Updated: Oct 11, 2019
For most visitors to Alberta, Canada, they have two prime destinations: Banff and Jasper National Parks. And although these two parks are amazing, locals, like me, know there is a quieter, less touristy, park closer to the major metropolis of Calgary, yet close to Banff and Jasper as well.
Situated in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta is Kananaskis, or as locals call it K Country. And what everyone calls it: God's Country.
Kananaskis Country is located just West of Calgary and borders the town of Canmore and Banff National Park. K County includes five provincial parks, four wildland provincial parks, one ecological reserve and several provincial recreation areas. It also encompasses the Canmore Nordic Centre, a world class facility built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics as well as Nakiska Ski Resort, which was specially designed for the alpine events.
Kananaskis is over 4,000 square kilometres of Rocky Mountain Adventure with stunning meadows, alpine lakes, crystal-clear pure rivers and wildlife surpassing many other parks. It is relatively unspoiled, and the go-to mountain playground for locals considering it is a short distance from Calgary and not crowded with tourists and tour buses.
Kananaskis Country is a year-round playground. Activities include Dog Sledding, Alpine & Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Mountain Biking and Fishing to name a few.
On a late September day we threw our canoe on the Honda CRV and drove out to Kananaskis to paddle Barrier Lake. The lake was crystal clear and blue and the leaves were changing colours providing amazing views.
Barrier Lake is a great spot to enjoy K Country if you are looking for a quick retreat to the mountains. The lake has a small beach where kids and animals can play in the water. There are several picnic areas along the lake and canoe and paddle board rentals are available throughout the spring, summer and fall months.
There are two main parking lots, the south parking lot and the new north parking lot. The area can be very busy on weekends but weekdays are usually perfect with just a few Calgarians and locals hanging out.
If you wish to go for a hike, there are several trails that go around the lake and up into the mountains where you can get stunning photos.
Barrier Lookout is probably one of the best as it offers offers incredible views of Kananaskis Valley mountains to the south with Mount Baldy rising prominently over the east side of Barrier Lake. Hiking up to Pigeon Lookout will no doubt push you on further to Reaper Station to get even more views of the valley below. Once on top at Barrier Lookout you will enter the land of a private residence, the fire lookout station. The personnel who staff fire lookouts live and work on the mountain for the spring, summer and fall fire season.
Sophisticated equipment monitors weather conditions, which are relayed to appropriate locations. Fires, usually started by lightning or irresponsible humans are triangulated from fire lookouts within visual contact.
But if you just want to stay on even ground and enjoy the lake, you will have just as much fun and amazement staring into the emerald blue water of Barrier Lake.
If you wish to rent a canoe and you have a family or a group of friends we suggest you go with Voyageur Canoe Rental. You will step into a stable 25' voyageur canoe and paddle breathtaking Barrier Lake. The voyageurs were responsible for the Western settlement expansion of Canada by utilizing large canoes that held many people. On this tour you will also learn how to light a fire without a match and watch for wildlife as you paddle along the rugged shoreline surrounded by mountains. Click Here to Find the Best Rates for the Voyageur Canoe Rental
Hotels & Accommodations in Kananaskis, Alberta
If you are planning a trip to Alberta and want to stay in Kananaskis here are your best options for Kananaskis Hotels: