I might not be the best advice giver for travel to the north. Though I’m an Alberta boy, born and raised whenever I’ve travelled, I’ve done so to warm climates. However, having spent my youth walking to school in minus 40 weather, riding snowmobiles on weekends, and tobogganing every opportunity I got, I still think of myself a bit of a snow and ice expert. And though I don’t spend much time in the great white north when the winter months are out in full force, when I do so, I always make sure it’s to good ole’ Alberta. Here’s my guide to travelling Alberta in the winter.
- Pond Hockey: There are few things more Canadian than strapping on the laces of a pair of ice skates and shooting a puck around with the boys. One of the best places in all of Canada to do this is at the base of the famous Banff Spings Hotel.
- Visit some Wolves: The Yamnuska Wolfdog sanctuary in Seebee, Alberta is a great way to get up close and personal with some wild dogs and white snow-covered wolves.
- Go Snowmobiling: You’ll be amazed how fast you can soar over the snow on a nice sled. There are some awesome snowmobiling tours throughout the province of Alberta. Just be sure to wrap your noggin in a high quality snowmobile helmet as the things have serious power.
- Go Ice Fishing: I’m the world’s worst fisherman. And although I’ve caught Salmon in BC and Piranha in Brazil, I don’t think I’ve ever caught a fish in Alberta. I’m not nearly patient enough. However, if you like the calm and quiet, this is a great way to spend a day.
- Hit the Slopes: Alberta has some of the best snow in Canada. Whether you ski or snowboard, you won’t be short of runs. My personal favourite hill is Lake Louise, but Sunshine, Nakiska, and Marmot Basin are all great as well.
- Ice Climbing: There are lots of places to do ice climbing in Alberta. My personal favourites are in Maligne Canyon, Johnston Canyon, and along the Icefields Parkway.
Time of Year?
Although the jokes state that winter in Canada is 10 Months a year, you really do need to plan. For example, you’re never really guaranteed snow until about December and the best skiing isn’t until about February. Personally, my favourite time in Canada is the end of March or start of April. You can a nice bit of spring mixed in with your winter that way. However, if you’re planning on getting a full effect of winter, you’re going to want to hit it up in February.
Where to Go?
I’m partial to the area around Banff, personally. I feel like between Calgary and Banff National Park you have the highest quality of attractions in the province. That said, if you’re looking for a more tranquil experience you’d be better off in the Jasper National Park area.
Be prepared for anything. The weather in Alberta is as crazy as it comes. I’ve seen days of 15+ in December and I’ve seen snow in all 12 months of the year. It can be unpredictable, and you have to learn how to roll with the punches. If you do so, I promise you’ll have an amazing time!