15 Spring Day Trips From Calgary

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Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area; Credit: Richard Carter/Flickr

All around Calgary there are trails to hike, rivers and lakes to kayak, wildlife to spot, arts to marvel at, and cultures or histories to learn about. We’ve included all sorts of day trips for your spring trip, from specific locations to events and festivals.

The times listed are one-way and do not include your stay at any locations, or your drive back to Calgary.

Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area

 

Visit the 4,800-acre wildlife preserve – the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area. There is a slight charge to park for the day, but you can experience some wilderness and outdoor adventure here by taking a remote hike. You must register for your hike as there are restrictions for visitors, including timelines and access, but it is very much worth it to experience the outdoors here. Soak in the beauty and the quiet as you explore.

This conservation area is also Canada’s first Nocturnal Preserve. Watch the diamonds in the sky without light pollution and make a trip during Lyrid Meteor Shower, and Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower this spring. The area is open until 11 p.m.

Directions

Driving Time: 40m

Canmore Uncorked

If you’re looking for a way to fully experience dining in the Rockies, then Canmore Uncorked can provide an awesome opportunity to taste, sip, and savour from April 8th – 22nd. Over the two-week period, you can enjoy not just the awesome dining, but also Canmore’s shops, activities and accommodations. The Festival has tweaked a few parts in order to comply with AHS restrictions and guidelines. But with these in place, we can still safely taste all that Canmore has to offer.

Directions

Driving Time: 1-1hr 20m

Bike with no cars around

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To Do Canada

Bike Highway 40: Ride through glorious Kananaskis Country! Starting from Longview, you will be passing through some of the best provincial Parks in Alberta (plenty of rest stops, campgrounds) and the highest paved pass in Canada- located at the tree line. If you bike before mid-June, Highway 40 South of 742 is closed to traffic — you can have the time of your life riding the trail and have a great workout! Come back to Longview and treat yourselves at Longview Steakhouse.

Bike Lake Minnewanka Road: Enjoy a scenic ride on Lake Minnewanka Road and discover Cascade Ponds, Bankhead, Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. The Minnewanka scenic road will be closed to public vehicles on weekdays, Monday to Thursday, from May 1-20, 2021 and the road will be available to cyclists for the entirety of the Minnewanka Loop. Vehicle parking is available at Cascade Ponds day use area.

Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

Mantrip & tipple - Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

Visit Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site that tell true tales of mines and men. Climb into a coal car and tour the surface plant and spectacular badlands scenery or climb the last wooden tipple in Canada, and see the inner workings of this nationally designated historic icon. Hear stories of the men and the boys who worked in the Drumheller mines. Take a ride on Linda, the antique train! This 90-year-old electric locomotive takes visitors on a surface tour around the mine site. The site will open on May 15, 2021.

Directions

Driving Time: 1hr 40m-2hrs

Edible Plant Hiking Adventures

 

To get a really off-the-beaten-track experience, book a tour with Full Circle Adventures. They have been taking visitors onto the land to teach them about wild and edible plants for more than a decade. You can also learn all you need to know about wilderness survival with a nature educator and guide in the gorgeous scenery that this area provides. The company is located in Turner Valley, but they forage for native, edible foods in the Kananaskis area.

Driving Time: 1hr 30m-2hrs depending on hike location.

Olds College Botanic Garden and Treatment Wetlands

A drive down to Olds will take you to Alberta’s agricultural college and the gardens. This is a picture-perfect area for a long spring walk where you can watch the gardens come into full bloom. The Gardens are comprised of three phases spread over 25 acres and are populated with a wide-ranging collection of prairie hardy plant material, both native and ornamental. Wander along lush pathways of these exquisite gardens that follow flowering trees and shrubs, fabulous displays of annuals, hardy peonies, lilies and roses, herb garden and AAS Selection Display Gardens, and wetland ponds.

Directions

Driving Time: 1-1.15hrs

 

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Guided Hike in Ribbon Creek with Wine and Cheese

Have you ever reached your hiking destination only to wish you had room to bring a picnic? This guided Ribbon Creek Hike in Kananaskis will bring you on a 9km hike around the creek, a ghost town, rocky mountain scenery, and will come to a close with supplied wine and a cheeseboard.

Directions

Driving Time: 1-1.5hrs

Snake Hills Recreation Area

There are over 17kms of groomed nature trails in the Snake Hills Recreation Area in Sundre which are open year-round, and which are open to both hikers and bikers. Hiking through the densely forested area can bring you into contact with a few different types of wildlife like moose, deer, or squirrels and rabbits. You can choose from a variety of different length adventures and difficulty levels.

Directions

Driving Time: 1.5-2hrs

Canoeing or Kayaking the Red Deer River

This smaller Alberta river is a perfect place to learn on a new or rented canoe or kayak and is a fairly slow current. If you want to see the Canadian Badlands in a completely unique way this spring, all while keeping a safe social distance from others, then consider travelling by paddle. This guide to paddling the Red Deer river is a comprehensive pamphlet which you won’t want to forget for your excursion. If you don’t own your own boat, check out these Calgary area rental stores.

Directions

Driving Time: 2-2.5hrs

Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

Located right in Red Deer, Waskasoo Park is so much more than just an open area with trees and water. It is home to the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, Allen Bungalow, and the Historic Fort Normandeau, each of which showcases a different piece of Red Deer’s history and nature. If you are a birding enthusiast, then make a trip to Gaetz Lakes Bird Sanctuary, the oldest migratory bird sanctuary in the province. The 118-hectare property is a protected land right in the city of Red Deer and is a convenient place to visit.

Directions

Driving time: 1.5 – 2 hrs

 

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Porcupine Hills Trail

Porcupine Hills lie between Highways 2 and 22 and are a lovely, scenic area that most travellers don’t stop to experience. This sparsely populated zone allows for a fantastic trail that leads out and back, for a total of about 4 kilometers. This hike is great for all skill levels and, if you are travelling with a horse or a dog, they are also allowed on the trail.

Directions

Driving Time: 1.5 to 2 hrs

 

Discovery Wildlife Park

 

If you are interested in seeing rescued and orphaned animals, visit Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail and see tigers, lions, cougars and timber wolves. Join for behind the scenes programs that offer an in-depth look at the animals at the zoo. The zoo offers half-price admission for moms and dads on Mothers’ and Fathers’ days. While in Innisfail, drop into Jungle Farm to pickup their Garden Starter Packs.

Directions

Driving Time: 1.25 to 1.5 hrs

Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park

To have a great trip to the Badlands without all the crowds, try the area around Dry Island Jump Buffalo Provincial Park. Shady riverbanks make it unbeatable for bird watching, especially from a canoe on the Red Deer River. There are day-use areas, but you can also grab a site at the Tolman Campground. Learn about the Jump and how it played a part in Alberta’s history and explore some off-the-beaten-track hiking trails. While you’re in the area, take a relaxing retreat at St. Ann Ranch, find out about French settlers in Trochu, and book a tee time at area golf courses.

Directions

Driving Time: 2 hrs

The Saskatoon Farm Annual Spring Market

Market shopping is always a better experience when the market itself is adorably decorated and landscaped. The Saskatoon Farm Annual Spring market will offer just that along with over 130 rural Alberta vendors. You can find fresh-cut flowers, jewelry, food, clothing, bath and body products, and a lot more. The admission is $5.50/person, and children under 5 years old get in for free. The Market is open April 24-25th, 2021. Even if you are not free that weekend, Saskatoon Farm makes for a great day trip and they also have a Mexican fusion restaurant onsite.

Directions

Driving Time: 20-40m

Capture the Flag Paintball & Airsoft

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Credit: Capture the Flag Paintball & Airsoft

This Cochrane adventure park offers a ton in terms of paintball, airsoft, archery, and much more. Capture the Flag is best known for its variety of paintball experiences: Splatmaster which is less intense and is intended for kids aged 6-9; regular paintball; and low impact paintball for adults. On top of those, you can also book Archery Tag, Axe Throwing, Nerf Battles, or Disc Golf. They are now open for the season and accepting bookings.

Directions

Driving Time: 30m-1hr

Golfing in Cochrane

Itching to hit the links this year? Head west to Cochrane one of the most stunning golf courses in Canada: Links of GlenEagles. Call (403) 932-1100 or reserve your spring tee-time online. The snow didn’t last long this year, and the club is anticipating tee-times as early as Easter weekend. You can also work on your swing inside by booking a time with their golf simulators.

Directions

Driving Time: 30m-1hr

Asparagus Festival

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Credit: Edgar Farms

Edgar Farms’ Asparagus Festival is usually held in late May and is a fun-filled event packed with memorable experiences geared toward the entire family. You can checkout working asparagus farm, experience how asparagus is cultivated on a fully narrated fun wagon ride to the field and watch harvesting in action. You also have lots of opportunities to savour freshly picked delicious asparagus in the field.

Get freshly picked asparagus and other produce, handmade preserves & pies, ferments, and more from the country store.

Directions

Driving Time: 1.25 – 1.8 hrs

Okotoks Kite Festival

This year’s Okotoks Kite Festival has a tentative date for May 30, 2021 and will post updates online as we get closer to May. This annual and colourful event brings families from all around southern Alberta together to take to the skies. The landscapes of the Okotoks area can create some perfect kite sailing conditions via higher and stronger winds, so expect your kites to soar!

Directions

Driving Time: 20-40m

For more day trips from Calgary, see:

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