Image courtesy of Travel Alberta
The Nature of the City
There are several areas in the city where you can go on a nice little nature walk. Fish Creek Provincial Park is a 20-kilometre stretch of protected natural area running through south Calgary from the Tsuu T’ina Nation to the Bow River. Over on the city’s western edge, Weaselhead Flats is a treed natural area on the Elbow River delta with a web of interpretive pathways. It’s also a good bet for wildlife spotting – everything from birds to black bears are known to hang out there. And the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre is located just east of downtown on the banks of the Bow River. The Sanctuary’s 36 hectares of trails were hit hard by the 2013 flood and will remain closed through 2014. However, the Nature Centre and the area around it are open, offering information on local birds and the best spots to watch them.
Float the Bow
Drifting through the heart of the city on an inflatable raft is Calgary’s version of beach culture. Take it seriously, though – navigating the robust currents on the Bow River requires a capable captain. The University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre is a great resource for inflatable watercraft and life-preservers (all rafters must wear them, or get hauled off the river by police patrols). Put in at Bowness Park and get out at the 12th Street Bridge by the Zoo. If you don’t have a second car to leave at the end point, hop on the westbound No. 1 bus, which stops at 12th Street S.E. and 9th Avenue and runs all the way back into Bowness.
Frisbee Plus Golf Equals Fun
Disc golf combines the laid-back, social vibe of tossing around a Frisbee with the challenge and structure of golf, without the expensive course fees. You’ll need specialty golf discs to play (Lifesport in Kensington has a good selection). Once you’re equipped, try your hand at one of the city’s public disc-golf courses. Ward 9 City Councillor and avid disc-golf player Gian-Carlo Carra recommends the nine-basket course set up at Forest Lawn Athletic Park on 52nd Street S.E. at 14 Avenue, or the new 18-basket course at Baker Park, located just east of Stoney Trail beside the Bow River in the northwest.
Grillin’ and Chillin’
Why is it that a hot dog cooked on one of those little grill boxes you see in public parks tastes so much better? Probably a combination of good company, good vibes and the crazy appetite you can work up playing Frisbee. On beautiful days, however, you’ll be going home with cold wieners if you don’t reserve your barbecue stand in advance, particularly in hot spots like Edworthy Park. It’s super-easy to do – go to the City of Calgary website and search “parks with picnic sites” for a list of locations available for booking. Then, once you’ve made your selection, call 403-268-3800 (option 2) to lock it down.