Build your own igloo in the Canadian Rockies

Did you ever think about spending your Canadian Rockies vacation inside your own igloo?

You can during the cold winters. 

I stumbled upon a video showing the art of making an igloo in the Canadian Rockies.  The video from shows how to make a basic igloo with everyday materials – a bucket and some waste paper baskets.  The video was shot on a frozen Vermilion Lake in Banff National Park, just south of Jasper National Park.

I think they’re on to something.  If you want to stay in the Canadian Rockies for free, just build yourself an igloo!  Sure, an igloo may lack electricity and running water, but the price is hard to beat.

Justine and the Igloo

Seriously, igloos are not allowed everywhere in Banff or Jasper.  But if you really want to build a snow shelter, you need to find the right place.  The right place is the backcountry and going backcountry hiking during the Canadian Rockies winter will get you there.

Winter backcountry hiking requires the right skills.  Besides freezing temperature dangers, would-be hikers need to be prepared before hiking as there are avalanches in Jasper and Banff.  Canadian Rockies avalanches have taken many lives.

For the adventurous winter backpacker, knowing how to quickly build an igloo or other form of winter shelter is a necessary survival skill.  Since igloos rely on a certain type of compressed snow and can take a lot of work, knowing how to build easier snow shelters can be life saving.

Another snow shelter is the snow cave.  A snow cave is build into an existing pile of deep, compressed snow.  Finding a suitable location can sometimes be difficult.

A better alternative is a quinhzee shelter.  A quinhzee is a mound of snow that has been hollowed out.  All you need is snow.  A quinhzee can be made quicker than an igloo and without any cutting tools, though a shovel would help.  A small quinzhee can be a suitable survival shelter in the Canadian Rockies.  The downside is the risk of collapse of a poorly constructed quinzhee.


More Resources about making igloos, quinzhees and other snow shelters

  • The snow cave is another form of snow shelter.  A good guide is here.
  • A video here by the BBC shows how to build a snow shelter.
  • Everything you need to know about making a quinzhee.
  • Want to know how the real eskimos make igloos?  This classic video documentary shows how.
  • There’s actually a 208-page book on how to build igloos and snow shelters called How to Build an Igloo: And Other Snow Shelters. Check it out.
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