Inside Look: Bear Claw Lodge in Northern British Columbia

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Bear Claw Lodge

You could get pretty lost in Northern British Columbia, which is probably why the Allen family offers to pick up their guests from the airport, about 2.5 hours away. The distance between is full of tall peaks, flowing rivers and many gravel roads. Indeed, the journey to the eight-room Bear Claw Lodge is the perfect introduction to what one can expect to experience on a stay.

Location

As I said, it’s a long drive. But it’s a beautiful one. That remoteness, that distance that needs to be traveled, it all becomes fitting once you arrive. I would say the lodge is located in the middle of nowhere, but I won’t, out of respect for the 70,000 acres of absolutely gorgeous terrain that surrounds it, mostly centered around the Kispiox River and the valley it follows.

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This area, in general, is under-explored—from the Kispiox River Valley to the Babine Mountains—with the exception of the fall fishing season, when the steelhead season is in full swing.

The Bear Claw Lodge, run by the Allen family, serves as a comfortable launching spot from which to explore, each day hiking, kayaking, fishing, skiing or horseback riding out and back from the property.

The Lodge

The 15,000-square-foot timber lodge sits high—towering even—above the bank of the Kispiox River, the water flowing downstream from one end of the large, glass wall of the Great Room straight across to the other side. No matter where you are in the second-story Great Room, which consists of a fireplace, leather couches, a big dinner table and a wooden bar, you can see the view out the floor-to-ceiling windows, a constant, changing piece of art.

Directly underneath the Great Room, at ground level, is the lounging area. There’s a pool table, dartboard, hot tub, fireplace, small library, karaoke machine, bar (with beer on tap) and leather couches, with an atmosphere of relaxed lightening, antler chandeliers and stone-tiled floors.

Rooms

The rooms have an important thing in common with the Great Room: the view. The eight rooms fan out to the side of it, offering the same overlook of the river, grassy banks and mountain backdrop.

Bear Claw Lodge

Inside, dark reds, browns and cream-colored whites highlight the color scheme, with indigenous art, outdoor photography and natural objects (rocks, furs) placed around as décor. The furniture is hand-made, often of local wood, and all rooms have balcony or patio space (4 rooms upstairs, 4 rooms downstairs). Some even have a loft.

Food

We’ve already established that you’re at a super-remote mountain lodge, so, no, there are no restaurants nearby. During your stay, you will eat every meal at the lodge. I don’t say this because it’s something to be wary of—I say it because it’s something to celebrate.

The fact that you always eat at the lodge reinforces that you are truly away from society, truly in nature. It wouldn’t be quite the same if you went out hiking all day and stopped at Taco Bell on the way home.

Coming back to the lodge feeling accomplished, physically tired but refreshed mentally, rinsing off the day and relaxing in front of a fire, the old snowshoes hung on the wall, eating dinner in the Great Room on a big wooden table with a glass of local wine and views of the river,, knowing that it’s a home-cooked meal and feeling revived because of it—well, I guess all I can say is that if you don’t appreciate what I’m saying, the romance of it, then you probably won’t appreciate the lodge.

Bear Claw Lodge

Because, though you will be served in a professional matter, there’s no confusion—the lodge is high-end, but it’s not stuck up. Hearty meals of roast chicken, thick steaks and salmon stew are staples, with sides sourced or foraged locally, sometimes right from the property, either from the garden or “from the wild.” Each night a different meal is prepared and, with the exception of dietary restrictions, you are served what they make (just like Mom used to do). Luckily, my Mom was a good cook, and so is the Allen family.

The final ingredient to the dining situation is that you eat together, with all the other guests at the lodge. For me, the comradery was good—swapping stories of our respective days in the wilderness was all right by me.

Summer Versus Winter

Bear Claw Lodge offers so many activities and excursions during the spring, summer and fall, between hiking, fishing, rafting, horseback riding, wild foraging, snorkeling with salmon, summer camps, etc., that it’s easy to forget it all started as a heliskiing outpost back in the day—and that skiing is still king.

Bear Claw Lodge

Winter is the busiest time of year for the lodge, attracting skiers from around the world to explore the powder on the high peaks of the Skeena Mountains.

Minimum Stay

Bear Claw Lodge rents its rooms on a package basis, offering 3, 4, and 7-night options. So if you’re going to go, you have to go.

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My two cents: I typically don’t like minimum stay policies—perhaps it’s my fear of commitment—but in this case, it’s sort of irrelevant. I mean, there’s just no way you would travel all the way out there to the lodge to spend just a night. It would be completely unreasonable, in fact, given the effort it takes to get there, so the fact that there is a 3-night minimum, for me, is not significant.

For more information, visit the website.