Best known for the Calgary Stampede and for being the center of Canada’s oil industry, Calgary is also a launchpad for unforgettable outdoor adventures. From Banff and Jasper’s trails and glaciers to the Badlands’ dinosaurs and hoodoos, here are some top day trip destinations and activities outside of Calgary.
Banff — 79 miles (127 km) away
Located 90 minutes east of Calgary by road, Banff National Park is one of Canada’s top tourist attractions. The resort town of Banff, with its hot springs and inviting surrounding areas, boasts some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country. A visit to Banff is a popular day trip from Calgary any time of year. Summertime hikes yield gorgeous views of turquoise- and emerald-colored lakes in front of snow-capped mountains; rafting and cycling are also popular summer pastimes. In winter, Banff is a skier’s and snowboarder’s paradise.
Canadian Badlands — 84 miles (135 km) away
Explore the surreal, moon-like landscapes of Alberta’s Badlands on a day trip from Calgary. In Drumheller—also known as the Dinosaur Capital of the World—examine the intricate rock layers of Horseshoe Canyon, then visit the dinosaur exhibits at the world-class Royal Tyrrell Museum. Taking a guided tour from Calgary is a good way to learn about the dinosaur fossils and oddly shaped hoodoos (thin rock spires) from scientists and local experts.
Columbia Icefield — about 190 miles (310 km) away
It makes for a long day, but a day trip from Calgary to the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park is well worth the time. The majestic mountain scenery combined with ancient glaciers along the Icefields Parkway will especially appeal to photographers and to lovers of the outdoors. A tour of the icefield (between May and October) is an excellent way to see the massive ice formations that shaped the geography of the region’s wild landscape over thousands of years. On a guided tour, visit iconic sites like Lake Louise, explore the glaciers by ATV, and even get a chance to walk along the Athabasca Glacier.