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Guest Dream: Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Today’s Guest Dream comes from my good friend, Matthew Sharp.  Matt is an accountant in Alberta, but in his free time he enjoys the outdoors and is an excellent photographer (his photos have been picked up by a few newspapers and magazines).  Check out more of his fantastic photographs at his Flickr photostream and read his profile.  Above all, enjoy his Dream in his own words:

I am not personally at a point in my career at which I can take extended vacation to far-off and exotic locations. However, the notion of a “staycation,” popularised by Canada’s “Corner Gas,” does not mean that I have to stay in my home city, or even region. Being fortunate enough to live in Alberta, Canada, there are numerous mountain, prairie, and aspen parkland parks all within day trip distance. My favourite of them all is one of our lesser known park areas, Kananaskis.

Upper Kananaskis Lake in Spring.

Named after the Kananaskis River in in Alberta, Kananaskis is a quick one hour drive west from Calgary, Alberta’s largest city. There are a number of ways to reach “K-Country,” either travelling down the high-speed Transcanada Highway, or going through picturesque Bragg Creek.

Though Banff and Jasper may get the lion’s share of the attention and acclaim, Kananaskis is a much less travelled, less crowded way to enjoy the most eastern stretch of the Canadian Rockies.

Rocky Mountain Stream.

Kananaskis has a series of very well maintained and popular hiking trails catering to all levels of experience. My personal favourites are Galatea, which requires the crossing of nine beautifully constructed hiking bridges, and Karst Springs, which runs near the pristine Watridge Lake.

Galatea Hiking Trail in beautiful Kananaskis Country.

Though the snow can stay until well into lake May due to chilly evenings, Kananaskis is still warm in late spring, making for top-notch snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

K-Country in Winter (or Spring).

Wildlife enthusiasts are in for a treat, as Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Rocky Mountain Sheep, and other Canadian icons make their home here. It is very rare to take a trip out here and see nothing, so make sure you pack some binoculars and long-distance camera equipment.

The icon of the Canadian Rockies – The Rocky Mountain Sheep – surveys his territory.

Ski enthusiasts are as well looked after, as the Nakiska Ski Resort offers loads of fresh powder, and much lower crowd density than Lake Louise or Banff resorts. Those looking to just take in the feel of a resort town can find lots of accommodation and activities in Canmore, a nearby town connecting to Kananaskis.

While I would never recommend someone miss out on the spectacle of Banff, Jasper, or Waterton National Park, I highly advise that those looking for a more natural, less tourist-oriented experience bypass the crowds and check out Kananaskis Country. You won’t forget it!

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6 comments on “Guest Dream: Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

  1. rachelynne
    August 22, 2012

    Great tips! And stunning photographs, I hope I have the chance to see that one day too.

    • bucketdave
      August 22, 2012

      You won’t forget it or regret it. The Rocky Mountains never get boring… ever.

  2. hariqhuang
    August 22, 2012

    Gracious Goodness! Such a beautiful place! It’s even better than those scenery photos on the desktop calendar. I hope I’ll get the chance to be there one day. (Crossing my fingers!)

    • bucketdave
      August 22, 2012

      I haven’t been there yet either, but I’ve been to nearby Banff and Jasper. The Rocky Mountains are simply gorgeous. I think everyone should make an effort to go there at least once in their lifetime. Matthew is the luckiest guy in the world, because he lives close and can go there almost any time he likes

  3. philvb
    August 22, 2012

    Wow, what beautiful country!

    • bucketdave
      August 23, 2012

      You’re right about that Phil. I used to live near here and then I moved to the Atlantic Ocean. What was I thinking?! I enjoy the seaside, but it’s no match for the majesty of a mountain.

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