By James Rose
Special to the Pioneer
This past summer, Dustin Bourns and his family could not have been more excited about operating the Diana Lake Lodge as the new owners.
Located just outside of the Kootenay National Park boundary in a sheltered alpine valley of the Rocky Mountain Brisco Range, the lodge and surrounding area offer an intimate backcountry environment featuring rolling alpine meadows, a pristine mountain lake, and overhanging cliffs.
To reach the trailhead leading to the lodge (on a slight hill above the lake), it is roughly a one-hour drive heading north of Radium Hot Springs then turning off onto the Kindersley-Pinnacle Forest Service Road.
The Lodge offers an affordable alternative to outdoor enthusiasts looking for a new area to explore. Full and self-catered accommodation packages are available along with beverage, snack and lunch items for day visitors.
Soon after Dustin completed the College of the Rockies Adventure Tourism and Business Operations Course in 2015, he along with his wife and father became the main operators of the lodge, which was first built in 1955 by valley resident Tim Thompson. It has been said Mr. Thompson named the lake after his wife.
We took over the lodge this spring, and have been open since mid-July, said Mr. Bourns. And before opening this business, I was employed in numerous industries, mainly residential construction, cooking and tourism.
Despite being the new owners, the backcountry lifestyle it accommodates is nothing new for the Bourns family.
I have been in the backcountry and the outdoors since I was a baby. My parents were and still are avid backcountry enthusiasts and I have that same passion.
But as Mr. Bourns knows, the tourism business in the Columbia Valley is competitive. For a tourism product to stand out among the many, something special is needed.
The Diana Lake area is great because it offers visitors the chance to hike into the alpine, in a relatively unfrequented area, and enjoy some delicious high quality food and amazing hospitality (from the Lodge).
Mr. Bourns also plans to add more services and amenities to improve upon whats currently offered. Over the next few years, guests can look forward to a new composting outhouse; a redone floor and roof in the main cabin; the addition of four more rooms and an indoor night-time toilet area; and a new facility that will house a sauna and the current outdoor shower.
New services offered will feature several new tent pads for use next summer. These will be for people who cannot afford the lodge, or who want to camp in the alpine and use our shower and outhouse facilities. They will still have to do their own cooking, or they can pay to be included in lodge meals. We also plan to offer parent-involvement kids camps, guided trips, and eventually childrens and adult bush-craft camps.
And as we say goodbye to warmer weather, prospective guests may wonder what the lodge offers throughout the winter months.
Our main focus will be on show shoeing and alpine cross-country touring in the meadows, but we will also host groups who want to ski tour, said Mr. Bourns. All of our groups will be self-guided, and each member will need relevant avalanche skills training as we want to encourage an atmosphere of safe and responsible backcountry enjoyment.
Mr. Bourns also has plans for a skating rink to be cleared on Diana Lake as well.
When asked what the most exciting part of operating the lodge is, Mr. Bourns replied that its the whole experience.
I think the constant feeling of solving problems that come up is super exciting, but probably the best is meeting everybody and hearing their enthusiasm for what we are doing. It just makes me more excited to hear it.
The Lodges busiest time is August/September and bookings are encouraged three to six months in advance. For more information, visit www.dianalake.ca, call 250-300-9150 or visit Diana Lake Lodge & Teahouse on Facebook.