Alberta By the Seasons
Alberta enjoys four distinct seasons from snowy winters to mild summers. With the highest number of sunny days in all of Canada – more than 2,300 hours of sunshine each year, Alberta is the perfect place to explore no matter the time of year!
• Spring (March to May): You’ll find that the beginning of spring (March and early April) are still quite snowy and the temperatures will stay on the cooler side (10-25°F). This is the perfect time to take advantage of “spring skiing” and other snow sports, when the weather is warmer than mid-winter but the snow is still powdery and fresh. Late April and early May will warm up day by day until you see late spring temperatures in the 60°F+ range. You’ll still need that jacket for cool evenings.
• Summer (June – August): Most of our Alberta Adventures take place during the summer months and this seems to be when the weather is at its finest. You’ll see upper 60 to 75°F+ days, which is just perfect for scoping out wildlife, taking on the class II to IV rapids of the Kicking Horse River or taking on a full day hike over Sentinel Pass. Even mid-summer, you’ll likely run into plenty of snow in the high country and will even get to experience walking on a glacier – it doesn’t get much cooler than that (no pun intended!)
• Autumn (September – November): Alberta in the fall is a real treat as the tourist season winds down, the aspens turn a dazzling shade of gold and sunshine-filled days continue to hold throughout October. This is the perfect time to hike in the high-country as most of the snow has melted with constant exposure to summer sunshine and the winter storms haven’t hit yet. Expect highs in the upper 40 to 60°F range.
• Winter (December – February): Albertans spend half of their year in the snow, so they’ve found lots of ways to enjoy the cold winter! Spending a wintry vacation in Alberta means you’ll likely be downhill or cross-country skiing, sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or engaging in the ultimate snowball fight. While temperatures will be chilly (below 0 to 20°F), you can wage a war on the cold by throwing on the layers when playing outside during the day.
Wondering How to Prepare and What to Pack on Your Alberta Vacation?
Alright, so you’ve booked your Alberta Adventure; now what’s the next step? It’s time to hop on that treadmill (or better yet, an actual trail!) and study that packing list, and below are a few tips to get you started!
1. Training Will Make Your Active Alberta Vacation That Much Easier
On your Alberta Adventure, you will take advantage of all kinds of activities: hiking, biking, glacier trekking, rafting and more! You’ll find that these activities will probably be more enjoyable for you, if you practice being active before you ever step foot in Alberta. Many of the hikes and bike rides are hilly (you are in the Canadian Rockies after all!) and probably at a higher elevation than what you’re used to at home. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, and taking on fitness classes are all great ways to prepare your body for an active vacation. Find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it three to five times per week (and better yet – continue your workout regimen even after you return home from your vacation!)
2. Pack Your Layers…and Your Raincoat!
You’re headed to the Rockies and that means the weather can be unpredictable. You’ll want to check out weather.com before you pack so you know what to prepare for. One thing we can tell you to pack in your suitcase is layers of clothing. Often it will be cool in the morning and will warm up to shorts and T-shirt weather later in the day. So, you’ll want to have your lighter under-layers packed, but you’ll also want some light pants and mid-weight pullovers or jackets stowed away as well. Don’t forget to bring a quality raincoat – afternoon thunderstorms are common in the Rockies and we don’t want you to get soaked!
3. Research the Host City for Things to Do
If time allows in your schedule, we always recommend to fly into your host city a few days prior to the start of your Austin Adventures trip. If you’re headed to Alberta, you’ll likely fly into Calgary, a dynamic city situated on the banks of the Bow River. There are tons of things to see and do, whether you want to visit a zoo, take the kids to an amusement park, walk around a museum, sip on local beers at a brewery, shop downtown or eat at one of the delicious eateries scattered around the city. It also seems that there is a different festival going on every week and you can find an up-to-date list of events on the VisitCalgary.com website.
Travel Tips for Visiting Alberta
A trip to Alberta should be on every traveler’s bucket list. The snow-capped Canadian Rockies, turquoise blue mountain lakes, and abundant wildlife promise an unforgettable adventure in Alberta’s high country.
When you head “Up North,” a few travel tips from your travel professionals at Austin Adventures may come in handy…
1. Keep an Eye out for the “BIG 5.”
On your Alberta Adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to spot the “BIG 5”: grizzly and black bears, big horn sheep, elk, moose and mountain goats. Keep your eyes peeled whether you’re hiking the trails, cycling the bike paths or even just riding in the Austin Adventures van down the Bow Valley Parkway. You never know what you’ll spot when you keep your head on a swivel.
2. Passport Requirements
As an American, it’s easy to forget that a trip to our friendly neighbor up north is not an easy skip, hop and a jump over the border. You will definitely need a passport for entry into Canada, but you won’t need a visa coming over from the US. If you reside in a different country, you’ll want to check out the Government of Canada’s website (www.cic.gc.ca) to see if you need to apply for a visitor visa prior to entering Canada.
3. Prepare for Unpredictable Weather
In the Canadian Rockies, you just never know what to expect weather-wise in mountain country. First of all, prepare yourself mentally to enjoy your vacation, regardless of the type of weather! It could be sunny, windy, rainy, or snowy at any time of year (especially in the higher elevations). With a positive attitude, all you need is good gear to enjoy any type of weather. You always want to have a light hat and gloves (even in the height of summer) and lots of layers to pile on or shed off, depending on the conditions.