Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country is part of the Alberta Rockies region on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. It is located about half an hour's drive west of Calgary, Canada, south of the Trans-Canada Highway 1.

Understand

Kananaskis park system

The Kananaskis park area consists of a number of provincial parks and reserves including:

There are no towns or villages in the area, Kananaskis village being hotel and activity complex, but the town of Canmore lies just outside the region.

Flora and fauna

Grizzly Cub in Kananaskis
Western Wood Lily Kananaskis
Pika

Wildlife is abundant, with lots of mountain goats, longhorn sheep, elk, moose, deer, bear, etc. If you come in late June or early July you will be amazed at the variety of wildflowers and songbirds making their home in the area.

This is a great area to do some wildlife spotting, even from the road. No guarantees if and where so make sure every one is keeping their eyes peeled as you drive though the area. Some examples:

The parks provide a range of landscapes with the chance to see alpine meadow and wetland plants.

Get in

To get there, drive west from Calgary on Highway 1 until you see the Kananaskis sign (Highway 40). Turn south at the sign and follow the highway into Kananaskis country. You may also enter Peter Lougheed Provincial Park by taking the Spray Lakes Road/Smith-Dorrien Highway from Canmore. Follow the signs to the Nordic Ski Center and keep going up the steep hill.

Fees/Permits

Unlike the national parks there are no fees to enter the provincial parks and there is plenty of day use free parking in the area.

Get around

The Smith-Dorrien Trail passed Spray Lake is a driving experience not to be missed. A wide stone gravel road from highway 40 with a steep drop into Canmore.

See

Kayaker Goes over Elbow Falls in Kananaskis

Do

Many activities are available in Kananaskis country, both summer and winter. It includes an ATV area for ATV users, cross country and downhill skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, horseback riding, backpacking, backcountry camping, day hiking, canoeing, fishing, and golf.

Winter

There are two ski resorts in the Kananaskis area:

Excellent cross country skiing is also available within the region. It is also close to the Canmore Nordic Centre, home of the cross-country events in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Refer to the Alberta Government website - Kananaskis information for more details. Cross country and snow shoe trails are maintained by the parks staff. Various classic and skate skiing trails are set at Mount Shark Trails area and at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Summer

Kananaskis is also renowned for its top-notch biking, hiking and equestrian trails.

The Summit of Highwood Pass Trail

At www.albertaskananaskis.com you will find all kinds of summer ( and winter ) activities to do in the park including horse back riding, rafting, hiking, biking, birding and wildlife watching. The golf course is on Highway 40 which is the busiest area for visitors to the parks in Kananaskis. There is a very good information centre on Highway 40 near the entrance to the Park. On the Smith Dorrien side of Kananaskis, closer to the Banff National Park, wildlife, especially moose, can often be viewed especially around the corner of Shark Road near Mount Engadine Lodge. It is the remote, less travelled area in Kananaskis and on a well maintained gravel road.

Eat

Sleep

There are many camp sites in Kananaskis country.

Hotels can be found in the Kananaskis town site (Kananaskis Village) as well as at the Dead Man Flats area.

If you want a backcountry lodge experience.

Kananaskis is a reasonable (and frequent) day trip from Calgary, depending on activity. If staying in Calgary but travelling to Kananaskis, choose a hotel in the west side of the city, preferably near 16th Avenue North (such as the ones in "Motel Village") or near Glenmore Trail or Highway 22x in the south, rather than one near the airport or downtown.

Stay safe

Grizzly bear with cubs in Kananaskis.

This is bear country so be careful. Also be aware that there is a good chance of coming across longhorn sheep, deer and moose on the road.

Go next

Canmore is the nearest community of size, at least a half hour drive from the turnoff to Kananaskis on the Trans Canada Highway. Travelling from the Village area it is a about an hour to Banff, 45 minutes to Canmore or Calgary using the Trans Canada Highway. Many visitors to the Park do the Kananaskis loop which includes driving on the Smith Dorrien-Spray Road (gravel). A round trip from Canmore through the park and out of the park on highway 40 would take 2-3 hours with stops. Banff is another further 20 minutes to a half hour from the Canmore area, but a must see.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, October 30, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.