The drive west out of Calgary to Kananaskis Valley is a quiet one. The TransCanada highway makes its way across the Prairie province and the flat lands on either side are exactly as you might expect, but just ahead of your arrival in Kananaskis Valley things change.
Gorgeous forests and statuesque mountains appear seemingly out of nowhere. Here a meandering bear, there a lumbering moose.
The combination makes for a breathtaking trip and it only gets better when you do it with family. Whether your original plans had you heading further north to Banff or hanging out in Canmore, stop the car in the Kananaskis valley and you’ll be glad you did.
Here are four adventures to try with your pint-sized thrill seekers.
- Sky High: Glacial blue waters, meadows filled with wildflowers and the kind of photo back drops that will leave friends drooling await as you peer down on the Kananaskis valley from above. The 20-minute helicopter ride that makes up the First Nation Heritage Tour will take longer to prep for than you are in the air, but the views are well worth it. Add on a one-hour wilderness stop ($69) and the ’copter will set down in the incredible scenery of the valley. You can take breath-taking photos there. From the moment the kids don the headsets to chat with the pilot, they’ll be hooked. (kheli.com, $189 per person)
- Saddle Bound: The horses at Boundary ranch have names such as Chip and Brownie and temperaments that range from easygoing to stubborn. Find the right one for you and take to the trails for a guided ride through the Kananaskis Rocky Mountain Range. Newbies can start with a one-hour loop. More experienced riders can try the day-long adventure ride. You may spot deer, moose and elk along the way. (boundaryranch.com, $42.50-$159 per rider)
- Meandering Moose: Drive the long gravel road to Mt. Engadine Lodge to spend a night or two in the valley and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous scenery and some antlered friends. Hiking, cycling and kayaking are available. Book the Whiskeyjack room for two bedrooms suitable for a family of four. You’ll eat well; meals are delicious and plentiful and served family-style in the main lodge. That is where you’ll find the large wrap-around deck, which is perfect for sipping your first coffee of the day, while you look out over Moose Meadow. Wolves and beers call the area home, too. (mountengadine.com ; $780 per night for Whiskey Jack Cabin, including full board for four)
- Rock the Rapids: Want to create an adrenaline bond your family won’t soon forget? Take Canadian Rockies Rafting’s Kananaskis River Family Whitewater excursion. The half-day trip takes your crew out on a guided Class 2-3 rapids whitewater adventure. Warning: You will get wet. Following the safety instructions are a must. Our oldest popped out of the raft when things got bumpy, but listening to instructions and following the rules got him back in quickly and safely. (rafting.ca ; $75 per adult & $65 per child aged 5-15).
This post originally appeared on thestar.com. Please double check prices and availability as they may have changed since original publication.
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