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Where to Do Almost Every Winter Sport In and Around Calgary

One of Calgary’s biggest selling points is how close it is to the mountains. Thanks to that, we have the possibility to do just about every type of winter activity we can think of within 150 kilometres of the city.

These are our favourite spots nearby to do nearly every winter sport this year.

Skating at Bowness Park Lagoon

If there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that skating is the official sport of winter. Classic spots like Olympic Plaza never fail to please, but try straying a little further out of downtown this year. Bowness Park’s Lagoon is not only the city’s most Insta-worthy skate spot, it’s also hands down one of the most fun, too!

Location: 8900 48 Ave. NW
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 15 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 1 to 3 hours

Sledding at Prairie Winds Park

Thrilling, cheap and no experience necessary — you definitely don’t need to be a kid to get your butt on a saucer and hurl yourself down a snowy hill. Sledding never gets old, even when you do!

This can obviously be done on just about any hill you set your sights on, although the one at Prairie Winds Park is the real winner. This is one of Calgary’s steeper hills, so you’ll get way more excitement than you would on your friendly neighbourhood “hill.”

Location: 223 Castleridge Boulevard
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 16 km
Approximate time needed including driving: 1 to 3 hours

Fat Biking in West Bragg Creek

This sport has gained some serious popularity in the last few years; it’s no surprise that bike lovers would want to keep their passion alive in the winter months. Even if you aren’t a regular biker, get in on this craze! Beyond being a wicked workout, this is a fun way to explore the outdoors this season. The best fat biking near the city is definitely in West Bragg Creek, where you’ll find a big parking lot, dedicated trails and tons of variety.

Location: End of West Bragg Creek Rd
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 54 km
Trail distances: Varied based on trail
Approximate time needed including drive: 3 to 7 hours

Winter Camping at Quaite Valley

This might not be something to partake in if you can hardly stepping outside the house in -10 C, but those who can are sure to have a great experience. A short and pretty easy hike will take you up to this campground, where you’ll have plenty of sites to choose from. Build a fire, sip on some hot chocolate and get ready for an oddly cozy, albeit chilly, night in your sleeping bag.

Location: Branched off from Heart Creek Trail, turn off Highway 1 on Range Rd 91A to Heart Mountain Parking Lot
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 85 km
Trail distance (roundtrip): 9 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 3 to 3.5 hours of activity, plus overnight camp
Price: $12 per person, per night; purchase here.

Cross Country Skiing at The Canmore Nordic Centre

This winter, work up a serious sweat with this full body workout. Just an hour out of the city, we’re lucky enough to have the Canmore Nordic Centre, an Olympic level facility. There are trails for beginners and experts alike, so there’s no excuse to not get out here!

Location: In Canmore on the Three Sisters Parkway
Trail distance: Over 65 km of Groomed trails
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 105 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 4 to 7 hours
Price: $15 Adult Day Pass

Dog Sledding at Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours

Assuming you don’t have six or so huskies kicking around, you’ll need to book dog sledding with a company. Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours is just the place to do that. Whether this is actually a sport or just a one-of-a-kind experience is completely up to you. You’ll get to choose if you just want to do a tour or actually guide your own sled. Both are unbelievably cool experiences, but it just feels more impressive when you do the driving yourself.

Location: 829 10 St., Canmore
Distance from Calgary: 106 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 4 to 10 hours

Ice Climbing at the JunkYards

Thrill seekers, get your ice picks out because this is the sport for you. Definitely not made for the faint of heart, Ice Climbing is not too different from rock climbing, but feels so much cooler with all the tools you use. The Junkyards is the perfect area in Canmore for those who are just wanting to try this out for the first time. This is another activity that you absolutely shouldn’t wing, it’s best to find a friend who can show you the ropes – pun definitely intended – or take a course with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.

Location: At Grassi Lakes just off the Three Sisters Parkway in Canmore, take the lower trail towards the hydro plant
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 108 km
Trail distance (roundtrip from parking lot): 2.5 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 4 to 8 hours

Ice Fishing on Spray Lakes Reservoir

Think completely outside the box with this unique activity. Ice Fishing is much less common than most of the other activities on this list, but it might just be the most rewarding one – assuming you catch a fish, that is. You’ll also get lots of quality time with your friends or family. We’d suggest heading to Spray Lakes where you’re almost certain to have a catch. If you’ve never gone, Ice Fishing is best done with a seasoned pro. Try a tour like the ones lead by Banff Fishing Unlimited.

Location: In the middle of Smith Dorien Trail – accessible through Canmore or Kananaskis.
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 130 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 8 to 11 hours
Permits: Alberta Sports Fishing Licence, $28.00 annually; purchase here.

Snowshoeing at Chester Lake

Straight up hiking in the snow can be a struggle. Even if the snow has been kind of packed down and you’ve got your microspikes, you’ll likely spend half the time falling through the ice crust, if there even is one in the first place. So, you’ll end up with a shoe full of melted snow and soaked legs. Grab some snowshoes and set out to Chester lake where you’ll get great trail and incredible views.

Location: In the middle of Smith Dorien Trail – accessible through Canmore or Kananaskis.
Trail distance (roundtrip from parking lot): 10 km
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 147 km
Approximate time needed including drive: 7 to 9 hours

Ice walking at Johnston Canyon

For those of us that are less extreme, there’s still potential to make use of the ice this winter! Johnston Canyon, the tourist-ridden summer walk makes for an awesome ice walking path in the colder months. Microspikes are non-negotiable for this sport unless you enjoy getting absolutely nowhere as you go uphill. Here, you’ll be rewarded with wicked views of the frozen waterfalls and potentially a nice show of ice climbers doing their thing.

Location: On the Bow Valley Parkway, about 17 km from Highway 1
Distance from Downtown Calgary: 150 km
Trail distance (roundtrip): 5.4 km to Upper Falls
Approximate time needed including drive: 3.5 to 4.5 hours

Thinking about taking a road trip this weekend? Here’s our insider’s A to Z guide to Montana to help plan your trip.

By Michelle Pijanowski