Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The BEST of Spring in the Canadian Rockies - updated 2023

It's starting to feel like spring in Calgary, and the warm sun has me dreaming about first hikes, camping trips, and dry bike trails.

Spring returns and the bikes come out! (Pictured: Biking the Canmore Town Trails)

The list below is in no particular order, but I did start out with the "snowy spring stuff" at the beginning. Scroll down if you're totally DONE with snow.

All links go to stories I've already written on the subject, or to other websites that will help you.

This story is checked annually and has been updated for spring 2023.

Our annual first hike on Prairie Mountain in the Elbow Valley 

1. Say Hello to Spring Skiing! 

Read: Sunshine Village Ski Resort and Mountain Lodge Experience 

Read: Ten Reasons to Hit the Slopes this Spring (Spring Skiing is the BEST Skiing)

There's still lots of great snow for spring skiing!

2. Spend Spring Break at Lake Louise

Book affordable accommodations at the HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre and enjoy good snow through April.

Read: Affordable Ski Weekends at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre

Read: 5 Reasons to Visit Lake Louise this Spring 

Read: Cross-Country Skiing at Lake Louise: Where to Ski and Stay this Winter

Spring Break at Lake Louise

3. Spend a Weekend at a Wilderness Hostel 

HI Kananaskis, HI Castle Mountain, and HI Mosquito Creek are all situated close to ski resorts, cross-country ski trails, and hiking trails.

Mosquito Creek is a magical place to explore!

4. Enjoy the Last of Winter on the Icefields Parkway

We love spring snowshoeing while staying at the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel. And HI Rampart Creek is another great hostel along the Parkway as well. You'll find snow well into May if you travel out past Lake Louise towards the Columbia Icefields.

Read: Easter at the Best Wilderness Hostel in the Canadian Rockies - HI Hilda Creek

Read: Rampart Creek: Our New Favourite Wilderness Hostel 

Read: Spring Adventures on the Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park - HI Mosquito Creek

Spring Visit to Peyto Lake, Icefields Parkway 

Spring on the Icefields Parkway aat Hilda Creek

5. Hike Prairie Mountain in the Elbow Valley

This is our annual first summit (most years in March)

Read: First Summits: Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis

March hiking on Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis

6. Go Biking on Highway 66

This is an annual tradition for us as soon as the snow melts! This highway doesn't open until May 15th for the spring, and until then, we get to enjoy biking it with no vehicles!

And in some years it melts out as early as mid-March! 

We love biking Highway 66 before it opens to cars each spring

7. Bike and Hike around Bow Valley Provincial Park 

This is another early season favourite, bike to the Many Springs Trailhead for a short hike in the Bow Valley Campground. Roads are closed to traffic until the campground opens late April most years.

Read: The Best Spring Bike Rides in Kananaskis 

Biking the campground roads through Bow Valley Provincial Park 

8. Bike the Paved Bill Milne Trail at Kananaskis Village

This trail is free of ice and snow by mid May most years.

Read: The Best Family Bike Trails in Kananaskis, Alberta

Biking the Bill Milne Trail in Kananaskis

9. Plan a Day Trip to Canmore

The bike trails around town are always dry by mid April .

Biking around Canmore is a great activity for a sunny spring day!

10. Go Camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park

The Bow Valley Campground opens late April and is ideal for a spring camping trip close to Calgary.

Read: April Camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park

Read: 5 Reasons to Love Camping at the Bow Valley Campground, Kananaskis 

April camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park

11. Plan a Day Trip to Banff 

Read: Epic Family Bike Rides: The Best Spring Rides near Calgary (including biking to Moraine Lake when the road is closed)

Biking the Legacy Trail in Banff

12. Enjoy a spring hike with your family in Kananaskis

Get out for a hike with the family this spring in Kananaskis

13. Take a Day Trip to Drumheller and Bike to a Ghost Town 

We love biking to the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller where you'll bike across 11 one-lane bridges.

Read more about our adventures biking in Drumheller here. 

Biking in Drumheller on the road to Wayne

14. Take a Spring Road Trip to the Columbia Valley

Mountain bike trails are good to go by mid April in this sunny valley, and we love camping in Radium Hot Springs for Mother's Day.

Spring biking in the Columbia Valley

15.  Plan a Spring Picnic in the Mountains

- the link goes to my complete resource guide on the best day trips and picnic sites.

Head out for a spring picnic in the mountains with the family

16. Bike to the Cat Creek Falls Day Use Area on Highway 40

The highway doesn't open until June 15th so you'll have the whole highway to yourself without cars.

Read: Biking to Cat Creek Falls, Kananaskis 

Biking Highway 40 to Cat Creek Falls 

17. Bike to the Sheep River Falls on Highway 546 in Southern Kananaskis

Park at the closed gate by the Sandy McNabb Campground and ride as far as you want towards the Bluerock Campground. Most people go as far as the Sheep River Falls (a distance of 32 km return with 500 total metres of climbing.)

While it's not an easy bike ride, you'll be rewarded with great views, two sets of waterfalls, and other scenic lookouts for rest breaks. It's our favourite spring highway ride. 

The highway opens on May 15th to traffic so plan your ride before then.

An epic bike ride to the Sheep River Falls 

18. Go Camping for Mother's Day Weekend

We personally love camping at Redstreak in Radium Hot Springs.

Read: 25 Ways to Glamp up the Mother's Day Weekend Camping Experience

There's no other way I'd rather spend the Mother's Day weekend

19.  Go Camping in the Alberta Badlands

Before it gets too hot and while the bugs are still sleeping.

Hiking in Dinosaur Provincial Park 

20. Plan a Spring Biking Weekend at Nipika Mountain Resort near Radium, BC

This is ideal for the Mother's Day weekend.

Read: Kids on Wheels - Nipika Mountain Resort 

Stay and play at Nipika Mountain Resort this spring 

21. Get the Boats out for the Season 

We paddled on the Kananaskis River one year in April, and we love floating down the Red Deer River late May. The Bow River in Banff is also an annual favourite early June.

April paddling on the Kananaskis River

22. Take a Spring Glacier Adventure on the Icefields Parkway!

Ride an ice explorer bus onto the Athabasca Glacier, walk around on the glacier, and then explore the Glacier Skywalk, a cliff-edged glass sidewalk. The season usually opens in April each year - And you know it'll be a lot less busy in April!

Read: Local's Guide to Exploring the Best of Banff and Jasper

Read: Day Trip to the Columbia Icefields Centre to Walk on a Glacier 

Glacier Adventure on the Icefields Parkway

23. Try Geocaching this spring (without even leaving the city!) 

Geocaching is a fun spring activity for the whole family (in or out of the city)

24. Try a Mystery Clue Solvers Hunt with your Family 

Kids LOVE scavenger hunts but it’s hard to create an exciting set of clues from scratch and you can’t exactly leave pieces of paper scattered all over the place in public with directions or answers on them.

My family was looking for fun activities to do with friends this spring so we tried a  Clue Solvers mystery hunt in downtown Calgary. We chose to play the "Riotous Roundup" Game which takes place inside the +15 system in our city core. 

We had so much fun, we then moved on to try the "Smugglers Blues" game in Canmore which takes place outside around the downtown core and along the scenic Riverside pathways of Canmore. And finally, for our third game, we tried the "Hot Springs Heist" at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, BC, another outdoor game that took us all around the scenic resort and pathways.

How it works:
  • Visit the ClueSolvers website  

  • Choose your adventure in Calgary, Kananaskis, Canmore, or Banff. (There are other locations across AB and BC as well.)

  • Purchase your mystery game and download the app for your phone

  • Go to the starting location, unlock the game in the app, and begin following the clues. Each game takes ~ 90 minutes to 2 hours to play. Most games are played outside and you can choose any day to play the game once purchased. (Hello birthday parties!!)
And finally, this isn’t a families only thing! There are challenging games for adults as well (great for team building and parties.)

Explore Calgary, Kananaskis, Canmore, and Banff with Clue Solvers mystery hunts 

We've had fun solving mysteries with the Clue Solvers games

More adventures to be added as we continue to explore, travel, and discover new awesome ways to have fun in the months of March, April, and May.

Other Recommended Reading:

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