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Five Free Family Friendly Outdoor Getaways

With the snow melting and spring around the corner, it’s time to get out of hibernation and enjoy the outdoors. Going out to see the mountains is often associated with driving out to Banff and paying for a pass and having a fancy lunch, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s remember that nature is free entertainment and good for the soul. Here are simple walks and beautiful trails inside Calgary and our surrounding outskirts.
1)    Fish Creek Provincial Park
Right here in Calgary, Fish Creek Park is often described as one of Calgary’s hidden gems. It is a gigantic, well maintained park filled with an extensive pathway system running along the bow river, the occasional bench, and various picnic spots with fire pits. Bring the kids here and let them explore nature, you won’t feel like you are in Calgary.
For those interested, you can sign up with the Friends of Fish Creek Society and join their events, including their Star Night on April 16th.
2)    Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
With a similar feel to Fish Creek, the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is a 40 minute drive outside of Calgary close to Cochrane, just far enough for the kids to ask, “Are we there yet?” It is a relatively new park that has been developed as a nature hideaway, filled with a variety of looping trails and beautiful scenery. The visitor centre provides maps to help you navigate through the windy paths.
3)    Grotto Canyon
Less touristy than the popular Johnston Canyon, Grotto Canyon is closer and only a one hour drive away from Calgary. This family outdoor adventure will bring you behind a power plant and then into a narrow canyon leading up to a frozen waterfall (season dependent) and scenic mountain views. Your kids will enjoy walking over each small boulder to get there. Being in the canyon can get windy, so dress appropriately and bring sturdy shoes with ankle support.
4)    Grassi Lakes
Named after nature explorer Lawrence Grassi, this magnificent turquoise coloured lake is only a 25-40 minute easy hike from the parking lot entrance. It is situated a five minute drive away from Canmore’s town centre. Enjoy the scenic drive out to the mountains with the family, pack a lunch and eat it while throwing stones into the magical waters of the Grassi Lakes or while sitting in one of the small caves by the lake. Be cautious of the ice on the trails, bring a walking stick or well gripped shoes/ice cleats if you’ve got them.
5)    Elbow Falls
If you’ve watched Leonardo DiCaprio in the award winning film The Revenant and want to experience similar scenery from where it was filmed, then heading out to Elbow Falls in the Kananaskis area might be a good choice for a day trip. A 45 minute drive from Calgary and located by the town of Bragg Creek, this is a popular getaway for families. Have a picnic, view the large waterfall and wander about. Unlike Leonardo, you hopefully won’t need to worry about bears attacking you if you stick to the main path.

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