Kananaskis Black Bear

A black bear scours the Kananaskis undergrowth for berries and lush shoots

Kananaskis Lower Kanaskis Lake

Lower Kananaskis is the end point of the drive from Canmore before returning via Highway 40

Just south of the superb Rockies national parks, Canmore acts as a popular gateway to the spectacular sights of Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. South of Canmore is Kananaskis Country – a sprawling area of provincial parks, outdoor recreation, mountains and wilderness.

Far less travelled than its famous neighbouring national parks, Kananaskis Country is a worthwhile diversion with a pleasant loop drive and a greater chance of wildlife sightings for those in the area for more than a couple of days.

View of Canmore and the Bow River

View of Canmore and the Bow River

The jagged slate grey Three Sisters pose among the firs

The jagged slate grey Three Sisters pose among the firs

Crossing the sapphire blue waters of the Bow River, the road climbs for views over Canmore, nestling snugly into the surrounding alpine peaks. Past The Three Sisters, jagged three-headed slate-grey mountains, the road swings onto a dusty dirt strip which tracks a long peaceful and narrow ribbon of water called Spray Lake for over 20 kilometres. Remarkably, near peak tourist season, we pass but one car on this entire stretch of road.

Kananaskis Elk

A lone elk stands quietly for over 20 minutes in the dimly lit forests of Kananaskis

Kananaskis Baby Moose

Moose and muddy bog

South of the lake, wildlife seems to abound with good viewings of black beer scouring the undergrowth for lush offerings and a lone elk (that stood and stared for half an hour, as did we). Along a marshy meadows, a moose calf with its gangly gait walks as if semi-inebriated on the soft ground despite the encouraging attention of her mother.

The road continues into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, a wilderness highlighted by two fine lakes (and a handful of smaller lakes). Hemmed in my rough-hewn mountains and surrounded by alpine trees, Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes stretch across the valley plain with a pleasant hiking trail around the latter.

Kananaskis Upper Kananaskis Lake

Mountain enveloped Upper Kananaskis Lake

Return to Canmore is via the main Highway 40 through the main Kananaskis Village, a major site for the ski events of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Before returning to Canmore, Canoe Meadows has a slalom course including a handful of manmade obstacles along a white-water stretch of the river.

While much quieter and less spectacular than the national parks to the north, wildlife enthusiasts or those looking for a peaceful picnic along a lake or river then Kananaskis Country is a wonderful half-day or day drive.

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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