Staff Picks: Mountain Activities Near Calgary

From spring skiing to hiking Ptarmigan Cirque, these are some mountain experiences near Calgary that Avenue’s editors enjoy.

Photograph by stockstudioX, courtesy of Canva.

Spring Skiing

The Alberta Rockies are blessed with a super-long ski season: you can hit the slopes well into April at Nakiska and Norquay. Lake Louise is anticipating staying open through May 8 this year. And Sunshine Village famously stays open through the May long weekend. I’ve been spring skiing in the Rockies since I was a kid (my very first time on downhill skis was on a spring-break trip to Sunshine Village when I was eight years old) and I’ve grown to really appreciate it over the years. The air is warm, the snow is soft and the time-change makes for the most amazing sunny après-ski patio sessions. There’s basically a whole second season of spring skiing around these parts — Sunshine Village and Lake Louise even offer spring passes that are valid from now through the end of their seasons. You may feel weird packing up your skis or your snowboard in Calgary while people are walking around in shorts and flip-flops, but once you get out to the mountains it all makes sense. — Shelley Arnusch, editor-in-chief


Shopping at Hello Vintage

On a recent trip to Canmore, I stumbled upon this trendy-yet-eclectic store, Hello Vintage, and fell in love with the variety of wares from every decade. The storefront is deceivingly small because when you step inside, the shop stretches vertically for what feels like miles, offering ample space for racks upon racks of garments, accessories and even nostalgic decor (like the plush, floral-patterned brown couch in front of the change rooms) in every corner. Even though my visit was quick, I quickly fell in love with a pair of thigh-high cowboy boots tucked away at the back of the store near a section of western wear and leather goods. Unfortunately, they weren’t my size. But my dogs and I (the shop is dog-friendly) will definitely go back soon to this hidden gem in downtown Canmore. — Tsering Asha, assistant editor

Hello Vintage, 100, 717 10 St., Canmore, 403-675-9995,


Hiking Ptarmigan Cirque

Wildflower-filled alpine meadow? Check. Waterfalls cascading through said meadow? Check. Sweeping mountain vistas? Check. Ptmarigan Cirque, a 4.5-kilometre trail in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, offers a huge payoff for a moderate output. As such, it’s one of my favourite hikes in the Rockies, and the one I love to bring out-of-town visitors to. First, the drive to the trailhead on Highway 40 is spectacular and takes you through the Highwood Pass, the highest paved pass in the country. Once on the trail, the initial ascent gets your heart pumping, as you take on some relatively steep switchbacks. But then, the trees of the subalpine forest you’ve been climbing through break, and you enter the alpine meadow set within the bowl-shaped cirque for a leisurely loop. Pack a lunch and pick a spot among the wildflowers to enjoy it — a hike that takes around two hours turns into an entire afternoon in the most epic of settings. — Dominique Lamberton, managing editor


Guided Dog Sled Tour

Looking for a special, memorable way to experience the mountains, my family decided to try a guided dog sledding tour this past winter. Howling Dog Tours in Canmore offers two-hour tours from December to April and half-day tours from January to March. The two-hour tour was just right for my family, taking us on a picturesque five-kilometre journey, complete with a hot chocolate and cookie pit stop at the halfway mark. Tucked under sled blankets as you glide through Spray Lakes Provincial Park, the experience is equal parts peaceful and thrilling. While you can just sit back in the sled and enjoy the ride, those who want to be more involved can also try driving the sled with a Howling Dog guide, interact with the dogs throughout the experience and help feed the dogs at the end. — Alana Willerton, senior digital editor

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

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Abby Parker

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