By the time I pulled up beside the barn, my nerves were wrecked. After 40 minutes of trundling back and forth on dusty, gravelly roads to find a seemingly nonexistent address while trying not to destroy the undercarriage of our rental car, my partner James and I finally found our way to the right turnoff – into the prettiest ranch I’ve ever seen.
Well, the truth is Lone Pine Ranch Bed & Breakfast & Bale was the first ranch I’ve ever seen. Although I was here as part of a visit with a Canadian trapper, I didn’t expect to be staying so conveniently along the way to my next adventure: a road trip through the Canadian Rockies.
Bed & Breakfast accommodation along the Yellowhead Highway
When I was researching ideal routes for my trip around Alberta, I found that most people advise driving along the Icefields Parkway from Calgary-Banff-Jasper and back because the Yellowhead Highway from Edmonton to Jasper is “all flat terrain with no scenery” and “quite boring with few attractions”. I’m glad I didn’t listen!
Lone Pine Ranch is roughly one-third of the distance from Edmonton to Jasper on the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16), making for a leisurely hour-long drive from Edmonton. (Correct turnoff location here on Range Road 102). It’s close to the hamlet of Wildwood on the shores of Chip Lake, a favorite spot for fishers and birdwatchers.
When we arrive the ranch hands are all busy shooing dozens of cows and calves into trailers, so we sit out on a fence and soak in the sun for a bit. Soon, a sprightly lady with a ponytail of salt-and-pepper hair sprints over. It’s our host and owner of Lone Pine Ranch, Sylvia Martinetz.
“I’m sorry we’re late; we got a bit lost on the way here.”
“It’s all right! I got caught up with the calves, they’re having their shots today. Did you follow GPS? I always tell people not to use GPS! They’ve got our location wrong! Would you like a drink?”
With her warmth and immense energy, Sylvia quickly has us feeling welcome as we chat on the porch. When we’ve finished our welcome drinks – ginger ale, yum – Sylvia announces it’s time to show us to our rooms.
Private log cabin living
Accommodation at the Lone Pine Ranch B&B takes the form of six cozy log cabins that face out onto the fields, one of which is wheelchair accessible. Each cabin has two Queen-sized beds as well as a sofabed, making it perfect for couples and families. James and I decided to sleep separately and give ourselves some stretching space!
The cabins are also thoughtfully equipped with a desk with coffeemaker, shelves, and ensuite bathroom with towels and a mixed basket of shower amenities. You could have your morning coffee out on the porch together with the sheep, and if you’re really lucky you might be able to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) from here on clear winter/late spring nights.
Sumptuous food at the communal table
In true B&B style, meals at Lone Pine Ranch are served in the ranch house where a long dining table anchors the busy space. A piano sits in one corner, topped with paraphernalia; plants roam freely at the windowsill while animal pelts are held firmly in place on the walls. It feels so homely that we all help set and clear the table.
“No phones at the table – that’s my rule,” declares Sylvia. It’s one that I like, even though that meant I couldn’t photograph the mouthwatering spread before me. After all, good food and conversation is best appreciated without digital distractions! Together with another family and two students who were working as seasonal helpers, we tucked into a dinner of steak, mashed potato, salad, and a syrupy German-style dessert topped with cream.
Bookings at Lone Pine Ranch also include hearty ranch-style breakfasts: not being a morning person, I can only vaguely remember steaming platters of poached eggs, sausages, pancakes with syrup, and toast as I let the morning sun, warm coffee, and murmur of conversation wake me up. That said, Sylvia is happy to cater to special diets so vegan or gluten-intolerant folks need not worry – as long as you inform her in advance.
Life on the homestead
Going on a tour of the grounds with Sylvia showed me just how much work she does each day to run Lone Pine Ranch. I was introduced to the cattle, sheep, goats, geese, and even her llama and two emus. Impressively, there’s also a garden where Sylvia’s starting to grow fruit and vegetables on a small scale.
The truth is, Lone Pine Ranch is more than just your typical bed & breakfast. It’s also got its own event space, “The Wolf Den”, which comfortably accommodates up to 40 guests for meetings, retreats, or workshops. Because of this, there’s plenty to experience at Lone Pine Ranch. Think river tubing, shopping at the pottery studio/gallery down the road, enjoying a massage with the onsite Registered Massage Therapist, participating in ranch activities like feeding the lambs, or exploring the wilderness with Bushman Inc. which manages the area’s trapline.
Lone Pine Ranch was full of personality and warmth, from the house rules and home-cooked feasts to learning about Sylvia’s challenges and accomplishments running a ranch and lodge combined. It’s just how B&Bs and guesthouses should be.
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When to Go
Like any boutique accommodation, rooms at Lone Pine Ranch are limited. If you’re planning a trip from Edmonton to Jasper National Park and want to stay here, check availability as far ahead as possible. This is an Albertan local experience that you won’t get in the Canadian Rockies’ resort towns!
Disclosure: I was hosted by Lone Pine Ranch. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Additional photos: © James Tan