Sept. 4, 2020

Three day trips to explore Alberta

Looking for a new way to spend your weekend? A day trip is a perfect solution!
Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Park
Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Park Ryan Stone

Calgary is full of exciting places to shop, eat and get active, and there are fun events year-round to keep you involved. But sometimes, you might want a change of scenery and try something totally new. Looking to escape the city for a day? We’ve got you covered!

Plan ahead

If you don’t have your own transportation, there are a few options:

  • Carpooling: If you’re travelling with friends who have a vehicle, you can share a car to save gas and money, while reducing your environmental footprint.
  • Shuttles or buses: These are a convenient and cost-effective way to travel to popular areas like Banff or Canmore. The On-It Regional Transit system has a shuttle bus that costs $10, and picks up passengers from LRT stations. Here’s a list of additional bus options from VisitCalgary.
  • Renting a car: There are plenty of car rental companies you can choose, and some may even offer student discounts. Generally, individuals aged 21-25+ years can rent vehicles, and you must possess a driver’s license. Remember to review the specific policies and procedures of each company as they may differ

If you’re planning to hike for a large portion of the day, don’t forget to prepare by dressing appropriately and packing hearty snacks lots of water. Read our article, The Beginner’s Guide to Hiking Alberta, to learn more.

A view of the Banff Gondola


Head west to the mountains

This one’s obvious — hiking is one of the most common outdoor activities in Alberta! There are many locations that make fantastic day trips from Calgary, like Banff National Park/Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Banff National Park/Lake Louise:

Moraine Lake:

  • Snap a few pictures at the Cascade of Time Garden.
  • Enjoy a "Beavertail", a sweet treat that consists of fried pastry topped with candies, sauces, and more. Our favorites are the Brwownie and Bananarama!
  • Go on a hike: Tackle Sulphur Mountain, instead of taking the gondola!
A photo of the badlands in Drumheller


Get prehistoric in the Badlands

When you think Alberta, you might picture towering mountains and crystal-blue lakes. But did you know Alberta has a sprawling desert and canyons, too? The Canadian Badlands and Drumheller area are where many prehistoric fossils and dinosaur bones were discovered, and it's home to some beautiful geological formations and unique hiking trails.

  • Learn about the evolution of life and different eras of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrell Museum.
  • Climb up the world's largest dinosaur statue and get a bird's eye view through its jaw
  • Hike the Hoodoo Trail: Explore this preserved area and spot "hoodoos", ancient and naturally-formed sandstone pillars. It'll feel like you're on another planet! Note: Do not attempt to climb or alter hoodoos in any way — they're protected by law!
Close-up photo of wilderflowers in Waterton area

Sharissa Johnson

Head south to Waterton National Park

The prairies meet the peaks as you travel to Wateron National Park, which borders Glacier National Park in Montana. You can hike, stroll or picnic — there's something for everyone!

  • While not in exactly in Waterton, Lundbreck Falls is a great stop on the way to Waterton from Calgary. The falls are gorgeous place to stop and take pictures!
  • Take a hike: Red Rock Canyon is a scenic area with tons of shorter and easier hike options, and Bear’s Hump is a beautiful hiking trail that leads you to an icon view of Waterton Valley
  • The Waterton Lakes comes with a great view and opportunities to go on a cruise and canoeing
  • Snap a photo at the iconic red chairs in the Waterton area