Located half an hour west of the city, Kananaskis Country has become a cherished location for Calgarians to spend time with friends and family, to hike, ride, and be active year-round. Dedicated in 1978, this 4,200 km2 recreation area has grown into a place where people from around the world renew their spirit and reconnect with wilderness.
The name Kananaskis was chosen more than 150 years ago to name the lakes, valley, and river visited by Captain John Palliser on his expedition through the area. It comes from the Cree ‘Kin-e-a-kis’ and is said to be the name of a warrior who survived an axe blow to the head. Evidence of human use of Kananaskis Country goes back over 8,000 years, and the Stoney-Nakoda, Siksika, Blood, and Kootenai First Nations all have deep connection to this land.
For more information about Alberta’s rich western roots, pick up a free copy of our sister publication titled Experience the Cowboy Trails or visit ExperienceTravelGuides.com/Library.
The actual mountains were formed over the past 200 million years as tectonic plates forced layers of rock to pile, break, and fold into mountains. The rock comes from layers of fossilized sea creatures that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in an inland sea that once covered southern Alberta.
To learn more about these fossils and more, refer to our sister publication titled Experience the Dinosaur Trails.
The evidence is seen in ancient coral reefs, oyster beds, and shark teeth throughout Kananaskis. The u-shaped valleys and jagged peaks are 12,000 year-old reminders of the last ice age, revealed million-year old glaciers that have since melted.
The government invests in parks as a key part of our province’s quality of life. You can anticipate comfortable facilities, such as the William Watson Lodge and the Canmore Nordic Centre, a continued commitment to wildlife management and public safety, and vibrant interpretive and education programs. All without an admission fee!
In 2013, the provincial government committed $76 million to restore trails, campgrounds, and day-use areas in Kananaskis that were damaged during the unprecedented flooding that occurred in June of that year.
Kananaskis Country is open for business. For your own safety, please refer to the maps in this publication and discuss your plans with the friendly staff in the Kananaskis Visitor Info Centres. While there, ask for a copy of their free trail maps or purchase a detailed GemTrek map.