Calgary is the perfect gateway to the legendary Rocky Mountains. While there is so much to see and do in this iconic city, such as visiting the world-famous Calgary Stampede, there are so many incredible day trips on offer to you too.
If you are booking up flights to Calgary or from the city back to the UK it is certainly worth using the city as a base and going on some day trips to nearby areas. Here we take you through some amazing day trips you can go on from Calgary.
Columbia Icefield Tour
The Columbia Icefield tour takes you from the bustling city of Calgary onto a specially designed Brewster Ice Explorer vehicle, allowing you to discover the Columbia Icefield’s Athabasca Glacier like never before.
The tours are taken by experienced guides who share incredible information about the glaciers and their impact on the environment.
You can even walk on the glacier and have time to take some photographs in this incredible setting. The experience doesn’t end here as the tour will then take you on a walk on the Glacier Skywalk, a cliff-edged walkway where enormous glaciers rise high above you.
During the walk you can see waterfalls, fossils and wildlife before walking on a glass walkway above a 918-foot drop.
Our Rockies Trail Holiday takes you to Calgary, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park and Whistler, but another highlight of the trip is the Columbia Icefield Tour.
Banff National Park
Banff National Park is another great day trip you can do from Calgary, especially if you have hired a car for your Canada holiday, as it is around a two-hour drive to the national park.
There is so much to do in Banff National Park, just read our guide about Canada’s oldest national park to see all the amazing activities available all year.
Wanda, who lives in Calgary and runs the Bakersbeans blog, recommends heading to Lake Louise from Calgary.
She says, “Once you arrive at the lake itself, all else is forgotten as the lake view is breath-taking.
Once you’ve inhaled as much of lake’s beauty as you can, there is more to do. Find one of the many trails and go on a hike. The Lake Agnes Tea House or Plain of Six Glaciers & Tea House are two popular hikes to discover. Seek out the Gondola and try to spot a grizzly bear down below (this happened to me once). If you love the water, rent a canoe and explore the lake first-hand.”
If you are driving to the lake you should allow at least a two-hour drive and during peak season this might be slightly longer.
Of course, there are lots of other incredible things you can see in the national park such as Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake, which alongside Lake Louise offer some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
The Canadian Rockies by Rail Holiday flies you into Calgary and takes you to Banff to see the majesty of the mountains and lakes. You will also spend a few days at Lake Louise before heading on to Jasper and then the incredible Rocky Mountaineer train to Vancouver.
The Canadian Badlands boasts unique landscapes and hoodoo rock formations. This part of Alberta is renowned for the number of fossils it contains, including dinosaur bones at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Dinosaur Provincial Park.
The Badlands are perfect for a day trip from Calgary as alongside the fossils and the incredible landscapes you can explore coal mines, the Bassano Dam, museums like the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Donalda & District Museum, and the Fossil World Dinosaur Discovery Centre. If you’ve got time after all that, it’s also well worth visiting the impressive Horseshoe Canyon.
There really is something for everyone with thrill seekers able to go skydiving with Alberta Skydivers and wildlife lovers able to visit the Alberta Birds of Prey centre to see the majestic bald eagle and daily flying demonstrations.
If you have always wanted to visit the Canadian Badlands, then the Prairies to the Pacific Holiday allows you to discover the lesser-travelled roads of Canada’s west. You will get to spend a lot of time at dinosaur Badlands and will also visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
If you fancy making the most of your time in Calgary to see some of the impressive scenery of the neighbouring Rockies, then The Icefields Parkway is another great day trip option. Following this highway, you can journey through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.
Many regard the drive as the most beautiful on the planet and it’s hard to argue as you cut through the heart of the Rockies and travel from Lake Louise to Jasper, passing innumerable lakes, waterfalls and glaciers along the way.
The Icefields Parkway is a 230-mile drive in total so you may want to spend a few days doing the drive after your flight to Canada.
Some of the incredible views you can see during your drive on the Icefields Parkway include Peyto Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake and the world-famous Athabasca Glacier.
The Canadian Family Discovery Holiday incorporates the Icefields Parkway and included as part of this trip is a guided hike on the Athabasca Glacier. You can also add optional extras such as a half-day white-water rafting excursion on the Kicking Horse River, or canoe or hike at Emerald Lake.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is south of Calgary and the area is absolutely stunning. And, as you’d expect with a unique name like Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, it has an incredible story behind it.
For thousands of years, the Porcupine Hills Blackfoot tribes’ Buffalo Runners would lead the local buffalo and chase them off the 36-foot cliff that is now called Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. The tribes could then use the buffalo fur for clothing, the meat for food and the bones for tools and weapons.
As well as the stunning scenery, you can visit the museum and cultural centre that is based there or walk along the cliffs to feel close to the region’s history.
There are lots of Calgary holidays on offer where you can visit the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and if you want to experience more of Canada’s Wild West you can visit a ranch as well.
Image Credit: Walter Lim, Kevin M Klerks (flickr.com)