Calgary’s prime location in the heart of Alberta provides easy access to a wealth of diverse destinations. Whether you crave the tranquility of nature, the thrill of adventure, or cultural exploration, there are plenty of nearby attractions that come alive in the summer months. Here are some must-visit places near Calgary that make for perfect summer getaways.
Places to visit near Calgary in Summer
Banff National Park
Just a short 90-minute drive from Calgary, Banff National Park is a jewel in the crown of Canada’s park system. Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, it offers breathtaking views, diverse wildlife, and a wide range of activities. In summer, enjoy hiking, canoeing, and wildlife spotting, or explore the charming town of Banff, with its quaint shops, restaurants, and museums.
Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, is renowned for its vibrant turquoise waters, a result of glacial and rock runoff. Visitors can rent a canoe for an unforgettable paddling experience or explore the extensive hiking trails around the lake. The Lake Louise Gondola is a summer must-do, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and potential wildlife sightings.
Situated less than an hour from Calgary, Canmore is a lively town that serves as a gateway to the Canadian Rockies. Its beautiful downtown area is filled with unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Summer activities in Canmore include mountain biking, hiking, golfing, and rock climbing. Don’t forget to visit the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park for its extensive trail system.
Drumheller, also known as the Dinosaur Capital of the World, is a two-hour drive east of Calgary. The town offers an exciting journey back in time with its world-class Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, where you can see impressive dinosaur exhibits. Explore the Drumheller Hoodoos, unusual rock formations that are a must-see, and take a walk across the Rosedale Suspension Bridge for a dose of thrill.
Kananaskis Country, a park system situated to the west of Calgary, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. In summer, enjoy camping, fishing, horseback riding, or explore the area’s numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. The area’s beauty and tranquility make it a perfect escape from the city.
Heritage Park Historical Village
Located in Calgary itself, Heritage Park Historical Village is a must-visit for history buffs. This living history museum offers a glimpse into life in Alberta from the 1860s to the 1950s. In summer, the park comes alive with historical reenactments, antique midway rides, and old-fashioned candy stores.
Waterton Lakes National Park
A three-hour drive south of Calgary, Waterton Lakes National Park is where the prairies meet the mountains. It’s less crowded than Banff, offering a peaceful retreat. Visitors can enjoy hiking, boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Don’t miss the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, which offers stunning views of the park.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Located about two and a half hours southeast of Calgary, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its striking badland landscapes and rich deposits of dinosaur fossils. Summer is the perfect time to explore the park’s hiking trails, take a guided tour, or even participate in a genuine dinosaur dig.
The Columbia Icefield is a massive icefield located on the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks. The highlight of a visit is a ride on the Ice Explorer, a special vehicle that takes visitors onto the Athabasca Glacier. The Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored observation platform, offers a unique view of the Sunwapta Valley below.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
A two-hour drive south of Calgary, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the world’s oldest, largest, and best-preserved buffalo jumps. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this area was used by indigenous peoples for nearly 6,000 years. The interpretive center provides a fascinating look into their way of life.
Jasper National Park
Though a longer drive from Calgary, Jasper National Park is worth the trip. Less crowded than Banff, Jasper offers stunning natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and a vast array of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing. Don’t miss the Maligne Lake and the mesmerizing Spirit Island.
Crowsnest Pass, located in the southern Canadian Rockies, is a collection of five small towns each with their own unique attractions. Visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to learn about Canada’s deadliest rockslide, explore Leitch Collieries, a historic coal mine, or take a scenic hike along the Crowsnest Community Trail.
About an hour and a half drive north of Calgary, Sylvan Lake is a popular summer destination. Known for its 15-kilometer long freshwater lake, it’s a haven for water sports. Enjoy activities like swimming, boating, jet-skiing, or simply relaxing on the sandy beach. The lakeside town also offers golfing, shopping, and dining options.
Yoho National Park
Located in the Canadian Rockies, Yoho National Park is a lesser-known gem filled with waterfalls, glaciers, and high peaks. It offers excellent hiking trails, including the one leading to the stunning Emerald Lake. The park is also home to the Burgess Shale fossil site, one of the most important fossil sites in the world.
The areas surrounding Calgary offer a wealth of diverse attractions and activities, perfect for summer exploration. From the awe-inspiring beauty of national parks and historical insights of heritage sites to the thrill of adventure sports and the tranquility of lakes, there’s something for everyone. So pack your bags, hit the road, and make the most of the summer season with these unforgettable escapes near Calgary.
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