Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The BEST of Spring in the Canadian Rockies (Gotta do THIS!)

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 2021.

Our annual first hike on Prairie Mountain in the Elbow Valley 



The BEST of Spring in the Canadian Rockies 



Early Spring / Say Yes to More Snow 



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 


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.

Read: Spend Spring Break with your Family at a Wilderness Hostel 

Read: Affordable Ski Vacations in the Canadian Rockies (HI Kananaskis Hostel)

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

Read: Family Spring Touring Weekend in Banff (Hi Castle Mountain)

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 


5. Enjoy one final winter hike, one last snowshoe outing, or one more cross-country ski day

Read: The BEST of Winter in the Canadian Rockies (Gotta do THIS!)

Spring on the Icefields Parkway aat Hilda Creek

6. Go Snowshoeing - When snow is too warm for skiing, it's still great for a winter hike!

Read: Family Snowshoeing Super Guide  

Snowshoeing on the Icefields Parkway

7. Visit the Canmore Nordic Centre for a day - With daily fresh grooming, this is a great place to enjoy some spring cross-country skiing.

Skiing to the Meadow Hut at the Canmore Nordic Centre

8. Enjoy those frozen waterfalls and canyons before they melt!

Read: The Best Ice Hikes in Kananaskis and Banff


Troll Falls, Kananaskis


Late Spring / NO More Snow Please!! 



1. Hike Prairie Mountain in the Elbow Valley - our annual first summit (most years in March)

Read: First Summits: Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis

March hiking on Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis

2. Go Biking on Highway 66 - 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


3. Bike and Hike around Bow Valley Provincial Park - 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 


4. Bike the Paved Bill Milne Trail at Kananaskis Village - 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


5. 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!


6. Go Camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park - the Bow Valley Campground opens late April.

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

7. Plan a Day Trip to Banff 




Highlights from the "Epic Family Bike Rides" story include biking the Highway 1A to Johnston Canyon, biking to Lake Minnewanka when the road is closed to traffic, biking around the Banff Springs Golf Course before it opens for the season, and biking to Moraine Lake before it opens to vehicles.

Biking the Legacy Trail in Banff


8. Enjoy a spring hike with your family in Kananaskis









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


9. 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


10. 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


- 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


12. 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 

13. 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 


14. 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


15. Go Camping in the Alberta Badlands - Before it gets too hot and while the bugs are still sleeping.





Hiking in Dinosaur Provincial Park 

16. Plan a Spring Biking Weekend at Nipika Mountain Resort near Radium, BC - Ideal for the Mother's Day weekend.

Read: Kids on Wheels - Nipika Mountain Resort 

Stay and play at Nipika Mountain Resort this spring 



17. 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

18. 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

19. 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)


20. Bike 

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:


Spring Survival Guide for Outside Fun during Covid-19

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