Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a vibrant and dynamic city known for its warm western hospitality, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty. While the city itself offers a plethora of attractions and activities, there are also numerous breathtaking destinations just a stone’s throw away. From majestic mountain peaks to picturesque national parks, here are some of the must-visit tourist attractions near Calgary.
1. Banff National Park
Located only about an hour and a half drive west of Calgary, Banff National Park is a world-renowned natural gem. With its snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife, it is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can hike along scenic trails, take a dip in the soothing hot springs, or go skiing in the winter months. Don’t miss the iconic Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Banff townsite, which offer stunning vistas and charming mountain ambiance.
2. Kananaskis Country
Situated just south of Canmore, Kananaskis Country is a vast wilderness area encompassing pristine valleys, rugged mountains, and sparkling rivers. Outdoor adventurers will find an array of activities here, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping. The area is also home to several luxury resorts, making it a perfect destination for those seeking a mix of relaxation and adventure.
Approximately a 90-minute drive northeast of Calgary, Drumheller is renowned as the Dinosaur Capital of the World. This unique town boasts the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which showcases an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils and offers interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. Take a scenic drive through the Badlands, a fascinating landscape of hoodoos and canyons, or explore the world’s largest dinosaur, a towering T-Rex sculpture that provides panoramic views of the surrounding area.
4. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is an archaeological treasure located about an hour and a half south of Calgary. This historic site offers a glimpse into the cultural heritage of the indigenous people who once relied on the buffalo herds for their survival. Visitors can explore the interpretive center, witness traditional dances, and learn about the ancient buffalo hunting techniques.
Situated just outside Banff National Park, Canmore is a charming mountain town that offers a more laid-back and less touristy atmosphere compared to its famous neighbor. Surrounded by towering peaks, Canmore is a haven for outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and cross-country skiing. Stroll through the quaint downtown area, browse the local art galleries and boutiques, or simply soak in the awe-inspiring mountain views.
6. Waterton Lakes National Park
Located approximately three hours south of Calgary, Waterton Lakes National Park is a hidden gem that borders the United States. This picturesque park combines stunning mountain landscapes with serene lakes, making it an ideal destination for hiking, boating, and wildlife spotting. The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, perched on a bluff overlooking Upper Waterton Lake, is a must-visit landmark in the area.
7. Dinosaur Provincial Park
Situated about two and a half hours east of Calgary, Dinosaur Provincial Park is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a glimpse into Alberta’s ancient past. This vast park is home to one of the world’s richest dinosaur fossil beds. Join a guided tour to explore the unique badlands terrain and participate in a real fossil dig. The park also offers camping facilities for those who want to spend more time immersing themselves in the prehistoric wonders.
These are just a few of the spectacular tourist attractions near Calgary. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or nature lover, there is something for everyone within a short distance of this vibrant city. So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the stunning landscapes that surround Calgary.