The Alberta Rockies and Kananaskis Country are wonderlands when the snow falls.
Whether you’re above ground enjoying the snow, or below ground avoiding it, you’ll have an amazing winter day, or week (or month) in Alberta.
This is not necessarily your standard run over the wide prairies — dogsledding in the Canadian Rockies is a thrilling ride through some of the most beautiful country in the West. You’ll learn to harness and handle the dogs as you drive the sled through mountain wilderness. Cautious adventurers can take the journey tucked inside the sled, but the full experience happens when you are on the back of the sled in the elements, feeling the power of your dog team singing through reins. Multi-day travellers get the added bonus of winter camping in the stark beauty of the frozen mountainside. (Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours, pictured.)
Soft limestone streaks and ancient melting glaciers have created numerous caves and cave systems throughout the Rockies. Underground, the weather is always a balmy five degrees Celsius and exploring the caverns is a great way to take a break from the ice and snow above. Many companies offer caving tours and provide the guides and equipment necessary for a safe adventure. Just because you are in a group doesn’t mean it will be a casual walk through a tunnel. Be prepared to crawl, climb and wriggle your way through narrow passages and around blocking boulders to find hidden caverns and ancient fossils. Caving is something everyone should experience, and definitely should not be undertaken without a well-experienced guide. You haven’t experienced “dark” until you’ve been (seemingly) alone in a cave with nothing but the tiny pool of light from your headlamp to guide you.
These are two very different things, but often both can be found in one area. Some adventures will be reached by dogsled, others by snowmobile. There are more than 15 ice climbing areas in Canmore and Kananaskis alone and many can even be reached by vehicle. Beginners will definitely appreciate the instruction and assistance of a guide that comes with joining a group, but more experienced ice climbers can choose difficulty levels from near beginner (M) to extremely severe (E). Ice walking can be done with good traction devices that attach to your footwear, but ice climbing requires specialized gear. If you go it alone, leave your itinerary with a trusted friend.
The casual snowshoer will find dozens of marked trails throughout the Rockies and Kananaskis Country, many that are groomed and patrolled. Maps and trail guides can be picked up before you go, or stick close to the more trafficked areas and have fun with the crowd. For a little more adventure, head into the backcountry where the snow is as fresh and crisp as the air. You can take an educational tour and learn to recognize wildlife tracks in the snow, or choose a more rugged trek that takes you through the Rockies to lodges almost buried in the snow. Always check avalanche conditions before you head out, leave your itinerary and return time with a friend—learn more at avalanche.ca.