The cosmopolitan city of Calgary is home to a skyline pierced with multiple skyscrapers and a street map filled with shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. During a time when many of us are stuck at home unable to enjoy our community’s treasures, we’re looking to the outdoors to relinquish our love of life. And for that, you couldn’t find a better place than Calgary.
As well as releasing that ever-growing boredom this pandemic has created, outdoor activities are excellent for our physical fitness and mental health. We’ve explored the best of the wilderness right on our doorstep to bring you our top Calgary outdoor activities to enjoy in 2021. Enjoy!
1. Hiking in Banff
Just a short trip from Calgary, Banff National Park is one of the most restorative places for some quality time outdoors. Breathtaking scenery complete with azure-blue lakes, mountainous peaks, and seas of wildflowers swaying in the breeze, Banff is as close to postcard-perfect as you’re going to get.
With over 1500 km of enticing trails, this is one of the best places in the area for hiking adventures. Whether you’re after a leisurely stroll to reach those lofty panoramas or you fancy a more challenging trek, there are endless paths for all levels. And if you don’t fancy walking at all, take a sweet ride on the gondola to experience the best views the park has to offer.
2. Paddleboarding in Canmore
Paddleboarding has recently become hugely popular and is set to be one of the best Calgary outdoor activities to enjoy in 2021. With one of the best paddleboarding locations just moments away from Calgary, it’s almost a crime not to go! What’s excellent about paddleboarding is that it’s one of those outdoor activities that almost anyone can easily pick up.
Park up just opposite the Nordic Center where you can launch your trip to the Canmore Reservoir. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned pro, the crystal clear waters are accessible to all. Drift along the glacier lake taking in the spectacular scenery of the Ha-Ling Peaks towering above with the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop.
3. Horseback Riding in Kananaskis
Kananaskis is just an hour’s drive from Calgary and is home to some of the best hiking trails around — and what better way to explore than on horseback! Start your trip at one of the nearby ranches such as Boundary Ranch, where you’ll be saddled up with a fitting horse to explore the rustic Alberta mountains.
With anything from a quick 2-hour tour, to a day-long adventure including lunch, there’s ample choice to cater for exactly your type of trip. Journey into the remote forests, dive into the backcountry, and wander through the breathtaking valleys. The serenity of the clopping of hoofs on solid ground as you take in nature at its best is sure to drive away from the lockdown blues for good.
4. Nighttime Stargazing Seeking the Northern Lights
If you’ve explored to your heart’s content during the daylight hours, how about a trip at night? The nearby Banff National Park is well-known for its stunning landscape, but exploring at night is a whole other experience. Away from any light pollution from the nearby towns and farms, the night sky can finally come alive.
Follow the moonlit trail through the Kananaskis forest, pausing at each clearing to explore the star-studded sky through lenses and telescopes. If you’re visiting in March, April, September, or October, there’s even a chance you’ll see the Northern Lights! Just make sure to bring a hot flask of cocoa to keep you cozy.
5. Caving in Canmore
If you’re looking for a warmer activity during these cold winter months, a visit to the caves should be on your outdoor activities list. As the underground systems are kept at a constant temperature, it’s the perfect outside activity when you don’t fancy braving the harsh winds and biting cold.
Despite the name, Rat’s Nest Cave is one of the most popular caving systems in the area and it’s just a stone’s throw away from Calgary. Wander the narrow, underground passageways to uncover large secret chambers, crawl through tiny spaces to reveal tranquil basement pools, and descend the 18m rappel to explore the rest of this hidden, underground city.