5 Classic Fall Adventures in the Alberta Rockies

From surfing the Kananaskis River to biking the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff, there’s plenty to do in the mountains in the fall.

Sightseeing

Lake Louise, 
Banff National Park

Photograph by @twheat/Travel Alberta

There’s a reason packed parking lots are no rare site in Lake Louise. From mountain-flanked turquoise waters, to the possibility of catching a glimpse of the area’s Grizzly population from aboard the Summer Gondola, Lake Louise is a definitive awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies destination, whether seen for the first time or as a frequent visitor.

 

River Surfing

Kananaskis River, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Photograph by Victoria Wakefield @hike365/Travel Alberta

The Kananaskis River is home to one of North America’s premier river-surfing spots — Surf Anywhere’s man-made Mountain Wave. While definitely not recommended for beginners (Calgary’s 10th Street Bridge is a great place to conquer fundamentals), experienced surfers can take advantage of The Mountain Wave’s alpine flow adjacent to the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre.

Looking to learn to river surf? Outlier Surf offers lessons locally in Calgary. outliersurf.com

 

Exploring

Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

Photograph by miroslav_1/istock

Johnston Canyon’s mellow grade makes it a perfect trail to explore with the kids in tow, offering waterfall views from catwalks at the lower and upper falls. From the upper falls, continue another 3.1 kilometres to the Ink Pots — seven bubbling mineral springs in a meadow bordered by mountains. Note that Bow Valley Parkway is currently closed to cars except for those with confirmed reservations at the Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows, so you’ll need to walk, bike or book to get to the canyon trailhead.

 

Hiking

Pocaterra Ridge, Kananaskis Country

Photograph by AV Wakefield @viktorianorth/Travel Alberta

A hike at Pocaterra Ridge delivers a view that’s well worth the burn. Departing from Pocaterra Ridge parking lot, the ascent is made more beautiful in the fall as the larch trees along the trail turn brilliant yellow. This hike is no secret, so head out early or midweek to avoid traffic on the trail. Leashed dogs are allowed here.

 

Biking

Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail, Canmore to Banff

Photograph by John Gibson/Government of Alberta

More than 26 km of paved pathway connects Banff and Canmore on the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail. The trail runs from Canmore’s Travel Alberta Visitor Centre to the Bow Valley Parkway with rolling terrain, making it a demanding enough ride to break a sweat, but manageable enough to bring the kids along.

Want more suggestions for the best things to do in Calgary and the mountains? Sign up for our Weekender Newsletter.

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