If you don’t want to worry about trail closures and bear advisories, head south-east to bear-free parks! Those who need their weekly dose of mountain time will enjoy the Lake Louise road trip (trip #5 below).
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park boasts a beautiful beach on the shores of Lake Newell. This park, with the largest and warmest manmade lake in Alberta, is only 2 hours from Calgary! Enjoy boating, fishing, beach time, and amazing birding on the 4.5 km interpretive wetland trail. If you’d like to stay for the weekend, there’s a campground here too! See our story Camping at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park for more information.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a land of hoodoos and dramatic badlands. Take advantage of the shorter days and get some out of this world dramatic sunset photos or go on a guided tour to see fossils in-situ that aren’t accessible to the public. Go for the day, camp in the park, or stay in nearby Brooks. 220 km from Calgary. For more information, please see my post: Exploring Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Drumheller is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, the World’s Largest Dinosaur, and a rich history. Bike from downtown to the museum and check out mining relics in Midland Provincial Park en route, visit the hoodoos at Willow Creek Hoodoo Provincial Recreation Site, or tour the Atlas Coal Museum and climb the tipple, ride a train, or explore an underground tunnel. Allow a few hours for each museum. For more information, read Exploring Drumheller: Dinosaurs, Mining History, Biking, and More! 135 km from Calgary.
Drumheller Badlands River Pathway Midland Provincial Park Exhibit at the Tyrrell Museum World’s Largest Dinosaur
Elkwater, Cypress Hills Provincial Park has a small, warm lake with sandy beaches, several campgrounds, a pleasant lakeside trail, and mountain biking trails. Come in winter for cross country skiing! For more details, please see Camping at Cypress Hills Provincial Park. 359 km from Calgary.
Elkwater Lake, Alberta Elkwater Lake, Alberta Beach on Elkwater Lake
The Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola takes you way up Whitehorn Mountain for phenomenal views of Mount Temple, Mount Fairview, and the Victoria Glacier. If you’re lucky, you might see a grizzly from the gondola, but never fear, the area at the top of the gondola is fenced off with an electric bear-proof fence. Explore the Wildlife Interpretive Centre then enjoy a gourmet lunch at Whitehorn Lodge before heading down. There are some amazing hikes beyond the electric fence; group hiking and bear spray recommended. For more info, please see this post: Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola – Great For All Ages. 184 km from Calgary.
View from Kicking Horse Viewpoint On the way to Kicking Horse Viewpoint
- Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a magical land of hoodoos, First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings), and pictographs (rock paintings) in the beautiful Milk River Valley. For the best experience, book a tour ($) in advance so you can see parts of the park not open to the public, and don’t miss the free evening interpretive programs. 340 km from Calgary. For more information, please read Why You Should Visit Writing on Stone. Thank you Sonja from Sonja’s Super Suggestions for YYC Families for the beautiful photos!! *UPDATE (May 2017): The first bear sighing in 70 years was in April 2017, so while it is extremely unlikely you will see a bear, I can no longer guarantee that Writing on Stone is bear free.*
|Writing on Stone Provincial Park
Image Credit: Sonja Hayes-Powers
|Petroglyphs at Writing on Stone Provincial Park
Image Credit: Sonja Hayes-Powers
More Great Road Trips
- Touring the Icefields Parkway With Kids
- 10 Banff Day Trips to Try This Summer
- Family Fun in Glacier National Park, BC
- Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Recreation & Camping Guide
- William A. Switzer Provincial Park Recreation Guide
If you’re heading into bear country, please read these Bear Safety Tips for Hikers and Backpackers.