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.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. 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.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.