If you live in Calgary and don’t particularly enjoy the winter, perhaps a few things could change your mind…
Most communities have an outdoor skating and/or hockey rink to enjoy (thank you volunteers!) but the city also manages some wicked rinks! Our 3 favourite (thanks to their “au naturelness”) are Bowness Lagoon, Carburn Park and the Prince’s Island Lagoon. Visit the City of Calgary website for updates on hours, conditions and more!
The trick is getting out there at the right time: you need enough of winter to have the ice thicken, but you want to avoid that heavy snowfall! That being said, some lakes are more susceptible to higher winds, typically making them more clear and accessible throughout the winter (You can always pack along a shovel too!) Not sure where to go? Two Jack Lake, Lake Louise, Vermillion Lakes and Pyramid lakes are some common choices but you can always get more adventurous and skate nearly any lake! (Just ensure the ice conditions are safe!)
The 5.2km John Simonot Trail is nestled in the beautiful Griffith Woods Park in the SW of the city behind Discovery Ridge. Once you’re here, you’ll forget you’re still in city limits.
Grab some snowshoes or skis, find yourself a park with snow and voilà! There are actually tons of snowshoe and x-country trails are available for your use in the city! Not sure where to go? Perhaps this list could help:
Okay, so you’re going to need to know someone with gear and experience if you’ve never been out before, but then again, has your fishing friend ever turned down an opportunity to go fishing? Also consider reaching out to a friend who lives in the community of Mahogany! Mahogany lake allows and teaches ice fishing – cool eh?
Camping? In winter? Yup, you read that right! Near Calgary, there are 3 backcountry campsites open and accessible throughout the winter! Firewood is also supplied for 2 of them – but be prepared to fight some snow for it!
Quaite Valley: The easiest & shortest hike of the 3. Perfect for beginner’s!
The Point: Short and sweet, but offers beautiful lakeside sites and views.
Rummel Lake: Not only is this site by far the most challenging campground to access, this site is not supplied with firewood. Perhaps not for the faint of heart, but an intriguing challenge none the less!
Read more info at Alberta Parks and don’t forget to purchase a permit!
If winter backcountry camping isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps more accessible campsites would be more ideal! Did you know that Alberta actually has over 43 campsites open year round? Check with Alberta Parks for up to date information about the sites.
Johnston Canyon is a classic circuit route located about 25km northwest of Banff. Due to its easy accessibility and suitability for families, it has become a super popular destination for both travellers and locals. That, however, is what makes exploring it in the winter the absolute best – the crowds are gone and you’re left to enjoy the peace and quiet. (Plus, winter’s touch makes that extra beautiful at this time of year!) Just remember to bring some shoes spikes or crampons – the trail gets super compact and icy!
Weaslehead Flats is a massive park in the SW that connects North and South Glenmore Park around the Glenmore Reservoir. The park is perfect to explore by foot, but also has a network of x-country ski trails!
Fairy Creek Falls is found just outside of the town of Fernie. The falls are undeniably beautiful and absolutely worth checking out, however, since the falls are very quick and easy to access, plan to explore more of Fernie (or perhaps even shred the hill!)
If skiing or snowboarding isn’t quite your forté, try riding the slopes a different way! COP, Norquay and Lake Louise all have tubing parks and is a must try experience! As a bonus, COP/Winsport has discounted pricing both Thursday and Friday nights! (Only 10.99 per adult!)
Edworthy Park is home to both Douglas Fir Trail and Christmas Tree Trail. They are short but scenic trails absolutely worth exploring! Although right in the city, they have you thinking and feeling you’re out in the backcountry! Read more information about these trails on AllTrails.
Bragg Creek is a perfect day trip for any outdoor enthusiast. Not only is it home to the magnificent West Bragg Creek Trail network, meaning ample opportunity for snowshoeing and x-country skiing, but it is also surrounded by campsites and day use areas. Campfire, anyone?
There is no shame in shredding your favourite ski hills close to home, but making an expedition of it is a whole new game! Have you ever heard of the Powder Highway®? As best worded by the establishment itself, experiencing the Powder Highway is as follows:
“Consistent snowfall, deep powder and celebrated ranges like the Rockies, Monashees, Selkirks, and Purcells, all accessed from scenic towns like Fernie, Nelson, Rossland, Golden, Revelstoke, Invermere, and Kimberley, make the region a must-visit for winter sport enthusiasts”.
Waterton is a beautiful destination to explore year round. In our opinion, it is commonly over looked as a destination for winter adventure. Truth is, there are tons of surrounding trails and viewpoints just waiting for you to explore!
Maligne Canyon is less than 15 minutes north east of Jasper. The canyon is undeniably beautiful in the summer, but winter transforms it into something extraordinary. As a bonus, the drive to Jasper is a wild and beautiful adventure in itself – don’t forget to stop and check out the glaciers along the way! (And make sure to pack traction devices or crampons!)
Tunnel Mountain is a moderately easy hike located on east side of the Banff townsite. It is totally doable in winter and makes a perfect day trip – especially if you venture on over to the Banff Hot Springs afterwards to warm up, relax and soothe those muscles!
Radius Yurt Retreat is a truly amazing getaway just north of Radium, BC. There are 6 beautifully crafted Yurts nestled throughout a forest that is yours to explore! The yurts are only accessible by foot but the short trek is more than worth it. In my opinion, staying here is a perfect combination of rustic adventure and modern convenience. I loved staying here after spending the day skiing – cannot wait to go back!
Chickadees are frequently found in and around fish creek park. Head on down with a pocket full of seeds to make some new friends! What kind of seeds? They love sunflower seeds (with or without shells) and shelled peanuts!
The Lussier Hot Springs are natural hot springs approximately 4 hours southwest of Calgary (40 mins south of Fairmount Hot Springs). There are 3 separate “pools” which get cooler in temperature the closer you get to the river. Winter is an awesome time for 2 mains reasons: less people and extra beautiful scenery! This gem is a favourite amongst locals and is getting more and more popular – so please please remember to Leave No Trace!
Okay, so Hot Yoga technically doesn’t qualify as an outdoor winter activity, but we still thought it deserved a spot on the list. Why? Sometimes the weather makes getting outside more than a challenge. Hot Yoga is a perfect way to keep warm, keep active and continue to not only connect with yourself (and nature), but actually train and heal your body for those other outdoor pursuits!