One of the best things about Calgary is the abundance of attractions in and around town. No matter the season there is always something fun to do, especially outdoors.
And one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors is to take advantage of all the extraordinary attractions all within a short drive from Calgary.
Explore the beauty of the Rocky Mountains or the Badlands region and get back to the city all in one day.
In less than two hours drive you can be in stunning mountain villages, at top-ski resorts, hiking deep into the wilderness, or canoeing on a pristine turquoise lake.
Here is our list of the five best day trips from Calgary.
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5 Best Day Trips from Calgary
The impressive Kananaskis Country region is about an hour’s drive away from Calgary.
The area is known as K-country, and it’s got it all – from hikes for all skill levels, to horseback riding, paddling trips, or mountain biking adventures.
One of the popular K-Country trails that is only open during summer and fall season is Ptarmigan Cirque trail – Hwy 40 closes from Dec 1 to June 14 each year.
One thing you should always be on the look out for when you’re in Kananaskis Country is wildlife. The area is home to bighorn sheep, deer, mountain goats, marmots, black bears, grizzly bears, and moose. And always bring bear spray with you + the ten essentials for hiking.
Looking for a unique outdoor adventure? Go canoeing or paddle boarding on the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes.
Autumn is the perfect time to hike Chester Lake for larch season before it transforms into a winter wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
In winter you can enjoy snowshoeing or hiking to Rawson Lake for a great workout and jaw-dropping scenery. Check out our list of what to wear hiking in winter so you have all the gear for a great hiking experience.
If you’re looking for something a little more exhilarating, come and test your skills with downhill skiing at the Nakiska Ski Area.
Kananaskis Country has some of the most stunning landscapes and breathtaking views that Banff National Park has, but with far fewer crowds.
You see, there’s something exciting to do in every season in Kananaskis!
Drumheller – Canadian Badlands
For a unique experience take a day trip to Drumheller in the Alberta Badlands region.
The town is recognized as the Dinosaur Capital of the world thanks to the town’s collection of dinosaur bones and fossils.
And Tyra, the World’s Largest Dinosaur lives in Drumheller!
You can see lots of fossils and dinosaur bones at The Royal Tyrrell Museum. The kids will love the life-sized dinosaur skeletons and the indoor Jurassic Garden.
Next, you can walk around the town’s downtown neighbourhood and try and find all 30 of the dinosaur statues that are hidden around corners and outside the shops and cafes.
Plus, since the town is in the Canadian Badlands it’s worth venturing into the totally unique and other-worldly landscapes near Drumheller.
Check out the hoodoos, these chimney-like rock formations look like something out of an alien sci-fi movie.
Start exploring the area by heading to the Hoodoos Trail, super short and easy.
Then continue to Horseshoe Canyon (17 km west of Drumheller) if you want to see more of the Badlands fascinating sandstone formations and do some more hiking.
In late summer through fall you’ll get to admire the brilliant yellow canola fields on your way back to Calgary.
Canmore has that small village charm and it’s surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains – perfect for a day trip from the city.
Canmore is easily one of the most beautiful mountain towns in Canada.
The buildings are rustic and mix modern with traditional architecture. There are lots of cute shops, cafes, and beer joints downtown.
You can walk from downtown to the river do the Bow River Loop or get on the water for some paddle boarding or canoeing.
You can also head over to Quarry Lake and spend a bit of time swimming or hiking. There’s a little path that loops around the lake, it’s nice and short (less than a mile) and do-able for everyone.
The lake is crystal clear, fed by an underground spring, and surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountain peaks.
Before hiking pop into Le Fournil Bakery (on Bow Valley Trail) to pick up a picnic lunch and snacks.
If you want to take on a more challenging hike, you’ll enjoy doing the summit of Ha-Ling Peak. The breathtaking vistas from the top make each step worth it.
Banff is one of the most visited destinations in all of Canada, and for good reason – this gorgeous town is right in Banff National Park. Which is also why accommodation in Banff is so expensive, making a day trip from Calgary a great option.
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, with pristine lakes, and picture-perfect landscapes the summer peak season brings visitors from around the world.
In winter the town turns into a snowy wonderland and for those seeking to shred the slopes both Sunshine Village Ski Resort and Mount Norquay provide the powder for snowboarding and skiing around Banff.
Get exceptional panoramic vistas with a ride up to the top of Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola ride. Alternatively, you can hike up and take the Gondola back down. Sweet!
Since the best hiking in Banff National Park gets insanely busy during peak season you’ll want to plan ahead.
Summer is the perfect time for a forest hike to Boom Lake and picnic by the water with crazy gorgeous mountains to gawk at. It’s usually not as busy as the more famous lakes in Banff.
In fall check out the Larch Valley (from Moraine Lake) for the most beautiful foliage as the larch trees glow with golden foliage.
There are several pretty lakes in Banff National Park, but Lake Minnewanka is particularly stunning on sunny summer days when the turquoise waters look unreal.
After a day of adventure why not treat your body to a luxurious soak in the mineral rich waters of Banff Hot Springs.
For nighttime fun in Banff check out the pub scene or enjoy dinner and drinks and Banff’s best restaurants. Carnivores will love Chuck’s Steakhouse while vegan and vegetarians will adore Nourish Bistro both for the food and craft cocktails.
It’s hard to believe all this is just a short 90 minute drive from YYC! It’s no wonder that Banff is the most popular day trip from Calgary.
Want to go to Banff but not by yourself? Book this Banff National Park Day Tour so you’ll have company, plus you don’t have to drive!
Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Two hours away from Calgary, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two of the most photographed locations in Canada.
Plan a one-day excursion from Calgary to explore these spectacular lakes in Alberta with extraordinary scenery.
Turquoise glacial waters and unbeatable views entice travelers of every kind, from nature lovers to photographers.
For a memorable adventure enjoy canoeing Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, you’ll have the best views of the mountains!
Next, follow the hiking trail along Lake Louise or up one of the surrounding mountains for stunning vistas of this spectacular glacier-fed lake. Lake Agnes Tea House is a great choice or hike the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail.
Lake Louise is one of the best ski resorts near Calgary, so if you’re looking for the perfect winter getaway consider a day on the slopes of the Canadian Rockies.
In summertime Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two of the most popular stops for tourists so it’s best to reserve a seat on the shuttle bus or visit around dinnertime to avoid the crowds.
How much is the shuttle bus to Moraine Lake? Parks Canada Moraine Lake Shuttle fare rates as of this writing are:
- $8 for adults
- $4 for seniors
- $2 for youth
- Free – under 6 years
Or consider taking a day tour to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake so you can leave the driving to someone else!
Final Thoughts on Best Calgary Day Trips
With your choice of majestic mountains or other-worldly badlands landscapes you know you’ll feel revitalized after a day outside the city. These one-day trips from Calgary allow you to experience some of the best sights in Alberta and still be back home snuggled in your own bed for evening.