came across a booth displaying photos of some of the most beautiful scenery I'd seen, and a friendly looking cowboy sitting in the booth immediately drew me in. We stuck up a conversation and it didn't take long to decide that Tonquin Valley was a place I wanted to go. I told him that I would like to ride my own horses in, and although he discourages it and would prefer that you use his horses, he is willing to make exceptions for people who have the necessary horse skills. I booked a trip for my daughter and myself from July 15-20 and the waiting began.
Finally July 15 rolled around and we found ourselves at the Portal Creek trail head in Jasper National Park. After the formalities were taken care of we mounted our steeds and began the six hour ride into Tonquin Valley. The trail runs through some of the most spectacular country on the planet. Our trusty guide skillfully led us through creeks, down valleys and over high mountain passes to finally end up at Tonquin Valley Back Country Lodge on the north shore of Amethyst Lake. After dismounting we were greeted by our camp cook, who was bearing gifts, some of the most incredible baking I've ever tasted, to be enjoyed on the front deck of the main lodge. We were then shown to our private cabin. Our cabin was warm, dry and clean. With its log frame bed, wood stove, and private deck, it had the rustic charm you would expect in a back country stetting. We spent the next three days fishing, taking guided trail rides and enjoying the outgoing hospitality of Kable and his staff. Our meals, the quality of which you'd expect to find in a five star restaurant, were eagerly anticipated every day. The worst part of the trip came on day five when we woke up and realized it was time to pack up and go home.
Our trip into Tonquin Valley with Kable and his crew was absolutely fantastic. My daughter and I had the absolute time of our lives. I found the prices to be very reasonable when considering the service being provided and setting it is provided in. I would highly recommend a trip into Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge.

  • Stayed July 2007, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank delburnedave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 May 2006

In early 2004 I contacted Kable Kongsrud of Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge and made a reservation to visit his back country lodge that July. We informed him that we would be in Jasper with our own horses during that week and that we wanted to ride in and stay a night at the lake.

Kable informed us the day we were planning to ride in was the day he was packing guests out so our horses would have the corral to themselves. He decided to charge us $600 for one night! He then requested we send a $250 deposit. Not knowing the going rate and being that we heard so much about the Tonquin Valley we begrudgingly forwarded the deposit. On the 13 mile trail into Tonquin Valley we came across Kable and gave him the balance of the money. He was packing out about 5 riders who had been staying at the lodge. Not one of them showed even the slightest sign of enjoying themselves in what is really Gods country. As we rode on we wondered if they had rather gone to a funeral by the look on their faces. It made us wonder what we were in for.

After a 6 hour ride in mud up to our horses knees we arrived at the so called "Backcountry Lodge" only to find the “Lodge” was nothing more than a group of tiny shacks. Filthy little shacks with dirty floors, no running water, bunk beds, ragged blankets and dirty linens, it was filled with deer flies, and overrun by mosquitoes. If you take notice of their website you will find they purposely don’t show you pictures of their accommodations. The outhouse was so disgusting that it barely fit over the hole. You could look down and see the raw sewage from the sides of the outhouse. I will let you wonder about the smell on that hot summer day. My wife took only 2 minutes to look around and announce that we were riding out right then and there. Now this lady is no city girl, she's camped above 10,000' with the horses on Mt Whitney, rode across Yellowstone, and has put up with just about everything one can stand. But even I have to admit it was the filthiest place I had ever seen.

At that moment our horse trailer was looking like a four star hotel, but this was not a decision to be made lightly. We had just ridden 6 hours through a sea of mud, over the top of the Maccarib pass through known grizzly bear country. The ranger we rode in with had even confirmed there were two fatalities by grizzly’s on that very trail and pointed out both spots on the way in. Knowing that we would be riding back in the dark with exhausted horses gave a lot credence to just tolerating the filthy conditions for a night and writing it off as a bad experience. Despite all of this we just could not bring ourselves to stay in such a filthy place. We were so upset that it was totally misrepresented and so highly overpriced that we saddled up and rode the 13 miles back over the very same mud bog and mountain passes we had just crossed.

We arrived at the highway at midnight with two exhausted horses. We later found out that Kable only charges $150 a night for hikers, so he was totally ripping us off from the start. He was charging us 4 nights stay for just the one night! When we wrote to him a requested a refund he refused to even respond. He wouldn’t return our phone calls either. Even after we talked with his mother!

We have ridden a considerable portion of the Canadian Rockies and stayed in nearly every hotel and lodge in Banff in Jasper over a 25 year period, but there is no way we would ever recommend Tonquin Valley Lodge. It’s a filth trap that should be shutdown by the National Park Service and the Alberta ministry of health.

Helpful?
31 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge

Property: Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge
Address: Box 550, Jasper National Park, Alberta T0E 1E0, Canada
Region: Canada > Alberta > Canadian Rockies > Jasper National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 33 Speciality Lodging in Jasper National Park
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In Jasper National Park, on the continental divide, lies the Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge. This wilderness haven lies 24 kms from the nearest road at the base of the world famous Rampart Mountains and on the shores of pristine Amethyst Lake. Accessible only by hiking or horseback riding, this accommodation is unique among the Jasper backcountry lodges, and offers pack trips in a true mountain wilderness that everyone can enjoy. With towering peaks and lush meadows, the Tonquin Valley in Alberta provides an authentic Canadian Rockies vacation. Whether you want to explore the lake in a canoe, fish for abundant brook and rainbow trout in a rowboat, read a book, write a letter or participate in the daily horseback rides, this is the ideal situation. Come and stay in one of our comfortable Canadian Rockies chalets and enjoy an unforgettable wilderness experience. Our visitors stay in individual chalets which sleep from one to six people in comfortable bunk beds with all bedding provided. Chalet furnishings include crackling wood-burning stoves which make the rustic ambience even more cozy. Tonquin Valley trips are limited to 18 people in order to maintain an uncrowded and relaxed atmosphere. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge Jasper National Park, Alberta

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