- Peter Scott & Monica Kong
From CABIN Retreat in Mara, to YURT CAMPING in Golden
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Mara is a small town just south of Swansea Point, near Mara Provincial Park, and north of Vernon B.C. It's one of those, if-you-blink-you-will-miss-it kind of town that often gets overlooked as you drive along highway 97A. We admit, we hadn't heard of it before, but it was the perfect place to unwind for a few nights before continuing on our cross- Canada road trip.
Our solar-powered cabin was tucked in a quiet, forested property. Inside, there was a wood stove, a basic kitchen, and a tall ladder leading to a spacious loft with 2 mattresses. There was a large deck outside with a barbecue and a bathroom to the side, which featured an old-school clawfoot bathtub. Aside from the simple, portable flush toilet, this airbnb find felt like 5 star luxury after 3 prior nights of wet and cold camping at Kentucky - Alleyne Provincial Park. It was also the perfect retreat as 3 out of 4 of us were recovering from a cold. The cabin's rustic charm, friendly farm animals and ultra hospitable hosts made us feel right at home.
The host provided us with ample firewood for the wood stove, which kept us quite toasty during the night. In fact, our cabin got a little overheated at one point, and the kids were getting cooked in the loft. Getting a ride on the ATV for the wood delivery was also great fun for the kids. An added bonus, this cabin had plenty of old board games, cards and a few books to keep the little ones busy and entertained. The only downside to this airbnb place, was that the solar powered lights were fairly weak, and did not provide enough light during the night. We had our camping lanterns and headlamps, so it wasn't a big issue for us.
1) Day trip to the ever so popular ENCHANTED FOREST, (between Sicamous and Revelstoke) where classic nursery rhymes and fairytales come to life and kids can't help but be amazed by all the colourful handmade sculptures and whimsical treehouses. The surrounding old growth forest is also quite impressive. The admission price was $12 for adults, $9 for kids. Skytrek adventure park is conveniently located right next to the Enchanted Forest, with ziplines, ropes and climbing courses. We opted out of this one, as it would have made for a very long day, and at $39-$45 per child/adult, it wasn't cheap.
There is a little swampy lake at the end of the trail where you can help yourself to life jackets and paddle on a boat. No kid-sized life jackets, but it really wasn't very deep! From pirate ships to knights and castles, there are plenty of things to explore throughout the Enchanted Forest. It does get quite crowded by mid-afternoon (during peak season), so arriving early is best.
2) Feeding the goats and cuddling with baby goat Finn at our cabin retreat. Exactly the kind of animal therapy the kids needed as they were already beginning to feel homesick and coming to terms with the idea of leaving our old home for good.
3) It isn't often when you get the opportunity to have a bath outside, in an old tub, amidst trees and colourful lanterns. Despite initial reluctance from the kids, outdoor bath time was a big hit! Hot water was plentiful, with nice thick towels and toiletries provided.
After Mara, we spent one night in a yurt at Golden Eco Adventure Ranch. You can book all kinds of activities from here, from whitewater rafting to horseback riding. It is a wide open field with options for RV, tent and yurt camping. The yurt itself was pretty simple, with firm beds, pillows and a closet. It saved us from setting up our tent and mattresses, though we still needed to use our sleeping bags. There is a circular skylight above but no other source of light is provided. When heavy rain hits the plastic window, it feels as though you are inside a popcorn machine and it can get pretty loud. The kids slept right through it though, thankfully!
The washroom and laundry facilities were clean and modern, but just a bit far to walk to and from our yurt. We were also battling with LOTS of mosquitos, despite the breezy weather. Bug repellent here is a MUST unless you want to be eaten alive.
This was our first time sleeping in a yurt. It isn't a huge upgrade from tent sleeping, so if you have never slept in one, don't expect much. I'm sure there are more luxurious glamping yurts out there, but this one was quite basic. It's ideal for those who don't own or have a tent and sleeping mat. For us, it was great not setting up and taking down a wet tent for just one night. For that alone, it was worth it.
NEXT STOP: Our all-time, family favorite camping spot in Canada: Yoho National Park, Lake O'Hara.