Friday, July 29, 2016

Gotta do THIS - August Edition (with GIVEAWAYS)

When I started this series back in April, I wasn't planning on featuring multiple giveaways each month but I'm thrilled that these monthly posts have become popular enough that I am able to arrange this for my readers. I hope you've been getting some good tips from these posts, and that you've tried out some of my recommended campgrounds, parks, tours, and activities these past few months.

For the August edition of this post I really want to focus on helping you make the most of the last month of summer. Go take that backpacking trip, try camping, take a road trip somewhere new, learn a new sport or outdoor activity, climb a mountain... - there's still 30+ days until the kids go back to school so make them count!

Special thanks to this month's sponsors, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and Calgary based, Mountain Top Tours. Both companies have partnered with me to provide a couple of amazing giveaways. Full details below.

Gotta do THIS - August Edition (photo: Paddling on Beauvais Lake, Southern Alberta)

Gotta do THIS - August Edition 


1. Road Trip Feature - Golden, British Columbia (with Giveaway)

This month's road trip feature is Golden in our neighboring province of British Columbia. Golden is only a three hour drive from Calgary and is ideal for a long weekend. September long weekend camping trip anybody??

When in Golden, the number one attraction for families is gondola sightseeing and hiking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
"Float above the clouds as you are whisked to 7,700 feet. Take in panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia River Wetlands and the quaint town of Golden. During the journey, spot wildlife and perhaps even a glimpse of Kicking Horse Mountain Resorts resident grizzly bear, Boo.

Once at the summit, venture forth on a hike or simply soak up the endless mountain vistas from on top of the world. After all, the end of the gondola ride is simply the start of your next adventure."
Sightseeing and Hiking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (photo: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

GIVEAWAY: Want to win a gondola ride at Kicking Horse for your family? Please enter the contest at the bottom of this post. Resorts of the Canadian Rockies is generously giving away four gondola tickets for a family to come and experience Kicking Horse Mountain Resort this summer.

While in Golden, make sure you check out the following attractions/activities:

Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (photo: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

2. Hiking Feature - Explore Kananaskis with a Guided Tour (with GIVEAWAY)

Kananaskis is our closest mountain playground and if you haven't explored it yet this summer, you still have two or three months to get out and plan a beautiful day hike before we get snow.

Hiking in Kananaskis can look like this if you know where to go

Fears you may have with getting out for that hike in Kananaskis:

Intimidated by the thought of taking the kids hiking on a trail you don't know?
Worried about bears (all of Kananaskis is currently under a bear warning?)
Want to take the family someplace new or want to do a BIG hike such as Ha Ling Peak - and want somebody along who knows the trail well?
Want to get out for a hike mid-week while your partner is working?  Or have a spouse who travels out of town a lot and you don't want to brave a hiking trail on your own? Or maybe, you have a spouse who isn't very confident with hiking and you could use another adult along to take care of the guiding while you and your partner focus solely on the children and their happiness.

These are just a few reasons you may want to consider joining in a guided hike this summer with the Calgary based company, Mountain Top Tours.

Guided hikes can take you to spectacular places like this in Kananaskis

Other reasons for joining a guided hike:

Doug and Karyn with Mountain Top Tours
  • A guided hike eliminates the uncertainty of the hike itself in terms of finding your way to the destination and also in finding the trailhead itself - and trust me, a lot of trailheads can be challenging to find in Kananaskis

  •  A guide will help pace the group and give you an idea of how far you are along, what obstacles/terrain you are past, as well as what to anticipate - useful on the big hikes for sure!

  • Mountain Top Tours knows information about the area you will be hiking in, landmarks, other possible adventures in the area and like ones elsewhere - So they will know which mountain you  are pointing at when you wonder, "What mountain is that?"

  • Joining a guided tour reduces the need to preplan, research and spend time figuring out where to go. - Easy peasy trip planning

Grizzly Col with Mountain Top Tours
  • Mountain Top tours has a lot of knowledge and training in the best way to avoid wildlife encounters and in dealing with them should they occur. They also carry wildlife deterrents such as bear spray. - And right now in Kananaskis, this is imperative!

  •  Mountain Top Tours provide transportation from Calgary and back again (to a meeting spot near a train station) if you don't have a vehicle or would rather someone else take that responsibility of driving. (Families must supply their own car seats.) - Very pleasant when you just want to sit back and enjoy the views on the drive out

  • You can focus on this experience being fully engaged with your family when someone else has planned it, does the driving, and knows the route. It may give you more quality time with your family rather than being preoccupied with the other parts. - And this would be huge for my family! Sometimes it's nice to treat yourself and the family to a little get away and let someone else take care of you.
Let Mountain Top Tours do the guiding while you focus on your children

GIVEAWAY: Want to win a guided hiking tour for your family? Please go to the bottom of this post for full details on how to enter and for full details on what your tour would involve with Mountain Top Tours.

Get out and take a hike this month!

3. Alberta Parks Feature - Find a new Favourite Campground 


I'm going to give you a bunch of links here in hopes you can find a new campground to try for your last camping trip of the season. If not, add one or two to your list for next year.

Water is a "must" in a new summer campground (Beauvais Lake featured)

Three New Alberta Parks Campgrounds to Visit 

Nine Beach-side Campsites in Alberta Parks

Our 5 Favourite Campgrounds (within a 3 hour drive of Calgary)

The 5 Best Waterside Campgrounds Near Calgary

The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta

Biking around Beauvais Lake in Southern Alberta


4. Climb a Mountain and Tackle the 5 Peak Challenge in Canmore

If you haven't read my story on our recent five summit day, it's a must-read because there is an honest to goodness hike near Canmore where you can tag five peaks in one day! It will be a long-ish day and the kids will be tired, but it's a very family-friendly outing for children 6-8+ with previous hiking experience.

High above Canmore on the Ha Ling to Miner's Peak Traverse

Check out the full story here at the 5 Summit Day in Canmore (Family-friendly)

And it's ok if you don't conquer all five summits. You can climb one, two, four, or all five.

Peak Bagging with Kids (Ha Ling to Miner's Peak, Canmore)

5. Bike Feature - Pump Tracks and Mountain Bike Parks 

Mountain Bike Parks provide a fabulous way to introduce children to the world of mountain biking. There are bike parks in the nearby towns of Chestermere and Canmore, or you can read through my full list of parks we've visited to see where you may be traveling near this month.

Trying a technical trail feature at the Hinton Mountain Bike Park

I've freshly updated my story on Pump Tracks and Bike Parks for the 2016 season to include the gigantic bike park in Hinton, Alberta. It's one of the largest parks in Canada and is road-trip worthy!!

Racing dad in the jump park at the Hinton Mountain Bike Park

Read my full story here at Kids on Wheels - Pump Tracks and Mountain Bike Parks

Skills Park in Hinton, Northern Alberta


Upcoming Events and Activities in August

All events and activities above are family-friendly and take place outside.

Get out and explore Calgary's City Parks this month (photo feature - St. Patrick's Island Beach)

Special Alerts for Kananaskis

As of the moment, late July, all of Kananaskis is under a bear warning. You can read more here. The Grassi Lakes trail is also closed as of the moment due to bear activity. I don't put this here to make you scared or to discourage you from going into the mountains. However, it is important that you observe bear-smart techniques and be cautious while out and about.

My personal top suggestions:

  • Don't let the children roam around campgrounds by themselves, go to the bathrooms alone, or play unsupervised at camp playgrounds.

  • Carry bear spray - always (and know how to use it)

  • Make lots of noise on trails (especially when biking or running)

  • Hike in groups with 4-6 adults (in a tight group)

  • Hike on popular trails and avoid using trails early morning or late evening when they are less crowded (right now, crowded trails is good.)

  • Don't bike, hike, run alone!!!

This is a smart hiking group of 4-6 adults in a tight group, kids hiking with the group


Giveaways are courtesy of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and Mountain Top Tours. Contests close on August 5th and winners will be notified by the 6th. If I don't hear back from a winner by August 8th, I will choose a new winner for that contest.

Both giveaways are open to families who will be able to take a guided hike in Kananaskis by the end of September, or who will be able to visit Golden to ride the gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort by the end of this year's summer season. Please enter the contest(s) that work(s) best for your family's schedule or travel plans.

Unique details for the Kicking Horse Gondola tickets 

The winner will receive a voucher by mail for four sightseeing tickets for their family at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (two adult tickets and two children's tickets.) Children 5 and under are free but you will need to pick up a free ticket when you arrive at the resort.

The family voucher expires at the end of the summer season on September 25th. For information on hours of operation and fall hours, please visit the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort website

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unique details for the guided hike with Mountain Top Tours

The winner can choose a hike and date for that hike from the options available on the Mountain Top Tours calendar of scheduled adventures. The Tour provider will contact the winner and do the booking via telephone or email

The tour must be claimed by the end of September 2016

The adventure will be for up to two adults and three children

The winning family should come prepared for their hike as per instructions on the tour company's 'what to bring list.'

The Tour Provider reserves the right (as it mentions in their terms and conditions) to assess the chosen option and what they feel your family is capable of based on some screening. Additionally, given a variety of reasons, The tour provider would reserve the right to switch the adventure to a comparable one on the same date or a different date if conditions merit. (trail closure, extreme weather)

Please note that the tours take place in all sorts of weather and are not cancelled for inclement (wet or cool) weather

Participants are required to sign a waiver prior to departure

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. We've already booked Golden thanks to the free passes included with our Nakiska ski passes this year, but I would love to do the Mountain Top tour. That would be so exciting!

  2. I'd love to do the mountain top hike but my little people are a bit to little. On the wish list for when they get bigger. My wish list keeps getting bigger each time I read your blog. :-) We looked at doing the gondola ride in Golden in July but going for a hike won out.

  3. These posts are an amazing resource!

  4. Great August roundup. Thanks Tanya!

  5. I want to go to Kicking Horse for the coffee... oh and the beautiful mountain views! We love tenting and canoeing in the parks... lots of trips already done this year!

  6. So much to do, not enough weekends.

  7. Great post! I'm super interested in the 5 Summit day! :)

  8. I've only ever driven through Golden, and stopped to use the washroom, haha. But the gondola ride sounds awesome!

  9. These all look great! I wish summer was longer!

  10. We've only gone to Kicking Horse in the winter and would love to explore in the summer. Such a beautiful mountain! Plus we'll get to see the bear awake this time if we win! :)

  11. We've only been to Kicking Horse in the winter. It is such an awesome place and would love to explore it in the summer. Plus we'll get to see the bear awake if we win!

  12. I have not yet been to Golden but would love to try the Golden Wetlands Adventures Centre and the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch!

  13. I LOVE Golden. Always a great time!

  14. We stopped in Golden once on our way back from Vancouver. Would love to stay a few days to explore....sounds like a great trip for my 3yo upcoming birthday!