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8 Amazing Day Trips From Calgary, AB (Maps, Routes & Highlights)

As Canada’s most “liveable” city [*], Calgary surely is a beautiful place. But there is even more beauty to be found if you’re willing to go on a trip. Rachel and I spent a week in Calgary and went on some beautiful day trips. In this article, I want to share the best day trips, with details, pictures, and personal recommendations!

8 perfect day trips from Calgary

Here are the highlights of our stay in Calgary! Of course, it’s up to you to decide what trips to include during your stay!

1. Hike along the stunning Rawson Lake

Day trip type: Hiking🚶🏿

When we set out for Rawson Lake, we knew we were in for a treat. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it! Especially if the weather is good!

Tucked away in Kananaskis Country, this moderate hike offers breathtaking views. The trail starts at the Upper Kananaskis Lake and winds through lush forest before opening up to the stunning alpine lake.

rawson lake enjoying the view

Tip: Definitely bring bear spray!

When we were ready to return back ot the parking lot, we overheard some others that mentioned a grizzly on the slopes of the mountain. We were able to spot it with our camera, and it was pretty crazy! Our 20x zoom lens went all the way when we took this picture:

rawson lake grizzly on mountain side

We were also lucky to spot some mountain goats in the far distance!

mountain goats at rawson lake

2. Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Day trip type: Leisure🏊‍♀️

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary was an unforgettable experience. This sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing and educating about wolfdogs. We were amazed by the close-up encounters and the chance to learn about these majestic creatures.

yamnuska wolfdog sanctuary wolfdog

Tip: Keep an eye out for the interactive activities planned by the staff. We got to start a group howl by being the first. We were instructed to howl as hard as we could, and a couple of seconds later, the wolfdogs joined in! It was super funny, but also – strangely – a little bit magical.

yamnuska wolfdog sanctuary wolfdog howling

3. Explore the town of Canmore

Day trip type: Leisure🏊‍♀️

Canmore is a charming town that we visited on one of our day trips. Just a short drive from Calgary, it offers a delightful mix of short hikes, lovely coffee shops (and pastries!), and beautiful viewpoints. If you’re adventurous, you can also visit the Canmore Nordic Centre for some cross-country skiing or mountain biking.

For a nice and easy hike, the boardwalk along the creek is a great way to start the day!

exploring canmore

If you want a beautiful viewpoint of the nearby Three Sisters, park your car near this dog area and walk through the tunnel underneath the railroad track. You’ll end up at a creek where you’ll have an amazing view of the mountains.

canmore viewpoint three sisters

4. Visit Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park

Day trip type: Hiking🚶🏿

Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park is a hidden gem that’s perfect for those who love the outdoors. We ventured there for a day of hiking and were greeted with pristine landscapes and diverse wildlife. The Sheep River is a great location for a stop, and the numerous trails are great for both beginners and experienced hikers. It’s a tranquil spot where you can truly connect with nature.

5. Drive up the Bow Valley Provincial Park

Day trip type: Hiking🚶🏿

The scenic drive to Bow Valley Provincial Park is as breathtaking as the park itself. We took our time, enjoying the stunning views of the Bow River and the Rocky Mountains.

On our way up, we spotted some bighorn sheep crossing the street!

driving up to Bow Valley Provincial Park and seeing bighorn sheep

Once you enter the Bow Valley, you’ll pass one beautiful lake after another. There’s plenty of hiking here, mostly one-way climbs up to a rewarding viewpoint. We were here with friends, and decided to go for a relaxing picnic instead!

Bow Valley Provincial Park beautiful lake view

Tip: On your way back to Calgary, you’ll pass through Canmore, so make sure to grab a cup of coffee before hitting the road again!

Driving the beautiful Bow Valley Provincial Park in our Roadie

6. Hike the Grotto Canyon trails

Day trip type: Hiking🚶🏿

Hiking through Grotto Canyon is a journey through a geological wonder. Walking along the creek bed, you’ll be fascinated by the ancient rock formations and Native pictographs. The trail leads to a beautiful waterfall, a perfect spot for a break and some photos.

Tip: We recommend visiting in winter too, when the frozen waterfall creates an ethereal landscape.

7. Hike up to Bourgeau Lake

Day trip type: Hiking🚶🏿

The hike to Bourgeau Lake is challenging but incredibly rewarding. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The lake itself is a serene spot, ideal for a rest and a snack. The trail is well-marked, but it’s a steep climb, so make sure to start early and take plenty of breaks.

8. Visit the Johnston Canyon

Day trip type: Hiking🚶🏿

Johnston Canyon is a popular trip from Banff, but it’s also a good day trip from Calgary! The walk along the steel catwalks affixed to the canyon walls is very cool.

We enjoyed the views of the rushing waters below and the lush vegetation. The Lower and Upper Falls offer fantastic photo opportunities, and if you’re up for a longer walk, the Ink Pots are a colorful marvel at the end of the trail.

hiking johnston canyon near banff

Best time to visit Calgary

Short Answer: The best time to visit Calgary is during the summer months, particularly from June to August.

Why? These months offer the warmest weather, perfect for exploring the city’s numerous outdoor attractions. That, and the nearby mountains are easily accessible for hiking and sightseeing.

Off-Season Tip: If you’re visiting Calgary in Autumn, you’ll get a chance to see the beautiful colors of the foliage! Take care, though, as some hikes and roads on this list might be inaccessible due to early snowfall!

Wrapping up

Calgary offers a wealth of experiences for every traveler. From the breathtaking natural beauty of the nearby Rockies to the lively urban charm of the city itself, Calgary is a destination that truly blends the best of both worlds.

Did I miss anything important? Do you have anything to add to these day trips? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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