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20 Best day trip from Calgary itineraries

Planning a day trip from Calgary? This list of the 20 best day trips from Calgary has you covered.

Calgary in western Alberta is one of the province’s major cities. It’s a popular destination for tourists too with its Olympic history and proximity to mountains including the stunning Banff and Jasper National Parks.

While living in Canada, one of my jobs was based in Calgary which meant I got to visit the city several times and benefitted from tips from my colleagues too.

While Calgary is one of Alberta’s major cities, it’s also quite a small city and, for visitors to Canada, it’s best used as a base for exploring some of the beauty around it.

Below are some of the best ideas for a day trip from Calgary including National Parks, Indigenous historical and cultural sites and more.

If you’re visiting Calgary, or are just looking for more ideas for a day trip from Calgary, check out these recommendations below.

How to get to Calgary

If you’re visiting Canada internationally, then you’ll land at Calgary International Airport, YYC. Flights from all over the world stop here and flights coming from Europe to Vancouver will often stop here too, especially if you’re flying West Jet.

From the airport, you can take a taxi for about C$45 for 30 minutes (Uber and Lyft are available too) or take the 300 BRT bus for C$11 which takes about 40 minutes.

Skyscanner is what I use to find cheap flights.

Travelling to these day trip from Calgary locations

There is limited public transport from Calgary to these locations. Though you’ll find some of the more popular places, having a car will give you greater flexibility.

In addition, for some of these Calgary day trips including Canmore and Kananaskis, the best things to see are usually inaccessible by public transit.

I use comparison sites like DiscoverCars and RentalCars to book my car rentals as it’s easy to check prices and compare the best deals!

However, if you’re unable to rent a car there are still many day trips from Calgary that are accessible by public transit. You can also find group tours (linked below where available) that provide transport from Calgary to your destination and back.

You can also get a transfer from Calgary airport to Banff.

Where to stay in Calgary

If you’re looking for places to stay in Calgary, here are some of the top picks for Calgary hotels.

Some of them I’ve stayed in while travelling for work and they’re both close to the city centre and Calgary’s top attractions and others are recommended to me by others.

While the below are day trips from Calgary, I’ve also included places to stay in case you decide to make it more of a weekend getaway from Calgary rather than just a day trip.

Banff National Park

banff from mt norquay (1 of 1)

Banff National Park is one of the top places to visit in Canada and you can get a feel for Banff town and its majestic surroundings on a day trip from Calgary.

Though you can easily plan a Banff itinerary for more than a day, you can still visit some of the top things to do in Banff National Park. Just be prepared to leave Calgary early in the day, and return late in the evening.

Some of the best things to do in Banff in one day are to visit the town of Banff and explore the shops, galleries and restaurants; take a dip in Banff Upper Hot Springs, ride the Banff Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain for incredible views, or head along the Bow Valley Parkway and see Johnston Canyon.

It might be surprising ho much you could fit into a Banff day trip from Calgary.

Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka and the Vermillion Lakes are great for paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing in Banff during summer too.

If you’re a foodie, be sure to try the foodie experience at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

This castle-like hotel is both impressive inside and out and the Fairmont brand is known for its excellent customer service and food.

For organised day trips from Calgary to Banff this private Banff National Park trip from Calgary tour takes you to Banff Town, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. You’ll also get free time to explore Banff Town, Bow Falls, Secret Corner, Tunnel Mountain Drive, Lake Minnewanka, and Two Jack Lake.

Canmore

kootenay hot springs road trip

Canmore is my favourite town to visit during a trip to the Canadian Rockies. It’s beautiful, often less busy than Banff and has great restaurants and so many things to do whether you’re visiting Canmore in winter or summer.

The town of Canmore itself has many stunning views including the Three Sisters (three mountain peaks that look down on the town) and various lakes.

However, if you enjoy hiking, there are plenty of hikes near Canmore that are well worth a day trip from Calgary. Some of the best include Ha Ling Peak, Grassi Lakes and East End of Rundle.

AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.

Lake Louise

moraine lake lakeshore hike trail
Moraine Lake

About an hour away from Banff is Lake Louise. Famous for Lake Louise, the Fairmont Chateau, Moraine Lake and the Lake Agnes Teahouse, Lake Louise is an extremely busy place that’s well worth visiting.

Lake Louise is that beautiful bright blue, almost Gatorade colour that you’d think was fake. However, once you visit Lake Louise you’ll see it really is just like that!

Some of the best things to do in Lake Louise on a day trip from Calgary include hiking up to the Lake Agnes teahouse, kayaking or canoeing on Lake Louise or visiting Moraine Lake.

If you want to visit Moraine Lake, be prepared for a very early start.

This lake is super popular with photographers who are looking to capture it at sunrise as the sun strikes the mountain peaks in the background. This means that by 6 am (or even earlier in the peak months of June-mid-September), the road to Moraine Lake is closed to traffic and works on a one-in-one-out policy.

You can take a shuttle to Moraine Lake from the centre of Lake Louise which means you can see it even if the road is closed.

As of 2023, you can no longer drive to Moraine Lake. The only way to get to Moraine Lake for sunrise is to either take an expensive taxi, cycle the 25km round trip OR ride with the Moraine Lake Bus Company.

The Moraine Lake Bus Company is the only company offering sunrise shuttles to Moraine Lake. Prices start at $35 per adult and $25 per child and the shuttles run from 4 am (arriving at Moraine Lake at 4.35 am) to 6.20 pm.

If you want to see Moraine Lake at sunrise, this is definitely the most affordable way!

Book your tickets to Moraine Lake here.

Parks Canada also offer shuttle buses to Moraine Lake, but these don’t start until 6.30 am and so miss the sunrise.

Alternatively, aim to arrive at the parking lot by 5 am and you should get a spot on the Rockpile to view the beautiful Moraine Lake.

There are also some stunning hikes from Moraine Lake, but remember to read trail descriptions carefully as some of them involve scrambling and require helmets.

  • Distance from Calgary: 183 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 55 min

Crowsnest Pass

crowsnest pass calgary day trips

Crowsnest Pass is another brilliant day trip from Calgary and one of the best day trips in Alberta.

If you’re looking for stunning landscapes and are interested in historical and geological sites then Crowsnest Pass. is a must.

Though many Calgarians only drive through Crowsnest Pass on the way to BC mountain towns such as Fernie, the area is worthy of being a day trip in and of itself.

The best thing to see in Crowsnest Pass is the Frank Slide. The Frank Slide is the area where a rockslide occurred in the coal mining town of Frank and killed nearly 100 people back in 1903. It’s one of Canada’s deadliest rockslides and you can learn more about it at the interpretive centre or by taking a walk along the 1.5 km trail.

There’s also Lundbreck Falls in Crowsnest Pass which is a 12 m high waterfall and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Alberta. There are a couple of viewing platforms as well as a trail down into the gorge.

Or, if it’s a hike in Crownest Pass you’re after, the Turtle Mountain hike is a challenging trail which gives great panoramic views of the Crownest Pass area.

You can also visit the Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site which is a former coal processing plant.

  • Distance from Calgary: 229 km
  • Estimated time: 2 hr 40 min
  • Where to stay: The Kanata in Blairmore

Drumheller, Alberta

drumheller alberta day trip from calgary

Drumheller is famous for being home to dinosaur bones! About 1.5 hours north of Calgary, Drumheller is one of the best day trips from Calgary, especially if you’re travelling with kids.

Home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, a must-see for anyone interested in palaeontology, Drumheller also has hoodoos which are super cool rock formations (they’re also seen in Banff and near Fairmont Hot Springs).

Drumheller is in the Canadian Badlands and the Royal Tyrrell Museum has one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world. You can experience the life of dinosaurs through interactive exhibits, life-sized skeleton displays and more.

Another top thing to do near Drumheller is to visit Horse Thief Canyon. Here you’ll see rocks that have different colour stripes due to the minerals in the rock. It’s super cool to see.

  • Distance from Calgary: 135 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 25 min
  • Where to stay: Heartwood Inn

Dinosaur Provincial Park

dinosaur provinial park day trip from calgary

Similar to Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park is another epic day trip from Calgary. Dinosaur Provincial Park is a bit more remote and often quieter than Drumheller.

This area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s best explored on foot. There are 5 interpretive hiking trails that guide you through some of the archaeological sites. All the trails are quite short and easy for kids and those who are less experienced with hiking.

Compared to Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park gives you a bit more freedom to explore the area and the badlands scenery. However, Drumheller is better if you want more of an introduction to palaeontology and more facilities.

  • Distance from Calgary: 219 km
  • Estimated time: 2 hr 15 min
  • Where to stay:

Kananaskis

hiking mt assiniboine

Kananaskis is one of the most stunning areas we visited on our trips to the Canadian Rockies.

Though it’s become much more popular in recent years, it’s still much quieter than Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper National Parks and equally, if not more impressive.

However, it’s definitely best for those looking to do some more challenging hikes as the best views are from the top of the mountain and there aren’t many easy trails which are just a short walk from your car.

To visit Kananaskis you’ll need a Kananaskis pass, the proceeds of which go to help to preserve the area and manage tourism.

Depending on what time of year you’re planning your day trip from Calgary to Kananaskis, you could be x-country skiing or snowshoeing near Nakiska Ski Area and Chester Lake or go hiking up Tent Ridge or to Mt Assiniboine.

  • Distance from Calgary: 100 km
  • Estimate time: 1 hr 10 min
  • Where to stay: Engadine Lodge

Cochrane

cochrane wolf sanctuary wolfdog day trip from calgary

Just 30 minutes away, Cochrane is an easy, last-minute day trip idea from Calgary.

The town has beautiful historic buildings and great restaurants, the highlight of the eateries in Cochrane though is probably Mackay’s Ice Cream Shop. On summer days there are usually big queues of people waiting to get their ice cream!

Another great thing to do in Cochrane is to visit Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.

At the sanctuary, you can learn about the wolfdogs and interact with the dogs. It’s an incredible experience and opportunity to learn about these unique animals.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park is a must if you’re looking for some adventure in nature. There are easy trails through the park and some waterfalls too.

  • Distance from Calgary: 38 km
  • Estimated time: 30 min
  • Where to stay:  

Yoho National Park

emerald lake yoho national park british columbia
Emerald Lake

Across the provincial border in BC is Yoho National Park. Often overlooked due to its proximity to Banff and Lake Louise, Yoho National Park is actually home to some of my favourite places in the Canadian Rockies.

I always recommend visiting Yoho on a road trip from Calgary to Vancouver and it’s great for a Calgary day trip too.

A day trip to Yoho National Park isn’t complete without visiting Emerald Lake. This green lake is absolutely stunning and best enjoyed by getting out onto the water. You can rent canoes here or bring your own and launch from the lake banks.

Takakkaw Falls are some of the highest waterfalls in Canada and are seriously impressive. You can walk pretty close to the base of the falls but prepare to get wet!

There’s also the natural bridge and beautiful hikes including Lake O’Hara which can be done as a day trip if you’re an experienced hiker and Paget Peak and the fire lookout.

Mossleigh and Aspen Crossing

Mossleigh is a small town with beautiful surroundings and is only an hour away from Calgary.

The best thing to see in Mossleigh is Aspen Crossing which makes a fun day trip from Calgary. Here there are bike trails, train trips and glamping available.

The train trips here are unique and include trips such as the Polar Express a Wine and Cheese trip and a Prairie Tour.

If you’re into astrophotography, be sure to take a trip out to Aspen Crossing at night. There is limited light pollution here making it perfect for capturing the milky way and the night sky.

On rare occasions, you can even see the Northern Lights!

  • Distance from Calgary: 90 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hour

Waterton Lakes National Park

waterton lakes national park alberta calgary day trip

In southern Alberta, about 3 hours away from Calgary is Waterton Lakes National Park. Given its distance from Calgary, it’s quite a long day trip from the city, but it’s doable if you start early and finish late!

Waterton Lakes National Park is across the border from Glacier National Park in Montana and has some of the same scenery but it’s also where the Rockies level off and transition into the flat prairie land.

At Waterton Lakes National Park you can find some great hikes (such as Crypt Lake), and biking at Red Rock Canyon and Cameron Falls. You can also go paddling or swimming in the lakes.

  • Distance from Calgary: 272 km
  • Estimated time: 2 hr 50 min
  • Where to stay:

Sylvan Lake

If you’re looking to get out to some water on a summery day trip from Calgary, head to Sylvan Lake near Red Deer in Alberta.

Sylvan Lake is one of the best places to visit near calgary in summer.

Pack a paddleboard or at least your swimsuit and get ready for some fun on Sylvan Lake. There’s also a beach area and the Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash which is like an obstacle course on water similar to that at Harrison Hot Springs in BC.

Afterwards, head into the town area of Sylvan Lake and grab an ice cream cone and window shop along the waterfront. Be sure to stay for the sunset!

  • Distance from Calgary: 160 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 40 min

Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump & Fort MacLeod

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the head-smashed-in-buffalo jump is one of Alberta’s greatest historical treasures and Indigenous sites. It’s also one of the world’s biggest, oldest and best-preserved buffalo jumps.

Here, you can learn about how the Blackfoot Bands used the area for buffalo hunting and how it has been preserved since.

There are also hiking trails where you can learn about native plant uses and the Indigenous history of the area.

Afterwards, you. canhead to Fort Macleod which is a national historic site and home to the North-West Mounted Police Museum and the historic Empress Theatre.

  • Distance from Calgary: 173 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 50 min

Red Deer

Red Deer sits halfway between Calgary and Edmonton and is great as a day trip from Calgary, or a stop-off on the way to Edmonton from Calgary.

Red Deer has a museum and art gallery with a large collection of Indigenous artwork, there’s also the Bower Ponds which are great for kayaking and paddleboarding in summer, or skating in winter. Another fun thing to do in Red Deer is to visit the Heritage Ranch where you can enjoy horse riding or take a carriage ride.

  • Distance from Calgary: 147 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 30 min

Sundre

Sundre is in the middle of Alberta’s Cowboy Trail and is surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. This small town is the perfect place for going horse riding.

While riding you can enjoy the views in Panther Valley and see if you can spot any of the local wild horses. Carry on the horse theme of this day trip from Calgary by visiting the Pioneer Museum with a blacksmith museum and where you can see what life was like in this town in the early 1900s.

For adventure-seekers, there are white water rafting trips available on the Red Deer River too. Or, you can hike out to Big Horn Falls in Ya-Ha Tinda which is incredible to see!

  • Distance from Calgary: 116 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 20 min

Bragg Creek Provincial Park

Bragg Creek Provincial Park is one of the best day trips from Calgary and it’s free!

At Bragg Creek, you can enjoy hiking, kayaking and mountain biking or cross-country skiing and snowshoe in the winter.

There’s a great little village where you can find some interesting shops and restaurants to stock up at before returning back to Calgary.

  • Distance from Calgary: 45 km
  • Estimated time: 37 min

Koontenay National Park

floe lake trail
Floe Lake

An awesome idea for weekend trips from Calgary is to visit Kootenay National Park.

Kootenay National Park is a huge national park in BC that has some incredible scenery and hiking trails.

It’s home to Floe Lake and the Rockwall Trail as well as the paint pots, the Stanley Glacier and the Continental Divide point where all the water on the east flows to the Atlantic, and that on the west to the Pacific.

This park is another which is often overlooked by visitors in favour of Banff and Lake Louise, but driving through all or part of the park is something I’d recommend.

If you have more time than a single day, stop over at Radium Hot Springs for hot springs and white water rafting. Or, plan the ultimate hot springs road trip in BC as part of a road trip from Vancouver to Calgary.

  • Distance from Calgary: 167 km
  • Estimated time: 1 hr 50 min

Okotoks

This cute heritage town is worth a day trip from Calgary. Okotoks has a great Art Gallery with works from local artists as well as an interesting museum and some great restaurants.

Bistro 1882 is a must-try for delicious food and booking is recommended.

Near to Okotoks is the Big Rock, or Okotoks Erratic, which is the largest glacial erratic (a rock deposited by a glacier), in North America. It’s super impressive if you think about how large the glacier must’ve been to have carried and deposited the rock!

Elbow Falls is also worth seeing while on your day trip to Okotoks from Calgary. The area is popular and often busy in the summer but still worth seeing.

There are several viewing areas and some interpretive trails where you can learn more about the area and the falls from the signs along the way.

The best time to view Elbow Falls is in spring when the snowmelt means more water can tumble down the falls.

  • Distance from Calgary: 45 km
  • Estimated time: 30 min

Castle Provincial Park

Castle Provincial Park is one of the less well-known day trip ideas from Calgary but it’s definitely worth visiting.

At Castle Provincial Park you can enjoy beautiful alpine scenery without the crowds you’ll get at National Parks near Calgary. There are waterfalls and plenty of hiking trails and in summer you can enjoy wildflower meadows too.

The Table Mountain Trail is one of the best hikes in Castle Provincial Park. At the summit, you get amazing views of the end of the Rockies and can see Waterton Lakes National Park to the south too!

Castle Falls is one of the top waterfalls in the park (and shares the same name!). It’s not especially high compared to other waterfalls in Alberta, but it’s still very pretty and easy to get to from the road.

If you’re planning a day trip from Calgary in winter, then you must head to Castle Mountain Resort. This ski hill has plenty of trails to explore for all levels of skier or boarder!

  • Distance from Calgary: 230 km
  • Estimated time: 2 hr 20 min

Edmonton

edmonton calgary day trip

If you’re looking for weekend getaways from Calgary, Edmonton could be for you.

More than a Calgary day trip, Edmonton is another of Alberta’s major cities and is a fun one to explore.

The West Edmonton Mall is a must-visit in Edmonton even if you don’t plan on shopping. Besides the 800+ stores in the mall, there is an indoor theme park, water park, skating rink, aquarium and more! You can easily spend a full day here and not even step foowat in a shop!

Other top things to do in Edmonton include the Royal Alberta Museum which is Western Canada’s largest museum full of historic artefacts, fossils and an aquarium.

Nature lovers can also enjoy the Muttart Conservatory which has over 700 plant species houses in a cool pyramid-shaped building.

In addition, there is a surprising number of beautiful trails in and around Edmonton. These Edmonton hiking trails are the perfect way to explore the city’s beautiful nature.

Alternatively, plan your trip to Edmonton from Calgary around one of the city’s festivals. Edmonton is known as the City of Festivals and some of the best include the Deep Freeze in winter, the Edmonton Folk Festival, the Jazz Festival and the International Fringe Festival.

Final thoughts about this best Calgary trips

If you’re planning day trips around Calgary the above 20 ideas should have you covered. From city breaks to outdoors destinations that are perfect for summer Calgary day trips, there are so many places to go near Calgary that’ll keep you entertained for a day or longer.

My favourite one day trip from Calgary is to head out to Banff and Kananaskis since the scenery there is out of this world. And be sure to check out some of best hikes in Canmore. A Lake Louise day trip from Calgary is a great idea if you’re entertaining visitors or you’re visiting Calgary yourself, or head up to Edmonton for a city break weekend!

Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Hannah

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