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Best Outdoor Activities & Recreation in Calgary

Posted by Justin Havre on Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 at 10:55am.

What are the Best Outdoor Activities in Calgary?

When considering a destination as a new home base or to visit just to get a lay of the land and the available opportunities, Calgary is the place to be. The city offer a wealth of interesting things to do for fun and entertainment, as well as quality medical facilities, premier schools and universities, diverse job opportunities, great shopping locations, and well-planned neighbourhoods. The following outdoor activities can be found throughout Calgary for both residents and visitors to enjoy.

Mountain Adventures in Calgary

Canada's mountainous landscape offers the opportunity for a variety of mountain adventures year-round. One of the most thorough ways to enjoy the beauty of the mountains is with a guided hiking tour. With a choice in trails, mountain biking is another way to experience the environment at your leisure. Trails run the gamut from easy for beginners to challenging for those with more experience. There is also the option to go trail travelling by renting an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in Calgary.

In Banff, hop aboard the gondola for a scenic ride through the treetops with mountain vistas in the background, or go for an evening ice walk in Johnston Canyon or traverse the Icefields Parkway. For a memorable experience, sign up for an underground guided cave tour in the Canadian Rockies. There are also above-ground cave and cavern tours for observing stalagmite and stalactite formations. For overnight adventures in the mountains, choose from several campgrounds and RV parks such as Calgary West campground, Natures Hideaway Family campground, and Balzac Campground and RV Park.

Whitewater rafting offers another exciting and visually appealing way to experience Canada in a leisurely fashion while being surrounded by the beauty and majesty of the Canadian Rockies.

Water Recreation in Calgary

With numerous choices in local and national parks and a network of rivers located in and near Calgary, having access to water recreation is never a problem any time of the year. Taking a boat tour is a leisurely way to enjoy the scenery and learn the history of the area from a knowledgeable tour guide.

Boat rentals are also an option to relax and meander down a river in a canoe or kayak. You never know what could be caught when dropping a line in the water on a fishing adventure. For those who prefer investigating and exploring underwater landscapes and species, plan a day of scuba diving. While glacier-fed lakes may be too icy cold for swimming, public pools are available, or be pampered and unwind with a visit to area mineral hot springs. For the adventurous soul, rent a paddleboard or jet ski for a refreshing day on a lake or river.

For more water recreation, Calgary has three indoor water parks with plenty of fun and excitement. Plan a day at Oasis River Country Water Park, Southland Leisure Centre, and Village Square Leisure Centre with features such as rope bridges, waterslides, and assorted swimming pools, whirlpools, and wave pools.

Calgary Trails

Whatever your preference may be—hiking, mountain biking, walking or running on popular trails, and even cross-country skiing—Calgary and the majestic Canadian Rockies offer a variety of locations within one to two hours of the city available for novice to seasoned trail adventurers alike. For an intriguing outing, Johnston Canyon, located in Banff National Park, provides hikers with scenic waterfalls via catwalks and staircases. Banff also features the beauty of seven pristine pools glistening with crystal-clear spring water throughout Moose Meadows Trail.

Whether you want to enjoy hiking among the buds and blossoms of spring, see the changing colours of fall, or take to the trail in winter with snowshoes, Troll Falls offers an invigorating hike year-round with its splendid waterfall as a visual bonus at journeys end. Plan a half-day getaway with a visit to Prairie Mountain, where hikers will observe scenic vistas of the prairie and surrounding area from the mountain's summit.

For hikers who prefer a moderate challenge, Chester Lake Trail provides an energetic experience with scenic mountain views as a travelling companion. Canada's badlands offer another opportunity to hike among a visually appealing environment along a series of easy-to-access trails in Horseshoe Canyon.

Calgary Parks

For outdoor adventures, pick your pleasure of activities from among the many parks in the Calgary area, starting with the scenic alpine landscapes, dense forest, ice fields, and glaciers of Banff National Park. At Waterton Lakes National Park, you're less than an hour from Montana and its Glacier National Park. Waterton features numerous lakes, prairie and canyon landscape, Cameron Falls, and the opportunity to observe grazing bison. Nose Hill Park offers wide, open spaces to enjoy the great outdoors, along with the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife.

Situated across from Bowness Park where visitors can take a mini train ride, explore trails, and go boating, Baker Park is another desirable place to relax by the Bow River. The urban 12-acre park is ideal for walking, biking, bird watching, a game of disc golf, enjoying performances at the amphitheatre, picnics, and relaxing at one of the gazebos.

South Glenmore Park has a little something for everyone, from boat rentals and trails to a cool splash pad for kids. Princes's Island Park is situated on its own island in the middle of the Bow River. The urban park offers a refreshing respite for walking, quiet picnics, bird watching, and scheduled events.

There's More to Do in Calgary

Calgary has a diverse menu of things to do, places to go, and things to see for all ages. The city has a long and interesting history with many historical sites to explore and get in touch with Calgary's culture. The following is a sampling of some interesting and educational historical destinations.

  • Bar U Ranch National Historic Site
  • Banff Park Museum National Historic Site
  • Skoki Lodge National Historic Site
  • Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site
  • First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site
  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site
  • Lougheed House National and Provincial Historic Site

Additionally, the city's seasonal calendar offers a variety of entertainment options, cultural venues, museums, festivals, and annual events. Several of the top sights to visit include the Calgary Zoo, artwork at Glenbow Museum, enjoying scenic views while dining at the revolving Sky 360 restaurant atop the Calgary Tower, and watching historical re-enactments at Heritage Park Historical Village. At WinSport, enjoy zip lines, bobsleighs, mini golf, and much more. Head downtown and take a stroll through the indoor botanical park where the Devonian Gardens are featured. There's also the Hangar Flight Museum and the Air Force Museum of Alberta.

Set Your Sights on Calgary

Whether it's a move to a new home, a second home destination, or an extended visit to Canada, set your sights on Calgary with its multitude of things to do that will fill the calendar throughout the year. From hiking in the Rocky Mountains, enjoying photo ops at area parks and gardens, taking a leisurely boat ride on the river, or exploring the city's historical sites, Calgary is an all-in-one destination for business and pleasure. The city offers a change of pace that weaves its cultural history seamlessly with modern technology, creating an upbeat and stylish lifestyle for those in the know and on the go.

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