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Calgary may have a reputation as Canada’s Wild West city, but there’s more to it than cowboys and rodeos. With the Rockies to the west and the badlands to the east, Calgary is a short drive from some of the best outdoor playgrounds that Canada has to offer.

From mountain biking to rock climbing, check out our top picks for outdoor adventure near Calgary. Cowboy hats are optional, but encouraged. 

 

1. Mountain Biking

Calgary Olympic Park

Calgary Olympic ParkDave Holland (WinSport)

Location: 88 Canada Olympic Road SW, Calgary
Websitewinsport.ca/mountainbike

Calgary Olympic Park was home to ski jumping, luge and bobsledding during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Now it's operated by a non-profit organization called WinSport. 

In summer the park offers a host of buzz worthy activities: ziplines, Skyline Luge, a bobsleigh track, and a rock wall. All good way to pass an afternoon, but our top pick is hitting the track at the lift-access bike park.

Calgary Olympic ParkDave Holland (WinSport)

Explore adventure pick: Get your adrenaline fix on 25 kilometres of trails. Chairlifts whisk your bike uphill so you can save your legs for the flowy downhill tracks. Wrap up the day with one of the concerts or events hosted on site. 

Note: You can bring your own bike or rent one at the park. Lessons are also available. 

 

2. Horseback Riding

Kananaskis

Horseback Riding KananaskisCélestine Aerden Photography @celestineaerden

Location: 86 km west of Calgary
Approximate driving time from Calgary: 60 minutes
Websitealbertaparks.ca/kananaskis-country 

Kananaskis Country, a system of parks characterized by crystal clear waterways and impressive mountain landscapes, is located in the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails criss-cross the area, providing access to world class alpine vistas and a wide array of wildlife. Don't be surprised to spy moose, wolves and bighorn sheep.

Horseback Riding KananaskisTravel Alberta/Sean Thonson

Explore adventure pick: Discover Kananskis Country on horseback on a half-day, full-day or multi-day adventure. Anchor D Outfitting offers all three, taking clients up into the mountains and across the same terrain where Clint Eastwood filmed “Unforgiven”. You'll want your cowboy hat for this one.

 

3. Stand Up Paddleboarding

Barrier Lake

Stand Up Paddleboarding Barrier LakeTourism Canmore Kananaskis

Location: 85 km west of Calgary
Approximate driving time from Calgary: 60 minutes
Websitealbertaparks.ca/barrier-lake 

Barrier Lake is a pristine man-made reservoir located along Highway 40, in Kananaskis Country. Flanked by Rocky Mountain foothills and offering two day-use areas, this hideaway is the perfect place to escape the city for a day...or several.

Explore adventure pick: Ply Barrier Lake’s turquoise waters and sandy shores by paddleboard. Kananaskis Outfitters rents boards, paddles and safety equipment from the boat launch area every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the summer months.

 

4. Climb the Via Ferrata

Mt. Norquay, Banff National Park

Banff NorquayBanff Norquay

Location: 132 km west of Calgary
Approximate driving time from Calgary: 1.5 Hours
Websitesummer.banffnorquay.com 

Mt. Norquay is a peak in Banff National Park, located just northwest of the famous mountain town. Home to one of Banff’s three largest ski resorts, Mt. Norquay offers a host of activities in the summer, including a sightseeing chairlift with 7,000 foot views of the Bow Valley. 

NorquayNorquay

Explore adventure pick: One thing adventurers should not miss is Norquay's Via Ferrata — an exhilarating guided climb involving a series of ropes, cables and steel ladders bolted to the side of the mountain. This is an alpine climbing experience that is open to all ability levels, provided your nerves are as steely as the ladders.

 

5. Sunset Photography Hike

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Dinosaur Provincial ParkTravel Alberta/George Simhoni

Location: 220 km east of Calgary
Approximate driving time from Calgary: 2.5 hours
Websitealbertaparks.ca/interpretive-tour-programs

Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the Canadian Badlands. Home to otherworldly hoodoos and a wealth of dinosaur fossils, the park is a place of fascinating history and stunning scenery.

Dinosaur Provincial ParkBanff Lake Louise Tourism

Explore adventure pick: Hey, not every hike has to be strenuous. Add some gems to your photography portfolio with a two-hour interpretive sunset tour, designed specifically for photographers. During the golden hour, park interpreters lead small groups into less well-traveled areas of the park, and provide advice and tricks for photographing this unique landscape.

 


Is southern Alberta your preferred outdoor playground? 
Let us know how you adventure: 

Fire us a tweet, tag us on Instagram or comment below!

 

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