By: Canadian Rockies Guide Will Woods
Why Calgary is a Great Host City (and why you should spend a few extra days there when coming on an adventure in the Canadian Rockies)
Calgary is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies, and an excellent hopping off point to go see towering peaks and ultra-turquoise lakes in Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. But it’s more than just a place to sleep before you head out on a mountain adventure! There is tons to do in Calgary and the surrounding area and when you come on an adventure with us in the Canadian Rockies it is well worth adding a few extra days on either end of your trip to experience all of the energy in Calgary these days.
YYC – The new international terminal at the Calgary airport is literally brand new, it opened in October 2016. It was a $2 billion investment that installed larger runways and doubled the size of the airport. That means that larger, more modern airplanes can now land at YYC, and when you disembark you breeze thru lines at baggage and customs because the airport was designed to handle the expected passenger capacity 20 years from now. White cowboy hatted staff welcome you to Calgary and help get out on your way!
The Calgary Stampede – “The Largest Outdoor Show on Earth” is worth a look! It takes place in the first two weeks of July every year, and it’s a giant cowboy and western themed party that takes over the whole city. Free pancake breakfasts happen all over the city, Calgarians get all gussied up in denim, plaid, hats and boots and the whole city joins in the Stampede spirit. There is also the cash-purse rodeo and chuckwagon races, the midway the Grandstand Show and all of the sights and sounds to take in down at Stampede Park.
The Calgary Zoo – The Zoo in Calgary is constantly being recognized for its’ efforts in wildlife conservation, and to add to that they have opened a number of new interactive exhibits where the wildlife isn’t behind fences, you get to wander thru their enclosure. The penguin and lemur exhibits allow visitors to walk thru the habitat and get up close and personal with the animals. There is also a panda exhibit that is new this summer and will run until summer 2022.
Festival Season – Summer in Canada is short, so we Canadians have to get a lot of outside time in while it’s warm. That means that almost every weekend in the summer there is some kind of festival going on somewhere in Calgary. Latin dance festivals, ethinc food festivals, the Calgary Folk Music Festival are just some of the parties that get put on around the city to celebrate the different cultures that come together to form the community in Calgary.
Drumheller – A 2 hour drive outside Calgary is the small town of Drumheller. Located in the badlands region of Alberta (which is the closest thing to a desert that we get up here) this area is special for one reason. Dinosaurs! The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller houses one of the coolest collections of dinosaur fossils in Canada, and even cooler is that a significant amount of the collection is being dug up right in the Drumheller area. This museum is worth the drive to visit, because, well, DINOSAURS!
I could go on and on! The 1988 Winter Olympics were held in Calgary, so you could see the ski jumps Eddie the Eagle jumped off, or the track that the Jamaican bobsled team slid into history on, but you will just have the visit Calgary as a part of an adventure in the Canadian Rockies to see for yourself!