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Kananaskis Invites Fun Mountain Adventures

by Travel Alberta [January 29, 2007]

Unparalleled horse riding, spectacular fishing, golf holidays, biking, white-water rafting and technical climbing makes Alberta's Kananaskis Country a Rocky Mountain paradise.

The dense forest and high peaks provide the perfect backdrop for rejuvenating the spirit and reconnecting with Mother Nature.
Created in the 1970s, Kananaskis was designated as a place where outdoor activities could coexist with wilderness appreciation and limited natural resource exploration. The area is split into eight specific land-use areas, provincial parks and protected regions, each with specific rules that focus on watershed and wilderness protection while permitting human use.

The end result is a destination ideal for tranquil escape, unparalleled photography, wildlife viewing and comfortable accommodation, coupled with thrill-of-a-lifetime pursuits of every stripe. It is all things to everyone who enjoys the outdoors and escape from the bustle of urban life.

Kananaskis Country, known locally as 'K Country', is just a half-hour drive from the city of Calgary, which is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies and home to an easily accessible international airport . The wilderness area sits amid the Rocky Mountains' eastern foothills. Because of its proximity to the city's urban amenities, it remains a popular getaway for locals and visitors alike. Visitor Centres located throughout K Country will provide you with current information about trails, activities and special events.

Discover Accessible Accommodation

Accommodation in Kananaskis ranges from rustic to modern, three-star to tipi. Regardless of what draws you to the area, there is accommodation to suit everyone's needs.

Two hotels in Kananaskis Village located 125 kilometres (78 miles) from Calgary offer fine dining, massage, spa and fitness facilities and meeting and conference options. Those looking for a more rustic experience will find it at any of the nine vehicle-accessible campsites spread around K-Country. There are also 18 backcountry campsites. While some require permits, camping in Wildland Provincial Parks and on Provincial Forestry Lands doesn't. Traditional teepees and trapper's cabins offer an alternative to tenting and RVs.

Paradise For Hikers

There are over 1,000 km of recreation trails in K Country. The trails range in difficulty from short interpretive to multi-day hikes with challenging climbs and spectacular views. "The variety is a wonderful feature, such a range of delightful trails and perhaps not quite as busy as Banff, a little more relaxing," says Bob Eaman, an information officer for Alberta Community Development.

Marvellous Mountain Biking

There are mountain biking trails throughout K Country to match every skill level. Steep climbs, steep descents, smooth single track, and above all spectacular views await the mountain-bike enthusiast. "There is a great variety of trails for mountain biking and this is one of the prime areas to ride in the Rockies," says Wayne Grams, information services coordinator for K Country. "The national parks are quite restricted, whereas K Country is more open to it."
Riding season typically begins in May and goes as late as early October.

Enjoy Horseback Riding

Kananaskis Country is horse friendly. Numerous trails are open to equestrian users, particularly in the eastern and southern half of K Country. A variety of trail rides, from one hour to a half day, are available for exploration. Guides and horses are available for hire. Those in search of a longer backcountry experience will find pack trips ranging from overnight to one week.
Facilities for horses are common and include drive-in campgrounds with stalls, unloading ramps and tie rails. People can unload their horses and camp nearby. Riding is best between May and early October, depending on weather.

Fishing Permitted

Fishing is permitted in roadside ponds, beaver ponds, streams and lakes in K Country. There are variety of sports fish including rainbow, brown, brook, cutthroat, bull and lake trout, Arctic grayling and Northern Dolly Varden. Anglers require an Alberta angler's license, which outlines local regulations and restrictions. "People fish year round," says Grams. "Ice fishing is quite popular on some of the lakes, but stream fishing is better mid-summer and onward because during the runoff the streams become muddy."

Get Rafting

The scenic Kananaskis River is popular with adventurous individuals, groups and families who want an introduction to whitewater or a river experience the whole family or group can enjoy.
The Kananaskis is a picturesque mountain river located along the front ranges of the majestic Canadian Rockies. The guided river tour is rated as Grade 2-3 and is an excellent experience offering wonderful mountain scenery, excitement and natural history.

Try Superb Golfing

The award-winning Kananaskis Country Golf Course was recently rated one of the top 25 public courses in North America. Robert Trent Jones designed its two 18-hole courses. "The Mount Lorette course is a bit flatter, water comes into play more and it has larger greens," says Mike Epoch, the course's director of reservations and sales. "Mount Kidd isn't a true mountain course because we're in a valley, but it has a little more up and down to it, a little bit more elevation change, a few elevated tees, the greens are a little smaller and more undulation and sand comes into play."

Step Up With Rock Climbing

Kananaskis Country attracts climbers from around the world who come to test their skills and endurance against the challenging climbs in the region. The majority of technical climbing in the area happens on Mount Yamnuska, with multi-pitch climbs ranging from moderately difficult at 5.6, to stiff climbing at 5.11-5.12.
Rob Davidson, assistant director of Yamnuska, a company that teaches rock and ice climbing, says the mountain has something for everyone.
"There's lots of easy climbing on it, both traditional and bolted," says Davidson. "There's also tons of awesome ice climbing in K Country and good alpine climbing."

Photographic Wildlife

Ease of access and diverse range of wildlife make photography in K Country unparalleled. Highways through the region climb high into the mountains and pass through spectacular swaths of wilderness, putting photographers in proximity of animals. "It's always a matter of luck and chance, but the best odds of seeing animals are in the early morning hours or at dusk," says Grams. "It's quite easy to spot big-horn sheep, bears, elk and sometimes moose."

Use All-Terrain Vehicles

The McLean Creek off-road vehicle zone boasts 195 square kilometres of mountainous terrain for quad and off-road vehicle enthusiasts to explore. The area is still wild and users are warned to go prepared for weather changes, wild animals, equipment breakdown and accidents.

About the Author
Travel Alberta is the destination marketing organization for the Province of Alberta. Guided by the Strategic Tourism Marketing Council, Travel Alberta is the steward for the effective delivery of tourism marketing programs. For information about our organization, please visit our Travel Alberta industry web site.