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When the long summer days wind down, the seasonal switch brings a whole new list of ways to enjoy fall in Alberta. The brisk air, changing colours and likely even a smattering of snow signals the arrival of autumn, and outdoor adventures are now framed by a backdrop of rich, golden foliage. From scenic hikes to sky-high thrills, here are some of the best things to do around Calgary in fall.
Saddle up and hit the trails with a horseback riding adventure through Banff National Park. Banff Trail Riders hosts everything from afternoon adventures to overnight trips in the backcountry, complete with cowboy cookouts. Enjoy a leisurely ride along the serene Bow River, trace the paths that the early pioneers used while exploring during the days of the Wild Wild West, or enjoy a tour of town from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage.
For a few weeks every September, a rich tapestry of sunshine-yellow and golden leaves transform the Bow Valley around Banff and Canmore. The coniferous larches shed their needles every fall, turning from green to gold before the needles drop. People come from around the world to see the spectacle, and hike along the alpine trails to enjoy the scene in all its glory.
Some of the best spots for larch hikes around Banff include:
- Larch Valley
- Taylor Lake
- Healey Pass
- Big Beehive
Keep in mind this is the busiest time of year on certain trails, so head out early and try to visit on a weekday to avoid crowds.
Relax at an outdoor spa
Visiting the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is absolutely enchanting during autumn, as steam from its many hydrotherapy pools swirls up into the crisp mountain air. Cozy up in a fall-appropriate plaid robe, and head out to enjoy soaks in the hot tubs and plunge pools surrounded by the towering Rocky Mountains. Relax in front of the roaring fireplace, or nap in a hammock for the ultimate R&R session.
Thrill-seekers can head high above the clouds for a different vantage point of the autumn scenery, by doing a sky-high ridge walk. Mt Norquay has a via ferrata, where guests are strapped into a harness and led along one of four climbing routes by an expert guide.
Excursions last between 2 ½ to six hours, and explore alpine ridges, suspension bridges and rock walls along the Norquay cliffs. The via ferrata runs until early October, and some experiences also include lunch at the Cliffhouse Bistro. Click here to book
Can’t quite get over your fear of heights? Take the eight minute ride up Norquay’s scenic chairlift instead, which transports you 7,000 feet above the town of Banff for great views of Mt Rundle, Spray Valley and the Bow Valley.
Mount Engadine Lodge has long been known as the ultimate mountain hideaway, and with the introduction of a set of glamping tents there’s even more reason to visit in every season. The charming lodge is tucked away in Spray Valley Provincial Park, under the shadow of its namesake ridge about one hour from Kananaskis, and has large comfy couches, a huge stone fireplace, sauna and wrap-around balcony that looks out to the valley.
The white canvas glamping tents are available year round, and located just a few steps from the main lodge. Each one has a wood-burning stove, bathroom, king size bed and lounge area, and all meals are also included. Uncork a bottle of wine, curl up under a blanket with that special someone, and enjoy the sight of the gorgeous fall foliage from your private balcony. Click here to book
More fall activities in Alberta:
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