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33 BEST Things to do in the Kananaskis

33 BEST Things to do in the Kananaskis

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Looking for a way to enjoy the Canadian Rockies, but stay off the main tourist track? Look no further because I have just the place you’re looking for, the Kananaskis! 

There are heaps of outdoor adventures in this area, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is where the locals actually go to explore the great outdoors. After living in Canmore, we quickly ditched the ever-popular Banff sights and the Kananaskis became our playground.

So if you’re after hikes where you don’t see another soul for miles and goregous lakes where you don’t have to fight for parking, keep reading as we let you in on the best things to do in the Kananaskis.

Table Of Contents
  1. Things to do in the Kananaskis 
  2. About the Kananaskis 
  3. Where to Stay in the Kananaskis 
  4. Thanks for reading!
  5. Renting a Car in Alberta

Things to do in the Kananaskis 

1. Hike to Grassi Lakes 

Viewpoint of Grassi Lakes
The water is so green!
Views of the valley from the hard trail on the Grassi Lakes Trail
Views on the hard trail up!

Grassi Lakes is probably the most popular hike in the Kananaskis and after hiking the trail twice for myself, it’s not hard to see why. This short trail is easy to accomplish and ends at the stunning Grassi Lakes – some of the brightest-colored lakes I’ve ever seen!

The hike to Grassi Lakes is also relatively easy at 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) there and back with only a 125-meter (410-foot) elevation gain. This means it’s family-friendly and suitable for most fitness levels. When we last hiked the Grassi Lakes trail, there were tons of families on the trail with young kids and dogs. 

Grassi Lakes Trail starts from a large parking lot just on the outskirts of Canmore. The exact location can be found on Google Maps, but it is also easy to find if you drive Smith Dorrien Spray Trail Road up past the Canmore Nordic Center and turn left onto Ken Richie Way. It’s important to arrive early to secure a parking spot! On summer weekends, this lot is often full by 10 am.

One thing to note is that there are two different trails you can take to reach Grassi Lakes. From the Grassi Lakes parking lot, there is one trail. After walking this trail for a couple of minutes you’ll come to a fork in the trail with a sign. If you stay to the right you’ll take the easier trail, to the left is the “more difficult” trail.

The more difficult trail is flat at the beginning but then takes a steep incline with stairs taking you next to a waterfall. While it is a more challenging trail, it’s worth it for the waterfall! 

During the winter months, the more difficult trail closes due to ice build-up. But you can still hike to Grassi Lakes via the other trail.

2. Visit Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lake

A couple pose for a photo at Upper Kananaskis Lake
Enjoying the sunset at Upper Kananaskis Lake!

Located in the heart of Kananaskis and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park are both the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes.

There are a lot of camping locations around these two lakes, so we often like to base ourselves here when we visit. So be prepared to see a lot of these lakes, although I never seem to mind – look how beautiful they are!

Both the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes are crystal clear and semi-natural. They were originally natural lakes that were made much bigger for hydroelectric projects.

Now both lakes are frequently visited by daytrippers who come to picnic, kayak, boat, fish, SUP (standup paddleboard), and even swim! Personally, I love catching a sunset at one of the lakes after a busy day of hiking. It’s honestly such a picturesque way to end the day.

If you are a fan of hiking or cycling, there is a trail that surrounds the whole of Upper Kananaskis Lake that is perfect. It is pretty flat all the way around and is a nice leisurely walk where you can spot some of the area’s incredible wildlife and you might even come across some bears! 

3. Check out Peter Lougheed Parks Discovery Centre

A display at Peter Lougheed Parks Discovery Centre
A display at Peter Lougheed Parks Discovery Centre!

The Peter Lougheed Park’s Discovery Centre is a wealth of information, so we always recommend stopping here early during your visit to the Kananaskis.

The Discovery Centre is where you can find all the information you need on things to do in the area and all the trails you can embark on during your stay. 

There’s also a museum we enjoyed wandering through to get a peek at the history of the area. It also has tons of animals on display that you might find in the park, so you’ll know what to look for!

The Discovery Centre is open from 9 am to 6 pm May through mid-October, and from 9 am to 4:15 pm December through March.

4. Hike to Rawson Lake 

Bailey and her dad at Rawson Lake in the Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
Bailey and her dad at Rawson Lake in the Kananaskis!

There are heaps of trails in the Kananaskis area, but the hike to Rawson Lake has to be one of the top ones! Despite its popularity, it is never too busy and I’ve often had huge sections of the trail completely to myself.

The hike itself is rated moderate at 7 km (4 miles) and only takes around three hours to complete the round trip. The trail starts at the Rawson Lake trailhead just west of Upper Kananaskis Lake car park and leads along the lakeshore and past a beautiful waterfall.

You’ll then start climbing up a pretty steep slope through the forest for about a kilometer but don’t worry though, this is the toughest part of the whole trail! 

Once you are up the slope you will realize your efforts were not a waste as the views over Rawson Lake are simply breathtaking! The summit overlooking the lake is the perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch and a few photos before heading back down.

Sometimes I’m craving a bit more trail time, so I like to complete the extra loop around Rawson Lake. For an even greater challenge, I’ve tried the hike to Serrail Ridge – it’s a doozy but super fun all the same! Don’t try this during the winter, it’s avalanche territory so it’s best to wait until June when the risk is far lower.

The trail winds around the lake to the southeast before climbing up the ridge to the northeast. You will want hiking poles and bear spray for this trail as it gets very steep in places and bears are sometimes spotted along this track. At the top, I couldn’t believe the views over Mount Indefatigable and both the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. 

If you plan on completing the hike to Rawson Lake and then up to Serrail Ridge, you can expect it to take around 3-5 hours in total, depending on how many stops you take. It can be quite tiring, but I promise, the views are absolutely worth it! 

5. See Canmore from Ha Ling Peak

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
View overlooking Canmore from Ha Ling Peak.

For sweeping views of the Kananaskis, the hike up Ha Ling Peak has to make this list. Although it’s significantly more difficult than the Grassi Lakes hike, the scenery along the way is unbeatable.

You’ll find the Ha Ling Peak trailhead and car parking lot along the Smith Dorrien Trail. Thanks to the Dorrien Trail, you drive up a ton of the mountain’s elevation making summiting this mountain a lot easier than you might think.

I wouldn’t categorize this as an easy climb by any means, gaining 800 meters (2,600 feet) in elevation over 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles), but it’s doable for most people with some hiking experience and moderate fitness level.  

Ha Ling Peak trail is a high-traffic trail and as such, is well-marked and easy to follow. The first half of the trail is switchbacks climbing through the forest, whereas the second half will have you climbing stairs to the saddle and then scrambling over rocks to the summit.  

When we climbed Ha Ling Peak it was a very windy day which made the scramble from the saddle to the summit a little difficult and a little scary. Good hiking boots and hiking poles really came in handy for us. I would recommend only tackling Ha Ling Peak when it is clear weather with as little wind as possible.  

It takes about 2-3 hours to reach the summit, and then you come back down the same trail you walked up. The way down will take less than half the time the way up did. In total, I would allow 4-5 hours for this hike (it took us just under 4 hours at a pretty fast pace with only one short snack break at the saddle).

6. Go stargazing 

The Milky-way above the Three Sisters taken from Policeman's Creek in Canmore!
The stars are stunning above the Three Sisters!

One of the best things to do at night in the Kananaskis is to get out and witness the incredible stars that shine every night over the beautiful scenery.

Thanks to the lack of light pollution out here, the Kananaskis has some of the darkest skies in the world! Ever seen the Milky Way? Well, you can spot it here. If you’re lucky, you might even see the northern lights dancing in the sky too.

If you’re visiting in the winter, you can take this experience to the next level on this guided stargazing tour. You’ll get the chance to snowshoe through the forest on a moonlit hike to the best stargazing spots. The guides are so knowledgeable regarding all things astronomy and will help you look through the telescope to take a peek at the mesmerizing skies.

The tour is only $85 CAD and also includes a hot chocolate and a cookie to warm up after your hike! Check the availability of this tour online here and grab your spot.

And if you’re visiting in the summer, you can still go stargazing on your own! I’ll be honest, it’s most impressive during the winter months. But, we still love to hop in the car and find a remote location to see the starry skies, no matter what time of year!

7. Walk Blackshale Suspension Bridge 

Bailey walks accross Blackshale Suspension Bridge in the Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
Don’t look down!
Bailey on the Blackshale Suspension Bridge with Mountain views in the Kananaskis
The mountain views are stunning!

Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge is often known as one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets. After just a short hike along the High Rockies Trail, you will come to one of the most spectacular suspension bridges we have ever seen! 

This suspension bridge is located just off the Smith Dorrien Highway in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It’s an ideal stop-off if you are planning a road trip along the Smith Dorrien. Unsurprisingly, this is definitely something we recommend you do!

The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge is a perfect activity in Kananaskis for the whole family as the hike is an easy one to do with kids.

While you can easily go on your own, if you would like everything arranged for you, book this Suspension Bridge and Sightseeing Tour for $199 CAD. This tour includes a guide that will lead you through the trail and over the bridge. After the hike, you’ll enjoy a delicious charcuterie lunch on the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake.

This is a fantastic option for those who don’t have a car or want to learn more about the area. We’ve been on many sightseeing tours in this area and find them super valuable. This area is goregous enough that I think taking a tour to dive a little deeper is well worth the money- you can check availability and book this tour here.

Do be warned, heavy snowfall makes this bridge unsafe so it is usually closed for the duration of winter. Spring and summer are the best times to visit. 

8. Go whitewater rafting 

Whiste water rafting in Canmore, Alberta
Hard to wipe the smile off your face after that adventure!

If you are a thrill seeker (like me!), you are going to want to add whitewater rafting to the top of your Kananaskis itinerary! 

This rafting adventure tour is the perfect mix of sightseeing and high-adrenaline activity as you soak up the views from the Kananaskis River. You will need your paddle at the ready as I’ll warn you, the river has some pretty extreme rapids! However, don’t worry there are plenty of calm sections which will allow you to relax and spot some of the river’s beautiful wildlife.

We thought this rafting tour was the perfect blend of thrill and chill. We caught some fun rapids but it also wasn’t the most extreme – really it’s great for any traveler.

This small group rafting tour has a maximum of 7 people and starts at $140 CAD. This a great activity for the whole family and can book up quickly! They provide all the equipment, snacks, and even free photos to remember your adventure.

This rafting adventure is available from May through early September, and I recommend booking it as soon as possible as it’s a very popular activity in the Kananaskis.

9. Hike Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop 

One of the viewpoints on the Heart Mountain Hike just outside of Canmore, AB on a beautiful sunny day.
What a view!

The challenging but rewarding Heart Mountain Horseshoe Trail offers some pretty spectacular viewpoints, including, three mountain summits. It’s rated as difficult (seriously – I ran out of water only two-thirds of the way through!) and is great practice for beginner scramblers.

The full Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop is 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles) in length and climbs over 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) in elevation. You’ll find the start of the trail at the Heart Mountain parking lot, about 30 minutes from Kananaskis Village.

What makes the trail so hard is the technical climbing/scrambling required on one side of the trail. To get to the summit you need to climb up steep rock faces and short vertical climbs. It’s important to mention that, without proper knowledge of the trail, it can be easy to get off the trail and lose the markers.

The trail can be hiked as a loop track, or if you’re short on time as an out-and-back trail. The out-and-back trail is 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles) each way and involves hiking the counter-clockwise side up and back down. It is a shorter climb and you only summit one mountain, however, getting down this steep section is technical, and in my opinion, quite dangerous.

Only hikers with some experience should consider hiking the trail and those afraid of heights should either steer clear or hike with experienced hikers. Also, you should avoid this trail on days with high winds or any rain as the rocks can become dangerously slippery.

10. Visit the Kananaskis Nordic Spa 

Bailey at a sauna at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa 
Taking a break from the sauna!
Bailey walks into a pool at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa in Alberta, Canada
On a cold morning, this is perfect!

Nestled in the heart of the Kananaskis, Kananaskis Nordic Spa is famous for luxury and relaxation. Here, you’ll find various different pools, saunas, and spa treatments with hydrotherapy sessions being the most popular. With a hydrotherapy session, you get to visit all of the different hot pools and enjoy the views of the mountains for hours on end! 

This spa is VERY popular in the winter months and it’s important that you book well in advance to secure your spot. You can typically book up to 3 months before you visit, although there are online same-day waitlists if you want to try and get in last minute.

Also, this type of luxury doesn’t come cheap and prices start at $149 CAD per person for their basic hot pools (hydrotherapy) sessions. You can get in for slightly cheaper from Tuesday-Thursday.

Kananaskis Nordic Spa is located right in Kananaskis Village only a couple of minutes from Nakiska Ski Area. So if you plan it right, you could have a morning ski and then relax at the spa right after! 

11. Play a round at Kananaskis Country Golf Course 

Kananaskis Country Golf Course 
Photo credit: Kananaskis Country Golf Course 
Kananaskis Country Golf Course on a summers day
Photo credit: Kananaskis Country Golf Course 

If you are a fan of a round of golf, you’re going to want to check out Kananaskis Country Golf Course! While it’s easy to access, the golf course feels really remote, is in a beautiful setting, and is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. 

Over their two-course layout, they have a total of 36 holes, ranging in difficulty. It’s a popular spot with both Alberta locals and tourists for its friendly service and top-quality golf courses.

On average, you can expect to pay a green fee rate of under $150 CAD with golf cart rentals coming in at $50 CAD. There are discounts for Alberta residents, seniors, kids, and twilight golf times.

12. Drive the Smith Dorrien Highway 

Smith Dorrien Highway in the Kananaskis
The entire highway is surrounded by mountains and wildlife!

Driving the Smith Dorrien Highway is the perfect way to see the heart of Kananaskis! You can travel from Canmore, all the way up the gravel road to Highway 40 via Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and complete a full loop. 

Do be warned, it is a bit of a bumpy ride, but I promise the views are worth it! 

The drive in total takes around two hours but if you take your time and stop off a few times at different lakes and South Lawson Peak, you can easily turn it into a full-day road trip.

There are a lot of goats and sheep along the way so make sure to drive safely and keep an eye out for some of Alberta’s wildlife. 

13. Kayak at Canoe Meadows (or watch) 

A few years ago a boundary was put in place between Widows Peak and Canoe Meadows along the Kananaskis River which created the incredible white water rapids, perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and even river surfing! 

We’ve camped her before and it was a beautiful spot for it! And if you don’t have time for camping, it’s a fun picnic spot as you can watch people attempt to surf some of the rapids.

It’s only $29 CAD a night to stay at Canoe Meadows Campground and not only is it a perfect location to spend some time at Canoe Meadows but it is close to some incredible hiking trails. This includes one that heads directly downriver all the way to The Widowmaker!  

14. Go horseback riding at Boundary Ranch

Daniel and Bailey horseback riding at Boundary Ranch 
It’s such a fun way to explore!

Boundary Ranch is one of the most popular places in Canada for horseback riding! Its beautiful landscape up the mountain ridge has views over the whole of Kananaskis Valley. 

Boundary Ranch is great for all abilities and they even have ponies for children to ride so you can enjoy the experience as a whole family. The Ridge Ride is the most popular route to take as you ride the mountain ridge above the Kananaskis. The views of the entire valley were breathtaking and I loved that I got a break from walking! This tour takes 2 hours and starts at $191 CAD. 

If you think the Ridge Ride seems a bit long for you, we have other options!

The Lodgepole Loop takes roughly 1.5 hours. The tour starts from $153 CAD and takes you through the aspen forest on horseback. Once you reach the top of the ridge you head down past the lodgepole pines to the ranch’s herd of buffalo. 

For a shorter trail, you can take this 1 hour Buffalo Loop horseback ride. This is the best option if you are planning on horseback riding with children as this trek is suitable for ponies as well! You’ll ride past the buffalo paddock and through the forest where you might spot marmots, deer, or elk. This short ride is also the cheapest at $97 CAD per person.

Please note that all three of these trail rides are only available from mid-July to early October.

15. Explore Barrier Lake 

Barrier Lake on a sunny day in the Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
I dare you to take a dip!

Barrier Lake is a man-made lake created by a hydroelectric dam, along Highway 40 in Bow Valley Provincial Park. 

Its sandy shores make it a fantastic place for SUPing, kayaking, and canoeing. Kananaskis Outfitters has a location by the lake with rentals available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are canoes for $50 CAD, kayaks for $45 CAD, SUPs for $30 CAD, and other accessories like wet suits and dry bags available.  

To get the whole family out exploring Barrier Lake, this canoe tour is our pick. It starts at $59 CAD and includes the boat rental of the 25-foot voyager canoe. You’ll get the chance to paddle, portage, and even test your survival skills as you learn how to light a no-match fire. This tour is only available during the summer and is an easy way to experience the beauty of Barrier Lake!

You can check the dates and book this tour here.

The mountainous background of Barrier Lake also makes it an ideal picnicking spot after some watersports or hiking! There are many hiking routes in the area, but I’ve found that the Barrier Lake Lookout Trail and the Prairie View Trail are by far the best. 

If you want to stay near the lake, Jewell Bay Backcountry Campground is on the northwest shore and is a perfect spot for camping at only $12 CAD a night. 

16. Visit the Canmore Nordic Centre

The country flags from the olimpic games held at the Nordic Center in Canmore
The flags from the Olympics!

The Canmore Nordic Centre offers a variety of trails for hiking, biking, or even cross-country skiing. The area was developed to host cross-country skiing events at the 1988 Olympic Games and is now an active training center as well as a recreational area.

You can either bring your own bike or skis and explore the trails for free, or you can rent them from the center.

When we visited the Nordic Centre, there were actually professional athletes practicing biathlon – it was really interesting to watch!

No matter what you plan on doing, the Nordic Centre is the perfect place to take advantage of tons of trails and have your own outdoor adventure in Canmore.

17. Go snowshoeing 

Snowshoeing in Canada on trails through the forest
Off we go!

Snowshoeing is one of my favorite activities in the Kananaskis in winter! 

This area of Canada gets a lot of snow in the winter months and the trails that you would do here during the rest of the year are then awesome for snowshoeing! Along your walk, you can see frozen lakes and snow-covered valleys. 

There are heaps of snowshoeing trails to explore in the Kananaskis all ranging in difficulty with different things to see. One of the easiest snowshoe trails is the Villiage Rim Trail around the terraces above Kananaskis Village.

If you are new to snowshoeing and want to try it out before embarking on a longer trip, this snowshoeing loop is around 6 km (3.7 miles) if combined with the original village rim trail. It is well signposted and an easy route for beginners while still going through forests and including some lookout points. 

For a slightly more difficult trail, Chester Lake is one of the most popular snowshoeing routes in the area and one of the prettiest in the whole of Alberta with its amazing views of Mount Chester.

You can easily rent some snowshoes from Kananaskis Outfitters in Kananaskis Village for only $20 CAD per day and explore yourself.

However, if you would like everything to be arranged for you, you can easily book a snowshoeing tour. This snowshoeing in Kananaskis tour includes a guide and equipment and departs from Kananaskis Outfitters. The tour starts from $79.99 CAD for a two-hour trip at one of the nearby trails.

They offer either a morning or afternoon trip. My favorite part was enjoying the scenery and not having to worry about directions thanks to the guide we had along! You can check the details and book this guided snowshoeing trip here!

Related Read: Looking for more snow-covered adventure? Check out our list of the best things you can do in the Kananaskis in winter!

18. Hike up Hope Peak aka Middle Sister (part of the Three Sisters)

The view from Hope Peak aka Middle Sister on the Three Sisters in the Kananaskis, Alberta
What a view!

The Three Sisters Mountains are the three most recognizable peaks in the Kananaskis, so you’ll definitely spot them while you’re here!

Known individually as Big Sister, Middle Sister, and Little Sister or Faith, Hope, and Charity. Both the Big Sister and the Middle Sister can be hiked up, but the Little Sister is much steeper and should only really be attempted by expert climbers. 

The hike up Hope Peak aka Middle Sister is a beautiful one, although I’ll warn you that it’s not for the faint-hearted! It is well known to be a difficult hike but will give you a real sense of achievement if you do manage to complete it.

It’s best to park and begin your hike at the end of Three Sisters Parkway, from here there is a small trail that will take you to the main path leading up to the Middle Sister. The main trail is predominantly a creek bed for around 7 km (4.3 miles) before you start the main climbing and scrambling up the peak. 

Prepare to spend the whole day completing this hike as the trail itself is 15.4 km (9.5 miles) long and takes around eight hours to complete! While it is a popular snowshoeing trail, the Middle Sister can be a lot harder to hike in winter, with a lot of people not being able to complete the trail due to the ice. 

19. Paddleboard or kayak at the Rundle Forebay Reservoir 

A man paddleboards at Rundle Forebay Reservoir in Canmore
The lake is very calm and perfect for paddle boarding!

Rundle Forebay Reservoir is actually Canmore’s main water supply so, unfortunately, it’s not a spot for swimming. However, it is ideal for SUPing and kayaking! 

The views from the reservoir are incredible and it has some amazing spots around the river that are perfect for a picnic after spending some time out on the water. We always love renting from Bow Valley SUP & Surf, a full-day rental is $65 CAD.

There is also the Rundle Forebay Road which is an easy trail running alongside the reservoir. It’s a nice walk that only takes around 1.5 hours to complete but it’s also popular with joggers and cyclists. 

The reservoir is conveniently located close to Canmore and there is free parking at the nearby Canmore Nordic Centre which is a short walk away from the water. 

20. Hike the Pocaterra Ridge Trail

View from the top of the Pocaterra Ridge Trail in the Kananaskis
We did this in the fall a few years back and loved it!

Pocaterra Ridge is one of the most famous trails in the Kananaskis. It has beautiful views without the sharp elevation gains you might see with other trails in the Rockies. 

If you have access to two vehicles, it is ideally a point-to-point hike as the round trip can be a bit extreme to do in one day! One vehicle can then be left at the end of the trail at the Little Highwood Pass car park and the other at the Ptarmigan Cirque parking lot at the south end of the trail, where the hike begins. We’ve found that lots of people do the hike with this method, so you might want to get there early to be sure that there’s a space! 

While the hike is very popular and you will see people of all hiking abilities attempting it, Pocaterra Ridge Trail is considered to be quite difficult. The first peak is the most challenging but the views at the top are well worth the challenge. 

The hike is well-trodden all year round, including during winter when it is a popular location for snowshoeing. However, the trail is best taken in late September and early October when the larch trees begin to change color making the most incredible backdrop combined with the lake and mountains. 

21. Stay at Sundance Lodge 

Sundance Lodge Kananaskis
What a magical place to stay! Photo credit: Sundance Lodge Kananaskis

Booking a stay at Sundance Lodge will no doubt be one of the highlights of your time in Kananaskis! It was certainly one of mine!

While you will feel like you are out in the wilderness, it is conveniently located to so many of the activities on this list, making it the perfect base for your trip. 

Pick from either their tipis, trapper tents, or pitch your own tent in one of their unserviced campsites and spend a night under the stars, enclosed by the forest. If you are lucky enough, you might even catch a glimpse of the northern lights!

22. Go wild ice skating

Wild ice skating in the Kananaskis
Wild ice skating is so much fun!
Bailey wild ice skating in the Kananaskis
But you need to be careful!

From December through March, some of the giant lakes in the Kananaskis area will freeze over and they are incredible to wild ice skate on. 

Unfortunately, the timing of when you can do this really depends on luck. If the ice isn’t thick enough or is covered by snow, it can be really dangerous. 

The Spray Lakes Reservoir is a great option for ice skating when it freezes over but the Upper and Lower Kananaskis lakes have frozen enough in the past to enjoy! 

It is recommended that ice is 15 cm (6 inches) thick for walking or skating across alone and 20 cm (7.8 inches) for groups. The best way to test whether it’s safe is by measuring the thickness but you can also tell by the color of the ice. Blue ice is the strongest, white snow ice is only half as strong, and grey ice is not safe enough to walk or skate on. 

People who live in the area often just take ice skates out with them on hikes during these months so if they do come across a frozen lake, they are prepared for a skate if the conditions are suitable. This is a great idea for when you’re out and about as you do not want to miss the incredible feeling of ice skating on a frozen lake with the mountains in the background! 

If you’re not experienced in wild ice skating, only skate in places others are, and even then, have a rescue plan.

Related Read: For one of the best activities in Lake Louise in winter, grab your skates and head out on the picturesque Lake Louise itself!

23. Go dog sledding in Spray Lakes

two people are pulled in a dog sled near Canmore, Alberta
Look at us go! Thanks to Howling Dog Tours for snapping this awesome photo of us!

If you are looking for a truly unique and memorable experience, dog sledding should be on your list of things to do in the Kananaskis! It’s fast-paced, fun, and the best way to experience the winter wonderland in Kananaskis Country. 

The best way to go on this kind of adventure is through a tour. Howling Dog Tours offers some amazing sledding tours from Canmore. This is who I did my tour through while I was living in Canmore and I loved it. Choosing a great company is so important with any tour involving animals – their care is the most important part of the experience!

On the tour, we took a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) trail through Spray Lakes Provincial Park stopping halfway along the way to meet the dogs and play with them. Then after a hot chocolate, we made our way back. I was really sad to say goodbye to our crew!

Pricing starts at $270 CAD per person for a 2-hour tour and increases for a half-day tour. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so savor every moment of it!

24. Stay at Mount Engadine Lodge 

Mount Engadine Lodge room
Ahh a cozy cabin in the woods! Photo credit: Mount Engadine Lodge room

Mount Engadine Lodge is a true hidden gem, tucked away in the mountains in the heart of Kananaskis. 

Depending on the type of experience you want, you can choose from the main lodge, wood cabins, yurts, or glamping tents for a stay. Personally, the cabins here call my name! All meals are provided during a stay including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea! Book whatever accommodations you like online.

Its amazing location makes it a perfect base for all the things to do in Kananaskis or simply just to stay in the lodge and enjoy a relaxing vacation. 

The lodge is open all year round and is FAMOUS in the area for its incredible Sunday brunch! Every Sunday between 10 am and 1 pm, Mount Engadine Lodge hosts their Sunday brunch, and while the menu changes weekly, the food is always top quality and served with the view of the Rocky Mountains. 

25. Go camping

Bailey at the Lower Lake Campground - Peter Lougheed 
Bailey at the Lower Lake Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Experiencing the outdoors and camping under the stars is one of the best ways to enjoy Alberta. Despite most people flocking to either Banff or Canmore, there are plenty of other options to choose from and camping in Kananaskis is equally as beautiful and slightly less expensive! 

Lower Lake Campground – Peter Lougheed 

The Lower Lake Campground has 104 campsites in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, all covered with trees and some backing onto the Lower Lake. There are endless hiking, biking, and snowshoeing routes in the area to explore and the lakes both have boat launches if you’re visiting with a boat. 

If you are a fishing enthusiast, don’t forget to get a fishing license as both lakes have a large assortment of fish to catch, right by the campground. 

You will need to book in advance to stay at Lower Lake Campground and reservations are available up to 90 days in advance for standard camping and 180 days in advance for group camping. Rates are really affordable at $31 CAD nightly.

Canyon Creek Campground 

Canyon Creek Campground is located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park which is just as beautiful as the national parks in the area, except you won’t need to purchase an added park pass. 

The campground has 52 campsites that are a range of sizes, perfect for both RVs and tents. While the campground is unserviced, there are amenities like dry toilets, picnic tables, food storage, and a playground for children. 

This campground is also right next to Canyon Creek which has so many biking and hiking trails. Canyon Creek Campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis so it isn’t currently possible to reserve a spot online. Luckily, the ground doesn’t get too busy unless you are visiting in the height of summer. It’s also $31 CAD per night.

Bow Valley Campground 

My favorite place to camp in Bow Valley Provincial Park, the Bow Valley Campground has a range of different options. As it is located along Bow Valley, it has excellent views of the river and the mountains in the backdrop. The campground offers services such as canoe rental, bike rentals, a large playground, and a shower block. 

Prices start at $31 CAD a night for an unserviced camp space and $47 CAD for spaces with power and water. Bow Valley Campground is a reservation-only campsite so make sure you book online in advance

Kananaskis Interlakes Campground 

Although quite a bit smaller than other campgrounds in the area, Kananaskis Interlakes is one of the most popular campgrounds in the area. It only has 48 campsites but half of them back onto the Lower Lake meaning you can moor your boat right up to the shore right outside of your tent site. 

It also runs on a first-come, first-served system so you won’t be able to reserve a spot online in advance. Spots here are unserviced and go for $31 CAD nightly. Luckily there are plenty of campgrounds in the area so if you do show up and find it is full, there will be other places nearby. 

26. Bike Highwood Pass

Views along Highwood Pass, Kananaskis, Alberta
It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime highways!

Highwood Pass is 2,206 meters (7,237 feet) above sea level, making it the highest paved road in the whole of Canada!

For many cycling fanatics, Highwood Pass is a dream ride but even if you aren’t a cycling fan, Highwood Pass is still a beautiful drive.

The best starting point is the gate nearest Longview where you would bike the 37 km (23 miles) to Highwood Pass and then continue the 17 km (10.5 miles) down to the gate by King Creek. If you are a confident cyclist it is possible to do the ride back as well but it is a steep incline and a long day. 

The best time to bike the Highwood Pass is right at the beginning of summer during the three weeks that the snow has melted and the pass is open for cyclists but not yet cars. You will see a lot of cyclists during this period but there is so much space and you can enjoy the freedom of a car-free journey! 

Don’t worry about trying to visit during these three weeks as The Highwood Pass is still a great cycle spot when the road is open to cars as the hard shoulder is wide enough to feel safe on a bike. It is worth noting that the Highwood Pass is closed during the winter months. 

27. Hike to the Mist Mountain Hot Springs

Mist Mountain is one of the largest mountains in the Kananaskis and is one of the most popular to hike – plus you’ll be rewarded with one of the best natural hot springs I’ve been to! There are several ways to get up, but one of the easiest ways is up the east ridge on the mountain’s south face. 

I must say, it’s quite a difficult hike along this trail at around 10 km (6.2 miles) and takes anywhere from 4-7 hours to complete. You can find the trailhead here where you start the climb up to the top of Nameless Ridge. We loved the lookout spot and stopped for a breather before continuing the climb up the south face to the summit.

One of the highlights of this hike is the natural hot springs! Some people choose to enjoy the hot springs on the way down as a relaxation reward after the climb. If you want to avoid the crowds and having to wait in line for a dip, I recommend sneaking in a visit on the way up. 

The two pools on the mountain slope used to be a hidden gem but now they get really busy and being so small you can only fit two to three people in at a time! The hot springs do have amazing views and are a bucket list kind of activity but you might want to slightly lower your expectations as they are likely smaller than you might imagine and are more warm springs than hot springs! 

Sunrise is ultimately the best time to visit as there will be far fewer people and what can be better than soaking in a hot spring on the side of a mountain watching the sun come up! 

Unfortunately, the trail and hot springs do close in winter due to the weather so if Mist Mountain is high up your list, you will need to plan the timing of your trip accordingly.

28. Check out Troll Falls

the frozen Troll Falls in the Kananaskis in the winter near Canmore
Trolls Falls is so cool in the winter!

Troll Falls is one of my must-do activities in Kananaskis no matter the season! The Troll Falls hike is one of the easiest and most family-friendly hikes in the area, which means it is crazy popular and well-marked, perfect for a group or solo trip.

From the parking lot, it is a short walk into the aspen forest where you can see an assortment of tipis made from fallen trees which are fun for children to play in. 

Following along from this you will see some lookouts over the mountains and an adorable bridge to walk over. 

The hike itself is only 1.7 km (1 mile) and towards the end, you will come across my favorite part of the walk, Troll Falls Waterfall. The huge rock wall has an impressive waterfall flowing down it which often freezes in winter, which is a dramatic sight. They have recently built fences around the waterfall as rocks can sometimes tumble over so stay behind these when viewing. 

Further along from Troll Falls, you will reach Marmot Falls which looks similar, but you can actually follow the walkway along and walk behind the waterfall if it’s not too icy! Be sure to bring ice cleats or spikes if you do trek this hike in the winter, it can get slippery.

Related Read: If you’re driving from Calgary to Canmore to enjoy the Kananaskis, you can stop at Troll Falls along the way!

29. Go skiing at Nakiska 

The Nakiska Ski Field near Canmore Alberta
Beautiful day on the slopes just after the ski field opened for the year!

Nakiska Ski Area is located in the Kananaskis Valley. It’s a full-size ski resort with a 735-meter (2,411-foot) verticle descent and its longest run is a whopping 3.3 kilometers (2 miles). There are 64 trails with 4 chairlifts and a fun tube park too.

I ski and Dan snowboards, and we love hitting the slopes. In fact, we moved to Canmore one winter purely for all the cold weather fun to be had.

Nakiska is a very popular ski resort and one of the cheaper resorts in the Rocky Mountains. Because of this, I try to visit Nakiska during the week to avoid crowds.

Adult lift tickets are around $100 – $130 CAD a day, but I highly recommend booking online for discounts. If you book more than two weeks in advance, you can get discounts of up to 20%!

Related Read: If you’re heading to this part of Alberta purely for winter fun, check out all the best places to stay near Banff for skiing!

30. Enjoy a meal at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Forte Restaurant Kanaskis Mountain Lodge
Photo credit: Kananaskis Mountain Lodge
Blacktail Bar at the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge
Photo credit: Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

If you are looking for some amazing food during your stay in Kananaskis, the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge has six incredible dining options to pick from. 

If you fancy some beer, a game of pool, and some homemade burgers in a log cabin-style setting, Woody’s Pub & Patio is a great laidback option. 

For a fine-dining seasonal menu option, Cedar Room makes for a romantic evening followed by the next-door Blacktail Bar for some premium quality craft cocktails. 

Market Cafe serves some amazing grab-and-go style lunches, perfect for taking out on a hike or for a quick pastry breakfast and fresh coffee. Conversely, for another breakfast option, Forte is an Italian-style eatery in the lodge that specializes in handmade pizzas and has an incredible breakfast!

31. Visit Goat Pond 

Goat Pond in the Kananaskis
It’s even stunning in winter!

Kananaskis has so many beautiful lakes to visit but one that is often less talked about is Goat Pond. Not only is Goat Pond a stunning photo spot, but it is also perfect for watersports! 

Its shallow waters and easy access mean you will not have to struggle to lug your canoe or kayak in the water.

The mountains in the background and calm waters make this an ideal SUPing location. It’s just so peaceful!

32. Hike West Wind Pass 

West wind pass trail in the Kananaskis
West Wind Pass trail in the Kananaskis

The West Wind Pass is a popular mountain hike that’s not far from Canmore. As you can tell from the name, it can be a seriously windy walk so don’t forget to dress for the elements and bring a warm windbreaker and a secure hat! 

It’s a 4.7 km (3 mile) hike that takes roughly 2-3 hours to complete. While it is quite windy, it’s still dog and family-friendly. This hike has amazing views of Spray Lakes, Pigeon Peak, Wind Tower, and Rimwall Mountain. The route is clearly marked with flags and signs but never gets too crowded.

You will need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to complete this hike and the best place to park if you are driving yourself to the trailhead is in the pullout west of Spurling Creek. It is likely you will see a lot of others parked here for the hike. 

If you are planning on doing the hike in winter, check for weather warnings as it often closes and you might want to bring spiked shoes as the ice gets slippery. 

33. Go cross-country skiing 

Cross country skiing in Canada
It’s a great workout!

Many people visit the Kananaskis for its amazing cross-country skiing, but it is fairly unknown to anyone outside of Alberta!

Kananaskis gets great snow and has beautiful scenic winter trails. If you are a confident skier, some of the most popular cross-country skiing areas include.

Goat Creek to Banff Springs

This is one of the most popular cross-country skiing routes in the area, but that does not mean it’s an easy one. The trip itself takes between 3-5 hours and you will need to arrange transport back as it’s unlikely you will want to ski back again on the same day. But after completing this trip, you can officially say that you have skied from Canmore to Banff (kind of). 

West Bragg Creek 

West Bragg Creek has around 60 km (37 miles) of snowy ski trails during most of November through March. This option is more beginner-friendly than Goat Creek to Banff Springs and is part of the Kananaskis County Trails System. 

Mt Shark 

Mt Shark is known for having great snow and cross-country ski trails for a range of difficulties. Make sure to check the conditions here before going as there are regular warnings for cross-country skiers. 

If you haven’t skied before or want to improve your skills, I would recommend booking a cross-country ski lesson so you can go explore trails with some more confidence. This lesson, in particular, starts from $200 CAD for a two-hour lesson and will help to teach you all the basics you need to feel happy to go off on your own after.  

This tour is available from December through March (as you need snow for this activity) so check the dates available and reserve your spot in advance here.

About the Kananaskis 

Stunning view of the road through the Kananaskis in Alberta, Canada
The Kananaskis is stunning!

The Kananaskis region is the park system below the Canadian Rockies. It has also been a dedicated protected area since 1978 in order to preserve nature and allow both locals and visitors to enjoy the wilderness and activities within the parks. 

Kananaskis Country is bordered by both Canmore and Banff National Parks and is made up of five provincial parks and four wildland provincial parks.

While it’s definitely an escape from city life, you can still find all you might need for a trip nearby. We like stopping in Kananaskis Village where you can find most of the hotels in the area and you can rent any gear you might need for your adventures! 

It’s important to note that you will need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass for your stay, which you can either purchase daily or for the year. You will need this for all vehicles parked in the park and public land sites in Kananaskis County and the Bow Valley. The passes can be easily purchased online for $15 CAD per day (1 vehicle) or $90 CAD per year (up to 2 vehicles). 

If you would rather buy your pass in person, it can be purchased at either the Peter Lougheed Park Discovery and Information Centre, the Kananaskis Visitor Information Centre at Barrier Lake, or some of the other visitor centers in the area. 

Where to Stay in the Kananaskis 

Crosswaters Resort Kananaskis room
Photo credit: Crosswaters Resort Kananaskis room

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge – $$$

If you are looking for luxury accommodation options for your stay in Kananaskis, you’re going to want to check out Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. Not only is it conveniently located for all of the things to do on this list but it is an absolutely beautiful lodge! With five restaurants, a Nordic spa, an indoor pool, and a stunning resort area to stroll around, you will never want to leave. 

Prices range from around $375 to $600 CAD, depending gon the time of year you visit. Book a room at the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge here!

Crosswaters Resort – $$

The Crosswaters Resort is a three-star stay in Kananaskis is the perfect accommodation option for the whole family. There’s so much to do in the area including skiing, a spa day, and even their indoor waterpark located inside the resort. 

The resort is home to a fitness center, four different dining options, and a bar. A real perk is the staff here who happily arrange activities like canoeing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, ski schools, and a trip to the nordic spa which is nearby. 

Check availability at the Crosswaters Resort and book a stay now.

Sundance Lodges – $

Sundance Lodges is the perfect “fancy” camping area in Kananaskis. While you will need to bring your own bedding and supplies, they provide either a tipi, a trappers tent, or a camping spot for you to sleep as well as hot showers and flushable toilets.

On-site, Sundance has a trading post where you can purchase groceries, gifts, and fresh coffee (I need my caffeine while camping!) every morning. Sundance Lodge is very well connected, close to Nakiska Ski Resort, and a short drive away from both Banff and Calgary.

Prices start at $103 CAD. Book your glamping experience here!

William Watson Lodge – $

If someone in your group has a disability or is elderly, William Watson Lodge provides the best accessible accommodation option in the Kananaskis. 

It’s located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, on Lower Kananaskis Lake, and has endless outdoor activities suitable for a wide array of abilities. 

This lodge is open all year round with no barriers, so while it’s based in the wilderness, it is cleverly designed to be an accessible spot. William Watson allows a group to rent the lodges meaning if one member of the group can prove their eligibility, everyone can stay. 

You can check prices and book your stay here.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey camping in the Kananaskis
Thanks for reading and see you out there!

There you have it, our top things to do while exploring the Kananaskis. This area is SO beautiful. Honestly seeing it in person, you’ll totally understand why we moved nearby. And I promise you won’t run out of things to do!

If you’re in the midst of planning an Alberta getaway, I hope this list has helped you. Make sure to check out our other Canada blogs for additional ideas, tips, and inspiration for your trip. Or check out some of these popular blogs below:

15 Things to KNOW Before Visiting the Athabasca Glacier & Columbia Icefield 

ULTIMATE Guide to Enjoying the Christmas Season in Banff, Alberta

15 BEST Stops on the Drive from Jasper to Banff