As the summer winds down and we get into the fall, it’s still a great time to venture outside of the city. Calgary is a lively place, but when you set your sights outside of its borders, you’ll discover another side of Alberta that is distinctly different from your day-to-day life in the city.
Not to mention that road trips are a lot of fun. There’s an inherent sense of adventure when you pack a knapsack or small bag and drive to a new or favourite destination. If you travel this year, remember to take any COVID-19 restrictions into consideration. Follow social distancing rules, but don’t be afraid to have a good time.
9 road trip destinations near Calgary
Here are nine of the best road trip destinations for seniors close to Calgary.
Although it’s less than two hours outside of Calgary, Kootenay National Park is actually in Southern B.C. The first attraction that will take your breath away is the Rockies. There’s a 100 km stretch through the mountains where you’ll encounter wildlife like goats, sheep, and elks. The ever-changing landscape includes hanging glaciers and forested valleys. Two must-do’s at Kootenay: the first is Hot Pots, which is a cold mineral spring that is a tinted orange colour. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. The second and most popular attraction is the Radium Hot Springs. It’s a natural pool heated by the earth’s crust. Immerse yourself and feel the warmth cover your body.
Drive time: 1 hr 45 mins
Highwood is the most elevated mountain highway in all of Canada. So, if all you did is drive through the pass with your camera, the trip would be worth the drive (if you can catch the sunrise or sunset, even better). But there are activities within Highwood that make it a perfect day trip. Camping grounds, casual and challenging hikes, or if you’re feeling a bit fancy, there’s a Nordic Spa at the ski resort. Highwood is closed from December till June, so it’s literally a summer and fall destination.
Drive time: 1 hr 40 mins
If you want a unique experience while visiting Aspen Crossing, you have to take one of the train tours. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour ride that leaves at 7 p.m. daily. There are different versions of the tour, including a Roaring Twenties theme (adults only), a Fun in the Field theme that’s more family friendly, and others including High Tea and a Champagne Brunch. If you can’t book a train ride but still want to visit Aspen Crossing, try staying at a campsite. They’re fully equipped with coin showers, flush toilets, and a full staff to help you feel welcomed.
Drive time: 1 hr
Have you really enjoyed life until you’ve climbed into the mouth of the biggest dinosaur in the world? Well, that’s just one experience you’ll remember when you visit Drumheller, where Dinosaur Trail is located. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a national treasure and filled with exhibitions and programs dedicated to our extinct friends. Even if dinosaurs aren’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from visiting Dinosaur Trail. The scenery is gorgeous and not only are there hiking trails ranging in difficulty, but you can also view Drumheller from a helicopter tour.
Drive time: 1 hr 40 mins
Once the gondola lifts you to the top of the Sulphur Mountain Summit, your adventure in Banff Gondola begins. You may need a meal to get you ready for your stroll along the boardwalk. Book at table at Sky Bistro for an elegant meal surrounded by views of the mountains and lush nature scenes. Throughout the summer, you can also visit the Peak Patio every evening for a local craft beer and Canadian-inspired barbecue, while listening to live music. It’s as mesmerizing as it sounds. There are heavy lineups on weekends, so try going during the week, if possible.
Drive time: 1 hr 30 mins
There’s really only one reason to escape to Kananaskis Spa: rest and relaxation. It’s a 50,000 square foot outdoor and indoor facility designed for an almost meditative experience. There are hot and cold pools, saunas, massages, hammocks; pretty much everything you need to feel pampered and revitalized. You can manage all the booking online and they’ve reopened couples massages and hydrotherapy sessions in case you want to treat your partner. When you’re ready to spoil yourself, make this the treat. It’s worth the trip.
Drive time: 1 hr 10 mins
Well, with a name like this, how can you not visit? First thing to know is that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dedicated to the preservation of 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo history and the culture of the Plains People. There are family friendly tours available, which means the grandkids are welcome. Outdoor tours are about 45 minutes, while indoor tours are about an hour and a half. Keep in mind that for at least the rest of the summer, you’ll be guiding yourself on these tours. To comply with safety regulations, there will be staff there to assist in limited capacity.
Drive time: 2 hrs
This road trip is more geared towards anyone who appreciates or is curious about history. You’ll take part in activities that reflect Métis skill in the fur trade, play Indigenous games, and if you’re up for it, camp overnight at a heritage camping site where trapper’s tents and tipis will be your walls. The Rocky Mountain House is only open till September every year, so plan your trip today.
Drive time: 2 hrs
We’ve given you land trips and even a chance for a helicopter ride, so it’s only right we take you on a cruise through what is Banff’s largest lake. The cruise only lasts about an hour, but you’ll experience so much it will feel like you’ve ventured across the seas. Watch out for wildlife and nature, and learn about Indigenous culture. The other cool part about Lake Minnewanka is that when it freezes over in the winter, you can take your grandkids ice skating. Cruises are only active until October or until the weather makes it impossible.
Drive time: 1 hr 30 mins
Looking for more things to do in your city? Read our article on the best farmers’ markets around Calgary and Rocketman’s article on the best day trips from Toronto on transit.
Explore your adventurous side
Staying within your own province may not sound adventurous, but any new experience can be an adventure. A road trip from Calgary is a perfect way to spend your day, stay active, and take part in activities you may not even know you enjoyed.
Exploring your adventurous side is also possible with Boomerang. With Boomerang, older adults can register for over 250+ online workshops a month in areas of their interest.
Join a fitness and recreation workshop, learn about nutrition, or get active in virtual pilates and fitness classes. Our online workshops are led by passionate hosts to help you explore your interests.