"Winter Playground" Manning Provincial Park by Jonathan_C
Manning Provincial Park Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 40 photos
Manning Provincial Park is the Canadian version of America's North Cascades National Park with one important exception -- it has facilities which make it much easier for families to enjoy. In the summer you can camp at one of several park campgrounds or go off on your own wilderness adventure. In the wintertime, however, there is really no alternative to staying at Manning Park Resort. But this is no ordinary ski resort. Canadians have a different sense of how much space to allow per person and for them, winter play is part of everyday life, not the justification for an expensive vacation package. Manning Park Resort has more the feel of a shared, though quite luxurious, lodge in the woods. They have a lovely hotel with 41 rooms, a dozen cabins and six shared 'chalets' as well as a group lodge about a mile away. By Canadian standards, that about fills up this 175,000 acre (71,000 hectare) park.
There are two really great things about Manning Park Resort, besides the stunning location. The first is that it's only 3.5 hours from Seattle which is way better than driving to the Methow Valley. The second is that it offers one-stop-shopping for winter activities once you arrive. We looked long and hard to find a winter place where we could ski (downhill, cross-country, back-country) and sled and ice skate without getting in the car. That is precisely what Manning offers. Within 50 yards of your lodging you'll find the sledding hill, ice rink and groomed cross-country trails. And there is a little shuttle bus which will take you to the 2-chair, 2-tow downhill area about 5 miles up the valley. All of the activities are run as if you were a responsible adult. The rules on the rink are the same simple rules as on the pond where I grew up: take turns, share the ice, don't get hurt. The sledding hill is the same: take turns and watch out for eachother. The place has a do-it-yourself charm for those accustomed to winter. Shovels live outside so you can clear the rink of snow whenever you need to. The bonfire next to the rink is stocked with wood but is basically self service. Maybe that's why this place attracts so many families from Western Washington whose parents grew up in New England or the Midwest.
If you're going to be spending all day out in the snow with your kids you'll need a relaxing environment indoors. Given the latitude and time of year, this is where you'll be spending quite a few waking hours. Here too, Manning Park Resort excels. After a hard day's play you'll want to relax in the 'loon lagoon' building next to the lodge where you'll find a large hot tub and sauna. For dinner you can head over to their dining room for what they describe as "Exceptional cuisine and wine with a casual dining experience." We were astonished to sit down to table cloths and (very thick) wine glasses in a restaurant where over half the tables had two children under six. The food was both excellent and inexpensive and the wait staff made you feel completely comfortable bringing your kids. Inside the lodge they have ping-pong and pool as well as board games you can check out from the desk. A room upstairs with tables and comfy chairs functions as a living room for kids and parents. Before bed you might choose to watch one of the in-house family movies. (We're a no TV house and even we approved of their choices.)
So what are you waiting for! If it's too late to book for this year, book for next. We book 13 months ahead of time to make sure we get our favorite room over President's Day weekend. Maybe we'll see you there some time.
Manning Park has 30 km of groomed cross-country trails and dry, East-of-the-crest snow. Add in more sunshine than... more travel advice
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