Are you looking for an escape from the city just for a day? Check out these 25 Day Trips to the Canadian Rockies, all approximately 2 hours away from Calgary or less. There is so much to do, and so much to see, and it’s all so close! There are spots in Alberta and British Columbia, all with their own charm and offerings.
Remember to do your own research and planning before heading on any hikes or other adventures to ensure it’s safe for you at the time you are planning to go. All the times listed are from downtown Calgary. Grab your favourite mountain folk and head out for an adventure day!
Canmore Caving Explorer Tour
The 4.5-hour Explorer Tour is jam-packed full of fun and excitement. Your guide will introduce you to the amazing world of caves, spending approximately 2 to 2.5 hours underground crawling past prehistoric bones, investigating ancient cave formations and even squeezing into places like the warm-up and challenge squeezes if you so choose.
Head to this stunning mountain town for a whimsical day among nature with spectacular mountain views. Do a hike close by or check out some of the locally-owned shops. Hike trails like Jack Bowman Interpretive Trail overlooking the Sheep River, and learn more about the history of oil and gas discovery in the area. Visit Western Canada’s first commercial oilfield and processing plant in Turner Valley – the Turner Valley Gas Plant Historic Site. Take a guided tour around the site, exhibit hall, and through some of the historic buildings when the plant opens.
If you are interested in fishing the Sheep River provides ample opportunities. Or you can head to the nearby Sheep River Provincial Park, to explore Sheep River waterfalls and have a fun time exploring nature.
If you love skiing here in the winter, wait till you check it out this summer! Their chair lift still runs to take you on a fun sightseeing adventure of the gorgeous mountain. They also have the only via ferrata in Banff National Park.
Situated at an elevation of 2200m in Banff National Park, Sunshine meadows straddle the Continental Divide and the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia. Sunshine Meadows, better known as home to Sunshine Village, is famous for its beautiful setting with alpine meadows covered with carpet of fire weed and glacier lilies with the snow-capped Canadian Rockies as backdrop. Accessible via road or through Gondola, Sunshine Meadows is a hikers paradise.
Sunshine Meadows is closed for 2020 summer season due to COVID-19.
Check out Burnsticklake for a fun day trip into the Rockies. If you’ve got a boat, tow it along for some fishing and watersports. There are day use areas and fire pits so you can cook your catch. If you want a longer trip, there are campsites around the lake.
Travel Time: 1:54 hrs
Beehive Natural Area
Enjoy this amazing area surrounding Beehive Mountain. Day use is currently permitted and there’s a lot of amazing creatures to keep an eye out for while you hike. Birding, fishing, and wildlife spotting are all common in the Beehive Natural Area.
Travel Time: 2:21 hrs
A classic! Head to Canmore for amazing restaurants, cafes, and views. This town has elk walking the streets and mountain air flowing all around you. Get properly acquainted with this Rocky Mountain gem while getting out of the hustle of the city. Check out the next stop for a double header!
Travel Time: 1:10 hrs
This Rocky Mountain fave is a great place to visit on a quick road trip out of the city. Just outside of Canmore, these three peaks offer hiking for all skill levels. Stop in Canmore for a quick lunch and head out to the stunning trio waiting for you in the Rockies. Not a hiker? There are still epic views from the base.
Travel Time: 1:35 hrs
Plateau Mountain is a part of an Ecological Reserve. There are no facilities or camping allowed. This includes a fire ban. You can do some very awesome backcountry hiking, however! Bring a day pack and a friend or two and head out into the great Alberta wilderness.
Travel Time: 2 hrs
Goat Mountain, in Bow Valley Provincial Park, is an out and back hike with amazing views and lots of wildlife. It is a difficult 11.4 kilometer hike with scrambles and tough spots. Be sure to prep and have the proper equipment before you go. Be sure to bring binoculars as there are awesome bird sightings along this route.
Travel Time: 1:45 hrs
Black Creek Heritage Rangeland Natural Area
There is a large area of the Black Creek Heritage Rangeland that is used as grazing for cattle. The rest is yours to explore for wildlife viewing and hiking. It is a part of Alberta’s last remaining montane wilderness. Be sure to respect gates and trails.
Travel Time: 1:39 hrs
Lake Minnewanka Loop
Bankhead is an old coal mining town that has been long since abandoned. You can visit the Albertan ghost town and hike through what remains. You can get some pretty unique photos, so be sure to bring your camera, and keep an eye out for ghosts. Be sure to check out the next stop as well, as it’s a 10 minute drive away.
While you’re out that way visiting Bankhead, be sure to hit up Lake Minnewanka. This beautiful lake is surrounded by mountains and trees for that quintessential Rocky Mountain vibe. You can also scuba dive here and see an old resort that is now underwater.
Travel Time: 1:30 hrs
Get in the car and head to Vermillion Pass. This mountain pass connects Kootenay National Park (in BC) with Banff National Park (in AB) between Storm and Boom mountains. It is an amazing stop on a longer road trip, or a great destination for a reason to get out of the city. It’s named after the bright red mineral springs of iron oxide you can see nearby. This was used by Aboriginal people for war paint and decoration.
Travel Time: 2:08 hrs
Banff’s doors are open for day trips! Take in a hike or enjoy a picnic with a view of the Rocky Mountains. Bring your frisbee and enjoy the open spaces with your friends. Be sure to adhere to all COVID-19 rules in the area.
Travel Time: 1:27 hrs
Lake Louise & Moraine Lake
If you’re headed to Banff, you may as well go to Lake Louise. This nearby photogenic spot has been popular for decades, and it’s no wonder. It’s beautiful no matter the time of year. If you’re looking for a romantic day trip, bring your blanket and pack some chocolate and enjoy the great outdoors in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Take a ride on Lake Louise gondola. The Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola & Wildlife Interpretive Centre offers a unique opportunity to dine on delicious mountain inspired dishes, ascend to an awe-inspiring viewpoint, and see grizzly bears during guided hikes.
Kootenay National Park
Kootenay National Park turns 100 in 2020! It’s home to the Radium Hot Springs, countless hikes, and great camping options. Bring the whole family and spend the day exploring the whole Kootenay area. There is still limited access to many National Parks, so be sure to check their site before you go.
Travel Time: 2 hrs
Rocky Mountain House
Rocky Mountain House, as the name suggests, is your all-encompassing Rocky Mountain town. They’ve got a museum, the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, and all of your favourite mountain activities. Hike to Siffleur Falls or head to Crimson Lake Provincial Park while you’re there.
Travel Time: 2:10 hrs
Canada’s deadliest rockslide hit Frank, AB in 1903. Most of the 70-90 residents who were buried remain there today. You can visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (currently closed, check site for more details) for more info, and enjoy a hike around the area.
Travel Time: 2:12 hrs
On your way to Frank Slide, check out Bellevue. A small town with a lot of heart. Try The Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe or head for a walk in one of their many parks. There are usually underground mine tours available in the summer, but it’s closed temporarily, so check in before you make the trip.
Travel Time: 2:10 hrs
The Crowsnest Pass takes countless tourists across the AB-BC border every year. It is a beautiful drive and the whole area consists of 5 smaller towns, each with their own offerings for travelers. If you’re a mountain biker, be sure to bring them along and try out the many trails for a range of skill sets.
Travel Time: 2:36 hrs
Hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding: this is the place to be for an adventure! Visit Bragg Creek today for a plethora of options. There’s great shopping and eateries, as well as outdoor activities and community events (most are currently pending).
Travel Time: 40 min
Peyto Lake has been a hot stop in the Banff National Park since 1941. It is a glacier fed lake and is part of the Icefields Parkway. It is especially turquoise making it a common spot for hikes and photo sessions. Get your selfie at Peyto Lake this summer!
Grotto Canyon is a stunning spot for a day trip from Calgary. There is a 7 kilometer hike that takes you to a waterfall, an Inuksuk garden, and a cave. Just ten minutes from Canmore, this is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. There are some spots for a rest, so bring a blanket and your lunch and spend some time taking it all in.
Travel Time: 1:05 hrs
If you’re stuck on where to go, just try anywhere in Kananaskis Country! The options are boundless, and anything you want to do is an option. From hiking trails to mountain bike hot spots to day use areas for a day of leisure. This trip can be as long or short as you like, as there are endless options for you and your fam.
Travel Time: 59 min
Right on the edge of the Rocky Mountains and the foothills is Ghost Lake. It offers a Provincial Rec Area with a rocky beach with chilly water. Take in amazing views of the Rocky Mountains with your crew. You can also rent boats in the summer and go for a ride to explore this stunning area.
Travel Time: 49 min
Dead Man’s Flats
If wide open spaces are what you crave, head to Dead Man’s Flats for some hikes and huge skies. Bring a frisbee or your bike or just your walking feet and enjoy the beauty in our own backyard. Situated along the Bow River, you’re sure to see some wildlife no matter what you decide to do in the area.
Travel Time: 1:03 hrs
Bar U Ranch National Historic Site
Established in 1881, the ranch at one point the ranch covered more than 160,000 acres and played hostto over 30,000 cattle and 1000 Percheron horses. Today the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site boasts of 35 historic buildings and structures. Touring these buildings will take you back to the days of hard working ranch cowboys.
Travel Time: 1:10 hrs