The Best Fall Road Trips Near Calgary
There’s no denying it – fall is the perfect time of year to head out on a road trip. The weather is perfect, the roads are still good, and the foliage is gorgeous. If you’re looking to head out on the road with the family this autumn, here are some of our favourite fall road trips near Calgary to add to your “must see” list.
Short Road Trips Near Calgary
46 km from Calgary | visitbraggcreek.com
The biggest question you’ll be asking yourself when you arrive in Bragg Creek is, “What won’t I do while I’m here?” Fishing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities you can check out in Bragg Creek. Golf lovers can book a tee time at the Wintergreen Golf and Country Club or Redwood Meadows Golf and Country Club. If your family loves to hit the trails on their ATVs or dirt bikes, there are over 200 kilometres of trail waiting to be explored.
In town, there are plenty of cute shops and restaurants to visit as you stroll down Heritage Mile. You also won’t want to miss a visit to the many art studios and galleries in town. Bragg Creek is also very close to Elbow Falls, which is the next destination on our list!
Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area
66 km from Calgary | albertaparks.ca
Elbow Falls is a popular spot for road trips from Calgary and once you arrive, it’s easy to see why. There’s an easy 0.8 kilometre hike that takes you alongside a gorgeous waterfall, which can be accessed year-round. Another great thing about this trail is that it is mostly paved or well-packed, making it stroller-friendly.
Further from the falls, there are many great spots along the river to sit and enjoy the scenery or have a picnic!
Big Hill Springs Provincial Park
55 km from Calgary | travelalberta.com
For a scenic, family-friendly hike that’s close to town, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park is a great place to visit. With shallow creeks, a little waterfall, lots of trees and picnic tables to rest at, it’s a perfect, easy place to visit for a day trip (or even just an afternoon)!
80 km from Calgary | nanton.ca
Once your kids hear the words “The Candy Store in Nanton”, they won’t want to go anywhere else. The nostalgic store, filled with thousands of candies, delicious ice cream and antiques and collectables is sure to be a highlight, but it’s not the only thing that Nanton has to offer. The Grain Elevator Discovery Centre and The Bomber Command Museum and Visitor Information Centre are also fun to check out (don’t miss the World War II Lancaster Bomber, which is one of only a few left in the world).
110 km from Calgary | explorecanmore.ca
If you’re looking for an easy, breathtaking hike, Grassi Lakes is a must to add to your road trips from Calgary list. Located just outside of Canmore, this popular 4-kilometre hike is perfect for everyone in your family and offers stunning views and emerald waters at the top. Choose between the easy path, which is wide with a gentle incline, or the more challenging route, which will take you through the woods, around waterfalls and over bridges.
110 km from Calgary | alltrails.com
What could be cuter than a family-friendly hike with Troll Dolls hiding throughout the forest? Kids will love hunting for little friends along the way, and everyone in the family will enjoy dipping their toes into the pools at the bottom of the waterfall at the top. Parents with young kids have said that this is a perfect hike for families, and bringing a stroller on the hike to the lower falls is totally doable.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
172 km from Calgary | headsmashedin.ca
The United Nations have named Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump as a World Heritage Site due to its important cultural and historical significance as it preserves and interprets over 6.000 years of Plains Buffalo culture. Take part in one of the drop-in public programs throughout the day, where you can hear stories of how the Plains peoples used the drive lanes to hunt buffalo in the past. Don’t forget to visit the five levels of indoor exhibits filled with information about buffalo hunting, archeology, the creation story, and more!
Admission for children under 6 is free, youth aged 7-17 are $10, adults are $15, and seniors are $13.
188 km from Calgary | facebook.com
If you’re visiting Drumheller (or even if you aren’t), make a stop in Rowley, Alberta, a self-proclaimed ghost town (although eight people currently live there). On the last Saturday of the month, the town hosts a pizza night with live music, and during the rest of the month, visitors are welcome to explore the old buildings and take free guided tours. It’s also the perfect place to get some unique family photos.
196 km from Calgary | frankslide.ca
After visiting with my family a kid, I was totally mesmerized by the story of Frank Slide and the myth of the baby girl who survived Canada’s most deadly rockslide. As an adult, I’ve learned that over 90 of the 600 residents were killed by this terrible natural disaster (so there was definitely more than one survivor), but the history and visits to the site are still just as captivating. While you can stop to see the rubble covering what was once a large part of the town of Frank for free, there is also an Interpretive Centre that’s well worth a visit. The Interpretive Centre is open daily from 9 am – 6 pm and costs $9 for youth 7-17, $15 for adults 18-64, and $11 for seniors 65 and older. Kids under 6 are free.
Be sure to stop and visit the Leitch Collieries (the ruins of an early 1900s coal mining company) on the way!
200 km from Calgary | albertaparks.ca
Lundbreck Falls is a beautiful spot to stop for a picnic or a photoshoot, but if you’ve got time, there is also a campground with unserviced, powered and walk-in tenting sites along the Crowsnest River. There is an easy path down to the river and the falls from the free parking lot above, which also has a public restroom and picnic tables. The nearby town of Lundbreck has some tasty pit stops such as Oldman River Brewing for food and great beer, and the O’bies General Mercantile across the street where you can find 24 flavours of soft serve and everyone’s favourite fried treat – mini donuts.
1-2 Day Road Trips Near Calgary
92 km from Calgary | aspencrossing.com
If you’ve got train enthusiasts in your family, you’ve gotta check out Aspen Crossing. Located in the town of Mossleigh, Alberta, there are tons of experiences for locomotive lovers including caboose cabins for your perfect glamping experience and fun themed train excursions (like high tea, a twilight tour, a family fun trip and more).
153 km from Calgary | traveldrumheller.com
Since kids (and adults, if we’re being honest) tend to be fascinated by the prehistoric world of dinosaurs, exploring this incredibly popular dino museum is sure to be a hit with everyone in the family. Visit the skeleton of our very own Albertosaurus, in addition to tons of other incredible fossils from different species of dinosaurs. Take a hike to hunt for fossils and go on a dinosaur dig, cast your very own fossil, visit with scientists, explore the badlands and more! Admission for kids 6 and under is free; youth 7-17 are $10, adults are $21, and seniors are $14.
*If your family loves exploring Alberta’s historical sites, you might want to consider purchasing an Alberta History Annual Pass (alberta.ca). This gets you and your family into a variety of sites in Alberta including Frank Slide, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Leitch Collieries, Royal Tyrrell Museum and more. Prices for this pass are $55 for adults, $40 for seniors, $30 for youth, or $125 for a family pass.
Drumheller is also an excellent place to stay a while so that you can take advantage of all of the other awesome things the town has to offer. To name a few, you can take a tour of the Atlas Coal Mine, hike Horesthief Canyon Trail , climb to the top of the World’s Largest Dinosaur, and grab a massive burger at Bernie and the Boys Bistro.
193 km from Calgary | banfflakelouise.ca
There’s no doubt that you’ve seen stunning photos of a beautiful lake (whether thawed or frozen over) surrounded by majestic mountain peaks at least once on your social media feed. That’s Lake Louise. It’s one of Alberta’s most gorgeous gems, and there’s no shortage of things to do if you decide to visit here. Take a gondola 6850 feet to the top for a sightseeing expedition. There are tons of popular places for families to grab a bite to eat, including Baker Creek Bistro, the iconic Lakeview Lounge, The Station Restaurant and Lake Agnes Tea House (this one you have to earn at the end of a 3.5 km hike!)
220 km from Calgary | charmedfamilyresorts.com
For the most magical road trip out there, head to Blairmore, Alberta and book a stay in one of the fairytale cottages at Charmed Family Resorts. There are currently seven themed cottages available to rent, including Rumplestiltskin Tower, Rapunzel’s Tower, and a Gingerbread House. Plans are in the works to add a second “village” with three Peter Pan themed cottages and Belle’s Cottage.
Each cabin comes with a barbecue, wood-fired hot tub, swing, and a fire pit as well as super-comfy beds and bedding, bathrooms, showers, and a fridge and freezer. The cottages are in fairly close proximity to each other, making it the perfect spot to book a getaway with a group of family or friends. Consider it glamping to the max!
Waterton Lakes National Park
260 km from Calgary | pc.gc.ca
If crystal clear lakes, sparkling waterfalls, and a gorgeous mountain backdrop are your cup of tea, then a trip to Waterton definitely needs to be added to your road trips from Calgary list. While you’re there, get a photo in one of the five sets of Adirondack Chairs located at five different scenic spots in the park, go for a hike on over 200 km of trails, and check out the interpretive programs (including guided walks, street theatre, Blackfoot drumming and dancing, interactive yoga, fishing, Blackfoot storytelling, and more).
275 km from Calgary | TourismGolden.com
If you’ve never been to Golden, British Columbia, it’s time to make the trip! Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a great place to visit in the fall for hiking, biking and sightseeing. There is also a Grizzly Bear Refuge where you can visit Boo The Bear. The town of Golden is full of great places to eat, including, The Wolf’s Den, Red Tomato Pies and ELEVEN22 Restaurant.
316 km from Calgary | edmonton.ca
There are so many fun things to do in YEG that make it well worth the 3-hour drive. Of course, Edmonton is home to the world famous West Edmonton Mall, or check out some of the amazing venues in the Ice District like Royal Alberta Museum, or the Art Gallery of Alberta. Don’t forget to take in a hockey game or concert at Rogers Place! There are so many amazing places to eat in Edmonton, but some of our favourites are Oodle Noodle (an Edmonton staple), MEAT, Padmanadi, The Next Act Pub, Tres Carnales Taqueria, and the Sugar Bowl.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
327 km from Calgary | albertaparks.ca
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park was recently designated as Alberta’s 6th UNESCO World Heritage Site (and the 20th in Canada). This breathtaking park filled with hoodoos contains thousands of rock carvings and paintings made by Canada’s early Indigenous peoples. Each day, visitors can enjoy various one-hour, free shows which include storytelling, drumming, dancing, games, activities, and wildlife presentations.
424 km from Calgary | jasper-alberta.com
On your way to Jasper, be sure to take the route that includes the Icefields Parkway – a drive that passes through the Columbia Icefield and provides incredible views of the Athabasca Glacier, which is the most visited glacier in North America. If you’re feeling brave, step out onto the Glacier Skywalk – a one-kilometre walkway that features views of waterfalls and wildlife, 918 feet above ground.
If you don’t know where to start exploring Jasper, why not book yourself a tour? Whether you want to check out wildlife, hop on a train, snap the perfect photo, or munch your way through downtown, there’s a tour that everyone in the family will love. Since 2011, Jasper National Park has been a designated Dark Sky Preserve, which means you will have incredible views of the night sky since almost no artificial light is visible at night. Check out the Jasper Planetarium, which includes a 50 seat domed theatre, live space experts, and the largest telescope in the Rockies!
432 km from Calgary | explorewhitefish.com
Although this one is a bit of a jaunt from Calgary and involves a border crossing, I’ve been told by multiple sources that Whitefish, Montana, could not be left off of this list. The town’s proximity to Glacier National Park, Bigfork and Kalispell make it the perfect base to explore everything nearby. The Bonsai Brewing Project is a brewery that’s received rave reviews on Trip Advisor, and visitors swear by local restaurants like Loula’s, Buffalo Café and Whitefish Lake Restaurant.
Will you be taking any road trips near Calgary? Will you visit any of these incredible destinations this fall? Do you have a favourite road trip that we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments!