The Rocky Mountain region of Alberta is a dramatic landscape where the mountains meet the prairie.
The Kananaskis Region holds some of Alberta’s most dramatic mountains, and as a whole, the area is loaded with great camping and wild spaces. You can wild camp, find one of many private campsites, or seek out the public campgrounds—no matter which you choose, trails are prolific, as are clear, cold rivers that flow from the peaks to the prairie. Trout fishing is excellent and visitors love mountain biking, skiing and sightseeing in the open spaces, too. Banff is just to the north of the region as well, and Calgary is the largest city, just east of Kananaskis.
Two ski areas offer options for steep mountain terrain. Nakiska and Fortress Mountain are both great mountains, each having six lifts open to the public. While Banff draws skiers from around the world, these smaller ski areas are often overlooked. If you enjoy low traffic and great powder, consider taking a ski vacation to Kananaskis Country. Nakiska is less than an hour from Calgary and was an Olympic ski site. Fortress Mountain has 30 kilometres of slopes with some challenging terrain.
As the largest lake in Kananaskis, the long shoreline offers plenty of space for boaters. Camping is available on the lake and the water is popular for summer fishing, water skiing and swimming. The reservoir has large lake trout, whitefish and plenty of rainbow trout to pursue. Prevailing winds do limit water skiing to the early morning hours but they do make for excellent windsurfing. The region doesn’t have many large bodies of water and this is one unique lake that is surrounded by mountains.
If there’s one thing that Kananaskis offers, it’s a never-ending network of trails. Hiking and biking are both popular and there are some serious peaks to pursue on foot. Smutwood Peak is one of those magical looking mountains that requires some scrambling to reach the summit. It has several high lakes with turquoise waters sitting picturesquely below a jagged mountain. Read’s Tower and Tent Ridge a few more options with incredible scenery.
This park might be the pinnacle of any trip to Kananaskis Country. The Bow and Kananaskis Rivers meet in the park which is just under an hour from Calgary. Paddling and fishing on the Bow River are both highlights for visitors. Extensive hiking trails are perfect for day trips or overnight backcountry trips. Test your legs against the steep terrain and don’t forget a camera for the incredible vistas. This is grizzly country and visitors should carry bear spray when navigating the park.
Summer is really the best time for hikers wanting to climb the peaks and reach the backcountry on foot. July and August specifically are ideal for penetrating the backcountry. September is another great month with changing colors and cooler night temperatures. October can be idyllic but also can experience early winter storms. Winter itself is a nice time to visit for skiers and snowsport enthusiasts. The primary highways remain open but the backroads are often closed or difficult to navigate.