Most visitors to Western Canada start their journey either in Vancouver or Calgary. Those starting in Calgary, typically head straight for Banff National Park. After sleeping off the jetlag in one of Calgary’s Airport hotels (see this post for some suggestions) it’s time to pick up the rental car or RV and head West for the mountains. On your way there, you’ll find the often-missed turnoff to Highway 40. It’s just about halfway on the way to Banff, just about 45 minutes outside Calgary. My recommendation? Don’t miss it. Allow yourself at least a day or two to explore the off-the-beaten-path Kananaskis Country before you join the rest of the tourists in the National Parks.
If you do nothing else but just drive, the scenery along HWY 40 alone is worth the detour:
Day Trip Fun
There’s a lot of wildlife here. Unlike many inconsiderate locals, play by the rules and stick to the speed limit. Going faster not only kills wildlife, you’re also sure to miss bears, elk, and even a moose or two if you’re lucky. Speeding is a sure way to miss all of it.
Consider driving all the way to the Upper Lakes area – stop in by the Peter Lougheed visitors centre on the way for a small wildlife exhibitions and free tips on where to go for a walk in the woods, or “hike” as they call it here. Given the bears in the area stopping in is more or less mandatory for everyones safety.
Spend the Night in Backcountry Luxury
On the way back towards the Trans Canada highway, you can stop in Kananaskis Village or even spend the night there at the Kananaskis Resort. The picture on the left was taken in one of their split level suites. Not always the cheapest place to stay especially during high season, but worth the money. I’ll help you find the best deal here. With five restaurants and a coffee shop/café they have some great dining options. If you get an awesome fireplace room just opt for room service like we did! The brand new spa (opening spring 2018) is a well-deserved treat after a day in the mountains. At night, don’t miss walking up to the ridge to experience true darkness in the middle of the mountains. When I first saw the stars here at night they seemed so bright I thought it was fake!
The next morning, head back towards the Trans Canada highway and continue westbound. Banff National Park awaits!